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What Makes Women Happy?

John Simkin

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Recently the Sunday Times did a feature on "What Makes Women Happy?" I thought this contribution from Julie Myerson was very interesting:

It is tempting to claim that different things have made me happy at different stages of my life, but that’s not quite true. It’s the exact same things that did it for me at 3, 4, 13 and 16 years old that make me happy now.

First: security. I’m a small girl, put to bed after a long summer’s day of playing on the lawn. I lie there all clean in my pink flowery nightie and listen to my daddy putting my toys away. There’s the satisfying swoosh as he empties the paddling pool onto the parched grass, the tick tick as he wheels my tricycle indoors.

I can see him so clearly. He is bending down, two hands on the tricycle bars, cigarette hanging out of his mouth, walking in that slow way of his through the open patio door. And it’s an ecstatic moment. It’s about feeling safe and looked after, and going to bed when you’re told to – when it’s still light – all the time knowing that the grown-ups are down there taking care of things. It’s about knowing that tomorrow will be as much fun as today, that life goes on, for ever and ever.

I still need to know that now. I still need it, that feeling of security. Even though these days I’m the one who must take on that adult role, I need to know that I’m dealing with life’s glitches, griefs and troubles as honestly and bravely as I can. Deep down I’m still an anxious person, and doing everything I can not to have to worry or panic is one of the things that make me happy.

Then there’s nurturing – the intensely pleasurable sensation of taking care of someone else. The first someone else was my doll Cathy. Every single morning I woke her up and wiped her shiny plastic cheeks and nose with a moist flannel. I dressed her and fed her a plastic breakfast. Then I stood or sat her somewhere interesting so she could watch the day unfold. At night I slipped her in beside me, kissed her, stroked her head. I still remember the intense pleasure I got from the hard plastic feel of her next to me, the clean nylon scent of her yellow hair. Lots of girls played with their dolls, then forgot all about them and left them upside down at the bottom of the toy basket. Not me. I could never have done that to Cathy.

Taking care of the people I love makes me very, very happy. Ever since I was small I wanted babies, and having three of my own has given me intense happiness. It has taken me to the calm centre of myself, given me an understanding of the mysterious magic of life, and maybe death too. Loving my children makes everything else possible. Even now, from the sometimes dark depths of these years of coping with teenagers, I only have to glimpse those three cherished faces and my heart turns over and says, Yessss!

And then there’s my body – the sheer physical elasticity of being easy inside my own skin. Bending on the diving board, no longer terrified of water, going in with a perfect, silent sloop. Running as fast as I can up the field with my dog. Pointing a muscled foot in a leather ballet shoe, feeling the gorgeous ache of a relevé. And then maybe most of all my naked, private, teenaged self in bed – skinny legs, knobbly knees, slim hips, the secret beginnings of breasts, a feeling of supreme strength and lightness and possibility.

My relationship with my body is just as it always was. I like it. For its strength and its odd flashes of beauty and its sweet signs of mortality. Who can mind a wrinkle or two when so many good people have died young? So I try to treat my body well. Being content in my physical skin is an unmissable daily high.

After my body, because it can’t exist without it, comes my mind, my soul. I know that more than anything else I need to be allowed to dream, to think, to practise fantasies – good and bad. I need to wonder and be startled. I need, again and again, to go back to the optimistic, open child I once was, and remember how to start all over again and forget what I thought I knew, and be amazed, amused, transported. My imagination – its lightness and its darkness – makes me incredibly, ecstatically happy. I can’t explain it. I can’t even begin to imagine existing without it.

And last of all – but maybe more happiness-inducing than all of these put together – connection. Not just falling in love (though certainly that as well) but discovering a perfect, breathless understanding with another human being. Looking straight into the eyes of someone who really gets me, who excites me, who makes me curious about them, and curious all over again about myself and this strange world and my place in it.

Love is both inseparable from and the sum total of all of these things. It’s a place of safety, of nurturing, of physical and mental exhilaration. There’s no point in looking for it – if you do, it will run away from you – but it’s well worth waiting for. All your life, if necessary. Maybe that’s the only thing I know now that I didn’t know then. That staying open to the possibility of love is what makes me happiest of all.


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They don't want much do they? :D

I will say one thing; if you were to interview a male [homo erectus] about the same topic there is a good chance that it couldn't be posted on the Forum, lol; but that is just an opinion.

Robert, Homo erectus has been extinct for a long while.

'sapiens' is the term in vogue for our species, male and female, although it ncreasingly seems an.idle boast.

