This post was originally published several years ago. This is an update. New realizations, new experiences you see. It did get rave reviews then, and a dear friend suggested that I had gumption to write this down and go public with it.
It was one evening over coffee, actually it was over Hot Chocolate (with a girl I should add), that I was inspired to write about this. It’s not like I’ve not thought about it a million times, but after the tete a tete over the HC, I got around to it. This is my take and I call it as I see it.
“What Does a Man Look for in a Woman” is part of a much larger topic that should cover relationships, marriage, commitment and all that. Whilst that is still in the works, and will possibly emerge at some point in the future, here is a beginning.
Whether we like it or not, whether we admit it or not, most of us so-called men are Mama’s boys. Unless of course we’ve had strange childhoods and the Mama in question has been wanting as a mother. Being a Mama’s boy, as long as it is tempered with a strong sense of individuality and independence, may not be such a bad thing. It should certainly not be a case of “I’ll do whatever Mama says”, that Mama always knows best and my significant other has to put up with Mama this, Mama that, all the time. Some even call Mama the “higher authority”.
Back in the day my kid sister and I called my Mom, “GOC Commanding”, which translates to “General Officer in Chief Commanding”, when we were making fun of her. The two most significant women in a mans life, Mama and wife or partner, can compliment each other, but the significant other is many things a mother can never be, so there is no need to be wary. They are two completely different relationships, and originate at different points in our lives. The wife, girlfriend, significant other or what have you, has to and must recognize what the role of the mother is, and only if she does, will she be successful in managing a healthy relationship with both her man’s mother and the man himself. If she plays it well, the mother in law, can be a powerful ally in the occasional and inevitable jousting that occurs between man and his mate.
Strangely this view of mine was echoed by a new friend, a “Gori” or western white woman.
I’ve heard from so many friends and acquaintances (girls), “Men are just wired differently”. Yes we are, however, one sweeping brush to cover what can be a myriad of meanings? In this case, for all intents and purposes we will read “wired differently”, as the common complaint from women. That men will never stop checking out other women, even if they are in a substantial relationship. Now I’ll say something that applies to both men and woman, or rather, ask a leading question. Why would a man look at another woman, if he’s happy in a relationship? Several possible reasons come to mind. Either he’s not really happy in the relationship, he did not choose wisely ab into, he’s just looking at a good-looking woman in appreciation or then he’s just “wired differently”.
So at this point I see the girls reading this going, “Yeah right, just looking? What’s Sumir been smoking?”. I’m not high, so I will ignore the question and carry on to say, that the intent behind the look is of paramount importance. Was it a “Wow! She’s sexy, I wish…..” or is it just a case of appreciating the beauty of a woman. Now a dead giveaway is where exactly is a man looking when he’s seen a good-looking woman, but don’t go shooting him in the head. Some women are just built in such a manner that the gaze just sorta wanders away from the face. “Checking out” can mean different things to different people. It’s no different when a woman oohs and aahas at a man or is it? It’s a myth that men want to be footloose and fancy free all their lives.
Now the foot loose and fancy free that I’m referring to here is the “playing the field” variety not to be confused with the need of a man to have some space to do the things boys do. Even grown men, if they’ve not become blotto at a tender age of say 54, will always have the little boy inside him. Me? I have the mind of a twelve-year-old, so my daughter says, and she’s not far off the mark.
So does every man want to be footloose and fancy free all his life, will he ever want to settle down? The answer is really simple, and women make it needlessly complicated. The answer is yes, when he understands himself, and by extension he understands what he wants in a woman, and only when he finds that right woman. So we nicely come to the point of all of this. What does a man want in a woman. Let’s get to the bottom of this by looking at it from several perspectives.
We’ve already established that he’s a Mama’s Boy, and so it is a given that he’s been so used to his mother doing the washing, cleaning, cooking, shopping and everything, that’s its going to be hard to wean him off that easy lifestyle. He has been brought up by his parents and in particular his mother, and girls, you trying to wean him off his dear mother will not be an easy task, even if he wants to achieve this gargantuan feat on his own.
He does not want to lose all this “facility” as he steps into what they call “mans estate”. And then woman, you inexplicably come into our lives and leave us a bit nonplussed. So its like being shell-shocked. Thus far, we are used to dealing with sisters and mothers, and this whole concept of girlfriend just triggers stuff in us that we’ve never dealt with before.
