What do men and women really (really) want?

This month our dating and relationships expert, Jo Hemmings, looks at life from the other side of the dating desk.  It’s often easier to understand how to make a relationship work or find the right partner when we know a little more about how the opposite sex thinks…  Here are a few entertaining insights into what men and women really want from a partner.


what do men want?
Men fear losing their traditional place in the pecking order.

What do men really want?

Depending on your perspective of life in general, your view of men might range from ‘vive la difference’ to the belief that they are a total enigma, an alien species useful for continuing the human race, but pretty pointless for anything else. 

It helps to understand where men are coming from and what they want out of a relationship.  Just as we are individuals with different characters, tastes and preferences, it would be foolish of me to try and offer any more than a broad-brush treatment of the wants and desires of the male population.

What you need to understand is that the traditional male hold on western culture is fast diminishing.  After women’s lib took hold in the 60’s, we have become increasingly financially and emotionally independent, taking over everything from ‘their’ jobs to taking responsibility for our own fertility.  After generations of being the chief breadwinner, the primary decision maker and the traditional protector, their positions have been eroded.  While it’s tempting to simply suggest that guys get over this, and fast, the fact is that men are now confused about life.  About what they really do want.  They are slower to react to change than most women and they know that to find a mate they have to do more than just make a choice and do the asking.  They can’t call the shots anymore and have to work a little harder to please.  While many men - especially younger ones, although some older ones do tend to hang on in there – like to play the field, scatter their seed as widely and as often and in as many new positions as possible, ultimately their wish list consists of some of the following, so you’ll see that they really aren’t that different from us – they just have a tougher time in showing it.

Men like women who take pride in their appearance – sure, they might grizzle that your skirt’s too short for fear of too much attention from other men, but they are want a woman who looks good enough to eat…

  • Men need trust and fidelity – a woman who is trustworthy, honest and faithful is very high on most men’s wish list.
  • Men want love – they thrive on giving love and being loved in return.
  • Men want a woman with a great sense of humour – they might not want you to be ‘one of the blokes’ and tell smutty jokes, but sharing their sense of humour is important to them.
  • Men want a supportive partner – they may be reluctant to talk about their problems a lot of the time, seeing it as unmanly or their problem, but when they do want help, they want your understanding and support. 
  • Men want sexual variety – men can be lazy lovers and they love it when you make an effort in the bedroom. 
  • Men are cave dwellers by nature – if you push them too hard for answers or they are feeling under pressure, they simply retreat back into their shell and the problem remains unresolved. 
  • Men love a challenge – they don’t want to feel threatened or look foolish, but it’s a good thing to keep ‘em on their toes and not let them get too complacent in a relationship. 
  • Men don’t like being alone – many men are not as strong emotionally or practically as women and they like nothing more than being in a stable relationship with a strong, sexy, reliable and caring woman.
what do women want?
Respect, tenderness, consideration, romance... did we mention shoes?

What do women really want?

Ok, let’s get the obvious out of the way.  Don’t get hung up on the size of your penis.  Unless it’s seriously small or uncomfortably huge – highly unlikely as less than 0.3% of blokes have that problem – a woman will care far less about the size of your member than you probably do.  Just because you may be obsessed with the size of a woman’s breasts, it does not follow that a woman is equally obsessed with your tackle.  What she does want is a decent amount of quality foreplay, consideration in the sack, excitement and a man who seems to know what he’s doing and getting a lot of pleasure from doing it.  As the old saying goes, it’s the quality not the quantity that counts…  So let’s look at some of the aspects of a relationship that are more important.

  • Women want men who take pride in their appearance – go carefully here guys, we certainly don’t want a slob who looks like he’s just rolled out of bed, but we don’t want a vain, self-obsessed man who can’t pass by any reflective surface either. 
  • Women love pert bums, beautiful eyes and a wicked smile – I know you can’t all achieve this nirvana, but they are definitely an added bonus.
  • Women want solvency – contrary to population opinion, most of us are not gold-diggers but we do like a generous man who can share our lifestyle and isn’t as tight as two licks of paint. 
  • Women want a good, shared sense of humour – and that doesn’t mean telling rugby club, sexist or just bloody awful jokes.  We love a man who makes us a laugh, laughs with us rather than at us and who is able not to take himself too seriously.
  • Women want affection – as in cuddles, hugs, kisses and kindness.  Not necessarily in making love and definitely not as in pestering us for sex when you’ve got the raging horn and we are not in the mood.
  • Women want an understanding man – a man who isn’t afraid to show his emotions, cry sometimes, can say he’s sorry and doesn’t get moody or throw a tantrum at the slightest thing is fantastic.  One who understands us when we do all these things is a real bonus too.
  • Women want kindness and consideration – yes we have PMT, get over it.  But we want you to call when you say you’ll call, be there on time, ask us before you invite over half a dozen mates for the footie match on TV, remember our birthdays/anniversaries and buy us flowers from time to time.  And for those of you that think that any of this is wussy, trust me, all the above makes you more of a man, not less of one.  Oh and if you can remember to put your dirty socks in the washing basket and put the loo seat down when you’ve had a pee, that would also help.
  • Women want respect – whatever you may think about women knowing ‘their place’, god help us but some of you still do, we want respect as an individual.  We want to be heard as well as listened to, not taken for granted and we never want to hear the phrase ‘look at the tits on that’.  Ever.
  • Women want romance – don’t confuse romance with being less of a man.  Or just buying a bunch of garage flowers on the way back from a few drinks after work with the lads.  It’s a mixture of respect, thoughtfulness, treats; surprising us, complimenting us, passion and making us feel better about ourselves and our relationship.  It’s different things to different women.  It isn’t about spending a fortune either.  It’s about meaningful gestures.  Leaving a post-it note telling your woman that she’s beautiful, sexy and clever – especially if she’s a feeling a bit down for whatever reason - can be more romantic than a pricy bunch of red roses.
  • Women want trust and fidelity – this is the cornerstone of any meaningful relationship.  Yes, we know (even though you think we don’t) that you find it hard to look Charlotte in the eye for two obvious reasons, but if there isn’t trust on both sides, a relationship is going nowhere.
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"After reading this book I think I am beginning to see the light. I always blamed myself for relationships never lasting and can now see why. My confidence is increasing in leaps and bounds and I feel able to dip my toe into the dating game once again. Thank you Jo for this book, which I shall refer to again and again --- Watch this space."





This is a great book and I can't believe the previous reviewers didn't say how funny it was. Jo Hemmings writes as if she is one of your best friends, telling you stuff you know you don't really want to be told, but realising the truth of it. It is done with so much humour and knowledge that you can't possibly take it the wrong way."





"Smart, portable and sassy, The Little Black Book is a unique and personal dating diary for today's selective single woman.

© Midsummer's Eve 2007