Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Virtual Book Tour - What Do Men Want?

Other than a physical relationship, what are some other aspects men want in a relationship?

While I can’t speak for most men, I will venture to speak for the assortment of male relatives, friends, confidantes, and co-workers I’ve interacted with over the years. Relationships frighten some men because they have to compromise certain aspects of their male psyche, or altogether relinquish control to someone other than their mother, sister, or aunt.

If the adage is true that little boys grow up to marry their mothers, and little girls grow up to marry their fathers, it wouldn’t be a huge leap to accept that men covet what they find most familiar.

Example: my mother is a pastry chef. I’ve been spoiled by her homemade desserts over the years, and no one, absolutely no one else can or will make peach cobbler, oatmeal raisin cookies, or lemon glaze cake like she does. My mother bakes and ships oatmeal raisin cookies from Houston to New York whenever I ask.

Beyond the childhood memories of licking the remnants of the cake mix or cookie dough from the mixing bowl, I think there’s an element of loyalty entrenched in my taste buds when eating desserts at cafés, coffee shops, or restaurants with Michelin or Zagat ratings. I’m a dessert snob, plain and simple.

How does or would this translate into a romantic relationship? Any woman I date or eventually marry, best know that she will be in the shadow of a huge mixing bowl, blender, and spatula- decorative sprinkles, optional.

Is it Freudian or Jungian, that a large part of a man’s past, present, or future relationships is tied to his mother or primary female caregiver? We all want comfort, and seek out what’s familiar; however most men can’t or won’t acknowledge this basic human need.

In a departure from our mothers and female relatives, do we aim for women with qualities that are in opposition to those we love? Do men want to design an ideal woman as some affluent couples do with eye color, height, and IQ with their unborn child?

If most men could design an ideal mate, which women would we choose? Would we combine Lena Horne, Ruby Dee, and Halle Berry? How about Eartha Kitt, Naomi Campbell, and Diahann Carroll? What about Julie Newmar, Salma Hayek, and Angelina Jolie?

Do we want an athletic mate who’ll play weekend baseball after she’s picked up the overbooked kids from extracurricular activities?

Do we want a woman who’ll do our every bidding, not unlike a Stepford Wife?

Men: Ask a close female friend when she was last fully satisfied in the bedroom, and you might be surprised by her response.

Women: Ask a close male friend how many brain cells he exhausts thinking about how he’ll make his mate coo, ooh, ahh, and perhaps reach the high C similar to soprano Kathleen Battle.

Men want validation for a job well done outside the bedroom. I’m not talking about assembling a bookshelf or curio cabinet that was buried, still in the box, behind clutter in the garage or hallway closet.

Men want women to meet them where they are, emotionally and spiritually, and walk alongside them as the relationship evolves over time. A simple, “I see you for who you are,” goes a long way.

Please don’t compare us to your father, brother, previous jock boyfriends, or ex-husband. We’ll do the same with the women in our lives. Comparison breeds contempt and hostility in platonic and romantic relationships.

Women: If you’ve a history of buyer’s remorse, step back and reevaluate why and how you always seem to find Mr. Wrong, according to your best girlfriend.

Men: If you’re prone to shutting down emotionally and skulking about before you call your (mother, sister, aunt) and complain that your significant other just doesn’t get you – stop. Communicate with your mate.

Relationships are about compromises, battles won, and wars lost. Choose wisely or become accustomed to sleeping on the sofa, at your best friend’s house, or worse, your mother’s who’ll side with you most of the time while she’s preparing a hot bowl of grits, scrambled eggs, and coffee.

The secret language of women can be difficult to decipher. I’ve tried to over the years, and growing up in the Southwest with eight strong-willed aunts, my mother, and granny didn’t help. The women would speak in hushed tones to my six female cousins about minding their P’s and Q’s. I still don’t know what P’s and Q’s are, and my mother refuses to tell to this day. When one of the many boys would happen into the living room en route to the kitchen to get water at granny’s house, all conversations would cease.

Women, help us out, please. Men want to be understood just as much as women, if not more, in a society that frowns upon intuitive or sensitive men. Our society rewards aggression and competition.

