People kinda suck at relationships. Part of the reason is a failure to understand interpersonal dynamics of constructs like passion and intimacy or the significance of gender roles. Another part of the reason we fail at relationships has to do with assumptions about what our partner wants from the relationship. While there's always going to be individual variability, both men and women are fairly predictable in exactly what they're seeking.
Women generally seek three things:
- Women want a partner that arouses them.
- Women want a partner that makes them feel safe.
- Women want a partner that has the capability of providing for them (and their children.)
Men generally seek five things:
- Men want a partner that respects them.
- Men want a partner that appreciates them.
- Men want a partner that admires them.
- Men want a partner that is loyal.
- Men want a partner that provides regular, enthusiastic sex.
For each sex, all of these needs must be continually met for the relationship to remain healthy. If there is a lapse in providing any of these, the relationship begins to erode. Indeed, the end of a relationship can be predicted based entirely on observing if these qualities are being met.
One of the greatest obstacles is recognizing that our partner has needs that are fundamentally different than our own needs. The next greatest obstacle is failing to meet these needs on a regular basis. If too much time lapses without our partner meeting these needs, we tend to look elsewhere.
Weirdly, most of these needs are not reinforced by our current society. Perhaps the best example is a woman's need to feel that their partner can provide for them. Per most people's understanding of gender equality, it should be perfectly acceptable for a woman to earn 100% of the household income while dad stays home and raises the kids. But it's not.
When it comes to any aspect of human behavior, it's important to pay attention to what people DO, not what people SAY. Our long-term relationships are no different.