5 Things Women Want That Men Aren’t Ready to Hear

It’s a stereotype as old as time that men don’t understand what women really want. One of the problems in modern relationships is we inherited the template for what they should look like from our parents.

Therefore much of our language, beliefs, and behaviours are rooted in the past.

What women wanted in their relationships 30 years ago is not the same as what they want today.

With gender equality the role of women has changed hugely. However many relationships continue to use the same relationship blueprint from this other age.

Unchallenged and without the evolution that women have experienced, men have some catching up to do. Many relationships are in a standoff as a result.

But what do women want?

Why is it some relationships are failing, some are surviving, and others are thriving?

To many men it might seem that women can be demanding, never satisfied and often finding fault.

However, their needs are quite simple in many ways. Once you understand them better it will not only improve your relationship with them, but you’ll realise that these needs are not the sole desire of women.

Men and women are similar in so many ways, yet the dynamic between them is often defined by how we are different.

The binary description of men being like this, and women like that, obviously oversimplifies things.

However, it can be useful to look at the stereotypical man/woman dynamic to understand patterns of behaviour to give us insights into how to develop successful relationships.

That said here are 5 things that women want, that men aren’t ready to hear:

#1. Women want YOU

Growing up as a boy is tough. Since they were young, boys learnt to play the part of someone else. A version that was acceptable to their peers, and that allowed them to get through this difficult time unscathed.

This behaviour triggers the first of two key stages we go through in life. The first stage is where we explore and learn who we think we are, as we attempt to find and fit into our social group.

The second stage is where we unlearn all of this and realise who we really are.

It’s this man that women really want. That’s because this man is not worried about what others think of him. He’s brave, clear, focused, calm, centred and ultimately he knows who he is.

The characteristic women often cite as being most important in a man, is confidence.

What they mean is a man who is brave enough to be himself. Someone who is real, genuine and true. He’s not looking for acceptance, or praise and is comfortable in who he is.

We can overcomplicate things sometimes. Women want you to be you.

The problem is men have spent so long learning to be someone else.  They attempt to fit into the life of what is expected of them and forget who they really are.

True confidence is looking inward, seeing who you are, and liking what you see.

Women want

#2. Women want your emotional safety

Fifty years ago women wanted men to provide and protect. Provide financially for the family, and protect them from physical harm.

If men built their sense of identity around this today then they are going to struggle.

That’s because what women want from men has evolved in the same way they have evolved. My partner earns more than I do for example, so if I define myself as being the financial provider, then I’m in trouble.

How and what I provide for her, needs to evolve.

The strength women want men to provide is not just physical strength but emotional strength.

Similarly, the safety women want men to provide is not just physical safety but emotional safety.

Let me explain.

Women want men to have the emotional capacity and intelligence to make them feel safe. This feeling of safety involves them being comfortable expressing who they are without judgement.

The more men can develop the capacity to hold emotions and the vocabulary to communicate them, the more they can share their emotions with others.

If men don’t understand their own emotions they will be ignorant of hers.

The more you can connect to and acknowledge your feelings the more you can connect to and acknowledge hers.

Expressing emotions allows you to connect more fully to others. This gives the safety and therefore the permission for women to do the same.

Men often feel overwhelmed by certain feelings, and then check out emotionally in order to survive. This is learnt behaviour and can be changed once you become aware of it.

Noticing habits we adopt to numb our feelings, and then cutting these out, helps us to stay present to our emotions and others too.

This authenticity helps give women the emotional safety they want.

#3. Women want your praise

Women grow with praise. They love your praise and to know the effect they have on you.

They glow when you speak heartfully and truthfully about how you see and feel them. How you acknowledge, recognise and appreciate them for who they are.

A simple mistake that men make in relationships is treating women as if they were them.

Men typically don’t need praise as much as women because men grow more with challenge. Tell me how I can improve something and I’ll be eternally grateful.

Women are not like this. Give them some fantastic constructive feedback on their next lasagne, and you’ll see what I mean.

Women don’t know what you’re thinking, so you need to tell them. Men will often say:

“But she knows how much I care for and love her”

No, she doesn’t, if you don’t tell her.

What is it she does that you love?

Tell her.

Is it her laugh, her smile, the way she moves her body?

Tell her.

The way she pushes her hair out of her eyes?

Tell her.

Make a practice out of it. Find one thing every day that truly takes your breath away, and tell her.

If you want a challenge then can you find the beauty in her criticism? Can you love and accept it as part of the woman she is.