The mental faculties sort of fade, the senses get a bit dulled and initially we just give in and go with the flow. We lose our so-called “independence” and attend to your every whim and fancy to the best of our abilities. Slowly the enormity of what just happened dawns upon us, and we slowly begin to recover our mental faculties, which in many ways can never compare with those of a woman. As a part of this restorative process, we think, it was different when I was dealing with mom or sis, and then the comparisons start.
As for the girls, I don’t know how many times I hear girls saying, “Oh but he was so different when we first met, when he was courting me. He was so chivalrous, so romantic, he opened doors for me and everything”. Girl, all that stopped didn’t it? Why? Because you girls start loosing your edge. If you want tips on how to win this no win situation, let me know.
So is it really so difficult to guess that most men want a woman who will be able to substitute the role of the mother vis-a-vis “basic wants and needs”, keeping in mind that he’s been a Mama’s boy for the formative years of his life? Ever heard of the old saying, “The Way to a Man’s heart is through his stomach?” Girls, consider this as the basic tenets of building a relationship with the man of your choice, and not necessarily your dreams. Are you hearing “compromise” somewhere in that sentence? You are and I will come to compromise pretty soon, but for now, don’t make me lose my flow.
Now we have the “basics” of self-preservation (washing, cooking, and cleaning) nicely settled, and by settled I mean that you girls just need to recognize this, you don’t actually have to do anything about it, merely be aware.
Now comes the next level of wants and needs. So girl for the sake of assumption, you’re an accomplished wife, mom, girlfriend, significant other, live in, whatever….and I’m sure that you’re really terrific, but guess what? In all probability whatever you do, will always be compared to THE MOM, and in all probability, will not be anywhere close to “mother’s cooking”, and so on, because you are the stand-in, the substitute, and the perception of substitute is, not as good as the original. But then, perception, over a period of time becomes reality.
Where does this perception come from? Most of the time it comes a vision or a memory of a time when life was easier, it was at a time when his life was not fraught with tensions and responsibilities. So breaking that perception and “facilitating” the process of arriving at a realistic recognition of how wifey or matey is “different” and not necessarily “lesser”, is the art that most women have failed miserably at.
Now there is some truth in the fact that, modernization has complicated the social fabric and has complicated lives and it is on this account that “partners”, mothers et all, are unable to pay as much attention to their men as they could in the past, when it was probably their prime responsibility. Our social and cultural systems all drove in the point about the role of a woman, so there is much history to overcome here. But let’s not digress, I’m dragging my mind back to “some more wants and needs”.
Man is a social being, and on account of that alone, the levels of interaction that we’re all subjected to are immeasurable. Birthdays, weddings, engagements, social do’s, office parties, all dot the landscape, even if you’re a bit reclusive like myself, you cannot run from it, or you will be labeled “anti-social” if not by your peers by your partner. I know, I’ve been there, but that’s neither here nor there.
I don’t know about you, but I’d feel just great if I was accompanied by a beautiful woman at such events, whether she is a date, or a girlfriend, or the significant other. “Arm-candy”, some people refer to it as, and I’d forgotten but was reminded by my “editor”. When I say accompanied, I don’t mean that you have to stick with your man all through the party, sure you should mingle as well.
But I cannot emphasize enough, how important it is to from time to time, slide up to your man and show visible signs of affection. It was be as simple as putting your arm around his waist which will indicate to all present that you’re with him, or that he’s your man. Marking territory just about sums it up nicely. If somebody did that, it would make me feel very nice.
About social events. Why do we all go? We have to or then because we want to, and sometimes we do get “hitched” at such events, or at least someone gets “pointed out” by other interested parties. Then comes the usual dating and running around flora and fauna, as depicted so nicely by Bollywood and during this process we arrive at a decision point, where we conclude that this is my future or then go and look for greener pastures, meaning that the “hunt” begins all over again. Coming to brass tacks, I think that the human race is meant to prey by nature. Just look at the food chain!
Now who preyed upon who is immaterial but, you’re now properly hitched, or “hooked, booked and cooked” as per some references. History is what I call it. Man as he existed has ceased to be, he’s history. And that’s not derogatory in any way, shape or form, it’s just plain, simple fact.
Man is now coupled with a power beyond his wildest imagination, and yes let’s be man and admit it, beyond his control. Now the trick is to complement, and be able to convert that power into a catalyst for a long-lasting, harmonious relationship. If there is such a thing.
