You think you know, but you have no idea.
Ask any love expert what the main cornerstone of a relationship is, and you will likely hear the same thing: communication. But for so many people, communication means to speak, when the real keys to a successful relationship are active listening and empathy.
There's no sense in putting out what you feel about something if it's not going to be heard and considered by your partner. And within that simple statement lies the real reason so many people fear sharing their thoughts and feelings: They're vulnerable.
They open themselves up to judgment and potential rejection. And for men — with the silent societal demands of "Be strong. Boys don't cry" messange — the feelings of vulnerability can be even more pronounced.
But men do have much to share and have a stock pile of things they wish they could say. On the other hand, women are always asking, "What are you thinking?" Men may not be completely comfortable sharing it, but there's much on their minds as regards to love and the women in their lives.
I asked 500+ men what they thought about but were afraid to share with their significant others. During the discussions, their answers became real, raw, and had surprisingly similarities.
(Please note that this isn't what ALL men think about when it comes to love and relationships. But as for subjects and issues they felt were too dicey to bring up to their significant others, these were the top 10.)
He hears your frustration when you get back from work, or the gym, or lunch with your friends. What he doesn't understand is why you're talking to that one woman who's quietly making you mad. You know, your frienemy.
In his world, a friend of his who becomes a jerk is no longer a friend. In truth, the fact that she creates havoc and drama for you — and that he feels the stress when it spills out into your relationship with him —bothers him.
Let's get something on the record: The vast majority of men masturbate. It doesn't matter if they're in a relationship or if they're happy with the women they love. Because men are visual creatures, many like a visual stimulus as part of their activities. (Note: Porn becoming a replacement for his sexual desires or him simulating activities he sees in pornography is a problem.)
When a woman questions a man constantly, it makes him feel like he's making bad choices or that he doesn't know what he's doing. While there may be times when she needs real visibility into things (household finances, for instance), constant questions about the little things in life can come across as mistrust or nitpicking.
Oftentimes, nitpicking or smothering is a symptom of something deeper — trust issues, insecurity, and/or lack of time/attention. It's better to identify and address the real issue.
When relationships move past the honeymoon period, things can become comfortable. The result is that both parties can stop putting in the effort they had when they first entered the relationship. And while both parties should put their best foot forward to keep passion alive, men were clear that they're missing the women they met at the beginning.
He wants to keep wanting you, so show him why he should. And if he's falling down at keeping the spark alive, tell him you want the same.
Strong men desire strong women. It's only weak men who need a weak woman to keep down and control. Bottom line: Want a man to be interested in you? Make him work for your affections. Want him to respect you? Expect it. Demand it. Be his equal and don't allow him to steamroll over you. Want him to love you long-term? Love and respect yourself, and he will have no choice but to follow your lead.
The very weak don't know how to forgive — they only hate and/or get rid of you. The very strong forgive, but they never forget and they never let YOU forget. Some behaviors might be unforgivable and a deal-breaker, but if you want to forgive him for something he's done, you need to find a place in between strong and weak.
Forgiveness isn't the same as acceptance. Accepting how someone hurt you doesn't work, as it means you're OK with what they did. But you CAN forgive and move on, and do it without hate or resentment. To start the process of forgiveness, you just need to realize that what they did wasn't about you — it was about them, their choices and/or their lackings.
If you want him to be honest, allow space for him to share his real thoughts. If you ask for honesty (not insults, just his honest accounting of something), criticizing him will only create distance. He will interpret that response as it being unsafe to share what's on his mind, and he will stop sharing for fear of judgment and criticism.
Men have just as many wants and fantasies in the bedroom as women (though likely not quite as vivid), but many men are unsure or embarrassed to share them or act on them, even if she wants it. If your guy is a little uptight or unsure of himself, help him relax. Taking charge sometimes also shows him that he's desired, which is something he definitely wants to know that you feel.
He wants to be strong — with you and for you. It's part of his DNA to not show fear, even in the face of adversity, because he wants to carry the weight of whatever issue he's facing and solve it. What he needs is to know that through it all, you have faith in him and can solve things together. It might take him some getting used to, but the burden of everyday life challenges is something many men want to share.
Recognition is very important to everyone, and he definitely wants to know that he's doing his job — at home, in his individual life, and within himself. He wants to know you're paying attention to what he's doing and, quite simply, that it matters to you. Oftentimes, he might do something that's routine for both of you, so it loses meaning. But he still wants recognition for it! Taking a little time to tell him you're proud of him is all he wants.
He wants you to be happy and he wants to know that he's contributing to that happiness. But if he's constantly searching for what you want and never really hits the mark, he will give up. The key here is clear communication. Tell him your wants. Make what you desire known. From there, he has a shot at providing it. He may not get it perfect, but effort counts.