It’s really not that complicated at all. I can tell you this from both personal and professional experience, that what men want in relationships is pretty basic. Hint: It’s not about having a “trophy” partner or someone to feed us and take care of us when we’re sick. It’s certainly not about having someone to “process” feelings with. It’s not even about sex, though sexuality IS an important part of relationships.
What men REALLY want in a relationship, is a safe place to recharge and renew themselves in order to go back out and face the world and “fight the good fight.” We want a safe, secure, STRESS-FREE environment where we can recover from dealing with the “rat-race” and just relax. We want a place where we can be ourselves, without putting on the facade that the world sometimes demands. We want a place where we don’t have to be on our best behavior, where we don’t have to walk on egg shells and where we don’t have to pretend that we’re something we’re not.
We want a place where we can be accepted for who we are and for who we are not! Men want consistency and routine, because that is what relaxes us. ”Same place, same thing” calms us down. Yes, we like change and excitement from time to time, but what we really want in our primary relationship is a place where we can be at peace, where we don’t have to have our “fight or flight” response triggered. We’re activated enough in the work world, we don’t want our relationship to be like a second job!
Why is this? Why do men want to recharge in relationships? I believe it goes back to our early childhood development (I’m a psychologist, of course I’m going to go there!). Attachment theory tells us that one stage of childhood is that time where we have started to break away from mommy and become more independent. We play with our friends and have fun, but every once in a while we take a look back and connect to mommy, maybe just eye contact, to make sure that she is there and that everything is okay. And then we can get back to play. We need a “secure base” to launch from in order to explore our world and when necessary we need a “safe haven” to seek comfort from that world.
On some level, I believe that men still do this in our adult relationships. Not in that cliche, “I’ve married my mother” way, but hopefully in a more mature, more conscious way. We want someone around us, to make sure that it (we) are okay. We don’t necessarily want or need to interact with them constantly, just “check in” or “touch base.”
When I’m in a relationship, I’m happy just knowing that my partner is in the house, we don’t even need to talk. And yes, we do interact as well, but there’s something comforting in just knowing that someone is there.
So there is the psychology, and then there is also the biology. Men are more susceptible to being physiologically aroused. Yes, THAT way, too, but I mean in terms of “fight or flight” and being ready to fight off attacks from the dinosaurs and sabertooth tigers. That’s what our bodies tell us to do and so we have relationships in order to take a break from that, in order to give our systems a rest, to renew ourselves.
As men we don’t want to multitask and we don’t want to speak in the language of feelings. We’re not built to do these things optimally. We can do them, and of course, sometimes we must, but we’re not designed to do them very well.