Download or buy CD's by Barry White, Marvin Gaye, Sarah Vaughn (The George Gershwin Songbook, Vol. 1/2), Luis Miguel (Romances), Sade, or upcoming artist LeNora Jaye, as the soundtrack to making up, making out, and starting over when problems arise.

I’d like to know what you think about this topic. Are there more renaissance men than spoiled brats or cavemen among us? Are men constantly at a disadvantage in relationships because of radio and talk show hosts offering unsolicited advice, self-help books, and overprotective parents?


Courtney C said...

Phew, what can i say? Great article. Interesting that your connection with someone will lie heavily on their ability to put it on you (through the kitchen).

Will that truly be enough to sustain you through the frustrating times? Some would say "no". I however believe that it just might. There is something comforting in being able to relive those pleasant moments we experienced in childhood. Be it through any of our senses.

If someone (a partner) can bring that to the table on a consistent basis...they have my vote!

Harlem Writer said...

Courtney C,

It's not entirely based on what lands on the dining room table. Weren't we all raised with, "the fastest way to a man's heart is through his stomach"?

I think of the movie Like Water for Chocolate, and how Tita poured her entire essence into the meals she prepared.

Who wouldn't want to enjoy such meals?

Calliope said...

I think the media has done men more of a disservice than when, when it comes to romantic ideals.

I think – no, I’m POSITIVE – that men know that real women do not look like the jaw-droppingly beautiful models in magazines and on the big screen. Nor do I believe that men want the real women in their lives to look like that, act like that, be like that.

Women, on the other hand, really DO want men to be the John Cusacks/Kevin Clines/Orlando Blooms found in romantic comedies. They do expect men to read minds, engage in the big dramatic gesture, and “complete them.”

I don’t know what men want in relationships, not being one myself. But I’m pretty positive that one thing they don’t want is a woman with unrealistic expectations. Where my own relationship is concerned, I try to leave those at the movie theater.

PJ said...

TV shows men that are far and few in the movies. Chick flicks appeal to what women fantasize about in relationships. But fantasy is not reality.

Men are not that hard to figure out. Men think logically, as opposed to emotionally. We understand compromise in relationships. "The same way she does this for me, I can do that for her." I on the other hand like my woman to be a woman. I like her to be at home cooking, cleaning, taking care of the house, yet still maintaining a job that keeps her feeling like she has a purpose.

Today, I think men feel different. Women earn money no different than a man does. Some women make more. In essence the same way a guy can support a woman, men want to be support if need be. It should not be a women’s cash is hers, but a man’s cash is theirs.

Galina said...

Hey cousin,

I think the basic thing is communication. People in relationships don't discuss their problems, which only leads to misundertandings and arguments. The golden rule applies: treat others the way you want to be treated.

LaConnie said...

The author of When a Man Loves a Woman says, “Excellent article!!”

Some people only want a physical relationship, no strings attached. If that works for them, I say go for it. For me, things become twisted when one person in the relationship moves to the next level and wants XY&Z while the other is still at AB&C. Some can live with the difference. Many cannot. If the latter becomes inevitable, then why continue to invest the time and effort in the relationship with the hope of changing the other person? Nine out of ten, someone walks away much later, wounded. Now this isn’t to say that a relationship won’t become fractured even when both parties are seeking the same or similar things. However, there’s a higher probability of success if both are clear on want they desire and continuously work to grow the relationship, together.

Perhaps I’m someone outside of the norm. I’ve been married for the past twenty-four years to the man I’ve know for thirty-four and I’m forty-eight. You do the math – LOL!! I knew I wanted to one day get married and become a mother. Also, I knew that I wanted to be in a relationship with someone that was built and sustained with honesty, two-way communication, and respect. Yes, the physical aspect, while important, wasn’t ALL important for me.

Thankfully, I was blessed to have met a person who wanted the same things from his relationship. Has it been easy the past twenty-four years? Oh, hell no!! We’ve had to work through some rough spots. But all in all, we can’t complain, and we look forward to living under the same roof for twenty-four more years.

