Men have gotten a bad rap -- especially among divorced women who have gotten back into dating again. The word on the street (and on the Internet) is men only want two things: sex, and then more sex.
That might be the common belief, but it's just not true. Even though we're a decade and a half into the new 21st century world of romantic relationships, women are still clueless about what men really want. (And men are just as clueless about women. But we'll cover that topic in another story.)
Here's how this cluelessness gets started: A newly divorced man goes out with a newly divorced woman. Neither has been out on a date since Bill Clinton uttered the strangest words ever spoken by a U.S. President: "I did not have sexual relations with that woman." Ironically, having sexual relations with a woman is prominently on the mind of the divorced man. Meanwhile, being frightened about having sexual relations with a new man is near the top of the divorced woman's thoughts.
So what happens? The newly divorced man comes across as obsessed with sex, because in the early stages of post-divorce dating he is obsessed with sex. Some men have to get that out of their systems before they can settle down into a committed love relationship. That's why he goes out on more dates than the typical woman, and yes, that's why he tries to have sex with some of them. He is desperately searching for companionship. To him, having sex is better than no companionship at all.
If women who are new to the dating scene go out with only men who are recently divorced or have suffered recent breakups, then these women get the impression that men are looking for sex. Period. Too often, these women get frustrated with men, and they stop dating. These frustrated women then perpetuate the myth that all men want is sex.
Another thing that adds to women's confusion is that men approach dating as a numbers game. A typical man believes that he has to date a lot of women in order to find the perfect one for him. Women are more likely to believe in the Prince Charming story, in which the prince will come along at the perfect time. That's why women aren't quite so manic about having to go out on a million dates. And that's why women think men only want to date and have sex, not commit to a relationship.
Get past a man's desperate early dating behavior, and you can get to the real truth about men. Real men are looking for love. That's real love, not just sex. Ask single men what they really want, and they say love, not sex. Men want to love, and they want to be loved and respected in return.
What else do men want? Men are visual creatures, so they want a woman who is attractive to them. Yes, that seems (to most women) like men are shallow. But men are not necessarily looking for a runway model. The typical man wants a woman who takes pride in her appearance. And men are proud of having a girlfriend or wife who wants to look her best.
Most men are looking for women who retain their femininity. Men are seeking women who are feminine, gentle and kind. If you're a woman, don't try to be "one of the boys." Men have guy friends for that. Be a woman. Viva la difference!
Men want a woman who is supportive. Many women are too quick to criticize men. A woman thinks her constructive criticism shows a man how much she cares about him. This is a crucial mistake, though. Men are hypersensitive to criticism, and they interpret it as a lack of respect. What they want is a relationship based upon mutual respect and support, not criticism.
But men are not looking for doormats. Most men like a woman who lovingly keeps them on their toes. A woman who keeps him challenged is invigorating and exciting. If you want to keep a man interested, keep him challenged with your spunkiness and your ability to keep him from falling into a rut.
What else do men want in a relationship? Sex. (Surprise!) But here's the key bit of information that most women don't know about men and sex: men have sex to bond, fall in love and stay in love. Women have sex after they have bonded and want to express their love.
So in the deepest sense, a man wants to make love to you so he can fall in love with you. Real love -- both physical and emotional -- is what a man really wants.
Chad Stone is the author of The Love Magnet Rules: 101 Tips for Meeting, Dating and Keeping a New Love. He blogs at www.ChadStone.us.