Over the ages, man has forgotten how that can be achieved, and in this version of “man” I include woman as well. They’ve missed the plot completely. Now if I need to go to all these social do’s and I’m hitched, would it not be so nice to be accompanied by someone who is all sweet, nice, charming, smells nice, alluring and intelligent all rolled into one? Someone who can carry off a salwar or a sari or a lehanga or a mini (depending on what it covers of course) or a gown. Men will dream, women will dream and they will crave perfection in the significant other, only to realize that it aint’ there buddy. And it’s really unfair, because neither is perfect by any stretch of the imagination. So what do we do, we settle. Hearing compromise again? You are, but we’ll come to that in a bit.
Then we’re all hitched, and guess what? Apart from attending other’s do’s, we are now inviting people home too! And what does a man want? He wants a perfect hostess, a perfectly dressed, bleached, waxed, cute and cuddly, sexy and alluring, significant other, and she has to be all of those things AFTER getting all set for the party, doing the shopping, cooking, cleaning, kids, the whole enchilada. Very realistic is it now? And yet I’ve seen woman after woman managing all of that. Now when a woman falls short of this minor detail, that is when a tactless man may say, why can’t you be like the wife or girlfriend of Mr. X. Sound familiar? But this is still very basic, wait till we get to the interesting bits, bits that we don’t talk about, at least in public.
Now magnify what I’ve said by a factor of X if you’re with a man who has needed or chosen, as the case may be, to live on his own, and managed to take care of his house, done his own cooking, cleaning, laundry. He’s going to be one difficult to please person. I kinda fit into that category.
Well there was Plato, but my guess is that his concepts of Platonic relationships don’t apply to this subject. Its more like Sigmund or some other chap, whose name eludes me at the moment. Sociologists and Psychologists are in my humble opinion, psycho themselves, and they take oodles of money to tell us what is very basic, or then to mislead us completely into a lifetime of dependence on something called “therapy”. Well psychologists mostly make most of the money, Sociologists are the poor ones. No marketing and business flair, unless they’re into writing books and stuff, that is when the royalties kick in.
We usually start noticing certain changes in ourselves around the age, referred to as puberty, and that is a game changing scenario. Most of the time there is nobody competent to explain all this physical and emotional change to us. Well there are several competent people, but somehow or the other, we learn from lesser than authority. Friends, who have in all probability heard from friends, who have learned from some “online media” or something.
Even though it’s the most important conversation for a kid at that age, if only because it makes the world procreate, it is a conversation that we balk from. A warped understanding of the procreation process (not that it’s used purely for procreation), can be damaging and is often the cause of damaged relationships. Yet we continue sidestepping this even when it involves us directly, i.e.. when we do meet that person with whom “something” may happen.
Well it’s happened, and its taken as a given, its taken for granted. Hey stupid, there is an entire Indian Sutra (ever heard of the Kama Sutra) written about this, and guess what? It goes into a great amount of written and graphic detail. My belief is that at appropriate time, it should be studied. It’s not just some pervert who penned this, its recorded, written word for our benefit.
At the very least if we cannot talk about it openly, gift the dammnnn literature to the party of the opposite part. Might help in articulating our innermost desires and preferences. There…. try as I might, I could not avoid the “S” word. This topic, we try so hard to keep under wraps, but buddy, the most sophisticated technology is deployed by the “online education and entertainment” industry, and they have the maximum hits, so not really under wraps.
Or then listen to the words of Eminem, “Of course they gonna know what intercourse is By the time they hit fourth grade They got the Discovery Channel don’t they? We ain’t nothing but mammals..”
Hot, coy, demure, shy, meek, sexy, charming, efficient, good mother, dutiful wife, life companion for “better or worse”, social companion, sense of humor, respect, honesty, open-mindedness, and the list can be endless…. are some of the things we men think about when we think woman.
Problem is we get so much more influenced by what the outside world will see, and want to see, and expect, that our own preferences in terms of attributes go to the bottom of the list, if they make it to the list at all.
While a woman is expected to have all the attributes, some facing outward to the world, and some facing inward toward the man, the order of importance of the attributes will almost always dictate success or failure of the relationship. The really sad part is that if a man is too young, or doesn’t know himself, then the order of importance will change over time, and the lens under which he will examine the relationship will change and will bring to light some startling revelations.
Hot, deserves some more attention, and so let me lay to rest this long outstanding myth. Men who want relationships, so don’t automatically equate relationship with hot. Hot can be a “nice to have” surely, but realistically speaking we know that the odds are stacked against hot, and other desirable and essential attributes rarely coexist.
