Ask a few love experts what the main cornerstone of a relationship is, and you will likely hear the same thing: communication. But for so many people, communication means to speak... not listen with the intention to understand. There's no sense in talking about what you feel if it's not going to be heard and considered by your partner. And within that simple statement lies the real reason so many people fear sharing their thoughts and feelings: They are vulnerable. They open themselves up to judgment and potential rejection. And for men—with the silent societal demands of "Be strong. Boys don't cry,” message—the feelings of vulnerability can be even more pronounced.
But men do have much to share and have a stock pile of things they wish they could say. On the other hand, womena are always asking, "What are you thinking?" Men may not be completely comfortable sharing it, but there is much on their minds as regards to love and the women in their lives. I asked 500+ men what was on their minds, but they were afraid to share with their significant others. During the discussions, their answers came real, raw, and with surprisingly similarities.
Please note that this isn't what ALL men think about when it comes to love and relationships. But as for subjects and issues they felt were too dicey to bring up to their significant others (meaning: it was "too honest" and they weren't comfortable), these are the Top 10.
10) "How many times will you tell me about that 'bitch' who hates you? Just stop talking to her already. Seriously."
He hears your frustration when you get back from work… or the gym… or lunch with your friends. What he doesn't understand is why you are talking to that one woman who is quietly making you mad. You know, your frienemy. In his world, a friend of his who becomes a jerk is no longer a friend. In truth, the fact that she creates havoc and drama for you — and that he feels the stress when it spills out into your relationship with him —bothers him.
9) "I don't watch porn as a replacement for our sex life. Sometimes I just need to release the tension without emotion."
Let's get something on the record: The vast majority of men masturbate. It doesn't matter if they are in a relationship or if they are happy with the women they love. Because men are visual creatures, many like a visual stimulus as part of their activities. (Note: Porn becoming a replacement for his sexual desires or him simulating activities he sees in pornography is a different issue.)
8) "Don't question everything I do. I'm a grown man and I need space. When you smother me, it pushes me away."
When a woman questions a man constantly, it makes him feel like he's making bad choices, or that he doesn't know what he's doing. While there may be times when she need real visibility into things (household finances come to mind instantly), constant questions about the little things in life can come across as mistrust...or nitpicking. Oftentimes, nitpicking or smothering is a symptom of something deeper — trust issues, insecurity, and/or lack of time/attention. Better to identify and address the real issue.
7) "When we first dated, you shaved your legs and put on makeup everyday. That's the woman I fantasize about. What the hell happened?
When relationships move past the honeymoon period, things can become comfortable. The result is that both parties can stop putting in the effort they had when they first entered the relationship. And while both parties should put their best foot forward to keep passion alive, men were clear that they are missing the women they met at the beginning. He wants to keep wanting you; show him why he should. (And if he's falling down keeping the spark alive, tell him you want the same.)
6) "I don't want to be with a weak woman. If you want me to respect you, stand up for yourself... just don't be a jerk when you do it."
Strong men desire strong women. It's only weak men who need a weak woman to keep down and control. Bottom line: Want a man to be interested in you? Make him work for your affections. Want him to respect you? Expect it. Demand it. Be his equal and don't allow him to steamroll over you. Want him to love you long-term? Love and respect yourself, and he will have no choice but to follow your lead.
5) "Don't use my past mistakes against me. I'm human; I screw up...just like you do."
The very weak don't know how to forgive, they only hate and/or get rid of you. The very strong forgive, but then never forget — and they never let you forget. My advice: Some behaviors might be unforgivable and a deal breaker. But if you do want to forgive him for something he's done, you need to find a place in between Strong and Weak. Forgiveness isn't the same as acceptance. Accepting how someone hurt you doesn't work, as it means you are okay with what they did. But you can forgive and move on — and do it without hate or resentment. To start the process of forgiveness, you just need to realize that what they did wasn't about you... it was about them, their choices and/or their lackings.
4) "If you ask me a question and want the truth, don't get pissed off when I give it to you. That's a no-win sitation for me."
If you want him to be honest, allow space for him to share his real thoughts. Asking for his straight-up assessment of something (not insults; just his honest thoughts) and then criticizing him will only create distance. He will interpret that response as it being unsafe to share what's on his mind, and he will stop sharing for fear of judgment and criticism.
3) "It's okay if you take charge in the bedroom sometimes. Actually, it might help me loosen up a bit and act on what I fantasized about."
Men have just as many wants and fantasies in the bedroom as women (though likely not quite as vivid), but many men are unsure or embarrassed to share them or act on them — even if she wants it. If your guy is a little uptight or unsure of himself, help him relax. Taking charge sometimes also shows him that he is desired — something he definitely wants to know that you feel.
2) "I worry about all kinds of things. I don't share them with you because I don't want you to think I'm weak or that I can't handle it."
He wants you to have faith in him. He wants to be strong — with you and for you. It's part of his DNA to not show fear — even in the face of adversity — because he wants to carry the weight of whatever issue he's facing, and solve it. What he needs is to know that through it all, you have faith in him and that you can solve things together. It might take him some getting used to, but the burden of everyday life challenges is something many men want to share.
And... for #1, there was a tie:
1) "I need to know you're proud of me and what I do. But your pride needs to be given freely; it's not the same if I ask for it."
Recognition is very important to everyone, and he definitely wants to know that he's doing his job — at home, in his individual life, and within himself. He wants to know you are paying attention to what he's doing and, quite simply. that it matters to you. Oftentimes, he might do something that is routine/regular for both of you, so it loses meaning… but he still wants recognition for it. Taking a little time to tell him you are proud of him is all he wants.
The other #1) "Please, for the love of God, tell me what you want. I cannot read your mind, and I feel like a failure when I can't get things right."
He wants you to be happy and he wants to know that he's contributing to that happiness. But if he's constantly searching for what you want and never really hits the mark, he will give up. The key here is clear communication. Tell him your wants. Make what you desire known. From there, he has a shot at providing it. He may not get it perfect, but effort counts.