What Men Love About Women

what attracts menI’m going to keep the preamble short and sweet. I am a man, after all, so let’s get to the point.

Last month, I shared some thoughts from women who participated in my recent survey. I asked them what they like about men, and what they find frustrating. (You can find that post here.) The survey is part of my 2014 book, The Woman’s Guide to How Men Think: Love, Commitment, and the Male Mind.

This week, it’s the men’s turn. To my own surprise, a great number of men have responded to the survey. Most had good things to say, a few were critical, and some were just plain confused. As one man put it, “I understand everything about women, except all those weird things they do.”

Confused or not, it seems that men like women. A lot.

First, the Complaints

Before we discuss what’s great about women, here are some male frustrations. One of the most common complaints I hear from men, both in the survey and in the clinic, is the fear that no argument can end positively. They fear they are destined to lose, and that women never forgive.

“I get a lot of grief for not communicating better, even though I have good intentions. Men are always told we need to communicate better. What do women need to do better? Nothing, it seems. Always, the fault seems to be mine. Can a woman lift as much weight as a man? In general no, and who expects her to? A man would be a jerk for suggesting that she should. Why then are we men constantly expected to communicate the same way women do? There are inherent differences between men and women.”

“When we [men] argue, we’re arguing about that particular conflict; you’re arguing about that conflict plus past conflicts.”

“We don’t expect our women to be perfect, but they seem to expect that from us. We’re not perfect. Neither are they.”

“They don’t forget anything. The old mistakes, purchases that didn’t work out, the thing said in anger.… You can never take them back, even if you wish you hadn’t said them, and they always bring it back up in an argument. They will not accept an apology and forget it.”

“We think you expect us to be perfect when you remember our past mistakes but forget our successes.”

“It seems like I can knock myself out doing repairs, cutting firewood, working on the cars, even housework(!) but somehow, there’s an issue with what I HAVEN’T done. That really makes me retreat. I don’t need to discuss everything and explain what I was thinking at any given moment!”

“I guess, in the end, men just want to remove the guesswork. We just want to know that there IS a right answer.”

Another common frustration: the different approaches men and women take toward fixing problems.

“Women seem to focus more on the problem rather than the solution.”

“I think guys would be more inclined to be more communicative if women would be more agreeable to get to the point and fix the problem, rather than avoid it and focus on the symptoms.”

“Women don’t like to fix problems; rather, “venting” about it is often enough. This, of course, just means that the problem comes back later and we go through the cycle all over again.”

“Why is venting enough to calm you down? It’s frustrating when I vent and realize I’ve not accomplished anything to fix the problem.”

One of the most common frustrations that women expressed was about male silence. Here’s what men had to say in defense of silence and stoicism:

“Being quiet is a way to process, much in the same way that women need to talk to process”

“She should understand there are times were I just want to sit calm, think about it, and remain silent, at least for a couple of minutes. Or she should at least understand that she’s simply better than me at arguing.”

“When I talk, it is to convey information and thoughts or ask for your opinion. Just chattering away about random details makes it really hard to figure out what, if anything, I am expected to do. I realize that sometimes there is no action item for me in their 50 stage loosely related detailed report, but most of the time there is something they want me to do at step 37 of 50 and I can miss it due to low signal to noise ratio. I wish I could tell my wife how hard it is to follow her train of seemingly unrelated thoughts sometimes.”

“Because men relate by doing things together, we rely more on nonverbal communication.”

“If we are being silent it’s because we either (a) don’t want to hurt your feelings with the truth, (b) trying to word our reply just right so we don’t hurt your feelings even more or (c) don’t know what else to say to comfort you because you’ve already said it all!”

Bad Boys and Good Men

One of the things that confounds men is women’s attraction to “bad boys.” Men who regard themselves as communicative, humble, and reliable find it baffling when women choose disrespectful men.

“Why do you date men who treat you poorly and miss out on the good ones? We have to compete with the bad ones. Women need to look beyond urges or first impressions.”

