There really is no tellin' how much happier most of us would be if we spent more time in the pursuit of what we need than what we want. Personally, I think part of the reason why we struggle in this particular area is the lines tend to blur far too much between the two. Do you need more money or do you want it? Do you need another car or do you want it? Do you need a man or do you simply want to be in a relationship with one?
Wait. Before you answer those questions, let's define the difference between a need and a want. A writer by the name of Erin Huffstetler breaks it down pretty darn well. According to her, a need is something we have to have while a want is something that we would like to have. In other words, a need is something that is essential while a want is merely a preference.
OK, with that kind of foundation laid, let's get into some things that I've heard a lot of men say that they need. I've heard it in counseling sessions. I've heard it from male friends. I've heard it on YouTube videos and podcasts. I've read it in books and on blogs. Not only have I heard men consistently say that they need the things that I'm about to share with you, I've also heard that the source of their frustration in relationships is the fact that they keep not getting them. Even when they express them.
As you check out this list, continue to keep in mind that 1) a need is not a desire; it's more like a requirement and 2) it's really hard to remain in a relationship, let alone satisfied in one, if a person is not getting what they need.
Is your man getting these following needs met? If you're not sure…ask him.
Something that I deal with in marriage counseling sessions a lot more than I would've ever thought I would is husbands who wish their wives would stop talking so much. I don't mean talking in the sense that, reportedly, women use more words than men do (for the record, some say that's the gospel truth while others say it's a myth). I mean they wish their wives didn't think that everything that happens within the four walls of their home was something their mom and/or sister and/or bestie had to hear about.
Something that is beautiful about exclusive relationships is there should be a sense of confidentiality in them. One definition of confidential is "having another's trust or confidence; entrusted with secrets or private affairs" and another is "indicating confidence or intimacy". It's kind of ironic that a lot of women wish their men would open up more, while their man is like, "I would if you quit telling so much of my business and our business." Hmm.
If you've never heard of Dr. Myles Munroe, please do yourself a favor and Google him when you get a chance. Tragically, he and his wife died in a plane crash back in 2014 but, while he was alive, he was a powerhouse; especially when it came to helping people to discover and understand their purpose in life.
Anyway, there's a YouTube video that starts out with him saying, "Men don't want respect, they need it. A man does not need love. Nowhere in the Bible does it say that a woman should love a man." And you know what? He's right. We as women need love and so we tend to spend a lot of time giving what we need rather than what the men in our lives need. Then we resent them when they don't respond in the way that we do to our acts of love when it's respect that they are after…more.
Remember, a need is something we have to have. A definition of respect is to esteem someone. When I've asked some of the men that I know to define respect from their perspective, things like—valuing their views and decisions; not talking over them while they're speaking; not airing their flaws and vulnerabilities in public; not nagging them to death or talking to them like they're children; not chiming in on conversations and jokes that degrade men and not telling them how to feel or think are forms of respect.
If a lot of us were honest with ourselves, we'd have to admit that we could stand to get better in this area. For real, for real.
One of my favorite things—that is sometimes also one of the most annoying things—about most of the men in my life is they are extremely literal. Literal when it comes to what they say and how they process what I am saying. I'll give you an example of what I mean via a counseling session I was recently in.
As the wife was sharing with me that she had it up to here with her husband not listening to her, she shared with me that she asked him to go to the store to get some veggies for a salad. When he came back, she was irritated when she saw he didn't bring home any salad dressing. The husband said just what I thought he would: "If you needed salad dressing, you should've said that." The wife's response was, "You should've known that if we needed salad, we needed dressing."
Should. Ugh, it's one of those words that causes all sorts of unnecessary drama. It implies that just because we think a certain way that others "should" do the same thing. If you really stop and think about that, it's a very arrogant way to approach matters and situations.
I can't tell you how many men have told me that they wish more women would say what they mean and mean what they say, that they would stop expecting them to read their minds and—most of all—they would not say "nothing is wrong" if something actually is.
Poor communication continues to be a leading cause of divorce. For both men and women—albeit for different reasons and in different ways—clear communication is a definite need.
