Samantha De Bono Counselling Bromley

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What men want in a relationship

By: Samantha De Bono

From my experience as a couples counsellor, it seems most men have trouble asking for what they want from their partner. Whether this is because they feel uncomfortable asking for what they want or whether due to social conditioning, 
they are unable to communicate their needs for fear of looking weak (or possibly both) it would appear that men tend to internalise their needs. This makes for a difficult relationship because no changes can be made unless both parties communicate their needs. Knowing what men want in a relationship is essential if you want it to go the distance. 

As women we think we are the more insecure of the sexes, however, that's not strictly true. The male ego is a sensitive area which can be easily dented. Men joke with their mates and put each other down, but when it comes to their partner, it's quite a different matter, in his relationship he needs to feel supported and reassured. Us women like it when our partner compliments us and recognises our good points, well so do men. Praise is necessary in all relationships. Telling your man he looks good and what you love about him physically, mentally and emotionally won't make him think he doesn't have to try any more, quite the reverse, he's far more likely to continue being the person you love because he knows what he's doing right. 

Men generally find their identity through their career, so it will be important that his partner respects and regards what he does. If a man feels that his partner doesn't respect his career, or the things he believes in, he is likely to believe he isn't truly loved because these things are all integral to who he is as a person. This feeling will cause him to distance himself from his partner.

When I ask couples what they want from their relationship, I tend to hear the same every time. Women generally jump in with "well I know he'll say he wants more sex". But rarely do men jump in with "well I know she'll want more talking". Actually, when it comes to couples, it's virtually the same thing. We do connect as a couple through sex, however women connect better through communication and men connect better through sex. Most women complain that their partner would like sex every day, but that's not necessarily the case, for example, men get satisfaction from affection and although women argue that if they show affection, their partner "always" thinks she then wants sex, men complain that there is rarely affection shown towards them other than during sex, so if affection was shown on a regular basis, it is much more likely that your man won't always assume sex is on the cards. 

Who ever designed men and women really messed this area up, because women need to connect through talking and men need to connect through sex but the woman doesn't want sex, because the man hasn't connected with her through talking and the man doesn't want to talk, because the woman hasn't connected with him sexually. It's a tough one because this can cause a very big rift in the relationship. It's a good idea to ask your partner what other ways you can show your love so that the void can be bridged.

In couples counselling I see many men who internalise all their feelings and rarely let out what's really going on for them.  This frustrates the partner because they want to know what's going on in that head of his, but women shouldn't believe they can pick and choose when to hear what's going on for their man. Your relationship should be a safe space for both parties to express your fears and concerns.  A "boys don't cry" attitude is unhealthy because men need to be able to show their vulnerabilities too. Your man needs to feel he will not be judged by you as weak if he expresses worry, concern or upset. If you aren't available at those times, he will start to withdraw because the process of opening up and trusting their partner is a difficult one for men, so don't shut him down or remove your support, or he will be unlikely to trust in you or the relationship in the future for his emotional support.

Generally speaking, from what I see in my practice, it is usually women who want more time spent together and the men wanting and needing more space.  It's a tricky one because there needs to be a balance here, obviously if you are in a relationship, one would hope that your man would want to spend time with you, however, separateness is a need that men have much more than women and you can be sure that the fastest way to lose your man is to suffocate him by causing an issue when he wants some free time or behaving jealously when he does go away from you. 

The difference between the genders is overwhelmingly obvious in this particular area of a relationship. When women have a problem, we tend to go to friends or family for advice and guidance, whereas men, when facing a problem or worry prefer to go it alone. They like thinking time, space to be alone with the problem at hand, and it usually stresses them out when we insist on them telling us what's going on. So let him breathe. Let him get on with it and understand the way in which he needs to handle his problems, allow him to come to you once he has processed what he needs to sort out. Not only will a man be happier if he knows he's returning to a loving partner who trusts him and understands his need for space, but the relationship is far more likely to last.

Earlier I mentioned how women complain that their partner always wants sex, but he does have a need for frequent non-sexual affection too.  He will feel loved by you if you touch him lovingly whilst he is doing something else, it doesn't have to be a full-on snog, but running your hand across his back or a kiss on the cheek will mean a lot to him, it is a way of giving him an "I love you" message.

Men need to feel secure in their relationship just as much as we do and security is built by all the the points above, so in short, he needs to hear that you approve of him from his looks to his career, he needs to feel loved to feel secure (just as we do) by way of affection and non-sexual intimacy, as well as not having to feel guilty that he needs to connect with you sexually as well. His security also comes from knowing he has space to do what is important to him without his partner making him feel bad for wanting it. 

If you want your man to spend time with you, ironically you have to allow him time away from you. Don't see this as a rejection, as long as he's not always out with the boys and rarely spending time with you, it is just a 'male thing' try to let it go, try not to question him on his return, or pick up on isolated bits he may tell you eg: he says "at work today Megan spilled coffee all over me" and you say "who's Megan?" rather than "oh no did it burn you?".  See my point? this is the type of thing that eventually causes men to withdraw and stop talking to us or letting us in.

This blog isn't about being a door mat for your man, it's about understanding how men work, with the hope that you get your needs met too BECAUSE you know how he works. It really can be a win-win situation if you let it.