He might not be telling you what he really wants, so we are.
By Jordan Gray.
Men are often reluctant to talk about their needs in intimate relationships. Whether social conditioning or an inability to communicate our needs are to blame, men (who tend to be the less communicative partners in intimate relationships) are prone to silently suffering when their emotional needs aren't being met by their partners.
Whether you are a man or a woman reading this article, this will give you greater clarity into yourself/partner and what your/their needs are in your intimate relationship. Let's put an end to the needless fighting due to miscommunication, the unnecessary sex-less nights, and the verbal shut-downs.
Read through these tips and I promise you'll never see your relationship through the same lens again.
Here are seven things men want in a relationship.
1. Praise And Approval
Men have infamously tender egos. We need frequent reassurance about ourselves, our career paths, our efficacy as partners, our sexual prowess, and our attractiveness (among other things).
I have countless male clients telling me every month that their partners rarely let them know what they like about them. While it may be true that men need relatively less frequent verbal praise than their female counterparts, this isn't the kind of gesture that requires keeping score. Why not just have more of a good thing?
So ladies, let your praise loose. Tell your man exactly what you find attractive about him. Let him know what physical features of his are your favourites. Tell him how attractive you find it when he says something a certain way, when he accomplishes something, or when he takes you on a date. Your praise won't make him cocky; it will help him feel loved.
And (bonus) the more you praise his positives, the more you will see them.
Men feel respect as love.
If he feels like you disapprove of him, his career, or the things that he believes to be integral to who he is as a person, he will have a hard time trusting and loving you. The thought process behind that being "If she doesn't respect who I am at my core, then how can she really want what is best for me?"
If a man's partner doesn't respect his path or mission in life, then he will find it very difficult to feel anything other than an anxious need to distance himself from her.
3. A Sense Of Sexual Connection
Men and women both connect through sex and communication, but generally, women connect better through communication and men connect better through sex.
Does this mean that men need to have sex with their intimate partners every day in order to feel connected? Not necessarily. Men, more often than not, connect through indicators of sexuality just as much as they do through sex. Allow me to explain…
Often, a man will initiate sex just to make sure that you are still sexually available to him. So, to my man-loving readers out there, if he reaches across the bed for you, even showing the willingness to embrace him, to kiss him deeply, and to engage him could be enough to make him feel loved (not that the follow through isn't enjoyable).
This lack of awareness around women needing to connect through words and men needing to connect through sex can sometimes turn into an unfortunate and rapid downward spiral. She doesn't feel like opening sexually until she feels connected to him, but he finds it difficult to communicate with her because they haven’t been physical with each other in days.
Talk with your partner and ask what specifically helps them feel the most loved so you can avoid these unintentional standoffs.
4. Emotional Intimacy
From a very young age, men are taught to avoid appearing weak at all costs. Perceived "weakness" includes things like complaining, divulging fears or concerns, and expressing self-doubt or worry.
A man's partner is his safe space to fall. He can expose the cracks in his armour and allow his partner to help him heal. Just as women need to slowly open up sexually within a relationship, men open up over time emotionally. He needs to make sure that when he first cries in front of you, you won't be repelled or handle it poorly.
If you push him away or are unable to be nurturing when he needs it the most, he will no longer trust you with his emotions. He will remove himself somewhat from the relationship. In this instance, both partners lose -- he goes on silently suffering and believing that he is flawed in his imperfection, and she is held at arm's length emotionally.
Author Deborah Tannen has written brilliantly on the masculine and feminine divide between independence and intimacy (masculine being primarily drawn towards independence and the feminine toward intimacy).
Within all of my relationships and the vast majority of my clients, I consistently see that it is the feminine-associated female partner that wants more time spent together and the masculine-associated male partner wanting more time apart.
There is no perfect balance to be found here. This will always be a balancing act of closeness and separateness. But rest assured, suffocating a man (either by failing to allow him free time or with overly jealous behaviour) is the fastest way to end a relationship. Men need breathing room in a relationship. We need time for our hobbies, time with our friends, and time to toil away on our projects to feel fulfilled.
Traditionally, when women (or the feminine associated partner) needed to solve a problem, they would go further into the tribe – connecting with close friends and family and discussing their issues. Conversely, when men have a problem to solve, they would leave the tribe to be alone with their thoughts.
So let him roam. Let him breathe. Leave him to his own devices. A man will be that much happier for you to receive him when he returns, knowing that you trust both him and the strength of your bond enough to let him have his space.
6. Physical Touch
Men need frequent non-sexual touch as well as a sense of sexual connection. If a man's partner comes up behind him and touches his neck and hair in a loving way while he sits absorbed in a task, he could feel just as loved as if they had just had penetrative sex (even more so, depending on his mood).
This touch is interpreted as physical love -- the message of which registering as "I love you, and I want you to feel happy all the time. Know that I'm always here for you and I care for you deeply."
Men and women are both attracted to certainty in a relationship. The more a man feels like his partner is in it for the long haul, the more ready and able he is to be able to open up to her (assuming he is equally invested in her).
But security goes deeper than just the fact that you won't leave him. The security that he feels ties back in to several of these points. He feels secure in knowing that you approve of him and where he is in his career. He feels secure and loved when you touch him non-sexually throughout the day. He feels secure when he is allowed to have his guys' nights away from you and you don't feel the need to call or text him every half hour to check in. And he feels secure with a partner who takes steps to love him in the way that he most needs.
How To Give Him What He Needs
So how do you stack up in your relationship? If you are a man reading this, do you feel like all of your needs are being met? Could you ask for your partner to do something differently? (Maybe send her this article?)
If you are someone who is in a relationship with a man and you are reading this, how could you love him more fully? Which of these can you incorporate more of into your relationship? Let this article (and the female equivalent) be the catalyst that gets this conversation started between the two of you.
Even if you don't agree with every point made, let these articles begin a dialogue about both of your needs in your relationship.
The overwhelming response to this article on the female side had several mentions of the word blame. Defensive and angered cries shot out around the interwebz ("It's not all men's fault!").
This isn't about blame, or fault-finding, or anybody doing anything wrong. This is about loving people in the best way that they could possibly be loved and opening up a dialogue about emotional needs in relationships.
This article was originally published at The Good Men Project. Reprinted with permission from the author.