“I wish we understood what it is women want in a man. I have learned that though you say you want a nice, emotional guy, those aren’t the guys that attract you.”

“Honest guys don’t try to portray themselves as perfect, but there are definitely plenty of guys that will put on that mask so they can ‘bag’ a girl and then leave her when he’s done. Ironically, they get most of the women… then women complain ‘You just can’t trust guys. All they ever want to do is sleep with you, and they will say or do anything to accomplish that goal.’ I’m sure she was warned about this guy from SOMEONE and she used the typical excuse: ‘No! He’s not like that at all. With me it’s different!.’”

“I happen to be rather good at communicating what I feel and need, and notice that a lot of women find this unattractive.”

“We are so basic, so easy to keep happy. I think in a way this frustrates women. I think many women want us to meet them on the more emotional plane but that contradicts what may have originally attracted them to us in the beginning. They want the strong, silent type or the bad boy but once the relationship is up and running then they want us to be more sensitive or open to talking about more things. Unfortunately, I don’t really think you can have it both ways.”

“Women will never truly understand that they are the reason there are poor quality men in the world. If women stopped befriending and forgiving misogynists, the world would be better off.”

“I think women have a hard time understanding what kind of guy is good for them. They often choose men who (as other men already see) are bad for them, then bitch after they get dumped. They like confident men. Well, men are rarely super confident around women they care about. They are however confident around women they don’t care about. Why? Because they don’t care whether the woman likes them or not and are freely themselves. This attracts women to men who don’t like them much. Guys can see this a million miles away. Women have a hard time figuring this out.”

Good men and bad boys seem diametrically opposed on one thing: good men find joy in making women happy.

“We wish we knew how to please you. It’s important to us, and frustrating when we don’t know what you want.”

“I want for her to be happy and am frustrated that easy to fix problems are treated as unsolvable crises. Really I just want peace at home and that, for better or worse, is defined by my wife.”

“We want all the cards on the table so that we can deal with the issue at hand and make you happy again. When she’s upset, we’re upset, no matter how much we try and hide it.”

“They assume that we know whats wrong with them and how to fix it, when 99% of the time we are utterly clueless and they won’t tell us, they are just pissed and bitchy. And then when we finally figure out what is wrong, they do NOT want our help! Which leaves us feeling completely powerless to make them happy.”

“In general if you tell us whats wrong we will try to make it better!”

 “We’re the expendable half of the species, ladies. Designed to take down the bad guys to save the children we’ve made or tried to make with you. We’re your weapons; your attack dogs. We’re ready to die taking down the threats against you. There isn’t much call for this in the 21st century but this is our baggage. We’re here to take down your problems and when you don’t have any calling for our upper body strength, raw courage, or foolish daring, we can be at a loss. ”

“When we fight, I can’t think, sleep, or eat until there is resolution.”

“We really do want to make women happy.”

Advice from Men

Just like the women, the men offered some practical tips for the opposite sex:

“Women tend to deny every compliment guys give, and it just makes us want to not give them anymore.”

“Trust our answers and stop asking the same question repeatedly.”

“Men need intimacy; men need quiet time; men need to bond with other men.”

“Don’t dissect my every move. It doesn’t mean that much.”

“When a woman is proud of you for doing something well, it is a wonderful feeling. I don’t mind working 12 hours a day, but like a good dog, I appreciate a scratch and a ‘good boy’ at the end…. It annoys sometimes me how much I still want her approval, even though I am very successful at work and in other areas.”

“We love to help you! We really do. That’s what makes us trust our manly worthiness. Your wishes are our commands. We love when you depend on us.”

“A woman who laughs at my jokes makes me feel good inside.”

“Why do they sweat the small stuff instead of enjoying life?”

“We communicate through our actions more than anything. Women tend to make big deals out of even the smallest wrong said thing, but they should really be focusing on actions. I don’t get how me failing to comment on a haircut overshadows something like taking you out for a night on the town, or an especially emotional gift, or back rubs every night.”

