I’ve always known there are certain traits I don’t like in people, but I’ve never thought what it is that I really want from a partner – until now. I overheard a bunch of my male colleagues talking the other day about what men ideally look for in a woman they’d have a long-term relationship with. Having got through all the jokes about a girl with a good pair of knockers who doesn’t draw her eyebrows on, take endless selfies or look entirely different when she wakes up in the morning without make up, they actually went on to surprise me with some of their insights. The age group chatting ranged from 26 – 52 with most married, some in long term relationships and a couple of singletons. Although they had varying requests in the looks department, they all seemed to have many similarities in what characteristics the woman of their dreams would have…
Kindhearted and Loving: A girl who is thoughtful and considerate of others. The younger of the group seemed to think this was because they’d be looked after. The 30+ guys because they believed a woman with these traits was empathetic and would be a good long term partner when life got rocky, along with making a good mother to any future off-spring. Supposedly they liked women to have these traits as they would endear them to friends and family too, who’d like that his woman had his back. It seems deeply important to men that they have a partner their family (especially their mum’s) will really take to.
Confidence: This covered two bases. These men claim to like a woman who knows her own mind, has her own opinions and is able to hold her own in conversations with people from all walks of life. They wanted a girl who they could take to their parents house, on a boys night out, to a business dinner, to a football match or to visit the dodgier members of their families and know that she can handle it all. They also wanted someone who was secure in their looks without having caked her make up on with a trowel and who was not always looking for assurances over her weight, outfit etc. Confidence they all agreed was a key factor in being sexy.
An Equal: Apparently this quality was a vital factor for the most successful handful of this bunch of men. When pushed they said it was important for them to be with a woman who was their equal in an emotional, intellectual and physical sense. They said a woman who can understand a mans mind provides a new level of intimacy and then went on to quote Tolstoy who once said “nothing is so necessary for a man as an intelligent woman”. The less successful of the group worried their manhood may feel threatened if a woman was more capable or earned more than them, but the high-flyers all said an equal match (or someone doing even better than them) would mean they felt challenged. They felt and equal would inspire them and give them the push needed to be a better man.
Values: A girl who has the same outlook and values as them in life. They all agreed that when young it can be fun to hook up with someone from a totally different background (culturally, morally etc) and who has opposing views on life, but they all stated that if it’s going to go the distance, you need to be on the same page. To this batch of men it was important a girl knew her worth and although we are all at an age where we have history, they said they’d never consider anything serious with a girl who gives it all away up front, as they felt it lacked class. They summed up they’d like to be with a woman that all the men want, not one they’ve all had. They also wanted a woman who had respect for herself along with respect for him, which I think falls into this category.
Humour: Not only a girl who can tell a joke but a girl who was happy to laugh at herself and not take herself too seriously. The whole group felt that the ability to giggle with someone was of utmost importance, as good humour would get people through the toughest of times. Again, an important one for his friends too, as these boys all claimed they want a partner to be included in their social group and be considered good fun. Apparently a dirty joke told by an innocent looking lady is also hot!
Hips to Grab: This one made me laugh and yes I know it’s not a characteristic but hey ho. We’ve all seen the front covers of lad’s mags with trim young girls on the front and assume this is what they crave but supposedly not (great news!). The whole bunch talked about how soft feminine features, a bit of a bum and womanly hips were not only desired in the bedroom so they had something to hold onto, but also because the more girly we are the more masculine they feel. One of the geeks went onto say this is also a primitive thing and all about childbearing rather than looking good in a pencil skirt but I’m not so sure.
Anyway I have digressed but this got me thinking about what women want. Ok, I can’t speak for all women (just like men will vary from the group of nine businessmen I happened to listen in on) but I can tell you what I want and I don’t believe my criteria is too “out there” as such, so here goes.
Oh and I warn you now, as a typical girl, a lot of what I want totally contradicts itself, but that’s a woman’s prerogative right?
A Man Who Looks After Us: Yep, we are that predictable. But we really do want men to take care of us. We want a man who will hold the door open for us, empty the bins, catch mice and release them in the garden and investigate that strange noise in the middle of the night with a baseball bat if we think there’s a burglar lurking. I’m very happy to admit that women are the weaker sex, which I know feminists will be horrified by, as yes, technically, we can do all these things ourselves, but the truth is we don’t really want to. We want a man to do them. I don’t care how independent, capable and strong I am, I want a man who will offer to help me out at times with “blue jobs” and who can sense when I need looking after. A man who allows us to be and accepts our vulnerability. We want to feel cared for, not only on a physical level, but to feel our man looks out for our emotional needs, our well being and everything that makes us who we are.
A Man We Can Look After: We want to be looked after yes, but we want to look after a man too. Maybe it’s the maternal instinct in us, (no that doesn’t mean we view the man in question as our child!) but caring naturally kicks in when we have feelings for someone. We want to do little things for our man; cook a meal, pick up the odd bill for dinner, listen to his problems and help him where we can. By no means is a man viewed as a let-down if he doesn’t have all the answers and isn’t constantly relied on as a pillar of perceived masculinity society seems to place on him. In fact, I find it quite sexy when a man can ask for help and lets me take care of him now and then. I trust him that the looking after will be returned when needed and that kind of intimacy is a real turn on.