“I love it when you challenge me”

“I love it when you help me to be a better man”

Can you find the part of yourself that truly believes this, and praise this part of her.

Praise her for the woman she is, not the woman you want her to be.

#4. Women want your presence

You’ll often hear that women love a man that can listen. This isn’t the full story though. Women don’t want a man that is silent and nods occasionally.

They want a man who is deeply present to her feelings. Someone who can listen to her beyond the words she speaks.

There’s nothing more powerful you can give someone than your full presence.

Men can lose their presence as they go into fix mode.

Men give what they value, and men value solutions. It’s because once a solution has been applied men can rest, the job done, ready for the next challenge.

Women aren’t like this though, as they value feelings and not the resolution of them.

Men listen as long as they think they can offer a tangible solution to the problem.

Men want to offer value. Value they can see and hear. But this kind of value is one dimensional and driven by the ego.

Once this value is not possible or desired men check out again as they are frustrated that there’s nothing further they can offer. They feel impotent.

There is a clear difference in values which is where the problems arise.

You can’t value something you don’t connect to or understand. If you aren’t connected to your feelings then being deeply present to a woman’s will be meaningless.

Empathising and validating feelings is what women want. Help them to know what they feel makes sense.

They want to feel that you understand and acknowledge their emotions. They want to know that what they’re feeling makes sense, and don’t want to be made to feel wrong.

Women don’t want your solutions, they want your presence.

#5. Women want your passion

What are you passionate about? What do you love?

I love being around passionate people; it’s infectious. It almost doesn’t matter what the passion is because it’s the place you come from when you connect to your passion that’s important.

I remember a story about a man that sold mowers. He was the number one salesman in the company by a huge distance. The new management team wanted to meet him to understand why.

When they met him they quickly realised his secret. He LOVED mowers. I know it’s hard to believe but he was obsessed with them and couldn’t stop talking about them. His customers loved him, they loved his passion and it translated into his sales.

People love your passion as much as you love what you’re passionate about.

Think of someone you’ve been attracted to in your life, especially someone you were surprised you were attracted to. Chances are it’s because they were in their element, doing what they love, speaking from their heart.

Women want to feel your passion because in that moment they feel the real you. They feel your love, your heart and your power.

I hope this post was helpful. What are your experiences of what women want? Let me know in the comments and please share this post with a friend if you enjoyed it. For regular content like this just fill in the box below.

To your success


About the Author

Writer and coach, Mike writes about the struggles and triumphs of how to be a modern man. He writes to support these men, and the women that love them. Click here to learn more.

Leave a Reply 20 comments

Janet - July 27, 2017 Reply

Yes, yes, yes and yes ?

Great post Mike. ?

Alex - August 10, 2017 Reply

Women really want men to complement them on their lasagne? Beware of those gender biases and stereotypes – especially if you’re making the point that women (and men) today are different from the 1950s.

    Mike Matthews - August 13, 2017 Reply

    Thanks for your comment Alex. I very much agree about stereotypes when used in isolation which is why I said in the article that this binary description between genders over simplifies things. When discussing men and women it can however be useful to use a typical man/woman stereotype to understand behaviour. It’s for each individual to decide where their truth lies on the spectrum between the behaviour described as a man and a woman because there is no one size fits all.

Pete - March 11, 2019 Reply

Hello Mike, I like what you have said here and have tried to apply your suggestions in my relationships. However, being confident didn’t help me at all when I found myself dating a narcissist. The way she put me down, mistreated me around others, flirted shamelessly with other men, lied, and cheated completely destroyed my confidence. I was lucky to get away from her once I recognized what she was. At first, I thought she was testing me to see if I had the strengths you discussed above. I realize now that testing is b.s. and women have to compromise as it isn’t all about them. I guess what I’m saying is that sometimes all the confidence in the world won’t help if your partner is off the rails and is concerned only about themselves. I’m still reeling from the trauma she inflicted on me.

    Mike Matthews - March 15, 2019 Reply

    Thanks for your comment Pete. I hear you my friend and that sounds really tough going. I’ve been writing a lot recently about boundaries and I feel that this touches a lot on what you’re talking about. Boundaries are the unwritten conscious or unconscious agreements we make that describe how we want to be treated by others. I only send this content out to my subscribers but if you want me to send it to you then send me an email at mike@theinspiringmenproject.com and I’ll pass it on. This stuff has had a huge impact on my relationships. It feels edgy if you haven’t been making a stand for your own needs before but equally empowering once you see the impact it has on yourself and your loved ones. Best wishes and I hope you find a path that works for you. Mike

Jake - July 14, 2019 Reply

They do realize… Confidence is a finite resource right?