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They don't want much do they? :lol:

The same point is made by Rod Liddle:

The notion that we men should be charged with the task of making women happy has always rather rankled with me. Why should we? What’s it got to do with us? Can’t they take responsibility for making themselves happy? We have enough to do, skivvying every hour God sends in order to pay off the alimony. Then there’s the bins to be taken out. There are not enough days to worry about the happiness of women. And in another sense, too, time has moved on. Women are very different creatures from those scented, fabulous beasts of a century ago who, deprived of the vote, education and the right to paid work, could justifiably expect to be flattered, pampered and waited upon in return for male economic and cultural hegemony. Back then, we men tried to make women happy to gain access to their closely guarded, mysterious sexual organs. But those sexual organs are far less closely guarded now, and getting access isn’t too much of a problem. These days, you only have to ask (and maybe buy her an Archers and lemonade. And some nuts). They have become, in a sexual sense, more accommodating. So what’s in it for us if we do make women happy? Nothing at all, aside from an entirely selfless and altruistic sense of wellbeing, the sort of thing you feel when you buy a copy of The Big Issue.

So when women look at us with that expression of regret and grievance, and ask what we’re doing to make them happy, we should point them in the direction of the Qualification of Women Act (1918) and the Equal Opportunity for Women in the Workplace Act (1986, amended 1999) and go back to watching the football, with the sound turned up full, a can of Stella and a reheated balti pie.

But it has remained part of the contract that women can prevail upon men to provide them with happiness and succour, even though the stuff we got in return – sex, power, a few moments of peace and quiet – has been withdrawn, or is given out at the drop of a hat. I asked some women what men could do to make them happy. One said: “I want emotional and spiritual support and understanding in whatever I might do.” Oh, please. Anything else, honey? “Yes, a gesture of wild spontaneity.” Ah. So if, on an impulse, I bought you a halibut at the fishmonger’s, you’d be happy? “If you brought it home and cooked it for me in an interesting way,” she said. Anything else? “Yes. Money.”

These days, nothing is really enough. Whatever we do will fall short. What women really want is the knowledge that we men feel perpetually uncomfortable and guilty, and that our underachievement is a constant source of disappointment to them. They want us to cower and skulk under a cloud of female opprobrium. So much ground has been ceded by men that we have reached the point where the only thing that will ensure even a temporary truce is our complete misery and mental subjugation.

All of the women I polled for this article demanded from us intangibles: spontaneity and understanding, that sort of thing. So that we would never really know if we were coming up to scratch or not. All the tangible stuff we used to give them, they can now get for themselves. So, by all means, leave the toilet seat down, praise her superb taste, whisk her off for a weekend break and cook her a nice piece of fish. But do not suppose for a moment that it will keep her happy. It may postpone the demise of your affair by a few days. But it won’t put it off for long.

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What Makes Women Happy? by A A Gill

When I was a teenager I had this friend, and he had the sex business taped. He never failed; shagged everything. You know how the toast always falls butter side down? Well, girls always fell on their backs for him. I had a girlfriend, and when I mentioned this mate and his astonishing success to her, she laughed and said: “Well, you know, the thing about him is that he hates women.”

Hates women? How can you say he hates women? He does nothing but lurve them, and they’re apparently forming disorderly queues to be lurved. He’s hardly gay – how can you say he hates women? She did that sighing “Do I really have to explain this to you?” business that women do and replied: “Of course he’s not gay, gay men love women. It’s obvious he hates us; that’s why he has to bed so many.”

But I hate horses and I don’t have to ride a new one every Friday and Saturday. “No, you’re frightened of horses, that’s not the same thing – and you’re frightened of women.” I’m not. She smiled and that was pretty much the end of that.

I only mention this because it was the first of many, many arguments with many, many women in which I was apparently wrong but for no apparent reason. And although I’ve continued to engage in meaningful emotional discussions with those of the opposite sex, I never seem to learn that I will always be in the wrong. Wrong because of some sort of girl blindness. Wrong because I haven’t noticed something that’s staring, and occasionally slapping, me in the face. A later girlfriend told me on the way out of the door that “ignorance of the female is no excuse”.

I could no more draw you a map to what women want than a woman could read it.

On the face of it, of course, women want the same things men want. Equal pay, equal rights, equal protection, equal opportunity, equal respect, equal shares of your income and all the house. Women want to be hugged in the night, smiled at for no reason, surprised in a predictable way, and have the lid put back on the honey – but then those are all things I want as well.

