In the world of relationships, we know that women want love, commitment, and romance, but what do men really want, is it companionship or sex? The answer is a bit complicated and it appears to differ with age. Men in their 20s and 30s want both freedom and sex.
Women want to be settling down by their late 20s and 30s. For the over 40s cuddling and kissing takes the top spot, as reported in "Sexual Satisfaction and Relationship Happiness in Midlife and Older Couples in Five Countries."
Further, the report noted that "Longer relationship duration predicted greater relationship happiness and sexual satisfaction for men. However, women in relationships of 20 to 40 years were significantly less likely than men to report relationship happiness."
In the discussion the authors found this to be "an initial framework to begin to examine couples in more depth as to how sexuality and relationship variables interact with different life phases." Archives of Sexual Behavior.
What the study really tells us is that men and women have different desires that fluctuate over the course of togetherness. But what about younger couples today - what is it that men want and by accommodating their wishes can a relationship thrive?
Younger couples today seem to be flocking to online relationships and friends with benefits. They are living together and marriage is no longer trendy. Much of this has to do with women accommodating men's wishes for the sake of being in a relationship. But are they really free of anxiety?
What are men's 5 top wishes and what about your needs?
I have adapted 4 of the 5 wishes from an earlier article linked at the end and added the women's perspective.
Sex: Young men like sex anywhere, anytime, planned, spontaneous, but often. One complained, "Sometimes my girlfriend is in the kitchen and she looks so sexy in a cute domestic way. So I go over to her and try to be romantic and she says, 'Not now, I'm cooking.' That's almost as bad as 'Not tonight, dear.'"
And yes, men appear to have an oral fixation that tops the sex list. And the best advice I can give is to refer you to Redbook: How to Please a Man
Should women comply? It is a give and take, what is he doing to please you?
Freedom: It seems that men need to feel free and call the shots. They do not want to be boxed in by having us question: "Are we going out this weekend?" or "Why didn't you call?"
And if they do not answer phone messages, texts, or emails right away or within a few days, perhaps it is because they feel that they are exempt.
As for not answering emails—and let's assume you are not sending 5 a day—you might have to remind him of netiquette: Do Let People Know Their Mail Has Been Received - Email Etiquette Rule.
Should women sulk, accept his answer "I wasn't in the mood," or decide that he is not worth the effort? How to know when it's time to throw in the towel.
To paraphrase the Beltway Bachelor, a Washington writing colleague—he calls this ignoring technique a cowardly tactic that men use to end a relationship. Their hope is that women will eventually decide their inconsiderate guy is not worth dating. (From his upcoming Break-Up article.)
From the women's perspective, should she confront without being confrontational?
If you are in a friends with benefits relationship—or an intimate emotional and sexual relationship—then you probably want to know if something is wrong and if it can be fixed. Before writing him off, keep in mind that it would be sad to end a relationship or a friendship over a misunderstanding.
Honesty: Young men tell me that they hate being manipulated into a situation. "If my wife wants something, I want her to ask rather than play games."
From the women's perspective: Honesty is always good, and if the two of you are locking horns over simple issues perhaps it is time for the "Let's save this relationship" talk.
Forgiveness: The majority of young and middle-age men whom I have interviewed through the years say that forgiveness is "huge" and grudges are wedges.
"We need you to forgive our few flaws and mistakes, stupid and otherwise," says the Beltway Bachelor. "Please can you get rid of that mental ledger with indelible and detailed entries on the debit side?"
From a woman's perspective: If he is sweet enough to help you with simple decisions—"My hair up or down?"—as any wonderful girlfriend would do, it might be worth giving him a pass.
Appreciation: Men really do want to be respected and appreciated. They seem to need a lot of stroking. Praise works wonders, just be truthful.
(And along with the truth men added "Tell us what you want instead of nagging us. Nagging makes us feel unappreciated.")
From the women's perspective: It works both ways. Women do like a phone call unexpectedly. Women do like a silly text. Women do like an email that says, "You're hot," as much as the guys do.
And kissing. Please, please, please do give us a long and tender kiss when you come home at night.
Long term happiness
The study of long-term committed couples shows that within the phases of life there are ups and downs. Starting out with a positive attitude and trying to negotiate the differences are good ways to find a relationship balance. Once you understand what he wants and are honest about what you want, then you might better evaluate how to proceed in the world of love and loyalty.
[Adapted from Men's Top 4 Wishes and Why You Should Grant Them]
Copyright 2012 Rita Watson/ All Rights Reserved
(The Beltway Bachelor articles are listed at www.ritawatson.com)
Follow Rita Watson on Twitter @ LoveColumnist
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