Monday, January 17, 2005

What do women want?

Right - I'm going to get pasted on this one. Having read the highly entertaining debate on SV's blog and having had this discussion at a party last night, I thought I'd have a bash through sharing my experience / opinion. Also, I had some feedback on my Kiera-girl experience that I did not necessarily agree with - but the saga there continues and I'll post the outcome one day. But we're very good friends at the moment - at least.

My opinion and experience refers to a sampling of women in the under 30 age group who want to marry and have kids one day. I believe that what women above 35 want may be significantly different. Opinions welcome. Is Sex in the City a reliable gauge?! I've spent a lot of time in New York, and I must say, women there are different! Also, I am more experienced with women than some, but less experienced than many. :)

I do not speak for the male population, nor is my opinion of what women want descriptive of all women.

The first thing: what women say they want and what they actually want is often poles apart. I say often. Now and again the stars align and you meet a woman who says what she wants and means it. And most often us men will miss that and think, "So what does she really want?"

Right, on to my experience / opinion.

I do believe that girls and guys do have completely different starting points to assessing one another. Part of that is because the consequences of a sexual relationship are so different. Guys can walk away. Girls could be left with a baby. Fundamentally guys start with "Will this girl be fun to be with?" I believe girls start with a far more long-term screen.

Of course there are guys - and girls - who start by saying, "Wow this person will be great in bed."

I agree that dishonesty to get something from someone is despicable. Sadly there are many dishonest guys out there looking for nothing more than another notch on their bedpost.

I believe that basically (and absolutely, oversimplifying) women are driven by three powerful forces: I'll call these the time-bomb, the father effect and the bad-boy effect.

The time-bomb effect: as women approach 30, behavior actively changes to hunting. Spurred on by the realization that time may be running out, women appear to be far less tolerant of anybody who isn't marriage material. Now this is crucial, because it defines a starting screening position, and this is a fundamentally different starting position to guys.

The father effect: I have to agree with Ranty - women look at men as potential fathers. It is not the starting position but it often follows quite quickly (depending on the severity of the time-bomb effect - age related).

The bad-boy effect: this one mystifies me. It is somewhat contradictory to the first two. Absolutely, there are many girls who like nice guys ("Jacques Kallis seems such a strong, stable and nice guy"). But experience the Vin Diesel explosion - "Oooh, he's nice. I wouldn't mind him with some strawberries and cream." And of course there is Brad Pitt - bit of a mixture: bad boy in Thelma and Louise and A River Runs Through It. Good boy in others. But then there's Toby Maguire. So I'm a bit lost on this one. What I do know is that no girl likes a wimp. I believe girls want a guy who'll stand up to defend them. Makes for good genes too!

I do not believe that it as simple as many believe that most girls look at a guy for company, intelligence and personality first, and that guys look at women for their looks.

Anybody who denies that sexual attraction from both sides is fundamental to a relationship is just off their head. And anybody who thinks sexual attraction = supermodel looks is just inexperienced. Attraction can be based on the way someone laughs, the way they smile, their complexion, and yes of course, their looks. But some people will find someone else the most attractive person in the world - while others will disagree. Even if that attraction is based purely on looks. Witness any feedback on I am sure everybody's experience will show that their ratings are fairly widely dispersed.

Witness also "Bum guys" vs "Legs guys" vs "Tits guys." 'Nuff said.

All this stuff about girls are heroin-chic waifs because that's what guys dictate is a load of crap. Did anybody see the Feeders program on TV about the guys who are attracted to grossly overweight women? To each his own. Ultimately we each have to be happy with ourselves. Whether we are is a product of our own experiences. If we were teased at school because we were overweight, we'll probably feel better being thin. Kids look for differences and prey on those. If cosmetic surgery helps remove a deep-seated insecurity, then fantastic. If the person feels better about themselves, chances are others will too.

But I digress. Attraction is key. But perhaps girls do give attraction more time to develop than guys.

If there is attraction (at some level), then I believe we come to the fundamental difference in starting points. And I'm not saying this all happens in the first five minutes or from across the room. Girls start the screening process above, and guys think "Is this girl fun to be with?"

And this is where things often go wrong. When guys feel themselves being screened they typically back off. "Whoa, this girl's way too intense. Why is she checking me out as boyfriend? I was just having fun."

It is not that guys are fundamentally scared of commitment, or just want sex. If a guy is having the time of his life, he'll get to the thought, "Hey, it's fun being around this girl and I want this to continue. I could marry this girl."

As for the desert island question on SV's blog. It would depend. Who I was attracted to. And for me that remains a fundamentally face-to-face measure (which is why I try to meet an Internet date as quickly as possible after I have determined whether they are an axe-murderer or not). It wouldn't be much fun being in bed with either the Ice Queen or the Bomb-In-Bed if you weren't turned on...

And guess what? Guys also want someone who loves them when they're down, when they're not the image of Brad Pitt they were when they were 30. It wouldn't be fun otherwise. :)

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