“One woman I know gets it. She told me that after 30 years of marriage, she knows how to make her husband happy: ‘Every so often I cook him a steak and take him up to bed.’ Yes, we really are that simple.”

“If you really want to know what we’re thinking and press us on it, don’t be surprised if you don’t like the answer. We were probably keeping it to ourselves because we knew you’d be hurt. It’s probably not personal, though.”

Now For the Good Stuff

What did the men like most about women? As one man said, “Phew. I am not sure if there is enough space here to list everything.” Here’s a short list of what men love about women:

“What we like: your gentleness, your warmth, and yes, your bodies, and no, they don’t need to be perfect.”

“Women are closer to emotions, and I find that women represent beauty that you just cannot find anywhere else in the world.”

“I can talk to my female friends and be nurtured. Bro’s dont nurture bro’s. We can talk and we can get deep and very real and practical, but all men come from women and that nurturing that we received as a baby imprints on us, and try as we like, we can’t get away from that.”

“One of the best moments with any woman is the first time you reach out to hold her hand and she reaches out to hold yours.”

“Women need to understand that boys would rather be around them than most anywhere or with anyone else.”

“Their smell, soft skin, tender touch. Sometimes when you look in their eyes you can see all the way to their soul.”

“They can be very kind and aware of the needs of others in a way that would never occur to me. Not that i don’t care about others, it just doesn’t occur to me a lot of the time.”

“I love how they can counterbalance me and help me see things from a different angle. If they are wise, they can make me change my mind when I have become stove-piped in my thinking or actions.”

“And of course, their intelligence. An intelligent girl is worth the world and even more!”

“Compassion, the fact that they do show their emotions more publicly, their intelligence. Oh, and boobies!”

“I enjoy the way they do not fear emotion. I love the way they live with open hearts. It makes them more vulnerable to feeling sad, but it opens them up to feel a level of content and joy beyond what I think men can. They just live on the emotional extremes. The ability to have high highs and low lows makes sharing a life with them both exciting and challenging.”

“They’re not men.”

(From a French man): “A stupid thing that is their smile.”

“Everything. The way they look, the way they talk, the way they think, the way they feel.”

“Honestly? Their bodies. Testosterone is a wicked master.”

“I like feeling useful to her.”

“I like that they let me protect, provide for and cherish them.”

“Their bubbliness. Their empathy. Their willingness to love.”

“The best moments I’ve had with a woman is usually doing something really simple, when we feel a good connection and are just really into each other.”

“I love women. They are on the whole great to be with and make good friends as well. I can get things from a woman that other guys can’t give and I am thankful for all the things they do in our lives.”

I could post several hundred more words on what men love about women, but I think you get the point. We are lost without you. OK, I’ve shared, now it’s time for me to head back to my garage. Just one more quote, possibly my favorite: “I think women over-think men and men under-think women.”

-IS

(Once again, many thanks to all the men and women who participated. The survey is still open if you’d like to join it. I’m especially interested in hearing from more men. Guys, go here.)

10 comments

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  • Eh, Hugh Grant is a a living counter argument to the statement that women aren’t attracted to nice guys who aren’t very confident. He’s the Keanu Reeves of romantic comedies. He usually plays the same doofy, sweet guy and women love those movies. I think what is actually happening is that guys are attracted to a select “shiny” few women and the guys who aren’t confident never even ask these ladies, instead, they mope around and envy the guys with enough temerity to do so. Unfortunately, the guys with the guts are also typically the narcissistic douche bags that are going to prove themselves to be jerks in the long run. If my husband hadn’t ever gotten around to asking me–by email, to “go on some sort of date-like activity in the future” then I would have remained friends with this sweet guy who I assumed didn’t like-me-like-that. There are a lot of women out there who would appreciate and deeply desire a nice guy. Perhaps it is that men should rethink their priorities in what they really think are important qualities in a partner. Does this apply to all men? No, of course not. Nevertheless, all the single guys I know that consider themselves frustrated “nice guys” fit this pattern.

  • Ah yes Stephanie. Hugh Grant the human being that you know personally or Hugh Grant the actor, skillfully reading lines written for him by some bald, middle-aged schlump?

