The 10 Absolute Truths Behind What Real Women Want


Alyssa Royse is here with the definitive guide on what all women want.

Every time I read one of those articles claiming to tell men what “real women” want, I am left with the confounding confirmation that I am not a “real woman.” More than that, I am left thinking that it was the worst advice I’d ever heard, and any guy who believed it was being led astray. Thus, lessening the odds of having a successful relationship of any kind with a “real woman,” and ensuring the unsuccessful man will be returning for more advice, since nothing is working.

The worst part, besides the blatant heteronormativity that all men are interested only in women, is the assumption that men are only interested in sex. So rarely do these articles talk about what will make you happy in a relationship. And then there’s perpetuation that men and women are inherently different. They are not. People are inherently different from each other. But the traits and behavior that we call “masculine” and “feminine” are really just traits that exist in varying degrees in all people, regardless of sex, gender or sexual orientation. Our fundamental needs as humans don’t really vary all that much, even when our behavior and idiosyncrasies do.

That said, I do have some advice when it comes to giving “real women” what they want, if the woman is interested in a relationship (after all, not all women are interested in relationships—and they’re still real!):

1. We want you to know that there is no such thing as a “real woman”. Either that or there is no such thing as a fake woman. But let’s make this simple. There are fictional women; you know, the ones you see in TV, movies, comic books, video games and books. Those are fictional women. They were created for one purpose and one purpose only, to sell something, whether it’s a product or an idea. No matter how much you wish you could date them, or think you are learning some life lesson from watching them, they are still fiction. Beyond that, every single woman you see in the real world is a “real woman”. Even the actors who play the fictional characters.

2. We want you to know that we are not all the same. There is no one thing that we all want. Some of us want romantic gestures, some of us think those are a silly waste of resources. Some of us want to be tied up and dominated, some of us want to do the tying up and dominating. Some of are monogamous, some of us are polyamorous. Some of us are great at talking about our feelings, some of us are terrified by the prospect of having to do so.

There is no one standard set of things that works for “real women” any more than there is one standard way to cook beef. Honestly, you can learn more about how to treat a “real woman” by reading the The Joy Of Cooking than by reading any advice column that tells you what “real women” want. What? That has nothing to do with women? Right, well neither do those articles. But at least this way you’ll get some ideas for cooking dinner, which you can cook for yourself, or a date.

3. We want you to know us as individuals. That trick you learned that always worked with your last girlfriend? It might not work with us. Because we are not your last girlfriend. And that’s good news, since, you know, that didn’t work out. Each of us is excited about, afraid of, interested in, turned on by different things.

But how are you supposed to know what those things are? Talk to us. Ask us. Listen to us. If you like what you hear, talk more, ask more, listen more. If you don’t, move on. Find someone who you want to talk to more, and learn more about. And let us find someone who is interested in us and curious to know more.

4. We want you to know yourself as an individual too. Know what you really want, not what you’ve been told to want. Know what makes you feel good, what makes you feel excited, what makes you feel alive and happy and like you are the best version of you that you know how to be. And be able to feel those things without us, but share them with us openly.

That way, when you’re talking to us, asking us questions and listening to our answers, you can be assessing whether or not we’re a good fit. If you don’t know what you really want, how are you going to know if we’re really gonna fit together? Because if we don’t fit together the work to keep us together starts to feel like controlling and manipulating each other, or trying to make each other into something we’re not. And that sucks.

5. Our needs have equal value, even if that need is for one of us to subservient in some way. Even if that’s the case, it doesn’t negate the need for clear communication and consent in terms of the relationship, and if someone thinks the relationship needs to change, both parties get to discuss that and make changes.

6. We want the kind of sex we want. We want it enthusiastically and joyfully. Consensually and safely. If the kind of sex we want isn’t the kind of sex that you want, then we want you to move on and find the kind of sex you want with someone else, so that we can do the same. Chances are if you are bored, so are we.

This can be tricky. It means you have to be honest and tell us what you really want. And yes, that might mean you don’t get to have sex with us. But if you want to tie a woman up, you deserve a woman who loves to be tied up. There are lots of those. You find them by being honest about it.  Likewise, if you want someone who wears costumes, only has sex with the lights off, loves pubic hair or hates pubic hair, likes it in groups, likes to watch – whatever – you deserve to find that person. You have to be honest.  We have to be honest too, it’s a two way street.

Neither one of us is going to die if we don’t get to have sex right now.

