What DO men want in a relationship? It's an age-old question. If you've already read "Dating with Dignity's Guide to What Men Really Want: Three Myths and Three Truths to Stop Wondering Today!", you're headed in the right direction. The problem is, women think the obvious answer to this important question is, well, sex and dinner. While those are two lovely components of a relationship, however, mature, emotionally available men want other things in a relationship as well.
What follows are the Dating with Dignity "Hit Parade" of the Top Three Things Grown Up Men Want in a Healthy Relationship:
1. Respect. Period. Men want to be your hero. (Which, in the 21st century, can be challenging to a woman who doesn't really "need" a hero.) That said, it's important for you to find opportunities to show respect to the man you care about. Whether it's through a juicy compliment or a handwritten Post-it note that says, "Babe, loved the way you handled that customer service rep yesterday." Kind and Direct = Super Hot!
Showing respect to your man and what he does for you makes him feel like he's doing something right. Even though it's 2012, a man wants to feel like he's providing for you in a masculine way. When you vocalize your respect for him, he'll feel like he's in a relationship that is worth his time.
Another "stealth" action you can take to give him that respect is to let him lead. Let him plan a special date, and don't always be the one suggesting activities. When he does suggest an activity say "Yes!" without giving your "better" alternative.
And finally, a man wants to be in a relationship where he doesn't feel like he's in a pressure cooker. Letting him lead and allowing him to go through his process of discovering you're "the one" in his own way (assuming your relationship is progressing consistently over time) ensures that he's truly relationship ready and committed.
2. Encouragement and Appreciation. Along with respect, men really appreciate your appreciation! With your support, your man can be a better person for both himself and you.
So when he's working on a big project for work or training for a 10k, don't forget to give him some specific, sincere words of encouragement. Before an important meeting, leave him a note with an inside joke or just a simple "I love you." Tell him you appreciate the special date he planned when he chooses a fab new restaurant, takes time to make the reservation, chooses THE romantic corner table, and then asks if you are "good." Let him know that changing your lightbulbs totally rocked your world, or that you love how he brings you tea at night, even when you don't ask. When you're supportive of your man, it helps him remember why he wants to share his life with someone in the first place.
3. Companionship. As much as a man wants the freedom to watch the game with his friends or go out for a beer with the guys, he also wants to be in a relationship with someone who he can go to the grocery store with and who might even watch the game with him once in awhile. (Knowing what a touchdown is would be a bonus.)
What's more, one of the top things men say they're looking for in a woman in their online dating profile is "a sense of humor." The ability not to take everything seriously (or personally) and laugh about the anchor's toupee while watching the nightly news (or The Newsroom!) will make a man feel like he made the right choice.
Being able to do fun activities together will make your relationship healthy. So remember that while you chose each other, you have to keep your choices lively! Take a staycation and watch the first two seasons of Breaking Bad, have a BBQ for two, or try that new restaurant with the pork belly tacos everyone is talking about. And don't forget to be in the moment, allowing yourself to have a good time and stay out of analysis paralysis.