That is not to say we are compromising, because I believe that visual appeal and charm do the trick more than adequately. If you’re hot then that is great, but if you’re not, girls don’t obsess about it, and constantly live in fear that he’ll fall for someone hot and younger.
Speaking about younger. Act young, behave young, and that’s all that will matter, but women cannot do that unless they feel that way, so go and make sure you do the things that make you feel good about yourself, and give you the confidence to act and feel young or at least young at heart. And if you’re up to it, then it will not really be an act, you will be able to carry off the part won’t you?
There is this saying which is a favorite of mine. “The Mind Is Issuing Checks that the Body Can’t Encash”. American, needless to say, which translates as, wanting to and being able to act years younger that your age, but neglecting yourself will mean that you cannot make your body obey its master, the mind. We will all enter that phase, of not being able to do all the things we want to do, but that can be reserved for a later time, when you’re really old and the body has become a rebel to the mind. If your mind goes too, then tsk, tsk, that is just too bad.
Up until now its been easy-peasy, but now is when I’m getting into pretty contentious territory, if I’m not already in the midst of it, and as soon as I sum up the courage to post this, I’m applying for Police protection!
Man in general has double standards, and this includes the female of the species, so to be fair, lets put it the other way around. The Woman has double standards, and the Male of the species is no different. Happy girls?
Men (moi) have double standards about several things. Mother, sister, and partner, all women right? So then why do some of us expect our mothers and sisters to dress more conservatively and expect or at least secretly wish that our significant others should dress to kill, or tantalize, if not others, at least us?
Now there is oodles of money spent, on advertising sexy lingerie, perfume, swim suits and all manner of fashion accessories, and people do buy that stuff, so I’m assuming it works. Hand on heart, I will say, boy oh boy, it does….
Oh my mother works too hard, we should give her rest, but my wife must slave in the kitchen, she must bear my kids,and she must contribute to the family income too! Now there is a class of woman who don’t do even some of this, leave alone all of it and them I call “not-men”. “Not-men” refers to a woman who is a female – not a man, but lacks those qualities and attributes that are inherent in women.
Why? Because to me and to men in general I think, “woman” means package, and if crucial contents of that package are missing then the thingamajig will not work properly. Or to put it more gently, that’s not woman to me. It’s not a man, but not a woman either, so therefore the variant of “not-men”. I’ve been called male chauvinist in disguise by my “editor” when she read this update in the piece. Maybe it isn’t fair, but women are just expected to contribute so much more in a relationship and largely it goes unrecognized.
Then I’m sure you’ve heard that men want their women to be all classy and everything, and completely different between the sheets, and hey its true, what better combination can you hope for! One more before I get accused of belaboring the point…. we want our wives to be super moms, super wives, super home makers, super everything, but our lady friends we treat completely differently don’t we? We have expectations from our significant others, but from our lady friends there are no such expectations, them we just admire.
And then there is this conundrum. On the one hand the man wants this pure, pristine, untouched, unblemished, uncontaminated woman as his life partner, and on the other hand, he wants the benefits of experience, be it emotional, material, maybe even physical, all which he thinks will satisfy him. Ok so sue me I slipped in another one after promising that I wouldn’t belabor the point.
So that dovetails nicely into……
The concept of the modern, liberated, self-sufficient woman, independent and strong and what have you, is just that, a concept. Is it possible? Sure it is, but at what price? If a woman is willing to pay that price, I say go for it, I have no quarrel with you, but I certainly do have an opinion on the subject, which I’m entitled to. Mark my words, I don’t think most men looking for a substantial and maintainable relationship, would fall for a woman like that, and it has nothing to do with men not being able to see his better half as his equal or more successful than him. That happens too, but that we can talk about separately.
The sooner woman acknowledge, that it’s not a level playing field, that they are playing a game of cards against mostly male opponents, all holding loaded decks, the better it is.
The art that would suit intelligent women (who is more intelligent than her man), would be to ensure that even if she’s calling the shots, be careful to make it look like the brilliant thought or suggestion, came from the man. Why? And its unfair, but not many men, like to be pipped to the post by a woman. Gender inequalities exist, cest la vie
As my Spiritual Master put it to me, “A Woman is a Pure Soul Trapped in a Female Body”. I’ve read and I do believe that girls need to be protected at all times, from their birth until the end of their days, by the father, the brother, the husband, the son.
