For the most part, people want predictable things from a romantic relationship. Affection and love are hardly unexpected. But as it turns out, there are also some surprising things men want in a relationship if they're going to stick around. For the most part, these needs are pretty sweet and totally understandable.
To be sure, plenty of modern couples have shaken off the hurtful old stereotypes about manly men and docile women. It's hardly news that all humans have emotional needs. Still, it can be easy to overlook the fact that many males long for greater emotional reassurance. And yes, sometimes they want physical affection that isn't necessarily all about sex. There's a lot of buzz these days around toxic masculinity and its negative effects, and even (or perhaps especially) romantic relationships suffer from those old cliches too. However, you can guard your own relationships against these damaging ways of thinking.
So to learn more, Romper reached out to a whole team of marriage therapists, couples counselors, and even health & wellness experts. They shared some great insights into the simple and straightforward things that males often need from a relationship. Really, being open, honest, and vulnerable is necessary for just about anyone in a couple. It's just a part of being human.
Don't underestimate that close personal contact. "What I've found in my marriage and from friends who sleep in the same bed as their partner is that men love to cuddle!" as Holly Marsh of Imperfect Momma tells Romper. "While my husband and I aren't really affectionate in public (besides the occasional hand-holding or quick peck on the lips), at night we always have to sleep close and hold each other!" Be sure to get plenty of snuggle time in your own relationship.
Simply saying "Hey, thanks!" can mean so much to your partner. "While we may feel so busy with life’s to-do’s that we forget to express our appreciation, we seem to find time to share a complaint or frustration with our spouse," as licensed clinical professional counselor Rabbi Shlomo Slatkin tells Romper. "Try carving out a few minutes each day before bed where you share with your husband what you appreciate about him and why. Hopefully, he will do the same for you." Honestly, nobody gets tired of hearing how much they're appreciated by a partner.
For some couples, it's all about the bar scene. "I hear so many complaints from couples that the man just wants to go to the bar to hang out with his drinking buddies, but guess what . . . he secretly wants you there with him," says licensed therapist Dr. Brandon Santan. "Don't assume that just because he wants to go out drinking that he doesn't want you there." Go hang out with him and his buddies sometimes.
Don't rely on old stereotypes about masculinity. "With heterosexual couples especially, the stereotype that women want emotional intimacy and men just want sexual intimacy is still strong," as Dr. Santan tells Romper. "Men need emotional intimacy too in order to experience a fulfilling and satisfying relationship." Support your partner's attempts to open up emotionally.
Friendship can also play an important role in romantic relationships. "In relationships, men often want a best friend. In their partner, [they] want someone they can confide in about their childhood memories, crazy family members, work stress, while also having someone who they can turn to for sexuality and playfulness," says marriage and family therapist Katie Ziskind of Wisdom Within Counseling Integrative.
For some people, romantic connections need to have a spiritual aspect as well. "Lastly, many men want spiritual connection, a partner who shares the same faith, or even a partner who shares a spiritual connection through yoga or moral values," says Ziskind. Bonds shared through spiritual practices can be particularly meaningful for some partners.
For a relationship to work, you don't need to be joined at the hip all day every day. "No matter how much you love each other, he will still need space," says Caleb Backe, Health & Wellness Expert for Maple Holistics. "It doesn’t matter how long you’ve been together, you still need space for yourself. If he has his own interests and hobbies, he shouldn’t feel guilty about doing them without you by his side." By considering this and the rest of the points, your relationships might become closer than ever.