1 His undivided attention at important moments. Not I’ve-got-basketball-on-TV attention or I’m-mentally-undressing-you attention, but full presence.
2 Compliments that are actually spoken aloud. Things that don’t qualify: a pat on the bottom, a finger pistol plus wink, a “yesssss!” after great sex.
3 Good manners, even if you’ve been dating for years. He had you at “Hello,” but what makes him think he can keep you at “S’up?”
4 A thoughtful balance of refreshing honesty and merciful little white lies. A few examples: He should speak the truth when you ask, “Are you hurt by what I said earlier?” But he should fudge when you ask, “Honey, do you mind if my mom comes to dinner?”
5 His utter lust for (and unwavering devotion to) one or more of your body parts, be it your legs, breasts, hips or behind. Bonus points if his fervor spills over to you and pumps up your body ego.
6 Lots of foreplay. And then some more. Plus…
7 …sex that involves eye contact, kissing and cuddling. This isn’t to suggest that maple syrup, cartwheels and the French maid costume are out, but you should be having plain vanilla love whenever you want it.
8 Acknowledgement of your relationship to his friends, to his family, and, yes, on Facebook. Sylvie, 31, confesses: “I insisted one boyfriend change his online profile from single’ to in a relationship.’ An electronic betrayal can hurt as much as a real one.”
9 Proud PR. He revels in your achievements, doesn’t feel diminished by them, and loves acting as your personal publicist.
10 Use of his “inside voice” during arguments. Grown-ups should be able to bicker—even flat-out fight—without rupturing a vocal cord.
11 The willingness to never, ever blame your behavior on your period, unless you say, “Sorry, it must be my period.” And even then he should just smile and nod, smile and nod.
12 Knight-in-shining-armor-ness. Modern-day gallantry does not make you a spoiled princess, so just enjoy the pampering when he rescues you from boring dinner party conversations, picks you up in his Honda chariot and slays dragons—OK, roaches—for you.
13 A call, not a text, that comes when he says it will. Making you wait by the phone is a power play—and as Dana, 36, puts it, “Somehow a text from my husband when he’s on a business trip doesn’t quite say Good night, sweetheart’ like a phone call would.”
14 Encouragement when you stand up to the person you’ve never had the guts to before. And a big hug if it doesn’t work out quite the way you had hoped.
15 Gifts he knows you’ll adore, even if they’re not 100 percent his style.
16 A more-to-love attitude when you gain five pounds.
17 Another chance. So you blew it: You got drunk at his high school reunion, got caught peeking at his e-mail, had lunch with an ex-boyfriend and somehow forgot to tell him about it, called him by that ex-boyfriend’s name in a heated moment. You’re going to make some mistakes (and so will he). Once you’ve groveled sufficiently and let him vent for a bit, he should be prepared to forgive you. Cue the makeup sex.
18 Amusement at your quirks. He gets a kick out of your chocolate-is-a-food-group approach to nutrition and thinks it’s funny you call your best friend to watch reality TV “together.” Kudos to the man who recognizes eccentricities for what they are: the stuff that makes you deliciously you.
19 Half of the housework. That’s right, all you cohabitors, half the dishes, half the laundry, and half—OK, maybe all—the garbage-schlepping.
20 Respect. If Aretha can sing a song about it for four decades, we can mention one more time that any guy worthy of your love will be unstinting with R-E-S-P-E-C-T. And you shouldn’t have to spell this one out for him.
…and 11 things he wants from you
As a man, I have to admit: Guys can be needy. So here’s a compilation of the thoughts and acts that will require minimal sacrifice on your part while bringing us untold pleasure. Read it, learn it, try it. Thank you.
1. Your backing when he takes a risk. Guys need to keep in touch with adventure—why else would Man Vs. Wild be a TiVo staple? “When I wanted to switch careers, my girl said to go for it,” says Will, 30. “Having her in my corner gave me the courage to try.”
2. The right to keep Secrets. Why should he have to tell you his friend is having an affair, or that his cousin lost his job and hasn’t told his wife yet? If it’s not integral to your relationship, don’t feel threatened. His discretion shows he’s a grown-up.
3. A guilt-free boys’ night out. The cure for “girly-man” syndrome is contact with other high-fiving men. This may mean a trip to the bar or an Ultimate Fighting Championship—but it’s definitely without you, and that’s OK. “See me off with a smile,” says Al-Teriq, 38. “That trust is critical.”
4. The green light to actually have sex, should the opportunity arise, with someone on his Celebrity List of Five. And by all means, hop on Brad Pitt if you ever get the chance.
5. Some space when his team loses the big game. And you can save your “maybe next year” optimism; just give us time alone to weep.
6. A heads-up when you just need us to listen. Sometimes all you really want to do is vent to us about something. A simple warning in advance and we promise we’ll stay quiet and let you talk it out.
7. Patience when he says the wrong thing. Like when you ask, “How’s my hair?” and we say, “Fine,” instead of “Amazing!” Give us a break: We’re trying.
8. Big guffaws and tiny giggles. We like to hear laughter—preferably following one of our silly jokes. We know, we know: Chris Rock and Jerry Seinfeld we are not, but anything you offer will be very much appreciated.
9. Frequent (and enthusiastic) trips downtown. Yes, we all request this, but that’s because it really is that good. We’re happy to return the favor.
10. A gps for the car. You want this too. It will end those “where the *#!? are we?” arguments once and for all.
11. The freedom to be himself. It’s important for people in a relationship to retain a sense of self, and for guys that’s achievable in some unexpected ways. “Leaving the toilet seat up or spending the weekend in boxers can be an act of rebellion,” says Samuel, 27. “We need to do stuff we’ve always done, even though you might not like it.”