During a recent sunset happy hour with girlfriends, we inevitably turned the conversation to our favorite topic — men.
All four of us are divorced, actively dating, and trying to unravel this mystery of how to find the “perfect” man. The guy who knows himself, is a great communicator, understands unconditional love, and yes, is fantastic in bed.
It’s easy to talk about what WE want and what we want our men to do (and say) FOR us. But then I brought up the question, “What do men really want from us in return?” More specifically, “What are the words the men in our life most want to hear us say?”
“I want you,” my friend Ann piped in. “You are so smart/sexy/handsome,” said Toni. “Thank you,” said Marie. “Men want to feel appreciated.”
Intent on getting to the real answer, I created a one-question survey and posted the link to my Facebook Page with this message: “Men, take this three-minute survey and share with me what you most long for your woman to say to you.”
In a blink of an eye, I had 25 replies from men ages 40 to 60. Here are the top seven things (in reverse order) they collectively said they MOST want to hear the women in their lives say to them:
7. How are you doing?
And he wants you to mean it! Add to this, How can I make you happier? How can I make our lives better? and your man knows he has the deep connection he craves. “This makes me feel loved, listened to, cared about, heard, and understood,” one man commented. Another said, “I feel connected on a deep level when she genuinely cares about my inner well-being and truly ‘gets it,’ and gets me at that moment.”
6. You make me feel safe + You make me feel beautiful
When a man loves you, he wants to take care of you and make you feel special. Letting him know his efforts are successful inspires him to keep working hard at building a life with you. As one man explained, “When a woman tells me those two things, I feel I’ve built a good place for us in which all other things are possible.”
5. I support you + I’m proud of you + I believe in you
As the Tammy Wynette song goes, “Stand By Your Man.” Your man needs to know he can count on you — whether that’s encouraging him when he’s taking a risk or popping the champagne to celebrate when he wins. “[Her support] gives me the confidence to face challenges,” a survey respondent said.
Why? Because your man respects you, for the work you do and the person you are. So, when you support him, believe in him, and feel proud of him, he feels like he’s honoring your relationship in a meaningful way.
4. Let’s go out (Or: Let’s stay in)
Whichever way it goes, ladies, your guy wants you to mix it up and make time spent together not just “productive” but also fun. Relationships get stale if they always follow the same old routine.”I want to feel excited about being together.” (By the way, if he’s always taking you out and you decide to stay in and make a great meal, he’d also appreciate if you did the dishes, too.)
3. I want you
Your man wants to know he still turns you on, that you find him hot and can’t wait to get it on with him. “It makes me feel validated, appreciated, and desired (plus, perhaps not guessing),” one man commented. Don’t always wait for him to initiate sex. Let him know how much you desire him by making the first move.
2. Thank you
Gals, I can’t tell you how many guys just want you to appreciate them for what they do. He knows you need him. He loves to help. Sometimes he’s so attuned to making you happy, you actually need to tell him when he’s done enough.
“That she sees me working hard and she appreciates the efforts and results,” one man said. “[It let’s me know] that I make her happy,” said another. “That she likes it when I do nice things for her and I make her feel special.”
1. I love you.
According to the men I spoke with, these are by far the words men most want to hear. And when you say “I love you,” your guy wants to hear your soul speaking to his. He wants to feel, in every fiber of his being, that your love is unwavering and unconditional. Saying “I love you” in this way allows him to feel vulnerable and express his deep love for you in return. Isn’t that what we all want?
“A woman who can mirror that expression with equal honesty and intensity is what I most want,” one survey respondent said. Another said, “For me the words are very important but the thing that makes it REALLY meaningful is if the words come along with ‘the look’ or, even better, a touch or a hug — the best would be with all of the above!”
The common belief that ALL men want is sex couldn’t be further from the truth.
Yes, he wants to turn you on and please you (and enjoy sex himself). But more so, he wants you to want him, stand by him, and appreciate all he does. The next time you want to show your man how much he means, start with: “I love you” and then sprinkle some of the above phrases on him. He’ll adore you for it.
Debra Boulanger is a coach and lifestyle mentor for smart and accomplished women who want more from life – great health, incredible energy, passionate work and deeply satisfying relationships. She is the creator of The Great Do-Over Retreats and speaks with thousands of women each year through conferences, workshops, and syndicated radio.