5 Things a woman needs in a relationship


The great question that has never been answered, and which I have not yet been able to answer, despite my thirty years of research into the feminine soul, is ‘What does a woman want?’

– Sigmund Freud

Relationships are based on the mutual fulfillment of needs. When the needs of both partners are more or less met, it leads to satisfaction. If one partner fails to satisfy the needs of the other consistently, it leads to dissatisfaction.

To understand what women want in a relationship, looking at what creates relational satisfaction in them makes sense.

To be clear, there are universal things that both men and women want in a healthy relationship. Things like:

  • Love
  • Respect
  • Kindness
  • Appreciation
  • Support
  • Intimacy
  • Care
  • Honesty
  • Quality time
  • Trust

Men and women differ in the degree or type of these needs that they want met. Much of that boils down to how they are wired differently. Men tend to be more logical, and women are more emotional.

As a result, men tend to be oblivious to women’s emotional needs.1 Women, before anything else, want their emotional needs met.

What women want

1. Intimacy

Both men and women want intimacy in a romantic relationship. Although there are different types of intimacy, women place more importance on emotional intimacy.

Studies show that passion and intimacy are stronger predictors of relationship satisfaction for women than commitment.2

2. Attention

Have you ever heard a man complain: “She doesn’t pay attention to me”?

I certainly haven’t.

Most men are okay with not being showered with too much attention. However, women commonly complain about not getting enough attention from their lovers.

Attention is all about being present- making the other person feel seen and heard. It makes a person feel important.

Since women tend to prioritize relationships, they derive much of their self-worth from them. Therefore, for many women, lack of attention may equal decreased self-worth.

3. Emotional validation

Emotional validation means acknowledging a person’s feelings. When you emotionally validate someone, you don’t dismiss their feelings or judge them for having those feelings.

An emotionally invalidating statement may look something like:

“You’re overreacting.”

“Stop being sad.”

It’s difficult for logic-oriented men to wrap their heads around the importance of emotional validation.

Men approach emotions, especially negative emotions, logically. Negative emotions for them are unimportant (something to suck up) or problems to solve.

For women, negative emotions are something to be soothed by sharing. When men interfere in that soothing process by offering solutions or advice, it comes across as a lack of empathy.

4. Physical and emotional safety

It’s common knowledge that women seek physical safety from men, who tend to be stronger and more courageous risk-takers.

Women also place a great deal of importance on emotional safety. When a woman feels emotionally safe with a man, he gives her room to express her range of emotions freely. This is closely related to emotional validation, but it also involves:

Lack of emotional safety in a relationship makes her put up walls and prevents her from opening up fully.

5. Understanding and communication

There’s a lot more to communication than spoken words. Good communication in a relationship makes both partners feel good, but it’s especially important for women.

That’s because there’s no understanding without good communication, and women crave to be understood.

Effective communication is mainly about noticing subtle shifts in voice tone, mood, body language, and energy. A man’s inability to do so can make a woman feel that he is not understanding her.

Studies have shown that husbands of dissatisfied wives are less able to read their wives’ non-verbal cues than husbands of satisfied wives.3

Don’t forget individual needs

We’ve discussed the universal factors that generally lead to greater satisfaction in women. Of course, needs occur at different levels. For instance, one woman’s needs at an individual level might be significantly different from those of another woman.

To uncover a woman’s individual needs, you’d have to uncover her past.

For instance, a woman who developed an anxious attachment style due to her early experiences may have a greater need for reassurance in a relationship than women typically do.


  1. Frazier, P. A., & Esterly, E. (1990). Correlates of relationship beliefs: Gender, relationship experience and relationship satisfaction. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships7(3), 331-352.
  2. Cusack, C. E., Hughes, J. L., & Cook, R. E. (2012). Components of Love and Relationship Satisfaction: Lesbians and Heterosexual Women. Psi Chi Journal of Psychological Research17(4).
  3. Gottman, J. M., & Porterfield, A. L. (1981). Communicative competence in the nonverbal behavior of married couples. Journal of Marriage and the Family, 817-824.