Last week, out of curiosity, I asked a few of my male friends what a man looks for in a relationship that makes him want to commit.
I know exactly what women want — love, stability, romance, laughter, etc. But, I had no idea what a guy really wants in a relationship — things that, if they are missing, are deal-breakers.
What was amazing was that all of my guy friends said mostly the same things (except for a few outliers who went a bit off the rails).
Here are 5 things men look for in a relationship that make them want to commit to you
Don’t let this one scare you. “Adventure” means different things to different people.
My friend, Pete, craves adventure with a capital “A.” He wants to climb really tall mountains and then mountain bike down them. He wants to sail his boat from Florida to the Bahamas. A lazy day for him is sleeping in until 7am and then only running 7 miles.
He goes, goes, goes, goes. And he wants a woman who can keep up.
On the other hand, my friend, Brett, also wants adventure but his is of a different kind. He loves to walk in the woods — no mountain biking necessary — but he doesn’t need to climb to the highest peaks.
He loves to explore back roads in his old Mercedes convertible. He’s happy having a beer on the deck, watching the water in the late afternoon.
So, while you see that adventure can mean different things to different people, men want someone who wants to play with them and do the things they both love to do, no matter what those things are.
Freedom also has different meanings for different people but every guy I asked said that it was very important that they have freedom in any relationship that they might commit to.
This doesn’t mean that they want freedom to go out with other girls or disappear without explanation or unilaterally decide that they’re going hiking in Peru for a week.
Freedom means being given the space to do the things that they want to do, have the support of their partner to pursue their passions, and not have their partner tell them that they can do something, only to feel abandoned when they do.
And they want their partner to also have the freedom that they have.
With my boyfriend, I desperately need to have the freedom to fly. I was alone for a long time and travel is in my blood. He’s more of a homebody and is happy to let me go off on my trips — to NYC once a month or to Mexico for a girl’s week.
He never says “yes” when he means “no” and never acts resentful when I’m leaving. “As long as you come back,” he always says. “I am happy to let you go.”
How does he get his freedom from me? By me being OK with him being in his barn, puttering, for many, many hours without my feeling abandoned.
He loves being out there more than anything (except for me, of course). Me supporting him doing so makes him super willing to commit to me!
The guys I talked to all agreed that sex was important — but so was passion. Of course, they love having sex with their partner (even if it’s not so great some days) but what they really want is for their partner to want them, to have passion for them.
My friend, Darren, is in a relationship with a woman he loves. They’ve been together about five years and have just moved in together — and their sex life is blah.
Sure, they have sex once a week, and when they do it’s pretty good, but he always has to instigate it. And he often feels like he’s imposing on her by making his moves.
So, while he knows that she will have sex with him, what he really wants is for her to want to have sex with him.
Take a good look at your relationship. Is there passion there? Passion that you aren’t faking?
Most of my guy friends said that this was a very important component of a relationship that would make them want to commit.
Respect is defined “as a feeling of deep admiration for someone or something elicited by their abilities, qualities, or achievements.” But, in relationships, for guys, respect goes deeper than that.
Sure, any man or woman wants to be admired and respected for their achievements.
My friend, Nathan, recently ran a 10K, less than one year after he was in a car accident. And he was extremely proud of himself. And he wanted his girl to admire his accomplishment, which she did.
Unfortunately, after the race, after she hugged him with pride for finishing, she found out that he didn’t do something that he said he would do. And what did she do? She contemptuously lashed out at him, belittling his ability to ever get anything done.
There’s truly nothing that kills a relationship quicker than contempt. Those passive-aggressive tendencies lead to making the other person feel less than, guilty, stupid, and worthless. And, unfortunately, many women in relationships are guilty of contempt.
Instead of pointing out that he hadn’t done the thing that he had said he would do, perhaps asking how/when it could be done, she attacked him personally, making him feel less than and guilty.
No one wants that. No one.
For most of the history of mankind, the image of a healthy relationship was one based on the man being superior to the woman.
The big, strong man would go out into the world and provide for his woman. She would tend to his needs when he returned. What he said, went. What he wanted to do, happened.
Now things have changed. Men and women strive for equality in relationships. And believe it or not, many men like it that way.
My friend, George, told me about the relationship that his parents had. His father was always in charge — of his wife and the kids. His mother worked hard to keep him happy at all costs.
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His dad would be gone all day on the weekends, golfing, but wouldn’t let George’s mother go out for a night with her friends. It was hard to watch this dynamic between his parents not only because his father was being so domineering but because his mother was ok with it.
Over the years, George watched his mother become less and less of herself. Because his father was in charge and she had little freedom to be herself. She would spend her days cleaning and doing chores.
George could tell that she was bored and lonely. And she was sad. He swore to himself that his wife would never be that way.
Men want women to be their equals. They want women to share the good things and the bad. They want them to be on equal footing as far as goals and hopes and dreams. They want decisions, big and small, to be shared ones.
Of course, there are some areas where one person might be in charge but, in general, men want equality in their relationship. Gone are the days when men ruled all. That, say my guy friends, is just exhausting!
Men and women both want to be in committed relationships but, ironically, their needs can be quite different.
Understanding what a man might want — things that might be much different from what you want — will help you recognize what you are or are not giving him that might influence his desire to commit.
Do you have fun together? Do you want and respect him? Do you treat each other as equals and give each other freedom?
If the answer to these questions is “yes,” and if your guy can give you what you want as well, then you’re well on your way to a committed relationship and, perhaps, a happily ever after!
Mitzi Bockmann is an NYC-based, certified life and love coach. Let her help you find, and keep, love in this crazy world in which we live. Email her at [email protected] and get started!