Don't worry, this is not a bait-and-switch headline. I'm going to tell you what women really want. And men too, while we're at it. I'm writing on behalf of a matchmaking company, after all. Lean in.
What women (and men) really want is...
not to be generalized.
Shockingly simple! I know. But hear me out.
Countless cliches, universal old sayings, and even modern minted books exist to try and help one gender perceive what the other half of the population is craving, so that they may deliver it and become an object of the others’ desire.
Ironically, that kind of thinking is the exact road block which prevents two people from paving a meaningful connection.
Disciplines like Anthropology and Psychology continue to prove there are some legitimate, fundamental differences between the sexes, and I am not here to defy the canon of social science. Rather, consider that what makes up a person's taste in a companion is more complex than their chromosomes. We have billions of years of evolution inside of us, topped off by a specific stack of inherited traits, which is then born to a particular set of parents in a particular location in a particular period of time, growing, thinking, learning-- changing-- each and every day. A person is the sum of their genes, much like a handyman is the sum of his toolbox. Choices and actions are key.
When we suggest we know what women/men want, we ignore that specific and marvelous path an individual took to get to where (and who) they are. Indeed, we erase their identity, all the little quirks that make up their unique self, and reduce them down to little more than their sex organs.
(By the way, treating women like they are little more than their sex organs is pretty much the ONLY thing you can be universally assured we don't want.)
But let's assume for a moment we all want the same thing: an attractive partner who is stimulating, supportive, and helps us be happy.(Consider how many adjectives I used in that sentence, and how hopelessly subjective each one of them is).
We must avoid confusing what society tells us is attractive and good in a partner to allow for the discovery of it ourselves. Yes, ladies, you don't have to “prove” you're a worthy beauty by having a 24 inch waist. And no, gentleman, we don't all need 2 dozen roses on the first date to prove that you're a catch. While indeed highly desirable to some, such attributes are neither universally attractive, nor the key to happiness with a partner.
You may be saying, “But the women in my life always say/act/think like x/y/z...” Indeed. Consider that the human brain is trained to find what it already thinks is there. This is a real phenomenon called “Patternicity,” researched by leading minds at Harvard and UT Austin. Rather than recognizing an actual pattern, your brain might be shutting out evidence to the contrary, causing you to reaffirm a belief - or pattern - you already assume to be there. (Of course, science aside, maybe you just have a type...?)
So, no, not all women want to be taken care of (not more than men, anyway). Not all women like jewelry and shopping. Not all women prefer cuddling over sex. Similarly, it's unreasonable for women to think there's something wrong with us if a man doesn't get an erection at the drop of our dress, or that men are incapable of relating to their emotions, or that the man should always pick up the check (oh yeah; I went there).
These stereotypes keep us in cages. We reach out for each other, but can't escape the barred thinking that prevents meaningful human-to-human embrace.
Jokes at the other gender's expense can be a healthy way to laugh off tension and misunderstanding. However, never let the stereotypes underneath those jokes supersede the most wonderful gift we have in the 21st century: the right to tons of information that helps us develop our individuality, and determine for ourselves what we find attractive.
In other words, women want what men want. Men want what women want. To be treated like a person. Not another sheep in the flock. Not someone easily replaced by someone else who just happens to have the same gonads.
So, the next time you're wondering what women (or men) want, drop the self-help book, look your date in the eye--and ask.
Even if they don't have a quick answer (few of us are fortunate enough to know with clarity what makes us truly happy in this life— that's why it helps to have a Matchmaker), they will always remember you were the one who asked.
Pick the love lock,
Author of Heartalytics Series--
The Love Gates