What do women want? Doesn't that sound a lot like a high-key problematic rom-com from the Noughties starring Hugh Grant that hasn't aged particularly well? Well, probably - and it remains a contested topic to this day. So to all you guys and gals out there that don't have a clue what women are on about these days, here are a few starting points to get you on course for your dream relationship.
Myth 1: Women only want commitment
Nope! Right off the bat, here's a classic stereotype from every Mel Gibson film that he's ever made: women aren't all the same! We don't all want the same thing any more than guys all want 'something casual'. Yes, I know that in the media and popular entertainment circles it's impossible to escape the dogma that women only want to think long-term or with 'marriage eyes', but it's simply not true, particularly in the modern world. That's not to say that marriage or traditional values of settling down are in any way 'anti-modern' but merely the idea that in today's world so many decisions have to be made about careers, children, ideologies, and even money, that relationships have to be thought of in terms of their potential long term value.
Don't say the 'C' word
It's actually much harder to imagine yourself in a long-term relationship as a woman in this environment. We are contesting with so many other factors. We always have to make a sacrifice, and it's almost always in our relationships. We would nowadays rather not go half-heartedly into any committed relationship at all than risk breaking hearts and wasting time for both parties. Therefore, the myth that women all want commitment or need stability from men or their partners, is quantifiably untrue in today's world. However, it is still a perfectly workable and viable, satisfying route for many.
It may seem like people are still settling down young, but that's maybe just because we all want to communicate more effectively. Establishing early on that you are in a relationship for the long haul, exclusive, and moving forward - it makes logistical sense to establish that early on. Otherwise, you are just in a pretend and very temporary relationship. They have clear expiry dates.
Myth 2: "women want a Nice Guy - which doesn't exist!"
Ah, the Nice Guy. The capital letters there are intentional. You may see a nice guy you meet in a coffee shop, that's one thing. However, the self-titled Nice Guy you meet on a dating website is a whole other kettle of fish. The former will offer to pay for your coffee but retreat respectfully if you don't fancy it. The latter will assault you with a long-suffering speech about how 'women don't even know what they want'. Or indeed that 'Nice guys like me always finish last' as if they're in a Green Day song or something. Note to self, if you think you're a nice guy and tell women this, you're probably a Nice Guy. Stop that.
Basically, women want a guy with a sense of humour who can make them laugh. Not just a guy who laughs at fart jokes and makes sexist comments 'for the banter'. We want a charmer, not someone that has to antagonise us to get our attention. Most of all we don't want the performance and insecurity that comes with being with a Nice Guy. You always have to feed their egos and they always seem to need validation. Yet always have to defend themselves when they do something which is, in fact, not so nice. So no, women don't want a Nice Guy. It's not the 50s anymore, we can handle a bit of rebel-without-a-cause, just not the toxic kind. We can handle drama if you grow out of it. However, pretending to be something you're not just to get with a girl, that's a big no-no.
Myth 3: women will catfish you on dating apps and turn up the crazy later
I feel like this one doesn't really need explaining... and yet I've had conversations with guys before who seem to think that just because a woman gets more comfortable around him or reveals more aspects of her personality, that it's a direct attack on him, personally. This is of course completely natural. Apart from his stupid response, a good sign for the relationship if you are both letting your guard down. But if you as a guy think that the woman you meet on your first date is all that she will ever be, you are sorely mistaken. This myth is a particularly important one to debunk because so many relationships have a one-sided affair in which the guy doesn't expect things to change. Newsflash: people change! If we didn't we wouldn't have done anything or learned anything.
Yes, we might put our best foot forward and more flattering angles on a dating profile. That's fine, but if we let you see our layers beneath that, and make ourselves vulnerable or tell you our insecurities, that's just healthy communication. It's not 'unleashing the crazy'. The stereotype that any woman wanting commitment or progress in a relationship is suddenly 'irrational' or crazy is damaging. It's also harmful language to individuals with mental health issues. If you are going into a relationship not expecting or prepared for change, that's not a relationship. That's just a waste of time for both parties.
Myth 4: women don't know what they want
Okay, this one has more truth in it than most of these other myths. After all, a lot of the time we may come to realise after a few years that what we want is actually right in front of us. Perhaps what we think we want, isn't actually what we truly want, or indeed, what is good for us. Moreover, we are liable to change over time, and it's only natural that our tastes and desires will change too. That's all fine and valid, and just as true for men as women.
However, even if you think that what a woman really wants is you, and she just hasn't figured it out yet, that doesn't mean you are entitled to her. She doesn't belong to you. Not just because you have a crush on her, or think you know her better than she knows herself. That's not how it works, guys. Don't be the controlling guy. Or the best friend in the sitcom that somehow ends up punching so far above his weight and getting the girl he's hounded for decades. (See also: the entire third season of Friends).
Basically, if you're still feeling bewildered about these rules and forms of wisdom that you previously thought were universal facts of life, here's a hint in the place of all the myths I've just dispelled.
If in doubt about an aspect of a relationship or what a woman wants...