What women really want …

by Anita Menon

I wrote this essay for a book that was published few months ago. Robin Barratt, an author and publisher asked contributions from women across countries, cultures, age groups and attitudes. I happened to have a few thoughts and was happy to offer them in the form of this essay. The book is called- What women really want and why men sometimes get it so wrong. If the title and the concept interests you, you can check it out on Amazon over here  The book contains contributions from 25 women from 18 countries and nationalities – all discussing this interesting topic that has been debated and pondered over for centuries. What makes it very special for me is that mine is the very first chapter in the book !:-)

My essay can be read over here->

I grew up reading Jane Austen books and there is no better portrayal of a woman’s mind as in Austen’s stories. The characters are strong, wily, weak and manipulative; essentially being women. Though Austen writes about times and practices that are not relevant in today’s context, the behaviour of  women in certain familiar situations still remains the same. Being a woman, I catch myself repeating what most women would do under similar circumstances; especially when it comes to dealing with men. Contrary to the popular belief that women do not know what they want, I have a few viewpoints to share.

What Women Want front cover

 We want everything that men want but at a different time

My friend G is actively looking to settle down. Like Lana Del Ray crooned for the Great Gatsby OST, G had seen the world, done it all and had her cake now. Finally, she found a suitor in someone who looked accomplished and available. We were all excited for her as she made plans of where she would like her wedding to be. A few weeks down the line I met her again and asked her about what was going on with her handsome suitor and G sadly explained that both of them were in different places in life and wanted different things. This mismatch of timing is such a pain. I felt G’s pain. I put away my imaginary bridesmaid dress for another time when G would be back with a more promising suitor.

 Women definitely know what they want but do not express much

Austen wrote in Pride and Prejudice, “A lady’s imagination is very rapid; it jumps from admiration to love, from love to matrimony in a moment” Women’s minds are fertile with expectations. Mostly unspoken and unexpressed and this is where all the trouble lies. Wish we expressed more but then that would make us more like men who speak their minds all the time whether we like it or not.

September 2004, I decided to break up with my boyfriend of 5 years to whom I was engaged to for 2 years. It shocked my friends, my relatives, his relatives except my mother. Our common friends stopped talking to me to show their support to him but I did not care and did not bother justifying. It was my life and I could choose to do what was good for me. My parents supported me wholeheartedly because there are some core values with which I was brought up. Being in that relationship for 5 years made me realize that I had to compromise with my core values such has integrity and freedom to be. I could not fathom a life time of enduring this compromise and so I decided to move away. But what made me stay for 5 years despite this revelation that happened early on in the relationship? I was giving love a chance. People say love conquers all but unfortunately in certain cases it is not enough. People reading this would say, I should have spoken up and told him how I felt. Ofcourse I did but somehow I concluded that my boyfriend had an idea of what an ideal partner should be like and tried to fit me into that. I tried to comply and realized I would never fit perfectly. This made everything so uncomfortable and I made up my mind to move on.

Growing up and maturing allows women to figure what they really want

Fast forward to the present where I am writing this essay on what women really want, I turn to my team members in my firm. These are all young, educated and single women in their early 20’s. The moment I posed this question, they burst out in a fit of giggles. I was quite taken aback by this reaction. To me, what we women want, is a very pertinent question. Why aren’t these lovely, educated women taking this question seriously? After much thinking, I realized it was an age related issue. In my 20s I was never sure about what I wanted, like any young person to whom the world looks like a sea of possibilities. The matter of what to expect from relationship and from the man of the moment was not very crucial. Setting expectations right was never on the agenda. My foolhardy behaviour resulted in plenty of heartbreaks and I am not talking about mine alone. But now when I look back, I feel there are many things I would say to my younger self. Growing older and more experienced has made me more confident of my choices and I have more clarity in terms of what it means to set expectations right in a relationship.  But do the men get it right with experience?

 Even the most mature men get it wrong

Growing up, I saw my parents talking to each other a lot, sometimes even forgetting that my brother and I were in the room. They were so engrossed in each other talking about their day and other trivialities. To my mind, it felt like they understood each other unusually well.  Yet, several times I found my mother desolate. It was shocking to observe that even my father, who I thought to be unendingly generous and broad – minded happened to miss the mark at times. Were her expectations so out of line? I don’t think I will ever find out because both of them are so guarded about their relationship and its caveats.

 Make amends for those lost second chances before it is too late

In 2001, my friend and her boyfriend of 8 years split. They were only 19 and childhood sweethearts. It was a shock for all of us but my friend was simply unresponsive. Her boyfriend was frantic and kept in touch with us to figure out what went wrong. Despite several pleas of second chances, she refused to budge. The only thing she said was, “He lost his second chances so many years ago.” The boyfriend got it wrong so many times and she put up with it for the sake of their love and attachment. But then enough was enough and she was ready to move on.

 Never ignore the small things                                 

So it all comes down to why do these sad incidents happen where couples of many years break up and love that was so strong, dwindles and perishes? Every individual enters a relationship with their idea of loving a person and a set of expectations. Both the partners want to love and be loved, and cared for. These are the larger set of expectations which have to be met instantly and without which the relationship would  cease to exist instantly. My dad always told me not to fret over the small stuff but then that is what makes us women. The small stuff that doesn’t get acknowledged, is what piles up and becomes a huge mountain of unmet expectations. Women do not raise these issues thinking they can ignore it while they can which then leads to an accumulation of these tiny incidents that keep bubbling until they are ready to tip over, rocking the vessel. Men who are smart enough to notice the signs can prevent this explosion of the volcano while the less fortunate ones are destined to burn and die.

 What do women look for men?

The answer to this question changes as we women get older and start to know better. My younger self would have answered, tall, dark and handsome with bucket loads of money without hesitation. But an older and wiser me would say, I need someone or I have someone who is intelligent and sensitive to my needs. My friend G said, she would stay ten thousand miles away from the type who looked anything like a playboy. She wants someone stable and kind. She was particular about expressing that her partner should have an aspirational value to him. This means, he should be either more powerful, more intelligent, more stable compared to her and to someone who she can look up to. It feels ironical when empowered women like G say this. Why wouldn’t they want a relationship of equals? We women are contradictory creatures like that. In this modern era where we have feminist movements going strong for us and opportunities are aplenty to show our potential, we still hope to be picked as a partner rather than try and approach the man we like. The most powerful of women, step down from their high seats when they reach the home turf where they want to be held and loved, and cared for. In a relationship, our instincts as women, reduce to a primal level which all the education, power and the riches in the world can’t shake. We want to feel secure physically, emotionally and financially and want a man who can provide us all three even though we may not need it. Oscar Wilde put it beautifully, “I see when men love women. They give them but a little of their lives. But women when they love give everything.” That is what all women want – A man to who they can give all their love.

Thank you Robin for this opportunity. There is no greater high than seeing my name in print. Do treat yourself to a copy my dear readers, paperback only 10.95 USD / £6.99 GBP! Kindle just: 4.69 USD / £2.99 GBP or FREE with Kindle Unlimited! ISBN (paperback): 978-1517042646 ASIN (Kindle): B014H2UXHG