What men don't know
To get anything you want from a women, give her this
I don't try to feed carrots to my cat. I like them and they're good for my health. But not for my cat.
Similarly, as a man, I want my woman to make me feel powerful, respected, and admired. I'll do almost anything for her if she makes me feel that way. But these are not at the top of her list of things that she wants from me. My job is to make her feel safe, cherished, and adored. When I do this, it's very easy for her to want to do almost anything for me.
Listening: the key to her heart (again and again)
Many men (and women too) think that financial security and a man's social status are fundamental in making a woman feel safe. Although these can certainly play a role in many relationships, men are often unaware of something more key and fundamental that ensures that a woman will feel safe (and cherished) in her relationship with a man: how well a man listens to his woman.
Does he listen with curiosity and compassion?
Does he let go of trying to fix his woman or fix something for her or just focus on listening first?
Does he listen in the spirit of partnership?
Does he listen without defensiveness, even when his woman is blaming him?
Does he listen while still keeping the boundaries he needs in order to take care of himself and his relationship with his woman?
Does he listen with acceptance and understanding, no matter her upset with him?
Does he listen so that she feels that he's fully listening to her?
As he listens, does he remain always clear that deep listening is distinct from agreeing or obeying?
Listening to his woman will, more than anything else, give her that sense of safety and specialness that is essential for creating and maintaining a great relationship with her.
A woman doesn't want space like men do (when there's an upset)
Typically, a man will want to "go into his cave" to recover from his upset or wounds. Most women don't want this. Again for her to feel safe, she will want a man to talk things out, to hold her, to be there for her as she goes through whatever storm she's weathering. Men, choose courage to continue listening to her and to even hold her, if she's agreeable.
Women pay attention to many small things, especially creative small things (and need reassurances that her man loves her no matter how many times he's expressed it before).
This is an art form. It's possible to do this too much or too little. Too much and his woman will feel crowded and think that the man is too easy. Too little and she won't feel her specialness in his life. The woman needs to be a little bit hungry (or nervous) for his reassurances, but not too much so. Just as an example: he might send her a text message in the morning and evening...but either none or one or two throughout the day.
You need to have a bigger purpose in life than her
Women will lose respect for and even feel unsafe if their man is "always willing to do anything for her," doesn't keep good boundaries with her, and/or doesn't have a passion in his life (usually a work passion) that's outside of her.
You need to be willing for your relationship not to continue (or not to continue with the same boundaries)
Notwithstanding a woman's need for feeling safe, too much safety (of a certain type) is not conducive to creating and maintaining a long-term, rich, and mutually selfish relationship. Our culturally supported tendency (that women typically want more than men) to promise "unconditional love," "no matter what," and "until death to we part" are counterproductive. We need to recognize the toxicity of "taking each other for granted" that easily occurs when each party knows, "he or she is not going to leave me." Both sides must be willing to choose courage to maintain this understanding and context, while still having a strong commitment to create and maintain a great relationship together. In other words, you both need to be willing to have a broken heart. And remember, a broken heart (broken without resistance) is an open heart.
"Distance creates beauty"
This Chinese proverb echos the English proverb, "Absence makes the heart grow fonder." Next to "taking each other for granted," the next biggest problem in relationships is losing hunger for each other, occurring more often for men than for women (yet important for both). Perhaps Katherine Hepburn was thinking about this issue when she said, "Sometimes I wonder if men and women really suit each other. Perhaps they should just live next door and just visit now and then."
Three stories about keeping hunger alive
These stories involve living separately and limiting the frequency of togetherness, but many other ways can be found to create distance, as simple as having separate beds or separate bedrooms.
Four Japanese women
In 1998 I rented a house in Hiroshima for three months. One day I hosted four Japanese women for lunch in my home. All were in the 40s, married with children. We were talking about marriage, sex, and romance. It was easy to tell that three of the women had no passion with their husbands (or their husbands for them). They were tolerating their relationships, trying to keep the family together and raise the kids. However, they were teasing the fourth woman about her passion with her husband. She was blushing. I asked her, "Junko-san, you've been married for almost twenty years. How are you still able to have passion with your husband?!" I discovered that her husband worked in another prefecture and only returned home one weekend each month.
Cleveland and Newark
A former client (with whom I stay in touch) loved her husband deeply (and he her), but their passion, after four years of living together, was gone. One fallout of that was that her husband started an affair. She ended up getting a divorce, but remained close friends with her former husband. Although she lived in Cleveland, she then fell in love with a man who lived in Newark, New Jersey. Every four weeks she flies to Newark to be with him for the weekend; every four weeks he flies to Cleveland to be with her for the weekend. They're together every two weeks. Their relationship is still passionate after 16 years (as of 2020) of TLA (together living apart), as she puts it.
Sometimes I learn very slowly
Over my lifetime I've been blessed to have fallen in love with several amazing women (and they with me). In retrospect, I was 55 before I learned deeply and permanently the value of distance with and staying hungry for someone I love. I am now aware of how I set my past relationships up to fail (at least romantically). Whenever I would fall in love with a woman, we would start to see each other more and more, often terminating in our living together. In all cases, even though we stayed together for months or years after the passion was gone, our passion together never lasted more than six months from when we met. Currently (2020), I have been deeply and passionately in love with a woman (and she with me) for over ten years. Over those ten years, we have visited together once a week or less. I am always counting the days (and even hours) until I get to be with her again.
Viva la "force" in sex
Yes, a man's physical tenderness and sensitivity with his woman is a must for having a great sexual relationship. But, for most couples, a dose (or two or three) of rough sex (most often the man being rough with the woman) puts the scream in the orgasm. Most likely a man gets off on this because it's an expression of his power that he can "force" a woman to have sex with him and drive her out of her mind in the process. A woman, in contrast, gets turned on by resisting and then surrendering to her man's domination because she both revels in the strength of his desire for her and in his power to protect her from other men. It goes without saying (and I'll say it), a safe word (or signal the woman can always give), must be agreed upon so that both the man and woman are secure in the assurance that the woman is not forced into anything she really doesn't want. With my girlfriend, we have set aside the word "stop." If she says "no" or says "don't," I don't stop. If she says "stop," I stop immediately and make sure she's okay.