I’ve learnt that women want to be offered things that they don’t really want. They don’t want to tell jokes, as a rule – they don’t particularly like jokes – but they do want you to make them laugh. It’s not the laugh they care about, it’s the fact that you’re making exhaustive efforts to make them laugh. Women like to flirt, but don’t much care for men who flirt. They want protection, but not paternalism. So don’t run round and open the car door, but do open the door to the restaurant. Carry the bag if it is full of vegetables, but not if it’s full of shoes.

And I’ve realised that when men argue, we keep things personal and singular. Women, on the other hand, escalate to third-party collective after the first shot. They become symbolic representatives for the whole gender. So a man will say, “You don’t know what I want,” but a woman will say: “You don’t know what women want.” There’s a difference. That’s all of them against just you. Don’t think you can turn round and say, “Well, you don’t know what men want,” because it’s as plain as the lump in your Y-fronts what men want, and every woman knows it.

It was another girlfriend who said: “You have no idea what women want.” Naturally, I replied: “Well, why don’t you tell me, then?” Leaving myself open for the checkmate riposte (note the “we” here) – “We want a man who knows what we want without having to be asked.” And that’s the best I can do in answering the question “What makes women happy?” If you have to ask, you’re not even close to knowing.

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It was another girlfriend who said: “You have no idea what women want.” Naturally, I replied: “Well, why don’t you tell me, then?” Leaving myself open for the checkmate riposte (note the “we” here) – “We want a man who knows what we want without having to be asked.” And that’s the best I can do in answering the question “What makes women happy?” If you have to ask, you’re not even close to knowing.[/color]

"If you don't know I'm not telling you" was always such a compelling argument :ph34r:

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  • 3 months later...

I have to say, as a late middle aged woman who has led a fairly interesting and varied life, having had a marriage,three children, lived alone, had affairs, a stable de-facto relationship and many close friends both male and female and travelled the world, I find a lot of the opinions in the above articles a load of rubbish.

I certainly wouldn't put security, protection, nurturing, caring for others as top priorities in my life even though I've enjoyed having children and I enjoy the occasions when a friend of either gender supports or helps or tries to protect me, but I could equally well manage without it. I'm an only child and I wasn't brought up to believe that you couldn't lead a satisfactory life without a man in it. I don't expect any man to know what I want unless I tell him, although I must admit I believe that males are generally speaking less intutive than women, but knowing that means I understand why

things sometimes need to be spelled out to them.

I do think some men like women as a species and some don't and women spot that very easily even when heavily disguised.

My list of what I want from LIFE would include: good health, good education, financial independence, a fulfilling career, good long-lasting relationships and friendships of all kinds, the ability to travel, acess books, good music, theatre and cinema.

What I want from a MAN is a recognition of those needs and no desire to impede or frustrate them, a shared agreement on the importance of all of the above and a generally common outlook on the world. If this comes wrapped up in a parcel with passion, mutual attraction and fulfilling sexuality, then you are probably on to something that will last a lifetime and weather most storms. Sometimes you get a little more of one side than the other and you can live with it. Sometimes the balance changes significantly and you can't. Sometimes people put up with the lack of one side because of the strength of the other and sometimes that works and sometimes it eventually unravels. What you most definitely need as you get older is a partner who becomes or remains your best friend and companion in spite of whether the other areas stay or go.

I suppose the question might be asked how does a man become a woman's best friend. Well. lots of ways but if I can give all you blokes a quick tip - always listen properly (don't pretend to listen), respond verbally without trying to always provide a "fix-it" solution (often women just want what other women give them - a quiet hearing and reassurance because they know there's no solution), ocassionally admit that you're wrong, and give up never asking for assistance. see how that works!

And you're right about gay men. One of my very best friends is a late 40s gay and he is the best friend you could have. If you want to know why, I'll tell you at a later time!

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  • 1 year later...
. I don't expect any man to know what I want unless I tell him, ...

That's a very good point.

Most of the conflicts between men & women are based on the fact that we (women) expect

them to read between the lines instead of telling what we want/need directly.

A classic scene :

(The woman looks upset)

The man asks, what's wrong?

She replies, nothing.

Obviously, there is something very wrong and the man should know what it is.

But he doesn't have a clue so the woman gets angry and starts an argument or simply

stays silent because she was hurt.

This is a mistake made by almost all women including myself although I try to avoid it when I can. (Exceptional situations do not count :angry: )

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Guest Stephen Turner

What do Women want? Security, Love, respect, understanding and equality........Just like most men.

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