A Man Who Can Talk: Us girls are generally chattier than men, it’s in our DNA, but isn’t it great when a man can hold a proper conversation with us? Arousal for most women starts in the mind, long before it gets to the bedroom – and no I don’t mean through sexting or worse still dick pics which research has proved we hate. Having a man who we can have a real discussion with is so, so important. I’ve had relations in the past which were built on the rocky foundations of aesthetics where I relied purely on the physical attraction rather than an intellectual one and can assure you without the mental arousal, the guy may be hot but the sex is not and will certainly mean the relationship has no longevity. No woman cares how fabulous a man is if they are a conversation zapper. If you want to impress us, don’t just open the door for us boys, try opening a book sometime so you can talk about something other than the gym. We don’t care about a mans abs, what we really care about are his words. I’ve gone weak-kneed over phenomenally average looking men simply because they’ve nailed the art of conversation: listening, asking, laughing at jokes, replying with their own relevant opinions, telling anecdotes and referring back to things I’ve said previously to show he was listening. This is a reciprocal thing, it’s a real connection and that’s frickin’ hot.
A Man Who is Consistent: We hit a point in our womanhood when certain criteria definitely becomes more important to us ladies. All of a sudden when dating someone we find ourselves far more judgmental than ever before as we secretly wonder: Does he have his shit together? Does he have drive and ambition? Does he have the same outlook as me? Can I call him when things get tough? Everybody needs a home team and as we mature we want a man to be reliable, a guy we can trust to do what he says he’ll do and show up for us when we need him. If you say you’re going to do something then do it. Back our corner. This desire for consistency isn’t because we are desperate to dash down the aisle or start squeezing kids out (there’s nothing I want less right now!), it is simply a sign of maturity. The mixed messages just aren’t fun anymore (I’m not convinced they ever were) and we realise we are too old for players and certainly too wise for games. There really is not much cooler than a man who shows respect by sticking to his word, being loyal, stable and consistent.
A Man Who Wants Adventure: This one definitely might not be for all women but it’s certainly high on my list. I love to do new things and I want a man who will join in on my adventures. Yes, I want to explore the world and visit new places and get the most out of life, but it doesn’t just have to be about the big stuff, it can be things as simple as trying a new restaurant on the other side of London. A man who can do stuff, is willing to try new places and see new things. We want to feel like we have a partner who is in on our adventures; that they don’t save all their fun for their friends (though they should have lots of that too) and wants to share great moments with us to make life lasting memories.
A Man Who Doesn’t Want Adventure: Sometimes we don’t want to plan stuff or adventure any further than the sofa. Sometimes we want to put Netflix on, get a takeaway curry, lounge about together and have an early night. We want a man who is just as good company when we are having exciting adventures as he is when we are being homely. I think it’s a real test of character if you can have just as good a night with a partner sitting on the sofa chatting as you can when at a flash bar in an exotic location. I want someone to do everything with and someone to do nothing with. Because then, and only then, is it easy to see a lifetime of everythings and nothings stretched out in front of me with a great man.
A Man Who Knows What He’s Doing Down There: Well I might as well put it out there as despite years of watching porn there are a lot of men that just don’t know what they are up to when it comes to sex and specifically foreplay. Many men it seems, have a better shot at locating that missing Malaysian aeroplane than they do a womans clitoris, and if they do succeed its often treated as a DJ booth – please boys take it easy! What we really want is someone who will bite our necks and make us scream, then afterwards curl up next to us and read a book, before sleeping soundly and repeating in the morning. I think that’s what matters most, someone you can just hang out with and just be yourself with even after they’ve made your body shake. I look at the way someone treats my body as an indicator of how they’ll treat my heart.
A Man Who Gives Us Space: Again, this might not be what all women want, but even so I think giving each other space is vital; it gives a relationship room to breathe. I don’t know if it’s because I am an only child, but at times, I really need to be on my own, to enjoy my own company and recharge. Don’t get me wrong, I’m by no means a recluse and I love spending time with the people I care about, but I don’t need to live and die with them. I have my own life and I totally respect that a man has his and would, in my ideal relationship, however serious it got, want to maintain this. Although I want to share interests with a man, I want him to have his own interests too. I think it’s good to do your own thing separately as a couple and have time apart occasionally so that when you are together you appreciate each other that much more.
A Man Who Will Put in the Effort: Relationships are hard, there’s no doubt about it and they will always require maintenance. I’m told the secret to all good relationships is finding someone who is willing to work with you to form a meaningful and lasting partnership. Notice the word “form” – it’s an active process, it doesn’t just exist. It’s easy to be in a relationship at the start, but you don’t quit when it stops being all sunshine and roses, you put in effort. We want a man who accepts that at times it will be boring and there’ll be bumps along the road. We want a man who is willing to navigate those bumps with us. Men and women are very different – from the way we think, feel and communicate – which at times will create problems, but hey, that’s biology. A healthy relationship is about respecting the differences. It’s about seeing the other persons flaws as a reason to stay – not leave – because they come attached to everything that is good about them. If someone leaves the moment things get rocky, they are lacking the most important quality we all need in a relationship and that’s commitment. We want a man who doesn’t give up on us, who will love us unconditionally, knowing we’ll do the same for them. We want a man who wants to make it work and is prepared to put in the effort to make that happen. One of the most wonderful feelings is knowing someone ultimately wants to be with you.
As I say, this might not be what all women want, but these are certainly key ingredients for the man I one day hope to meet. I understand only too well that relationships aren’t the fairy tales depicted in Hollywood and that’s ok. I don’t want that – I want something that’s real. I want a relationship that has tenderness, laughter, intimacy, common respect, playfulness, honesty, adventure, morals, passion, trust, mischief, commitment and effort. I want someone who will speak highly of me when I’m not even in the room, shake me up when I need it, keep me safe always and challenge me to my fullest potential. I want a man who will give me the love I would give him.