What do women want?

They say they don't feel loved enough, but what can I do to prove that I do feel deeply?

Cary Tennis
April 19, 2004 11:16PM (UTC)

Dear Cary,

Both of the last two women that I have been in a relationship with have left because they say they didn't feel loved.

This last one just happened recently, and while things were tumultuous when we were together, I thought that I loved her with everything that I could muster up. We were both strong, fiercely intelligent, and I thought smart enough to get through anything. Now, after months of negotiations and attempts at reconciliations, we are back where we were when we first broke up -- staring at each other with suspicious eyes, wondering who the hell the other is, and what the hell happened. After all the discussion, pulling back layers of "you did this," "but you did that," she says she doesn't adore me the way one needs to to make a go of it now, and that she didn't feel enough love in the relationship from me.


It feels so strange to hear that. I feel like I am a loving person. I love her. I love my friends. I write about love. I try to look at it closely. So why does it keep coming back that in my closest relationships with women I feel deeply for, that they don't feel the love that they need? It all feels a bit tragic.

I wonder, when you are loving someone the best you know how, is there more that you can do to prove it? What do women want?

Confused and Trying to Love


Dear Confused,

Maybe when she says love she means frank passion, displayed in a raw and unambiguous way. Maybe she means selfless devotion -- that at critical moments, you thought about yourself instead of her. Maybe she means blind faith, that when faced with obstacles to making your love known to her you wavered, you thought of the consequences instead of acting on your emotions. Maybe she means that all the talking was exhausting her; maybe after hours of trying to understand each other through ceaseless cogitation she just wanted to collapse in your arms and have you carry her to bed to go to sleep and wake up knowing you'd be there the next morning whether you understood her or not, and you'd do whatever had to be done to make things work. Maybe she was tired of making sense, tired of being expected to explain herself.

But what about you? You're the one who wasn't loved. She was loved but wasn't satisfied. So it's a bit of a trick, isn't it, for her to say she didn't feel loved enough? So there's one more possibility: Her statement could be a kind of projection, a reversal in which she accuses you of lacking what she herself lacks.


So what about you, by the way, you poor, unloved, rejected guy? Are you still trying to work it out in your head? Are you still trying to figure out what she meant? That's where women will really screw you up: They get you thinking there's something wrong with you, so instead of just trying to heal from the beating you took and get back to normal, you think you have to reinvent yourself. Forget it. You did what you could. Just try to heal up and trudge on. The only thing I'd do differently is next time you get involved with a woman, explain what happened before, and ask her if she could give you a good upfront estimate of just exactly how much love she's going to need.

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Cary Tennis

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