That it comes from beating other people’s confidence.

The real me didn’t acquire it. The outside me acquired.

She does realize all the safety and confidence she would like to indulge in would be better spent on multiple prettier women if I had it right? And as she enjoyed it another man’s confidence… Would be bleeding out in the street right?

And so will mine if I’m not also given a safe place to be. The above list that the real me inside needs in return. All the safe things. the things I’m not supposed to need

Greg - July 29, 2019 Reply

Christ on a bike, that sounds like another full time job on top of the one I’m already working. Damned if I am going to revolve my life around making a woman happy, hows that for confidence 🙂

    Mike Matthews - July 31, 2019 Reply

    In my experience I find that you get the reciprocal of what you put out Greg. In other words you attract who you are being. If you don’t value women who appreciate the areas I describe then I agree that this is a big load of hard work and why would you do it? I wouldn’t. If you do value these women, however, and want to attract a higher value woman into your life then the feedback I hear women who have read this article is that it’s bang on. It boils down to who you want to attract into your life and what you’re prepared to do about it.

Sam - July 31, 2019 Reply

Mike, while I agree that some women do seek those things, I would say it doesn’t speak for all women out there. I can assure you that “I love it when you help me to be a better man” doesn’t always please. And TOO much praise can be a little…concerning.

    Mike Matthews - August 5, 2019 Reply

    Sam, I do agree that any article with the words “women” or “men” in the title are very general and can’t speak for all. There will always be many for whom it does and does not resonate. Find what works and leave the rest.

Candace - November 12, 2019 Reply

I’d say this is pretty accurate but for me it’s not that I just want somebody to be present to my emotions… I’m looking for deep emotional and spiritual intimacy as a woman so I do need somebody that is deeply present to themselves as well as to me. One thing that really offends me about this article is that you referred to the women’s movement as “women’s lib “
Ugh. Imagine if people referred to the black lives movement as black Lib. It’s quite disrespectful as you can see.

John - March 10, 2020 Reply

I’m much simpler than this. There’s only 1 thing I want: To be completely woman-free in my life. Since I’ve accomplished this, life has been much better. Never again, and good riddance.

Shirley Taylor - June 13, 2020 Reply

lam looking for a good man

TOIVO HELAO SHIKUKUMWA - July 21, 2020 Reply

This is so educative and I hope with more readings I would’ve lived a long lasting and happier love life.

Anders Avalon - August 16, 2020 Reply

Women are a blackhole, in reality men need to be in touch with their woman’s feelings and thats all that matters, praise and understanding, listening and not judging, affirmation and positive opinions, a one way street of communication where the man is there emotionally for the woman and there is no traffic in the other direction, rock steady everywhere else but a puppy dog to her emotions and wants and do no expect anything in return period, men whether or not you want to go down this street of a “meaningfull” relationship the choice is yours.

Care - August 31, 2020 Reply

Oh my. Women want a bunch of things. For men to step up and do some of the mental labor. For men to step up and do some of the emotional labor. For men to actually listen.
Your five things are nice but mental labor, emotional labor, and real listening are even more inportant to so many women.

Cosmo Archibald Topper - September 1, 2020 Reply

Reciprocal, you say above? Each of your points should be read and understood by women regarding their men!

“Women want you to be you.” Then why does she work so hard to change him into something else? Especially when many studies indicates that she loses respect for him if she succeeds?

“The more men can develop the capacity to hold emotions and the vocabulary to communicate them, the more they can share their emotions with others.”

And be mocked for not being stoic and taking what comes. “Grow up! Be a MAN!” This happened to me, so don’t tell me I’m wrong about this.

“Give them some fantastic constructive feedback on their next . . .” She will see “fantastic constructive feedback” as unwelcome criticism, Simple gratitude is about all that will be tolerated. Anything more will be seen negatively.

“Women don’t want a man that is silent and nods occasionally.” WRONG!
To do anything else is to become the object of her displeasure. She will see any comment you make as “trying to fix things for her” or “not understanding at all”. The only thing to do is to listen, nod occasionally to show you are listening, and let her work it out without any i put from you.

“Women want to feel your passion because in that moment they feel the real you” – but ONLY is she is the object of your passion. Anything else is seen as competition, and she will not be shy about letting you know about it.

You believe you mean well, but maybe you should listen to other men more, You might learn something.

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