7. We want you to be honest with us about just about everything, actually. Honesty performed on a regular basis is the solid foundation of any relationship.  That’s how you build trust. When you have trust you can build plans for the future, a life.  When you have trust you can try new things, and get through hard things.

8. We want to be in this relationship together. We want to know that when it comes to our relationship, we are working towards the same goals, with “rules” that we agreed on together.

9. We want you to love our bodies. As they are. And encourage us to do what we want with them. Because they’re ours. As a bonus, the better we feel in our bodies around you, the more we may want you to touch them, which is a benefit for both of us.

10. We want to feel safe. And we are more likely to feel that way if we have all the other stuff we just talked about. Trust, passion, commitment, communication, shared interests…..  That’s what safety looks like in a relationship.

That’s what women want, at least as far as I can tell. I’m pretty sure that’s also what men want. Those are all just human needs. That’s certainly what we all deserve.

Here’s the thing about all those articles telling men how to “get” a woman. They are not talking about how to get what you want. They are talking about how to perform masculinity in a way that will impress other guys. It’s like a game that guys play to keep score and beat other guys. It has nothing to do with being happy. And it has nothing to do with you.

It doesn’t even have anything to do with “real men.” Because there is no such thing as a “real man.” Either that or there is no such thing as a fake man. But let’s make this simple. There are fictional men; you know, the ones you see in TV, movies, comic books, video games and books. Those are fictional men. They were created for one purpose and one purpose only, to sell something, whether it’s a product or an idea. No matter how much you wish you could be them, or think you are learning some life lesson from watching them, they are still fiction. Beyond that, every single man you see in the real world is a “real man.”

There is no one set of things that all men want or need in order to be real men. For better or worse, it’s more complex than that.

So stop playing the game and trying to catch women like butterflies or pokemon. Stop trying to impress other men. Figure out who you are, what you really want, and then go find a partner – whether it’s a man or a woman or both – who not only wants you for who you are, but wants the same things you do. It’s not a game. This is your life. And the only way to win it is on your terms.



Photo: Pixabay

About Alyssa Royse

Alyssa is freelance writer, speaker, fitness trainer and personal coach living in Seattle with her husband and their 3 daughters. They own Rocket CrossFit where she spends most of her time training men and women in ways that are as much emotional as physical. She can also be found on her eponymous blog, where she pontificates about food, family, politics and the Seattle rain. Yes, she would love to speak at your event, host a workshop or write something for you. Just ask.


  1. Never assume that anyone understands a woman better than she understands herself. If you want to know what a woman wants, then ask her. It’s not absolutely 100% guaranteed, but it’s still by far the best way to find out.

  2. Another ten things all women want. Why is it always ten things? Why do you presume to know what all women want? (And really do “lots of women” like to be tied up? How do you know?). Sorry, but like the author I am tired of getting my hopes up reading all these “10 best ways to X” articles. I just don’t think the author realizes that her contribution has the same problem.

  3. Alyssa. What role do women have in courting? And how much can men ask of women?
    I ask this, because when I was younger and had a problem with being the one initiating kissing and sex. i often asked women that i flirted with if they could help me out with this. I didn’t get anything at all. Even when most of them showed interest and responded to our flirting.

    I think that we all can agree that there have been a liberalization of what men should expect of women. We should take them as they are, we should look at the whole and see the positive, etc, etc.
    And guys seem to be better at it. I don’t know if alot of guys feel that they have gotten anything back from it?

    What i see is that guys should be open to as many women that they can and women don’t need to. When men ask, we get a hand wave answer “i’m sure that there are a woman that likes you somwhere. don’t ask us to be more open to different sorts of men!!!!”

    • Nistan, The whole point of the article is that women are people too. You should not expect to get anything back from treating them as such.

  4. “So stop playing the game and trying to catch women like butterflies or pokemon. Stop trying to impress other men. Figure out who you are, what you really want, and then go find a partner – whether it’s a man or a woman or both – who not only wants you for who you are, but wants the same things you do. It’s not a game. This is your life. And the only way to win it is on your terms.”

    I’m clear that I know my desires, and I’m absolutely 100% clear that I really like to have a lot of very easy sexual relationships. I often explain myself to people with a verbal tool — I say, “I’m a slut, or at least, I want to be a slut.” I have sexual desires for just about every woman I meet and know for more than 5 seconds. I love easy sex and sexual relating, and while I feel some social shame (judgements, both around casual sex, and about championing casual sex without being able to achieve it) around it, I don’t feel any shame about it in my heart.

