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8 Things Men Need—That Many Of Us Aren't Giving Them

We've got needs. Men do too.

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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.

Confidentiality

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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.

Respect

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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.

CLEAR Communication

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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.

Tone-Sensitivity

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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.

Acceptance

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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.

Space

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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.)

Non-Bartered Affection

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"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.

Reciprocity

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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.

Featured image by Getty Images

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You may not know her by Elisabeth Ovesen – writer and host of the love, sex and relationships advice podcast Asking for a Friend. But you definitely know her other alter ego, Karrine Steffans, the New York Times best-selling author who lit up the literary and entertainment world when she released what she called a “tell some” memoir, Confessions of a Video Vixen.

Her 2005 barn-burning book gave an inside look at the seemingly glamorous world of being a video vixen in the ‘90s and early 2000s, and exposed the industry’s culture of abuse, intimidation, and misogyny years before the Me Too Movement hit the mainstream. Her follow-up books, The Vixen Diaries (2007) and The Vixen Manual: How To Find, Seduce And Keep The Man You Want (2009) all topped the New York Times best-seller list. After a long social media break, she's back. xoNecole caught up with Ovesen about the impact of her groundbreaking book, what life is like for her now, and why she was never “before her time”– everyone else was just late to the revolution.

xoNecole: Tell me about your new podcast Asking for a Friend with Elisabeth Ovesen and how that came about.

Elisabeth Ovesen: I have a friend who is over [at Blavity] and he just asked me if I wanted to do something with him. And that's just kinda how it happened. It wasn't like some big master plan. Somebody over there was like, “Hey, we need content. We want to do this podcast. Can you do it?” And I was like, “Sure.” And that's that. That was around the holidays and so we started working on it.

xoNecole: Your life and work seem incredibly different from when you first broke out on the scene. Can you talk a bit about the change in your career and how your life is now?

EO: Not that different. I mean my life is very different, of course, but my work isn't really that different. My life is different, of course, because I'm 43. My career started when I was in my 20s, so we're looking at almost 20 years since the beginning of my career. So, naturally life has changed a lot since then.

I don’t think my career has changed a whole lot – not as far as my writing is concerned, and my stream of consciousness with my writing, and my concerns and the subject matter hasn’t changed much. I've always written about interpersonal relationships, sexual shame, male ego fragility, respectability politics – things like that. I always put myself in the center of that to make those points, which I think were greatly missed when I first started writing. I think that society has changed quite a bit. People are more aware. People tell me a lot that I have always been “before my time.” I was writing about things before other people were talking about that; I was concerned about things before my generation seemed to be concerned about things. I wasn't “before my time.” I think it just seems that way to people who are late to the revolution, you know what I mean?

I retired from publishing in 2015, which was always the plan to do 10 years and retire. I was retired from my pen name and just from the business in general in 2015, I could focus on my business, my education and other things, my family. I came back to writing in 2020 over at Medium. The same friend that got me into the podcast, actually as the vice president of content over at Medium and was like, “Hey, we need some content.” I guess I’m his go-to content creator.

xoNecole: Can you expound on why you went back to your birth name versus your stage name?

EO: No, it was nothing to expound upon. I mean, writers have pen names. That’s like asking Diddy, why did he go by Sean? I didn't go back. I've always used that. Nobody was paying attention. I've never not been myself. Karrine Steffans wrote a certain kind of book for a certain kind of audience. She was invented for the urban audience, particularly. She was never meant to live more than 10 years. I have other pen names as well. I write under several names. So, the other ones are just nobody's business right now. Different pen names write different things. And Elisabeth isn’t my real name either. So you'll never know who I really am and you’ll never know what my real name is, because part of being a writer is, for me at least, keeping some sort of anonymity. Anything I do in entertainment is going to amass quite a bit because who I am as a person in my private life isn't the same a lot of times as who I am publicly.

xoNecole: I want to go back to when you published Confessions of a Video Vixen. We are now in this time where people are reevaluating how the media mistreated women in the spotlight in the 2000s, namely women like Britney Spears. So I’d be interested to hear how you feel about that period of your life and how you were treated by the media?