If you ask a man to talk to you about what he likes most about some of his favorite songs, I'm willing to bet that he's gonna talk about the music more than the lyrics. Women? Usually, it's the opposite. Keeping this in mind, to me it makes sense that science has discovered that men oftentimes have a difficult time processing the tones in our voices. It has to do with the vibration and sound waves that we have, making it challenging for them to decipher everything that we're saying.
A lot of men have told me that they can talk about almost anything the woman they love has to say if she's not yelling it or screaming it. However, when she's doing that, they automatically check out. Hey, don't shoot the messenger. I'm just telling you what's been told to me. Don't get too mad at your man either. He's just acting like science says men do.
Think about what our men—and by "our", I mean Black men—go through on a daily basis. If anyone is under constant attack and scrutiny, it's them. A lot of us know this and will even address this fact on Black Twitter, only for them to come home and hear from our own mouths all of the things we want them to change about themselves.
Personally, I think that healthy relationships consist of two people who want to IMPROVE not CHANGE one another. I also believe that with love, comes acceptance. Acceptance in the sense of affirming our partner, forgiving our partner, being intentional about making them feel heard, felt and appreciated, and letting them know that they are special and valued.
I can't tell you how many times a man has said to me, "If she's never satisfied with me, why is she here?" No one wants to be with someone who doesn't make them feel good about themselves. Yep, I totally get why, for men, acceptance is a need.
Some of y'all ain't gonna want to hear this but it still needs to be said. Some of us can't keep a man because we're trying to hold on to them so tightly that it's like…they can't breathe (the hilarious #FreeTristanThompson hashtag from a while back immediately comes to mind).
Men aren't looking for someone to take over their life or even to be all up in every detail of it; they want someone who will be a good complement for them. Women who are constantly calling and texting; women who have a problem with their man spending time with other people; women who are distrusting and semi-paranoid and even women who are ALWAYS available—these are examples of women who don't know how to give a man some space.
For guys, this is so much of a need that if a woman doesn't grant it, no matter how much he digs her, he'll probably let her go. (Don't try and test this one out. Just accept it for what it is.)
"Coochie coupons". This is a term I invented for wives who barter sex rather than give it simply as an act of love. Want some new shoes? Give him some. Dead in the wrong and too prideful to apologize? Give him some. Purchased something that was totally out of the family budget? Give him some.
Another Myles Munroe video worth checking out is "Men Don't Want Sex, They NEED Sex". I'm referencing that video simply because it's my personal belief that men—especially men in long-term commitments—don't just need sex, but the physical affection and emotional connection that comes right along with it. Call it lame if you want to, but I've sat in countless sessions with husbands who are upset that their wife won't cuddle with them on the couch or who won't initiate sexual activity (not just or solely intercourse, either).
As women, we don't want to be objectified. Men? They don't want to feel that sex—or again, even just affection—has strings attached to it. Yeah, only women who have books of coochie coupons in their arsenal got offended when they read this part of the article. The rest of us are just…taking notes.
C'mon true hip-hop heads. What's the name of the song that has these lines in it? "Tell me, who I have to be/To get some reciprocity/No one loves you more than me/And no one ever will." I don't think I've heard a song with the word "reciprocity" in it before or since Lauryn Hill sang this. And man, it has to be one of the biggest things that men and women need in a relationship and don't seem to get enough of.
I can't tell you how many times a man has told me that he needs to be affirmed, appreciated and felt like he is truly adored. Meanwhile, in his relationship, his woman thinks that these are the kinds of things that she should receive more than she gives.
The couples I know who are the healthiest and happiest are the couples who pour into their partner the very things that they want to receive from them. So, if you're in a relationship, do you and it a favor and ask your man if he feels that he's getting what he's giving. If he says "yes", pat yourself on the back. If he says "no" or nothing, try and remove your ego out of the way and figure out how to make some adjustments.
A huge key to a successful relationship is not giving someone what you want to give, but to really hone in on what they say they need. Amen? Amen.
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