    When I read “So stop playing the game and trying to catch women like butterflies or pokemon,” I feel sad and angry. A story starts to unfold in my mind that goes like this: “Most contemporary women are really uncomfortable around the idea of men wanting casual sex and are pre-emptively letting men know, with words like these, that sex can’t or shouldn’t be casual and easy, that it is wrong or immature to want things to be like that, and that men should only want to have ‘real relationships,’ or that that is the ‘more evolved’ way that men need to become or desire.”

    I don’t know if that’s what you intend or not. I have heard feminists say that men are not slut shamed, and — while I can agree with that to a point (because the way things work out,) it is definitely the case that there is messaging that “good men” or “mature men” are interested in “real” relationships. There is a lot of messaging out there that [all] men [should] only want real relationships and not be shallow people who “just want to have sex,” — and it’s easy for me to fit this “trying to catch women like butterflies or pokemon” messaging into this category of messaging. (Which can be compared or perhaps labeled, “male slut shaming.”)

    Again, I don’t really know you, or what you intend.

    I just wanted to share this, and see what the response messaging is like.

    Otherwise, I like the article. People are different.

    • Alyssa Royse says:

      I never, ever, anywhere in there said that you couldn’t have as many sexual partners as you wish. Nor would I ever say that to a woman. But no, women are not a prize that you trick and catch, like a butterfly. They are humans that you talk to, and directly make sure that you have the same goals and desires, whatever those may be. If you have a sexual desire for a woman who tells you she does not desire you, then yes, you have to walk away. It’s not a game, our bodies are not goal lines.

      • @Alyssa This is an interesting piece.Overall it sets a nice tone,creating a good dynamic for communicating.However,I am not as certain as you of our individualism.As an American, I know what I should believe about the theology of the individual.A rock solid belief in the power and nobility of the individual is central to how we define ourselves.But is it so?It would seem as though Americans are notoriously inept at treating people like individuals.We are blacks,whites,gays,straights,feminists,democrats,conservatives,Christians,Muslims,Jews and much,much more. Many of these group identities,some developed and defined by surrogates(some human, somenot),have been carefully crafted and fiercly protected since before age of the individual.Is not the act of surrendering oneself to a higher power a subversion of individualism?Group identity and individualism are not just intertwined,they are like two colors of paint mixed together,creating a seamless mixture impossible to seperate.

        • I think this article is amazing! So props to you for writing it!

          If I had one complaint, I would say that I do think it’s a little bit like the advice of “find your passion and work super hard and make a career out of it” – that’s absolutely amazing advice, but for everyone that succeeds, many more fail and end up worse off in more ways than one if they had pursued a safer path.

          It’s kind of the same thing. Find the perfect woman or man that’s completely in line with how you communicate, your sexual preferences, your emotional preferences, your viewpoints, the ability to endlessly support you during times of struggle and pain as long as you’re being honest etc.

          This is obviously what everyone should want, but more often than not “real” relationships are messier than that, they’re not as clean cut in the same way that real women and real men aren’t fictional chAracters. If it’s true that fictional men and women can exist to sell something, so can so-called fictional relationships right?

          And this sounds like a fictional relationship, not an unattainable one, but a fictional one.

          I suspect you have an amazing relationship with your husband, but if your relationship has all of these things, it’s in the small minority – not the majority.

  5. Great article. Just too bad it begins and ends with the claim that it’s (only) men perpetuating the idea men are / should be only interested in sex… Some women do as much to continue this stigma !!

    • Alyssa Royse says:

      nobody, it doesn’t begin or end with that claim. That claim is nowhere in this, or in anything I’ve ever written. When I write here, I write for men, but even so, that’s not in here. What is in here is that the media is selling us some ideas about what gender should be, in all cases, and it is wrong, in all cases.

  6. William Allen says:

    When does the book come out. Your wonderful book about relationships. You are right up there with David Deida, Bruce Bryans and Vince Venturi. Our culture teaches us very little about this man woman thing. Like your piece on divorce before marriage, if only there were classes we could take to learn about love and the other sex. Instead we enter into relationships so ill equipped. Such an incredible disconnect about what we think each sex is about and what we think we know about ourselves.

    • Alyssa Royse says:

      From your mouth to a publisher’s ears. I would love it, nothing would make me happier!!!! I’ll keep doing my best here, in the mean time. 😉

  7. While I agree with the premise of what is written here, and am totally on board with you saying that deep down most humans want the same things, to wrap that into saying that men and women are the same is just dead wrong.

    Men and women are NOT the same. Are we equal? Of course! Do we want the same things? In most cases. But, we are wired very differently and thank God for that. It is the differences between men and women that should be celebrated but too often these days are the cause for the miserable failure rate in relationships.

