Men often complain that they have no idea what women need. They even go further to say that even when they ask women what they need, women don’t know themselves. It’s no wonder men and women have a challenge communicating and meeting each others’ needs.
Truth be told, we are not here to meet each others’ needs, but more to understand our own and others’ needs and to offer support and guidance to help each other fulfill their own needs. That’s not to say men and women don’t fill certain needs for each other, but the bottom line is it’s up to each of us to fill our own needs–whether from the opposite sex, same sex friends, or ourselves.
What I’ve discovered for myself in coaching both men and women is that what women need is really not a whole lot different from what men need. Other than the basic needs for survival and safety, here is what I’ve distilled down to some of our basic needs for either gender:
To love and be loved.
All humans are wired for love. Most of us come into the world loved by the parents who birthed us. In a healthy environment we are given love on a continuous basis. And even when not, we still seek love, need it for our basic survival. As we mature, we have a need to love back. Whether we first love our toys or our pets, the urge to give love is always with us. Of course, there are dysfunctional situations where this might not be the case, but human nature is one of giving and receiving love. Women are especially considered nurturing, caring, romantic, and an ongoing source of love.
To be accepted and respected.
No matter the age, we all want to feel accepted as we are. Humans are like snowflakes, no two alike, so our need to be appreciated for who we are with our unique characteristics, is so intrinsic that we will often fight for our position. Similarly, we have a deep need to be respected or valued, basically because we all have equal value. We are not always aware of that value when we are not loving ourselves, yet the need to be respected for our basic worth is always there. This is often a strong need in women, since many have been taught that they are less valued than men.
To express ourselves.
As unique as we are, we each express that uniqueness in different ways. Some of us come into this world with talents for art, music, writing, and more. Some have latent talents that develop later in life such as for business, gardening, or speaking. Whatever our gifts, humans have a need to express those gifts. A life without expression is a stifled, limited existence. Women’s need to express is often more dramatic than men’s because of their generally more emotionally expressive nature.
To grow and evolve.
From the day we are born, we are growing and evolving. Some of that is nature’s work, some is our own. Not everyone feels inclined to continue developing their minds, their bodies, or their skills. Yet, many continue the evolutionary process until the day they leave their body. There is a basic need in most of us to examine, explore, and expand the untapped potential within. In most cases, women are more common seekers of personal development and spiritual exploration.
We all have a need to feel a part of something bigger, whether family, community, organization, or the world. That need for belonging is built in to keep us from feeling isolated. From earliest cave times, humans were pack animals forming tribes and communities. Today we express that need by joining professional organizations or interest-related clubs. Women, as nurturers, have a strong need to build community around them.
By seeing the similarities rather than the differences between what women and men want, our communication and relationships will be richer and more rewarding.