EO: What I said earlier. I think that much of society has evolved quite a bit. When you look back at that time, it was actually shocking how old-fashioned the thinking still was. How women were still treated and how they're still treated now. I mean, it hasn't changed completely. I think that especially for the audience, I think it was shocking for them to see a woman – a woman of color – not be sexually ashamed.

I hate being like other people. I don't want to do what anyone else is doing. I can't conform. I will not conform. I think in 2005 when Confessions was published, that attitude, especially about sex, was very upsetting. Number one, it was upsetting to the men, especially within urban and hip-hop culture, which is built on misogyny and thrives off of it to this day. And the women who protect these men, I think, you know, addressing a demographic that is rooted in trauma that is rooted in sexual shame, trauma, slavery of all kinds, including slavery of the mind – I think it triggered a lot of people to see a Black woman be free in this way.

I think it said a lot about the people who were upset by it. And then there were some in “crossover media,” a lot of white folks were upset too, not gonna lie. But to see it from Black women – Tyra Banks was really upset [when she interviewed me about Confessions in 2005]. Oprah wasn't mad [when she interviewed me]. As long as Oprah wasn’t mad, I was good. I didn't care what anybody else had to say. Oprah was amazing. So, watching Black women defend men, and Black women who had a platform, defend the sexual blackmailing of men: “If you don't do this with me, you won't get this job”; “If you don't do this in my trailer, you're going to have to leave the set”– these are things that I dealt with.

I just happened to be the kind of woman who, because I was a single mother raising my child all by myself and never got any help at all – which I still don't. Like, I'm 24 in college – not a cheap college either – one of the best colleges in the country, and I'm still taking care of him all by myself as a 21-year-old, 20-year-old, young, single mother with no family and no support – I wasn’t about to say no to something that could help me feed my son for a month or two or three.

xoNecole: We are in this post-Me Too climate where women in Hollywood have come forward to talk about the powerful men who have abused them. In the music industry in particular, it seems nearly impossible for any substantive change or movement to take place within music. It's only now after three decades of allegations that R. Kelly has finally been convicted and other men like Russell Simmons continue to roam free despite the multiple allegations against him. Why do you think it's hard for the music industry to face its reckoning?

EO: That's not the music industry, that's urban music. That’s just Black folks who make music and nobody cares about that. That's the thing; nobody cares...Nobody cares. It's not the music industry. It's just an "urban" thing. And when I say "urban," I say that in quotations. Literally, it’s a Black thing, where nobody gives a shit what Black people do to Black people. And Russell didn't go on unchecked, he just had enough money to keep it quiet. But you know, anytime you're dealing with Black women being disrespected, especially by Black men, nobody gives a shit.

And Black people don't police themselves so it doesn't matter. Why should anybody care? And Black women don't care. They'll buy an R. Kelly album right now. They’ll stream that shit right now. They don’t care. So, nobody cares. Nobody cares. And if you're not going to police yourself, then nobody's ever going to care.

xoNecole: Do you have any regrets about anything you wrote or perhaps something you may have omitted?

EO: Absolutely not. No. There's nothing that I wish I would've gone back and said to myself, no. I don’t think at 20-something years old, I'm supposed to understand every little thing. I don't think the 20-something-year-old woman is supposed to understand the world and know exactly what she's doing. I think that one of my biggest regrets, which isn't my regret, but a regret, is that I didn't have better parents. Because a 20-something only knows what she knows based on what she’s seen and what she’s been taught and what she’s told. I had shitty parents and a horrible family. Just terrible. These people had no business having children. None of them. And a lot of our families are like that. And we may pass down those familial curses.

*This interview has been edited and condensed

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Feature image courtesy of Elisabeth Ovesen

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