I grew up in a traditional family. My dad went to work every day. My mother worked too, but she was a school teacher. This meant she was home earlier in the afternoon, fixed dinner, did the dishes, and saw to it that we had our baths and a bedtime story. My father read the newspaper or watched TV in the evenings. On weekends, my mother cleaned the house, while dad did the yardwork or changed the oil in their cars. Each had their roles to play. My mother was the “softer” person; my father the harder tough “fixer.”
We have long lived in a society in which the differences between men and women in relationships have been discussed. Women are the romantics, the half of a partnership that craves physical and verbal affection. Men are the less demonstrative half who crave compliments about their deeds, who want respect for their positions as the heads of the households. Women value emotion; men value logic. But these traditional roles have become murky and gray over recent decades, and what men want to hear from their partners may now be quite different. Here are 11 things that today’s man, who recognizes new and changing roles and embraces them, wants to hear.
#1 — I appreciate you. In a healthy partnership, both members sincerely want to help and support one another. When a man has shown his support and help, he does want to be recognized for that. In fact, don’t we all? It is important for him to know that his partner has understood his contribution and can verbally tell him so. Being appreciated fosters inner feelings of self-worth.
#2 — I understand. When a man is going through a rough patch, when he is upset about situations and events, when his career is not going as he wishes, he does not want criticism or “should do’s.” He wants empathy. Far better for a partner to say, “I ‘get’ that you are upset and angry. I understand the feeling. If you can think of any way I can help or if you just want to talk, I’m here.”
#3 — Take What Time You Need. Sometimes men just want to be alone. It is not a statement on the relationship or a lack of feeling for their partner. It is a genuine need to get off by himself and think things through that may have nothing to do with the partnership. Perhaps he is considering a career change, or going back to school, or how to deal with an issue at work. He needs space, and the wise partner will allow him that time.
#4 — I Apologize–Please Forgive Me. We all make mistakes in our relationships. We “blow up;” we say hurtful things; we re inconsiderate. Men want to hear words of apology when they are warranted, and they need for the words to be sincere. When they hear these things, they are far more prone to do the same when they have been in the wrong.
#5 — You did such a great job. Whether he has decided to clean the garage, help with the laundry, or finish the chapter of that novel he is writing, a man wants the praise that should be given. While we often think that adults ought to be able to pat themselves on the back for their accomplishments and be satisfied with inner pride, this is not the case. Other people recognizing accomplishments, even smaller ones, and giving verbal acknowledgement, is important to all of us, and men are no different.
#6 — You are sexy/hot. Men may not communicate the need to be seen as attractive, but they appreciate being told that they are. Tell them in words such as “sexy” or “hot,” and you will have a guy who acts that way.
#7 — Why don’t you go spend some time with your friends? What a welcome statement! Especially if he has been stressed at work or taking care of you while you have been sick or involved in a major home improvement project. It’s time for a break, and he needs to know that you see this and want him to have it.
#8 — Thank you. Say it often for little and big things. Again, it says that you notice the nice things he does and that you appreciate them. Earning your gratitude is important.
#9 — Tell me your dreams. Most men are future-looking. They know where they would like to be in five, ten, etc. years. They may have dreams that include striking out on their own someday or getting a degree. There may be hobbies they want to pursue. When you ask this and truly listen, they know their goals are important to you.
#10 — I need you. When men hear this from their partners, they beam inside. Everyone loves to be needed by those they love. It’s not that you must have him in your life for financial support. It’s because he completes you in so many ways. He provides encouraging words when you are down; he adds humor when you need it; he provides you with greater insight and perspective. And there is no greater feeling for a man than this.
#11 — I believe in you. This relates to being supportive, but it is more than that. When you tell a man you believe in him, you are really saying that his decisions are good, his plans are based upon his best thinking, and that you know he has the skills and talents to accomplish whatever he wishes. And this needs to come from you, because you are the person whose opinion he values the most.
Relationships are complicated. Individuals in them will never always agree; and there will be bad feelings, anger, and disappointment in even the most “perfect” partnerships. Men, like women, are also complicated individuals. They have thoughts, feelings and emotions that they do not always show (vestiges of cave protection and other ancient roles), but they are certainly there within. They need validation; they need to be appreciated; and they need the inner joy that comes from being told how much they matter. Relationships can withstand a lot of tough challenges and dangerous waters if these 11 things are said and said often.
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