I have always been one of those women with a lot of guy friends; I enjoy the male viewpoint and YES, men can be "easier" than women (more on this in a minute*). I pride myself on my ability to be a good sounding board for ALL of my friends; this means that I have counselled relationships, break-ups, reconciliations and divorce from both perspectives.
Listening to my guy friends talk about women especially, though, I am always amazed by some of the basic misconceptions they harbor about the "fairer sex." Listening to my girlfriends talk about their relationships, I tend to hear the same complaints over and over. So I thought I might be able to put together a general list with the intention of helping us ALL get along a little better:
1) Keep it simple! There is a popular old joke that has been emailed to you and everyone else on the planet about 4 billion times which consists of two lists --"How to make a woman happy" and "How to make man happy." The woman's list is first and it is exhaustive; romantic dinners, flowers, foot rubs, jewelry etc. etc. etc. The man's list? "Show up naked. Bring beer."
This makes us laugh mainly because the man's list feels so spot on (*although I know more than a few HIGH MAINTENANCE MEN), but the woman's list is simply whimsy. Let me correct it for once and for all: if you want to make a woman happy, SHOW UP and LISTEN. Seriously, if you make an effort to do just these two things consistently, you are going to have a good relationship. I mean, OBVIOUSLY flowers are nice too, but they can't ever take the place of RESPECTFUL ATTENTION.
2) Yes, the children are more "important" than you. Whenever I see one of those "click bait" articles with a title like "Why my husband comes before my children" it takes all of my self-control not to jump on and post the following comment: "Either you are fibbing or you are an irresponsible parent." THE KIDS COME FIRST. The kids are the priority. This is not due to lack of love, respect or admiration for a worthy partner. This is because a worthy partner should be a grown-ass man who can take care of himself and children are CHILDREN.
Every good parent, Mom or Dad, understands that the quality of attention these tiny and growing creatures require is intense and draining. And also: it's what we signed up for! It's swell that you want to keep the romance alive in your partnership, but if the two of you decided to bring little humans into the world, your main concern must always be providing for them, protecting them, guiding them and PRIORITIZING them. If that doesn't work for you? Don't have kids.
3) Women like sex too! (unless you turn it into a chore) Whenever I hear the old line about how it's "easier" for women to be monogamous because they produce one egg to a man's billion sperm... I'm sorry, damn, that is HILARIOUS! Here is what I know: people of BOTH sexes can have a low or high sex drive. It is pretty imperative that you find a partner who matches you in this way. Once the need for frequency of sex is settled: EVERYBODY LIKES IT!!!
Especially at the beginning of a relationship, when everything is all SHAM-WOW! But yes, in long term relationships (particularly if you mutually decided to have a family), sex gets put on the back burner for many good reasons. Like exhaustion, for example. The biggest complaint I hear from women is that their partners seem to feel that they are OBLIGATED to have sex with them. Ooooh, who doesn't LOVE a nice obligation??? Obligations are HOT!
NOT. We read about the importance of "maintenance sex," but here is a newsflash: once you start treating your partner's body like a piece of property, it's hard to come back from that. Most nice women have submitted to a (whiny) request for sexual gratification at some point in their lives (and maybe a LOT of them), but always out of guilt. Women like consensual sex with an adult that they are attracted to; we do not like sex with a whiny/pouty/belligerent baby. This is critical information to understand.
4) The "man cave" should be unisex. Way back in the 1990s author John Gray popularized the notion that women need to process emotions through sharing and communication, while men need to retreat to a "cave". While I do think it is healthy and normal for people to need space from each other even in a committed relationship, I have to say that a) I have listened to every one of my guy friends "talk out" emotional processing and b) all of my female friends would kill for a "cave" of their own. NO BOYS (kids, dogs etc.) ALLOWED!
In fact, many of us have them; be it an artist's studio, a crafting room, a home office or even just a yoga class. WE NEED OUR DOWN TIME TOO and would be MORE than happy to give you yours as long as you SHOW UP when needed and LISTEN to what we tell you, okay?
5) Sincere flattery works! One last thing: "flattery will get you everywhere" is not just an expression. It is the honest truth, as long as your flattery is the honest truth. And while a well-placed "nice ass" can be charming, an "I notice all you do for me and our family and I appreciate it" is SOLID GOLD. We all enjoy recognition for our efforts; for example, most men I know seem to think remembering to put the toilet seat down is worthy of a ticker-tape parade!!! Just notice her and be nice.
I am not trying to speak for all women, but I think a really healthy ratio of them would agree with what I've said here. There is an old line about those burlesque signs that read: "GIRLS GIRLS GIRLS!" The joke says that this is repeated because men need to be told everything 3 times before it registers. So in case this is true, I will remind you for a third time to SHOW UP and LISTEN.
And put the toilet seat down; I mean, C'MON!
This post originally published on The Good Men Project