What Do Women Want? Therapist Tells All.
Yes, step right up folks, the show is beginning. Magically, I will reveal to you what women are really thinking, wanting, and wishing for, all without leaving this desk chair. This comes from years of probing at the innermost workings of the female mind in therapy sessions. Also, I happen to be a woman. Now, not every woman thinks all of these things. But, if your wife or girlfriend seems generally dissatisfied and sad with your relationship, either chronically or every so often, but doesn’t know how to tell you what’s wrong (or she tells you but you think it’s absurd and dismiss her concerns) it might be helpful to read this and think deeply about whether any of these issues may be at play.
Some are need-to-haves, some are nice-to-haves, some may not apply to the woman in your life at all, but at least one will resonate with her, I guarantee it (or your money back. Which presumes I make any money off blogging so joke’s on you). For bonus points, you can email this article to your wife or girlfriend and ask her to tell you which numbers are relevant. You know you’re curious. So let’s start.
1. Women want to be desired. “WTF,” you ask. “I’m always initiating sex and she’s always like, get the hell off me, you animal.” Here’s the thing. Sadly enough, your wife may think that you just want to have sex with her because she’s there and she’s your only option. She thinks of desire as something way different, where you put in a lot of effort to woo her and seduce her because you want her, and only her, so badly. Like your early dating relationship, or like one of those movies she wants to watch that you hate.
Side note: this article would not be complete without stating that some women secretly want their partners to be a LOT more take-charge and assertive than usual, particularly in bed. As life is ironic and cruel, the very women who really would want this behavior are often too shy to say it. So I recommend this: the next time your wife is receptive to sex, try acting like this guy in Fifty Shades of Grey. Mostly the way he talks (yeah I’m actually saying you have to read the book). (Aside: you would think from how often I recommended this book to couples that I really liked it. You would be wrong. No amount of sex can fix the cheesiness of the plot. I put it down halfway through. But I know many clients and friends who loved it.) So, if you try acting more assertive/dominant in bed, and your wife is like, “WTF, you are being ridiculous,” then just say “Oh well, I was trying something new.” Nothing ventured, nothing gained. But like 30% of you male readers will get a surprisingly good response. And then you can thank me.
2. Women want you to want to spend time with them. Nothing big, just hanging out and talking. But the key is the desire to spend time with them; just spending time with them is not enough, and spending time with them grudgingly is worse than nothing. The best case scenario is where you say things like, “There was this work happy hour, but I came home because I’d rather hang out with you.” And don’t add “Because my asshole boss was going so I didn’t want to be there.” So the point is that you prioritize time with her over other fun activities, at least sometimes. Like monthly. Oh, before I forget, there is a key point to hanging out together: the hanging out must be without your smartphone. (More on that in one second.)
3. Women hate when you’re on your phone or computer. They hate when you’re NOT PAYING ATTENTION. Picture a 45 degree angle in your mind and that is the linear graph of the correspondence between a woman’s happiness and her perception that you’re paying attention to her. Now cross off happiness and write “sex.” Still valid. Smartphone = cockblock.
4. Women hate when you act like you’re perfect. They hate when you say things like, “Hmm, nothing really stresses me out that much” and “I’m fine!” I mean, sometimes, even most of the time, you can feel fine. But if you never ever struggle with any negative emotion, any insecurity, or any weakness in any regard, you are going to be pretty off putting to interact with. Also, if your wife shares anything negative about herself, she will feel ashamed and crappy because you don’t empathize, but just kind of pity her or problem solve. If you never say you also feel negative vulnerable emotions (e.g., sadness, embarrassment, anxiety), your wife will find herself being attracted to that guy at work that talks about how nervous he also gets before big presentations. Also, you’re cutting your wife’s natural nurturing impulses off at the knees. Women want to help you and take care of you, not to excess, but enough to feel that they have a positive impact on you (see #11). So if you never need them, they never feel needed, and they can never reassure or nurture you, and then they will either have to buy a puppy, have another baby, or cheat on you with a guy who needs their love.
5. Women want you to pick them over everyone. They want to think that if push came to shove, you would take their side over anyone else’s side, even their own parents or friends, or the kids. The more firmly they believe that you would be on their side for something important, the less likely this issue will ever come up. Example: your wife is confident that you’ll take her side in a squabble with her mom. Thus, she is calm and handles the squabble herself, even compromising or giving in. However, if your wife is NOT sure that you’d take her side, she will come to you with every squabble and ask who you think is right, and try to convince you to take her side, and therefore she will be more invested in the squabble and will not compromise or give in. When people feel supported and loved, they feel confident and calm, and can be their best selves.
6. Women want you to not get fat and grow ear hair. Keep it together. Get a haircut. Get a new shirt every few years. Take the stairs at work. As much as women prioritize emotional closeness, they prefer you not look like a Norfin.
