What the F#%! Do Women Want?
So many topics swirling in my head this morning. For starters, why my head thought 2 am was a good time to get up this morning!? Why? We don’t know. It just woke up and started lobbing blog topics at me. Like the ball machine on the tennis court...I have learned that when this happens it is just better to get up and start swinging (well writing)..
Out of all the topics, here we go...this one should generate some commentary...
So I was talking with a friend the other day. She was having a hard time reconciling a few things in her relationship. Nothing huge. In general, she has a very good, loving relationship. But a recent celebration put a damper on her mood because she had expectations and they went unfulfilled...
Her situation is not unique. I have been in the exact same place dozen of times. I know scores of other women who have also been there, likely more times than they would like to admit. And that got me thinking...why is this such a universal issue for women? And, I guess, men? And why is such an easy issue not more readily resolved?
Ok, what the fuck is the issue?
I know you were hoping for something juicier. This is what I have for you on a Thursday. This is what won out from the ball machine of my mind...Racy, steamy stuff will have to be held back for another day...
While it was my friend’s experience that caused me to start this whole mental machination, I am going to speak for myself because if there is anyone being thrown under any buses, it shall be me, throwing myself.
Here is what I have always wanted for my birthday:
The man I am dating to send me flowers. At work if I am employed and to my house if not. Flowers are the go to for me (and pretty much every woman I have ever met). Bringing them to me is fine, but having them delivered just connotes something romantic that is not achieved otherwise. And not grocery store flowers, that is better than no flowers, but nice flowers is something that I always want.
A loving note, can be funny or romantic, something, even a handwritten note would be great. Something that tells me how much I mean to him in writing. Thoughts from his head and heart, written down for me. It doesn’t have to be prose, it doesn’t even have to well written, just heart felt thoughts that let me know how much I mean to him.
For him to plan something for my birthday. A hike, a picnic, a trip. It really matters little and doesn’t have to cost anything. The important factor is that he planned something for me that I would like and appreciate and I didn’t have to tell him, ask him or even think about it.
Men, if you are reading this, I just gave you the three ingredients to a loving, great relationship with a woman. Do the above three things as often as you can and your life will be so much richer for it.
What I think all humans want is to be seen, appreciated. All of the above do just that. Show me that I am worthy of your time, attention and care. It doesn’t have to be $300 flowers or a love note written with perfume or a trip to Bali. Just enough to show that you are willing to put yourself out, spend a little, share with me how I make you feel and then some time together. Seriously, it is so easy, and yet, so often overlooked and missed.
When the guy doesn’t do one or any of the above, our feelings are hurt. Like a lot. Like makes us doubt you love us or are even interested. And it makes us wonder if we are with the right guy, the right relationship. This is still how we feel even if you have bought us a really nice gift. Without the other three, we still wonder if you really care. Which I am sure drives men crazy! "I bought her a fucking pair of diamond earrings!" And for us, we feel like, "Diamond earrings are great and I love them, but what I really wanted was flowers, a love note and something planned just for me."
Perhaps this seems dumb to you. Perhaps this seems like too much to ask. But is it? Really? This woman who has listened to you for countless hours talk about issues in your life, has lain beside you stroking your hair, who has likely done your laundry, cooked for you, helped you with your kids, or raised the ones you share. Is any of the above too much for her? And if you really feel like the answer is yes. Then I think you should find another woman, or perhaps, do a little soul searching as to why this most basic and minimal effort seems like a big ask for you.
While I am sure there are women out there who will profess not to want some or all of the above, I would argue that they are lying or in the very small minority.
If they are truly in the minority here, ask her what she really wants, then when she tells you, for the love of God, please do it. There is nothing so hurtful as us telling you what we want, having you say that you hear us and then you not doing it. That has killed more romance and love than I care to think about.
What I want, what most women I know want is to feel appreciated, adored, loved. And the three things above show us that we are valued (flowers), adored (loving words) and loved (time spent together).
