What do women want? For those who’ve ever pondered this question, here are 10 relationship secrets. They’re based on the study of healthy, happy couples and our changing gender roles. Secret No. 1: Women appreciate a guy with a sensitive side, especially when they’re upset. Put your arm around them and hand them a tissue. Nurturing is a powerful way to connect.
When it comes to romance, many women do like men to take a traditional masculine role. This is especially true in the wooing stage of a relationship, according to psychologist Diana Kirschner, PhD, who’s written several books about love. They are perfectly capable of pulling out their own chair or opening a door, but if you see them hesitate, they might just be waiting for you to be the gentleman.
Styles come and go, but men’s attention to their grooming and clothing should be long lasting. It’s important to women from the first flirtation through the honeymoon and beyond. “You’ve got to figure out if there’s a certain look that she likes,” says Kirschner. “If she likes a guy in tight jeans, you wear tight jeans.”
OK, this tip doesn’t come from women, but from clever testing by psychologists of women’s subconscious preferences. One intriguing study found that the color red made men seem more powerful, attractive, and sexually desirable to women. There’s a caveat, though. Red doesn’t make guys appear nicer or kinder. That part is up to you.
Nothing captures a woman’s heart quite like a good man who wants to be a better man, according to love guru Kirschner. “Women love personal growth, they love a man who is thoughtful and sensitive.” They like it when their men recognize a flaw — a short temper, for example, or a regularly sullen mood after work — and love it when they make an effort to address it.
When something’s bothering them, they want your ear, not your advice. “Men feel the need to fix things because they are solution-oriented,” says Kirschner. “But to a woman, really listening is a wonderful, wonderful thing that deepens the relationship.”
Listening is important, but they also want to know that they are being heard. Nodding along won’t cut it. When she pauses, she’s giving you a cue to respond in a compassionate, caring way, says Kirschner. If they tell you that they are upset because their boss gave them a tough time, they want to hear you say, “I’m sorry that work was such a drag for you today.” And remember: Resist the urge to offer solutions.
The three dates before sex rule is an urban legend. Women don’t set a timeline on when they’ll invite a potential partner into the bedroom. Some women will want to have many dates before sex. A good rule of thumb is to give the relationship at least two months to grow before entering the sexual arena.
Guys often want to take the quickest path to sex. But many women prefer the scenic route. “Women want sex but they get to it in a different way,” says psychologist Kirschner, who has helped hundreds of couples achieve a more rewarding relationship. “They want to feel connected and understood, they want to be romanced.” That means time and talking and touching — in other words, foreplay.
This is something both of you need to focus on, but Kirschner says that women appreciate it and feel more protected when the guy makes it clear that it’s a concern to him — and then shows her that he practices what he preaches.