[OPINION] What do women want from a man?

By: Natasha Archary


The age old question, “What do women actually want from a man?”

I’ve reached out to hundreds of women in my circle and posed this question to each one. It goes without saying, and I am completely unbiased in admitting that I’m not entirely convinced we know what we want on the relationship front.


I went into this assuming we would all be on the same page and seeing as many advocate for the feminist within that it was as simple as that. But, the minds of women are not as cut and paste (ahem here’s looking at you Shashi Naidoo) as that.


Disclaimer: Now I understand that we are all not just heterosexual but this survey was done using women in hetero relationships. 


Of the hundred odd women I spoke to, 45% did not want to be in a relationship with a man unless he was taking care of her financially. Most women were in either emotionally abusive or physically abusive relationships but were not prepared to leave because they had grown accustomed to a particular lifestyle. A shocking 38% of the women I spoken to had a child with said abusive partner and the child was one of the reasons for them staying.


None of the women I had spoken to were convinced they were in exclusive relationships but this did not matter. Many were happy to be the “other woman”, some knowingly involved with attached men.


At a loss for words, I decided to search for answers elsewhere and see if global trends differed to those in South Africa. Funnily, South Africans seem to have a more realistic view of relationships as opposed to the fairytale happy endings that women the world over seem to cling to.


Blog articles on “what women look for in a partner” left me baffled. Are we honestly this predictable? A study in Psychological Science revealed that women gravitate towards a man with a gorgeous smile. I am actively restraining myself from ripping out chunks of my hair.




Good smile? Check. Ability to support his children and be a loving partner? Nah, not necessary. Of the women I had spoken to, 56% said his physical appearance was important. He needed to look and smell good. No amount of restraining could stop me from face-palming myself this time.


I refuse to accept this is it. That our expectations in a relationship are this low. That we’re willing to turn a blind eye on his pathetic behaviour as long as the bills are paid. Unlike many of the articles I found whilst scouring the endless library that is the internet, I’m going to share with you a list that is reflective of the majority of the women I surveyed.


Of the women interviewed, 55% ranked the following as high on their list of must-haves in a man:


Sense of responsibilty

Women ranked this at the top of character traits a man should exude. He should understand his role as a father and be responsible for the needs of his children. Men who showed they are able to provide for their family were admired.



This did not necessarily mean financial security as this portion of the women surveyed were capable of providing for themselves financially. They did however want to feel safe with the partner they had chosen. To know that they would not be subjected to any form of abuse and would be cared for emotionally.



Too much to ask for it seems with so many concerned about this. Women wanted to be in exclusive relationships, so loyalty and trust ranked high with the 55%.



In the beginning of their relationships, many women talked about their partners being “up for anything.” A night out dancing, spontaneous road-trips and exciting dates but this changed gradually over time until one day they just stopped. Women want a man who’s willing to think of innovative ways to keep the relationship interesting, fun and keep them intrigued. Many were perplexed that once the “deal was signed” that the fun just withered away and routine kicked in.


Emotional Intelligence

Men are known for being emotionally unavailable and there is nothing more unappealing as a man who is not in touch with his feelings. Except, perhaps, a man who cannot express his feelings. There’s nothing wrong with being emotionally aware of how your partner is feeling, offering a shoulder, support and just being there when she needs. Instead of running at the first sight of trouble, women felt a man who was willing to stick around difficulties as “the one”. Of course this included a man who speaks up about his fears and stresses too.


The little things

This one is sure to give you an “awww moment”, bringing her chicken soup, running her a bath, and a massage when she’s feeling a little under the weather tops any lavish dinner. Refueling her car, checking the tyre pressure, oil and water shows her you care about her safety. You may think we don’t notice these little things but we do.


Sure, we don’t mind a man who smells like he just bathed in CK snuggling us at night but I’d like to think it goes beyond that “he pays for everything” expectation. Or maybe it’s just me.

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