(OMTimes |Marcia Sirota) Do you know what you want in love and do you know how to get it?
Getting our needs met in our romantic relationship is not as difficult as we might think. It’s as simple as becoming aware of three crucial factors: one, men and women are different and what we want from our partner isn’t necessarily what they want from us. Two, men and women have different ways of communicating and we have to tailor how we express ourselves to suit these differences.
Three, it all comes down to the right choice of partner. We can understand the differences between the sexes and express our needs and feelings in a way that they can hear us, but if our partner is incapable of being loving, responsive and respectful it’s moot. Not only do we have to recognize the difference between men and women; we also need to see that there are some men and some women who simply aren’t suitable partner-material.
What do men really want in a relationship?
They want to feel useful, and appreciated for what they have to offer a woman. They want to give her things and to solve problems successfully. They need the woman they’re with to make them feel good about themselves; they want to be desired as a man and respected for their accomplishments whether at home or in the world.
What men don’t want is to feel shamed or belittled. A woman who makes a man feel small doesn’t realize what a cardinal sin she’s committing. Men also hate to feel controlled; they want to feel like they’ve come to a decision on their own. Men despise being nagged and will tune a woman out if they feel that she’s continually harping on a subject.
What do women really want in a relationship?
Women, on the other hand, want to be listened to and understood. It’s important that the man tries to make us happy. He should be interested in and sensitive to our needs and feelings. He should make us feel beautiful and desirable, as well as intelligent and competent. We should get the sense that he feels lucky to have found us.
What women don’t want is to feel insecure. We want to know that our man is committed to us. We don’t like it when men too obviously check out other women or when they are overly-flirtatious. This is humiliating to us. If a man tells us that we’re neurotic because we don’t like it when they’re spending a lot of time looking at or talking to other women, this infuriates us. Whatever the man’s intentions are, we experience this behavior as disrespectful.
Women need their man to respond to their requests in a reasonable manner. It is enormously frustrating to try talking to a man and to hit a brick wall. Men, on the other hand, need to be spoken to in a way that gets through to them. The brains of men and women are wired differently. Men need things laid out to them simply and logically. They also need to deal with one issue at a time.
Whereas women are natural multi-taskers, even in their conversations, men become confused or overwhelmed if we try to make too many points in one discussion. We need to break things down and address each issue, one by one, if we want the man to be able to take it all in and respond appropriately.
Men also need the time to be right when they’re getting into an important discussion. Just as a woman needs to be in the right mood for intimacy, a man needs to be in the right frame of mind for a serious talk. If we respect this need on their part, we’re much more likely to get our needs met.
Take responsibility for you own behavior
No matter how sensitive we are to the differences between men and women, if we don’t take responsibility for our own behavior, it’s just not going to work. A man might hate to be nagged but if he refuses to be an adult in his relationship and won’t participate equally in the household chores or child-rearing, what does he expect?
His insistence on acting like one of the children will frustrate his partner to no end and will bring out her angry, demanding side. If he wants a loving, supportive wife he needs to be a loving supportive husband, and a major way of doing this is to be an equal partner in the family life.
If a man is frustrated because his partner is less than enthusiastic about intimacy, he might want to look at how he’s been behaving toward her. An unhappy, angry woman isn’t going to feel amorously inclined toward her man. If he is critical of his woman or complains a lot about her shortcomings; if he compares her unfavorably to other women or if he neglects her emotionally, he’s creating a cold war in the bedroom that is up to him to thaw out.
The same goes for how a woman treats her man. If she wants him to listen to her, she can’t barrage him with a to-do list the minute he wakes up in the morning or walks through the door at the end of the day. If she respects his need for some time and space, he’ll be that much more inclined to give her his time and full attention when it really counts.
Just as a woman can’t tolerate disrespect, a man equally needs to feel loved and affirmed. If a woman is subtly or more overtly critical or rejecting, she can’t then expect her man to respond to her in a loving way. If she badgers him continuously with unreasonable demands, he’ll become unresponsive to her valid needs. It’s up to her to see that whereas kindness and respect will bring out the best in her man, a hostile attitude will foster coldness and resistance on his part.
Stop wasting our time trying to change our partner into something they clearly don’t want to be
Let’s say, however, that we’ve done everything to be responsible, understanding and respectful toward our partner but that things aren’t working out. It could mean that the person we’re with just isn’t capable of meeting our needs. Every relationship is a fifty-fifty proposition and no matter how good we are on our side, the other person needs to meet us half-way. It’s essential that we understand this fact.
If we’re keeping up our end of the bargain and our partner is unable or unwilling to do their share, it doesn’t bode well for the relationship. We can’t make someone into a good partner; they have to want it and do it on their own. Sometimes couple’s therapy can help sort out the issues between two people, but if our partner continues to refuse to behave in a sensitive and caring manner, the best choice is usually to cut our losses and walk away.
If we stop wasting our time trying to change our partner into something they clearly don’t want to be, we’ll be free to pursue a relationship with someone who is capable of meeting our needs. When we’re with a loving and respectful partner, our comprehension of the different needs and communication styles of the two sexes will result in both partners being happy and fulfilled.
About the author
Dr. Marcia Sirota is a Toronto-based board certified psychiatrist specializing in the treatment of trauma and addiction, as well as founder of the Ruthless Compassion Institute, whose mandate is to promote the philosophy of Ruthless Compassion and in so doing, improve the lives of people, everywhere.
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