7. Women want you to create a magical world of romantic closeness that is just you two together. “WTF,” you ask for the second time. “What do you even mean? Women are goddamn crazy. This is exactly why I wish I had no sex drive at all and never had to interact with women.” So here is what I mean: women like for there to be a special time or place almost every day where you can come together and be close and intimate. This is great because guess what, I have also just described what you want, e.g., sex! But here’s the thing: women need to be on this magical romantic virtual island BEFORE they want sex. So how are you going to create this special bubble of love (that will likely many times lead to physical intimacy)? Here’s some hints: use endearments, have special jokes together, reminisce about special memories in the relationship (NOT “hey remember when you used to go down on me? Yeah, what happened to that?), talk about what you thought about her when you first met, or when you first got married, or last week when she looked really hot, talk about future plans together (both the immediate future and decades from now), talk about how she makes you feel, what you really appreciate that she did that day, etc. To really hit this out of the park, see #8 on nonverbal communication, conveniently located next in this list, you’re welcome.
8. Women are sensitive to nonverbal communication. Don’t just use words, but also use actions and body language to show that you’re really interested in her, in a way that is obvious and meaningful. If someone watched a video of you talking to your wife or girlfriend, you want them to be able to tell that you’re in love. So, look into her eyes, sit forward, PUT DOWN YOUR PHONE, use an interested and engaged tone of voice (not that monotone that you use when you’re half paying attention and half doing fantasy football). And physically approach her and be on her level. If she is standing folding laundry, come over and stand next to her and help fold. If she is sitting at the kitchen table, come in and sit down too, don’t keep laying on the couch and yelling over to her. That’s not going to make her feel close. Basically, try to emphasize non-verbally that you are fully present in the moment with her. Like how when you’re having sex with her you want her to be present and not phone it in. Laying down yelling over to her while she’s doing stuff in the other room = phoning it in.
9. Women want you to be honest and nice. They do NOT just want a yes-man. If they ask you a question about what they should do, really answer it, but of course be kind. Of course, if they DO NOT ask you what they should do, don’t tell them. You’re not their boss or their father. Nothing turns a woman off faster than some arrogant guy who acts like he knows everything. Unless it’s a liar who just agrees with everything to get her off his case. Click on that link there for more on this topic.
10. Women like public declarations of love. For some women this will be something major, like a romantic proposal or a toast at your wedding. For some women this will be something small, like overhearing you tell the kids, “I’m so glad I married Mommy” when they ask about your wedding picture. For some women it’s something medium, like sending them flowers to their work on their birthday. Either way, start small and if that works, go bigger. No money has to be involved, just a willingness to make yourself look like a fool for love, because women grow up watching romantic movies and as much as you want porn style sex sometimes, they want movie style romance sometimes. Generally, ironic detachment doesn’t get you laid unless you’re a college sophomore. Who is also really hot.
11. Women want to know you are a better person because you’re with them. Did you ever hear a guy at work bragging that he got his wife to eat granola for breakfast instead of a Pop Tart? No, because guys don’t seem to really care about having a positive impact on changing women’s behavior. Yet, I hear stuff like this from female friends and clients a lot. I personally am really happy when my husband gets a flu shot because I reminded him to do it five times. I think, “See! If not for me, he would have the flu.” There is some saying like “A woman marries a man hoping to change him and a man marries a woman hoping she doesn’t change.” True! So, tell the woman you’re with all about how she has impacted you for the better. Are you healthier, kinder, more easygoing, more ambitious, less ambitious, happier, anything positive because of her? She wants to know, and if you tell her, she will feel awesome about herself, you, the relationship, and indirectly, your penis.
12. Women want to know that you think about them and love them. All of this is about feeling loved. Tell your wife or girlfriend that you love specific things about her. Don’t just throw an “I love you” at the end of your conversations. Show her that you think about her during the day by actually telling her this. So many men that I see in counseling tell me that they think about their wives during the day (some sexual thoughts, some warm thoughts), but never think to tell this to their wife. They assume it is obvious. It’s not obvious! If you even had one nice thought about your wife today and didn’t tell it to her, via text, email, phone call, or when you got home, it’s a squandered opportunity for a loving and warm interaction. If you went to the corner store or drug store and didn’t pick up a little something for her, even her favorite gum, that’s another squandered opportunity for closeness. Women who feel happy in their relationships think that their partner wants to show them they are loved and cherished. If a woman doesn’t feel this way, she will let you know she isn’t happy, and we all know how that goes for you.
Here we have a dozen things that women secretly, or not so secretly, want from their relationships. If you stepped up your game in one or even all twelve (!) of these areas, would your wife become focused on how to make you happy? Or how else to make you happy? Ponder this while you put down your smartphone.
Till we meet again, I remain, the Blogapist Who Wants To Make Your Relationship Blossom Like a Beautiful Flower, Also For You To Get Laid. And Don’t Bother Asking What Men Really Want Because That Post Is Coming Next. I Am Even Steven!
Order Dr. Rodman Whiten’s books, 52 Emails to Transform Your Marriage and How to Talk to Your Kids about Your Divorce: Healthy, Effective Communication Techniques for Your Changing Family, and listen to The Dr. Psych Mom Show on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, or anywhere else you listen to podcasts. If you need therapy, check out her online group practice Best Life Behavioral Health.
This blog is not intended as medical advice or diagnosis and should in no way replace consultation with a medical professional. If you try this advice and it does not work for you, you cannot sue me. This is only my opinion, based on my background, training, and experience as a therapist and person.