And by the way, even after twenty-four years, the physical side of the relationship rocks!!

Harlem Writer, many thanks for being a part of my tour.

Until next time – stay well and be blessed!!
LaConnie said...

Kendall, THANK YOU SO MUCH for hosting our virtual book tour stop for the day and for responding to a "hot" question that men and women have been trying to answer for a very long time. Your response to our question is AWESOME and definitely gave me some food for thought!

You say, "Women, help us out, please. Men want to be understood just as much as women, if not more, in a society that frowns upon intuitive or sensitive men. Our society rewards aggression and competition."

For the most part, I believe women want to understand the needs and wants of men. We want to love and support the men who are truly worthy of us because at the end of the day, we are the ones who see our men battered and oftentimes broken by society's forces. Yes our society rewards agression and competition. BUT because of that, we must be very careful not to take "being there" for each other emotionally and physically for granted.

Excellent! said...

PJ, you said, "Men are not that hard to figure out. Men think logically, as opposed to emotionally."

I agree whole heartedly that women operate at an emotional lever in a relationship and men at an analytical one.

You also said, "I on the other hand like my woman to be a woman. I like her to be at home cooking, cleaning, taking care of the house, yet still maintaining a job that keeps her feeling like she has a purpose."

So given that you "understand what compromise is in a relationship," if by chance circumstances come up that your woman is not able to be at home to cook your meal, cleaning and managing your home while maintaing a job that gives her purpose . . . can she count on you to have her back when she needs you? Because let's face it, being a woman "is not defined" by how well "she" can do all that you desire above, nor is being a man all about you being able to go to work, provide the home you want her to clean and manage, pay ALL the bills, and
occasionally give good loving when needed.

Vee Jefferson said...

Oh man, I truly enjoyed you taking us on the journey inside the mind of Harlem Writer. It was a terrific piece. You spoke truth and wisdom, and didn't candy coat one thing. I loved it;-)

Men and Women may not ever fully understand each other. Too bad we can't spend just a day in each other's shoes. But if we're all willing to compromise in ways you've mentioned, then that would definitely be the start of real communication and true commitment.

peace brother,

aNN said...

Hmmmmm, interesting article very reflective and filled with so many spring boards for expression.
I was thinking how I could express what else men want in about50-100 words.

So other than the physical? First, I don't think they bore easily, I just think their zest for adventure does not allow them to remain dormant for long periods of time.

Now I honestly think men want to be grounded, but I most say I don't know if they want to stay grounded;
just be allowed, for brief periods, to return to that stabilizing point and then be allowed to become
adventurous again. That is not to say a man cannot be satisfied with a monogamous, committed relationship, because I think that is very possible, just not the way most women would like.

So my answer is I think men want a woman who will give them all of the variables they need at home and who can still understand and respect their wanderlust. Which is not an easy request to fulfill, because women are more territorial than men and sharing does not mix to well. (lol) I also think men want that sense of emotional ownership with their women; to know that their women will always be there, will always have their back - no matter what! Realistic? Hmmmmmm.

This really has me thinking!

All the Buzz Literary Reviews said...

I read this yesterday, and I'm still speechless. LOL You actually shut this woman up! And to let my husband tell it, that's an impossible task sometimes. :::rolling eyes:::

Honestly, I'm still trying to figure out what men want. Sounds crazy, seeing that I'm married. But it has been my experience that one day guys want you to be one way, and then the next day, sometimes even the next minute, they want you to be another. So how are we supposed to be able to understand men when their opinion changes just about every time the wind blows.

I pride myself on being a loving, caring woman. I cook, I clean, I handle the finances. I do everything possible, most of the time anyway, to make life as sweet as possible for my husband. Sometimes it pays off, sometimes it bites me in the butt! LOL

You've really given me a lot to think about! Excellent article.

SerenityLife said...

Excellent article however I hope men will be more active in communicating with women about their feelings too. Some women are just as guilty though by not being expressive or communicating to the man what they need or want. The Key has always been communication in my book but it seems as though we tend to talk about it but don't do it as much as we say we will..

Oh well..

Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

Greatly appreciated!