And as much as some might argue that the above is a tall order, we need and want them all, every single year. No exceptions. If you hit two but not the third, all we will wonder is why you didn’t do the third thing. We will immediately wonder why we are not important enough to you to do all three. And so you doing only two of the three, will undermine your whole endeavor. So just do the three and don’t make us talk about it. Talking about this ruins it for us. If we have to tell you what we want, then it changes the dynamic and now it is just another thing that we have become responsible for and this in turn makes you feel like there is no pleasing us.
This is why I am dedicating an entire blog to this subject. I have another one brewing about what I think (of course, I do not KNOW, but even if I get it wrong, it will generate conversation and debate and that is good!) men want. I am dying to write that one...stay tuned...
Which brings me to the main point of this whole blog. Honesty. It is such a basic thing but we humans screw it up so completely, repeatedly. Every woman I know wants the above. Every single fucking time. But not one of us wants to tell you this. I mean, we might be able to say it six months before our actual birthday, but anything closer, spoils it for us and it makes us feel like we are being demanding and the only reason you are doing it is because we told you to. Which is not the same as you loving us enough to do it of your own volition.
It appears to me that this is where more relationships go south. Right here on the whole birthday front. Which seems like the most ridiculous thing ever. That something as common as a birthday could be the source of such pain and hardship and sometimes heartbreak. What we want is to be seen, to be shown in some real demonstrative ways that you see us, and that you value what we bring to your life. This is a three fold process for us. Spend a little money on us, tell us exactly how we make you feel, how wonderful you think we are and then spend time with us. I am fucking serious that if men would just do this as often as possible, the divorce and break up rate would drastically drop. Which seems like a gross simplification but it really isn’t.
Here is why...
After being in the divorce field for 27 years, I have learned a few things. And one of them is why relationships fail. And it is always the same thing. It is never different. Here are the top four reasons:
1. Dishonesty (mostly with ourselves about how we really feel about the person we are with but also with this other person because if we are lying to ourselves, we are lying to everyone else too). And this is where all of the above comes in to play which I will get into more in a minute.
4. The thermostat - I am kidding here, really. But I have seen some pretty large spats about this topic.
Dishonesty tops the list because it is the lies we tell ourselves about ourselves and our partners that cause the unbridled unhappiness later on. We partner with people who we make excuses for the things they lack. Telling first ourselves, then everyone else, lie after lie about stuff that we wished were not true, mostly about ourselves and then about the person we are dating or married to.
And from my vantage point, it all kind of begins right here. With birthdays. Which seems at surface, well, surface and superficial. But it isn’t. We want the above, every year. But we tell you lies about it because we don’t want to seem demanding, or too much, or be perceived as brats or entitled. It is rarely about the money spent, but the effort. It is about the effort. In a world where words reign supreme, action is devalued, but in a fated twist, all that really matters.
And when you don't do the above, when we really want and need it, we tell ourselves lies about you too. And those lies perpetuate for years until they are all we have. The lies and the resentments the lies grew. And we will blame you. Because it will be easy and there will be a long history of shit we can point to.
The above trifecta of making a woman happy on her birthday hits all the buttons:
An Act of service/gift - sending flowers.
Words of affirmation - card, love note, letter.
Time spent together - plans made and time spent.
And if you throw a thoughtful gift in there, you have just won the relationship lottery.
Doing the above three things (four with an actual present) will ensure love, support, kindness and sex more than anything else will. And I mean good sex, the kind that you long for and have repeatedly asked for but rarely get. And you don’t get it not because we don’t want to provide it, or aren’t capable of providing it, it is because we don’t feel cared for so we become stingy and afraid of giving more than we are getting. And whether we like it or not, birthdays are the proving ground for that.