I was told by an Egyptian scholar that the original intent of a particular community taking more than one wife, goes way back during the crusades, when the male population was rapidly depleted, leaving woman and children unprotected and open to exploitation. I think that is partially where respect and a sense of responsibility come from. They even need to be protected from themselves at times, as even though their mental faculties are far superior than men, their emotional state oftentimes weakens them.
If I bite my tongue, or chew the inside of my cheeks after I publish this, it can only mean that all of womankind is going to go after me hammer and tongs, and pray for all manner of bad things to befall me. So how else is the playing field lopsided?
Hell, look at the female diversity ratios at play, look at the number of women at the senior positions, then all don’t stack up evenly do they? Hell, they don’t even get paid the same as men!
Perhaps you can explain to me why, there are certain professions where the female to male diversity rations are tilted heavily in favor of women. Look at hotel front offices, hostesses, client servicing teams in several industries and professions. Is it simply because they may be more efficient at such roles, or is it really because the female person and presence are being exploited to gain that crucial toe-hold into new accounts or then widen and deepen existing relationships?
The worst possible thing is a beautiful woman who is poor or is facing adversity. Look at what happened in Russia and in several Eastern European and other economies. Look at what professions they ended up in! Go figure….
I’ve heard my more sensible and even successful lady friends, say it, not necessarily out loud. Like it or not, having a man covering my back gives me a deep sense of security. That’s realistic, and I relate much more easily to such women, but then that’s just me.
I for one, have been most fortunate to be associated with personally and professionally with some substantial women. Some have made me their mentors, their besties, they have befriended me. Some have stood by me and helped me at times of extreme adversity. Some have been bosses, co-workers, subordinates, friends. I have simply been fortunate. Then there are others who have been cunning, conniving and malicious (as have some men). Gender has nothing to do with it, it’s just the nature of the being.
I cycle a lot, and I ride with some women, who are at the top of their game, and can outride a lot of the guys who ride with me. One in particular. How can one not admire and respect?
These girls know exactly who they are, and whereas I would like to acknowledge and recognise them publicly, it’s probably best that I don’t.
I most often narrate the story of someone who I hired, mentored and trained, and am extremely proud of her accomplishments. When she came to work for me, she knew nothing about technology, now she’s an authority on the subject, and can hold her own in any august company. I said to her, “Give me two years of your life, and I will make you somebody”. She did, and she suffered as I was really hard on her. During the period of her grooming, I sent her crying every few days. I am a hard task master. She oftentimes asked me, why and I said, I would treat her no differently then any of the guys, and I yelled at her simply because I know she was worth it. I’m pretty sure she hated me at times, but she had gumption, and tenacity, and dried her tears and came back for the next instalment. Working with her has been a pleasure. I literally forced her to leave our employ, simply because she has realised her full potential with me, and it was time for her to spread her wings. We remain the very best friends until this day.
In a previous professional life, I had the good fortune to work with a project manager, who had her task cut out for her. Well I had a difficult task ahead of me, ie: to design, develop and deploy a wealth management system from scratch for a prestigious bank in the Middle East. I was given a project manager who I had never worked with, and had it not been for her the product I designed would never have seen the light of day. Married with kids, she didn’t let that get in her way. Cam in early, stayed almost all night to meet the deadlines, coaxed, cajoled and managed the team so beautifully, and when the beta product was ready, went overseas and deployed the product at the customer site. And we know what a beta product is like, and what it takes for a system to be accepted by a bank. Kudos to her. We tangled a bit, relations were strained, but be picked up the thread several years later, and remain good friends. She is now at a very senior position in a substantial international software company.
Hiring women is a no brainer. Well, they do have brains, they are extremely hard-working, fiercely loyal, very competitive, competent, structured, organized, and in my opinion deal with setbacks better than most guys. Their execution capabilities are usually better.
It’s not for nothing that I republish this, especially in this day and age, when women are being exploited and ill-treated and being taken for granted day in and day out.
Think people, introspect, recognize it for what its worth. Be a man (or woman for that matter)! Be fair, be respectful, be humble, be protective, be warm, be understanding, and don’t every discount or underestimate your significant other.
By way of disclaimer, by not stretch of the imagination am I even remotely suggesting that I am a saint, or am preaching from a lofty perch. I’ve made my fair share of mistakes, some in the category of misdemeanors, some grave. But I have introspected deeply, and what I say here comes from the deepest recesses of my heart.