    It is the differences that cause the playful dance between the sexes that creates the polarity that keeps both sides wanting to meet the needs of the other. Yes, under the surface, many of these needs are the same or similar, and yes, men have different ways they want their needs met from other men, just as women do from other women, but the real difference is in, and should be, between the two sexes.

    Please don’t lump us all into the same category because deep down we all want to be loved, honored, respected and cherished. These are wonderful things but how we get these needs met varies greatly from person to person of the same sex, but even more greatly between the sexes. I say we celebrate this and stop trying to sweep it under the rug in the guise of political correctness or whatever else you want to call it.

    • Good point Dusty. Everyone thrives with love and attention, yet the devil remains in the details as to the “how”, “where”, “when” and even the “why” of it.

      That is the complex human dance, as you note.

      Our human resiliency allows for a meager quart of love potion to keep us going, but to fill up to the brim…there are endless books and musings on that sort of thing, none of which are very good 🙂

  8. What we have in this excellent piece (really it should be re-published in any number of venues) is a good example of “post-feminism”.

    You can tell that it’s worthwhile in just that way because you can do a “gender flip” with the whole piece and it makes no less sense than it does as written.

    In Taoism, there’s the concept of Yin (feminine principle) and Yang (masculine principle). But the concept is bifurcated into deeper complexity as immature Yin versus mature Yin, and (correspondingly) immature Yang versus mature Yang.

    Immature Yin and immature Yang seemingly want completely different things. That’s where all the fuel comes for the endless “Mars versus Venus” insipid books and blogs. Men and women are so damned different that they’re living on different planets…in different universes…at different points in the space-time continuum.

    But mature Yin is Yin that has activated Yang, and mature Yang is Yang that has activated Yin. In Carl Jung’s parlance, the female (anima) has called forth and developed her shadow male (animus), and (correspondingly) the male (animus) has called forth and developed his shadow female (anima).

    And it is at that point that men and women all become PEOPLE – and as PEOPLE pretty much want the same basic things – per this excellent article.

    Good job! We need a lot more like this, as a counter-weight to the “What do women want?” and “What the hell is up with men” crap that is really nothing but ignorance of the essential human condition in evolutionary times of transition.

  9. Yes! Thank you! Great job Alyssa! “We want you to know us as individuals.” Get to know what matters to us, who we are. This is especially true for women when they become mothers. Don’t assume that are needs are tied to our children.

  10. This is great. Thank you for writing it.

  11. Grey Aiken says:

    Whoa… It’s almost as if women were people. Huh…

  12. Hi John
    You write:

    It is a promise. 🙂
    But men have the same problem too, if women are totally honest sexually. It is not well received.

    Maybe it will help if men themselves know when the express feelings of anxiety and shame as adult men, and when they express it as children.

    Both women and men have a little child inside, and are also adults( hopefully).
    When tragedy hits us, it is scary to those around when we fall apart, or totally break down.
    It is not easier to watch and stay close with a woman breaking down, than it is to be near a man braking down.

    Ask any psychiatrist which gender have more patient with a spouse with health problems ( of any kind) before they leave the marriage. It is not women!

    This was your private experience. Do not generalize your private experience
    Please do not spread myths about “what women are like” when men show feelings, break down, show shame or fear.

    And men also need to learn how to show feelings, so that it comes naturally and not like a breakdown or regresses to a child. It is nothing wrong with showing deep feelings like a child but it is more difficult for others to help and support if that is the only way a person come out with feelings.

    • Corrections .
      It is women that has most patience and stays the longest in a marriage with an ill spouse . It is NOT men. And illness can be emotional or somatic.

      • Alyssa Royse says:

        Correction to both of you. It is not men OR women. It is some men AND some women. Our gender does not dictate our ability or willingness to endure hardship and change and stand by our partners in times of trouble. Our socialization does and our integrity does. I know as many men and women on both sides of such equations. The myths that one gender is better than the other at such things is a dangerous one.

      • Interestingly, women initiate divorce more often then men.

        I am not saying that the relationship is ended in this way. Perhaps, many of these cases truly ended when the man cheated (or perhaps the woman cheated?). I just think that it is an interesting and possibly enlightening statistic that possibly runs counter to many opinions.

  13. “Talk to us. Ask us. Listen to us. If you like what you hear, talk more, ask more, listen more. If you don’t, move on.” This is by far the best advice. Communication is key when it comes to any relationship and defining what women want. Well done!

