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Six Keys to Understanding Women

Understanding what women want isn't that complicated.

Key points

  • Establishing closeness as soon as possible after a period of separation helps many women feel the relationship is on solid ground.
  • For a woman, a lack of desire for sex may have nothing to do with her partner.
  • Women don't need to be talked out of their fear or have their problems solved. They simply want their partners to listen and understand.

1. Recognize that women want to feel connected.

Women want to make sure their relationship is on solid ground. After a period of separation — even a day apart — establish that closeness as soon as you can, and everything afterward will flow more freely. This doesn't mean you have to put your own needs completely on hold. For example, if you come home exhausted from a long day at work and your partner wants to talk, try saying, “I'm so glad to see you. I missed you and wondering how your day was going. I want to hear all about it, but I'm tired right now. I need a few minutes to unwind and relax. Can we talk in 15 minutes?”

2. Don't jump into problem-solving mode.

If you're not sure what your partner needs at any given moment, it's okay to ask her. You might say, “It sounds like you're really upset. Would you like me to listen, or would you like some suggestions?”

3. If your partner is less interested in sex than you are, try a little empathy.

Instead of taking the rejection personally and pressuring her for more frequent sex, consider the possible reasons for the discrepancy and desire – reasons that may have nothing to do with you. Be sensitive to issues from the past as well as your partner’s general frame of mind. Is your partner a survivor of sexual abuse? Were there traumas in her past that make physical intimacy frightening for her?

4. Think about how much work your partner does.

Is she frequently exhausted? If she works outside the home, how much responsibility do you assume for cooking, shopping, cleaning, laundry, and childcare? I remember a cartoon with the heading, “What do women want?” The drawing depicted a woman vacuuming; in the bubble above her head, there was a man vacuuming. Brainstorm with your partner to figure out how you can reduce her workload.

5. Allow your partner to voice her fears, and support her in her efforts to face difficult situations.

Women feel empowered by their significant relationships; your caring attitude will contribute to your partner’s success in attaining her goals. She doesn't need you to talk her out of her fear or solve her problems. She just wants you to listen and understand.

6. Understand that communication is a process.

Look at communication challenges as an invitation to keep on talking, keep on listening, and eventually work things out. You and your partner may communicate very differently, but the potential is still there to reach higher levels of understanding and interest.

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