I know that, for many women, knowing what men look for in someone who is marriage material is confounding.
We hear stories all the time about men who are in long term relationships with someone they aren’t ready to marry. And then they break up and he marries the next woman who comes along.
What is up with that?
We all know exactly what women want – love, stability, romance, laughter, etc – but I had no idea what a guy really wants in a relationship – things that, if they are missing, are deal breakers.
To figure out the answer to this question, I reached out to some guy friends and clients to see if they could shed some light on the topic.
What was amazing was that the guys said mostly the same things (except for a few outliers who went a bit off the rails) and those things were a little surprising so I thought I would share them here with you today.
Here are 5 things men look for in someone who is marriage material.
# 1 – A sense of adventure.
I know – this first thing is kind of intimidating but, rest assured, ‘adventure’ means different things to different people.
One of my friends, John, craves adventure with a capital A. He wants to climb really tall mountains, and then mountain bike down them. He wants to sail his boat from Florida to the Bahamas. A lazy day for him is sleeping in until 7am and then only running 7 miles. He goes, goes, goes, goes.
And he wants a woman who can keep up. Fortunately – I have just the girl for him and I just set them up!
On the other hand, my client, David, also wants adventure but his is of a different kind. He loves to walk in the woods – no mountain biking necessary – but he doesn’t need to climb to the highest peaks. He loves to explore back roads in his old Mercedes convertible. He is happy having a beer on the deck, watching the water in the late afternoon.
So, while you see that adventure can mean different things to different people, without exception the men I talked to need adventure to be a part of a relationship that they will commit to. They want someone who wants to play with them, to do the things that they both love to do, no matter what those things are.
So, if you are wondering if you are someone who is marriage material for your guy, ask yourself if you and your guy play well together!
#2 – A sense of independence.
Independence, like adventure, has different meanings for different people but every guy I asked said that it was very important that someone who is marriage material will give them some degree of independence.
This doesn’t not mean that they want freedom to go out with other girls or to disappear without explanation or to unilaterally decide that they are going hiking in Peru for a week.
Independence means being given the space to do the things that they want to do. To have the support of their partner to pursue their passions. To not have their partner tell them that they can do something, only to act abandoned when they do. And they want their partner to also want the same kind of independence that they do.
With my boyfriend, I desperately need to have the freedom to fly. I was alone for a long time and travel is in my blood. He is more of a homebody. He is happy to let me go off on my trips – to NYC once a month or to Mexico for a girl’s week. He never says ‘yes’ when he means ‘no’ and he never acts resentful when I am leaving. ‘As long as you come back,’ he always says, ‘I am happy to let you go.’
He needs independence too, but his looks different. It’s me being ok with him being in his barn, puttering, for many, many hours without my feeling abandoned. He loves being out there more than anything (except for me, of course) and that I support him doing so makes him super willing to commit to me!
So, if you are wondering if your man sees you as someone who is marriage material, make sure that you are comfortable giving him the independence that he needs (and that he does the same in return).
#3 – A sense of lustfulness.
We all know that guys want, nay need, sex. In a way that many women just don’t grasp, sex seems to be the life blood of every man once they hit puberty. This is not to say that women don’t want sex but it’s not quite the same for us.
The guys I talked to all agreed that sex was important but so was lust. Of course, they love having sex with their partner (even if it’s not so great some days) but what they really want is for their partner to WANT them, to have a lust for them that they act on.
My friend, Doug, is in a relationship with a woman he loves. They have been together about 5 years and have just moved in together. And their sex life is blah.
Sure, they have sex once a week, and when they do it’s pretty good, but he always has to instigate it. And he often feels like he is imposing on her by making his moves.
So, while he knows that she WILL have sex with him, what he really wants is for her to WANT to have sex with him.
Take a good look at your relationship. Is there lust there, lust that you aren’t faking? Lustfulness is an essential part of any healthy relationship and one thing a man looks for in someone who is marriage material.
#4 – A sense of appreciation.
Most of my guy friends said that a sense of appreciation is something they look for in someone who is marriage material.
What do they mean by appreciation?
Appreciation is defined as ‘recognition and enjoyment of the good qualities of someone or something.’ In relationships, for guys, being appreciated is essential.
I have a client who wants nothing more than to keep his girlfriend happy.
He practices all the love languages – he tells her he loves her, he is affectionate with her, he spends quality time with her, buys her small gifts and he tries very hard to anticipate what she wants and follow through.
And his girlfriend loves all of these things but he doesn’t feel like she really internalizes them, really understands how much he loves her and wants to make her happy.
Why does he feel that way? Because, in spite of how he treats her, if he does something wrong, even the tiniest thing, she contemptuously lashes out at him, belittling his ability to ever get anything done and telling him that, if he loved her, he would do the things she needs him to do.
There is truly nothing that kills a relationship quicker than contempt. Those passive aggressive tendencies that lead to making the other person feel less than/guilty/stupid/worthless. And, unfortunately, many of us women in relationships are guilty of contempt, of treating our men and not appreciating their efforts.
Men want someone who is marriage material to be someone who takes the whole package into consideration as to how they treat someone. Someone who appreciates the things that they do for them and doesn’t belittle them for the things they don’t or that they do wrong.
So, if you find that you struggle to appreciate your partner, your guy might not see you as someone who is marriage material.
#5 – A sense of parity.
For most of the history of mankind, the image of a healthy relationship was one based on the man being superior to the woman.
That the big, strong man would go out into the world and provide for his woman. That she would tend to his needs when he returned. What he said, went. What he wanted to do, happened.
Now, in 2022, things have changed. Men and women strive for parity in relationships, of being equals in every way. And believe it or not, many men like it that way and actively want it that way.
My friend, George, told me about the relationship that his parents had. His father was always in charge – of his wife and the kids. His mother worked hard to keep him happy at all costs. His dad would be gone all day on the weekends, golfing, but wouldn’t let George’s mother go out for a night with her friends. It was hard to watch this dynamic between his parents not only because his father was being so domineering but because his mother was ok with it.
Over the years, George watched his mother become less and less of herself. Because his father was in charge and she had little freedom to be herself, she would spend her days cleaning and doing chores. He could tell that she was bored and lonely. And she was sad. He swore to himself that his wife would never be that way.
Men want women to be their equals. They want women to share the good things and the bad. They want them to be on equal footing as far as goals and hopes and dreams. They want decisions, big and small, to be shared ones.
Of course, there are some areas where one person might be in charge but, in general, men want equality in their relationship. Gone are the days where men ruled all. That, say my guy friends, is just exhausting!
Do you and your partner treat each other with parity? Do you both take care of each other and make each other feel equal and treat each other with respect? If no, then your guy just might not want to commit to you commit to you.
So, there you are, 5 things that men want in someone who is marriage material, as told to me by a bunch of great guys in the know.
Men and women both want to be in committed relationships but, ironically, their needs can be quite different. Understanding what a man might want, things that might be much different from what you want, will help you recognize what you may or may not be giving him that might influence his desire to commit.
Do you have fun together? Do you want and respect him? Do you treat each other like equals and give each other freedom?
If the answers to these questions are yes, and if your guy can give you what you want as well, then you might well be on the way to marriage and your happily ever after!