So for fuck’s sake, show us how much we mean to you on our birthdays. Seriously. This is what we want. Every. Single. Time. No exceptions, even if you take us to Bali. I know it seems like a big ask but is it really? If there were three things you needed annually that cost under $500 bucks that required minimal effort, would you feel valued and loved if we repeatedly didn’t give them to you? Or only gave you only one of them?
Going back to myself for a minute, I love it when a man brings me flowers. Like you can never do this too often. I have had boyfriends who have brought me flowers every time I saw them (or at least weekly when we lived together). And I can tell you they reaped the rewards greatly. They knew exactly how much I appreciated those flowers. And I have been lucky enough to date a few men who left me notes, or sent me cards, or even text messages telling me that they were thinking of me, sometimes X-rated and sometimes just that they thought I was amazing or beautiful. And I have dated men who have planned trips or outings. But rarely have I been with someone who did all three. And rarer still someone who did all three often and not just on my birthday.
It is so simple. Really. But we don’t want to have to tell you, because then we always wonder whether you are doing it because you want to or because we told you to. And for the love of all that is holy, you know the difference between doing something for someone of your own volition and doing something because someone told you to. Please don’t make us tell you, and if we do, actually have the courage to tell you, please listen. Don’t make us tell you twice. If we have the temerity, and for us it does feel like temerity, to actually tell you what we want, please tell us immediately if you aren’t willing to do it. We need to know and you need to not waste your time with half measures.
Maybe for some women it will be a different list, but let me assure you that there is always a list. Always. And if you take the time to ask and inquire what that list is, you will be richly rewarded with the kind of love that only women can provide. The stuff that makes you seek us out, the stuff that makes you hot and bothered and the stuff that makes you snuggle up to us on the couch after a long day at work. And if you don’t want to ask or are dating someone too shy to tell you, default to the above list. I believe it will serve you well...and if it doesn’t let me know, and I will talk to her for you! Clearly not all women want the same actual things, but I will go out on a limb here and say that we all want to know the following:
1. That we are worthy of romantic gestures that cost money:
2. That you can and will tell us what goes on inside that mind of yours...how you feel about us.
3. That we are shown how important we are to you. That you are willing to expend the minimal effort to make a plan and execute on the plan.
These are indispensable. And sadly so lacking in relationships today. They are not stand ins for intimacy but seeds of intimacy. When you send us flowers or bring them to us, it creates a feeling of romance. And whether we are capable of admitting it or not, we want it. Even though we feel stupid for it. We want it. When you send us loving notes, cards, letters or even texts we feel affirmed. We feel wanted. Adored. And who doesn’t want to feel that? When you take the time to plan something for us, it takes the burden off of us, it makes us feel important to you. It makes us feel like we matter.
And this goes a long way in relationshiping. It is really, really simple. And I would argue that the more you do any of the above, the more loving your relationship with us will be. These are not substitutes for intimacy and love, but the seeds for it. The acts are the seeds, and your repeated willingness to provide them the water. Which allows the love to grow and be returned to you ten times over.
And if you are the kind of guy that doesn’t get it, and we have a conversation about it, we have the actual courage to tell you what it is exactly that we want, please have the courage to tell us if you really aren’t interested in providing it. The above list is really something anyone can provide. It isn’t hard or expensive or too time consuming. So if you refuse to do it or tell us you aren’t capable, you are really doing us both a disservice. Because I am telling you, this will become an ongoing fight later on. And we will bring up all the ways you have let us down. And it will always come down to not feeling appreciated, adored and loved and they will always return to what you did or didn’t do for their birthday as Exhibit A. Tell me I am wrong. Seriously. You will feel like we are keeping score, and I guess, we are. But the score isn't what it appears, it isn't about the shit that we fight about...it is about the love that we didn't get, or feel, or experience. Every. Single. Time.
It is the path to a woman's heart. Truly. Please, take heed.
Seriously this was the best I could find for a photo with a man with a card and flowers...now, I will tell you that I found a million ones of a woman with that for a man...loving notes, gifts, hugs, even flowers. WTF?