    Reality is a B…

  • Gordy: Bald is sexy! I understand the point you make though. Hugh Grant is easy to look at and the actor appears to be an undesirable partner in real life. Tom Hanks then. I think he’s somewhat unfortunate looking and although not so bumbling perhaps, his roles are frequently to play sweet guys and he’s very desired by the ladies. Studies can pretty well peg what men find physically attractive in women, but the reverse- not so much. Black women have been found to generally prefer the appearance of black men and women do proclaim a preference for tall men, but it is way more variable for women. The point of my comment was to actually encourage shy men so I’m not sure what got yer dander up, Anon.

  • I have never been attracted to the “bad boy.” I have always liked the nerdy, sweet, more quiet guy. What frustrates me is that sometimes those “bad boys” have pursued me and have made fun of the men I have chosen, saying things like, “That guy is a wuss.” Well, I like him because he’s a wuss. Not all women like “bad” men, I can safely say! :)

  • I actually think Stephanie has a very valid point, but the ‘bad boy’ reality cannot be denied. Particularly the reality that men are worst at attracting women they care about, which I’ve seen in myself over and over again. Women might not know it, but even suggesting that Hugh Grant does not come across as ‘confident’ in his movies (when in fact hes as suave and self assured as they come) shows that women don’t appreciate how brutally difficult it is for men to learn to satisfy women.

    I’ve been called very handsome, incredibly self assured, a player and a pretty boy yet time and again I found myself on the losing end because I was too inexperienced to succeed with the women I cared for and too morally upright to attempt to dupe and learn with women I didn’t.

    I’m wising up (at 27) and understanding women’s attraction and I’m sure the lady that lands me will be much better for it, but really, it doesn’t need to be this hard. It is blatantly clear that there are far more late twenties and older virgin men than women both because of the much higher requirements on men in this arena and yet the far worse advice dished out to them.

    If women understood their desires better perhaps men could start going about meeting them, instead of stabbing about in the dark till they get lucky.

  • I think it is very much about priorities. There is a saying that a person should just be themselves. If you match, then you match. If you need to improve, then work to improve. Some things are just not meant to be though, I (being a boy/man) believe that boys/men shouldn’t just focus on women, but we should work on building our experience, work, knowledge, wisdom and strength, in preparation to be able to take up a woman’s offer for companionship. So… all those times of lazing about, playing games… idling…. etc…… are well….. choices. There is a saying just be yourself and I think most people would agree we have to have priorities. Thank God for life, women,and other things.

  • This was interesting reading. The part in particular that caught my attention is the comment “Women will never truly understand that they are the reason there are poor quality men in the world. If women stopped befriending and forgiving misogynists, the world would be better off.” This is entirely true. Far too many women give in to the misogynists and ‘bad boys’ and then wonder why they get hurt. That said, it is up to each and every individual man and woman to make the choice to behave like that. Blaming other people for your own behaviour is an excuse used far too much.

    Also the comment “I think guys would be more inclined to be more communicative if women would be more agreeable to get to the point and fix the problem, rather than avoid it and focus on the symptoms.” In my experience I have encountered this exact problem but in reverse. The response I’ve received a few times is “Why do we need to talk about it? I’m not the one with the problem, you are.” In what way is this conducive to a communicative successful relationship?
    It seems that I am an anomaly in the female world because I do not go for the ‘bad boy’. If anything that whole persona drives me away. I am not a naturally open and soft girly girl, not to say I’m not feminine, but I don’t dress like a hooker and throw myself at men. I’m also not afraid to talk about problems and am open and honest about my own feelings and why something might be annoying me. But few men seem to want to get involved with me because I don’t pander to their egos and few men like an intelligent woman, for all that they may say they do. It seems to be that because I challenge them, a lot (and I’m not saying all) of men don’t want to get involved with me. I am not unattractive physically (I have been told by others) and am a bit of an introvert, but this does not explain men’s unwillingness to be in a relationship with me.

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