  14. Brené Brown talks about women who have done a lot of work on themselves being able to handle seeing a man expressing his own fear and shame. You say you want honesty about everything, but that’s often not the truth. When things get hard, men are expected to “man up” and get over it. In my marriage, the minute I began to show the wear and tear of the economic disaster of 9-11, my then-wife, began plotting her exit strategy. Emotionally her exit was much quicker. So if we want to be honest with each other we’ve got to let each other have a hard time and be okay with it. The problem is that usually we are also wounded and the pain of our partners “triggers” our own unresolved pain. That’s what Mrs. Brown was getting at when she did her research on shame for both men and women.

    I love your post, just wanted to get a point in about brutal honesty. Sometimes that’s NOT what women want. Or men, for that matter.


    • Alyssa Royse says:

      Yup. Honesty is wickedly hard sometimes, because it flies in the face of so much of what we are told to want / expect / believe / be. And as awful as it is, you probably got what you needed, which is EITHER a partner who won’t bail on you when it’s hard, or to get rid of the “weight” of a partner who would bail on you when it’s hard. Which sucks when you’re going through it. But yes, there is a great deal of mythology and conditioning that goes into expecting things to be perfect. It takes strength to admit that it’s not always good or easy. And we get through it together. It takes a level of courage and commitment that aren’t always there…… I am sorry that you struggled, and hope that you found, or find, great rewards in getting through it.

      Triggers are hard, but they can be our greatest teachers.

    • wellokaythen says:

      A lot of men hear mixed messages about being honest, messages from women and from other men. It’s the easiest thing in the world to say “I want honesty,” but quite another to actually accept it.

      My advice to anyone who wants their partner to be honest is: you have to invite honesty. You have to encourage it and welcome it. You can’t keep discouraging it and expect it to happen. Don’t make it any harder than it already is for your partner to be honest. Are you making honesty a downhill trip or an uphill trip? If you make it so that telling you the truth is an uphill climb with a penalty at the top, then he’ll give up eventually.

      For example, when your partner says something truthful, don’t:

      Say “wrong answer!”
      Say “how can you say that to me??”
      Tell him he’s wrong to feel that way.
      Tell him he’s a bad person for thinking/feeling/saying that.
      Yell and storm out of the room.
      Immediately make it about you instead of him.
      Immediately change the subject.

      (I actually really liked the article. I’m just pointing out that “honesty” is one of those things that everyone says they want, as long as it’s not too hard, of course. Too much, and the honest person is the jerk.)

      • Alyssa Royse says:

        Wellokaythen, I totally agree with you. It just takes practice. And no one gets it right all the time. That said, I usually tell people that if someone isn’t ready to be honest with you, they aren’t ready to have a relationship with you. Because you can’t build a relationship on anything but….

        • wellokaythen says:

          I agree. The converse is also true — if someone doesn’t want you to be honest, then that person isn’t ready for a relationship either. An authentic relationship needs both telling the truth AND accepting the truth.

      • Well honesty is interesting because people sometimes lie because they think the other persons gonna get mad. I used to tell my kids all the time….be honest…i might get mad but i will always love you…and i will get over my anger….but it compounds the problem if you lie

    • John, Assuming that you and you ex-wife communicated honestly about the reasons your marriage fell apart. Your ex-wife as an individual person didn’t want you to display vulnerability. That doesn’t mean that all women can’t or don’t want those qualities in a partner. That’s the whole point of the article. Women are individuals, just like men. Yes, we are all subject to social conditioning, but the only way to break those boundaries is to see each other as people.

  15. Yup. And we could change the pronouns and make it what men want too, I think, or pretty close. We all want to be heard, respected, and valued as individuals—in bed and out of it.

    And let’s be honest, we all want a life sized unicorn cake full of rainbows (though I’d need mine to be gluten free):

    • Alyssa Royse says:

      Ya, that’s why I repeated the “real women” thing at the end. We’re not all that different. 😉 If only HuffPo would pick this up, but, sadly, I’m sure it’s not sensational enough. 😉

  16. Wonderful. ‘Pokemon’ that is so true. Finally an article that sheds light on women like real people not just exclusively as ‘women’.

  17. Thank you for this. When I read the article title I was all triggered & ready to be upset, every time I see those words I both cringe & explode at the same time. I was pleasantly calmed & reinforced by what you had to say.

  18. Bravo. Humans are not monolithic. We’re a collection of individuals, with common desires for many but still unique in our desires overall.

  19. kayalldone says:

    Nice job Alyssa.

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