Man reading a book, representing The Man's Guide to Women, Gottman's book on relationships

What’s covered in The Man’s Guide to Women, John and Julie Schwartz Gottman’s book on relationships? What does it say about relationships with women?

In The Man’s Guide to Women, Gottman advises men to become attuned to their partners’ needs and take care of them emotionally. The book also covers trademarks of bad relationships.

For more on relationships between men and women, read on.

What is The Man’s Guide to Women About?

In The Man’s Guide to Women, Gottman presents a manual for men seeking to better understand and connect with women at any stage in a relationship. The authors argue that it’s the man’s actions that often dictate the success or failure of the relationship; thus, the goal of this book is to help equip you with the knowledge and tools to build successful, thriving relationships with women. This book is for any man who hopes to understand his female partner better.

The Man’s Guide to Women is coauthored by couples John Gottman and Julie Schwartz Gottman, and Doug Abrams and Rachel Carlton Abrams. John Gottman and Julie Schwartz Gottman are best known for their work as founders of The Gottman Institute, a research and therapy center focused on strengthening relationships and preventing divorce. Their research inspired them to develop The Gottman Method, a widely used approach to relationship counseling. The couple has written multiple books together, including The Love Prescription, 10 Lessons to Transform Your Marriage, and And Baby Makes Three.  

Rachel Carlton Abrams, a physician and the author of BodyWise, is best known for her work in integrative women’s health and sexuality. Her husband, Douglas Abrams, is an editor and founder of the literacy agency Idea Architects; he has coauthored several books with notable figures, including The Book of Joy, written in collaboration with His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu, and The Book of Hope, written with Jane Goodall. 

What Women Need

Many men are mystified by women’s wants and needs in romantic relationships. According to the authors, in romantic relationships, a woman’s deepest need is to feel physically and emotionally secure. The authors argue that women’s need for security is deeply rooted in their biological and cultural makeup. 

How to Date a Woman

With a basic understanding of women’s needs in a relationship, it’s time to focus on how you start a relationship. The authors explain that when you’re first making a connection with a woman, you should pay attention to her nonverbal cues, be confident, and attune to her. 

Pay Attention to Nonverbal Cues

First, if you’re interested in a woman, pay attention to her nonverbal cues. The authors explain that women give subtle signals and cues that, consciously or unconsciously, invite or discourage male attention. For example, a woman making extended eye contact with a man, smiling, or orienting her body toward him might be subtly inviting him to approach. On the flip side, a lack of eye contact, closed body language, or a lack of acknowledgment should discourage a man from approaching.

Attune to Her

Once you’ve initiated contact, you need to make a woman feel secure. According to the authors, women won’t engage in a relationship unless they trust you with their emotional and physical safety. 

To establish this trust with women, the authors explain that you must “attune” to them. Attunement is about being fully emotionally and mentally present and demonstrating a genuine interest in understanding a woman’s thoughts, feelings, and experiences. 

Attunement begins with attentive listening—actively paying attention to what the woman is saying without interrupting or forming judgments. Next, empathize with her feelings and try to see things from her perspective. Nonverbal signs of empathy, such as nodding or maintaining eye contact, can enhance this understanding. The third element of attunement is turning toward her, indicating full engagement in the interaction, both physically and emotionally. Lastly, respond with sensitivity and validate her feelings.

For example, if a woman is telling you about a tough day at work, an attuned man might say, “That must have been tough. I understand why you’re upset.” You can emphasize your concern with eye contact or by touching her arm or leg. If she seems like she wants to talk about it more, ask open-ended questions like, “How did that make you feel?” or “What’s your next step?” 

How to Be a Good Sexual Partner

Transitioning from establishing a trusting connection to a more intimate relationship with a woman can be both exciting and daunting. Unfortunately, skewed perceptions of female pleasure, influenced by unrealistic portrayals in pornography, can leave many men ill-equipped to satisfy women sexually. 

Sex in real life is often vastly different than what’s portrayed in porn. Porn often focuses more on male pleasure while neglecting the realities of female pleasure and orgasm, including the importance of emotional connection, foreplay, and open communication about sexual needs and boundaries. Moreover, porn often depicts women as always ready for sex and able to achieve orgasm quickly and from penetration alone, which isn’t the case for most women. 

In the next section, we’ll explain how you can ensure a woman enjoys sex, including prioritizing foreplay, paying attention to her physical and verbal cues, performing oral sex, experimenting, and maintaining emotional connection post-sex. 

Prioritize Foreplay

The authors stress that foreplay starts long before the sexual act itself. It begins with small gestures of physical intimacy, attentive listening, and genuine compliments throughout the day. Building anticipation heightens desire and can make the sexual experience more pleasurable. Try sending a flirty text or taking opportunities to touch your partner throughout the day.

The authors say that in addition to building anticipation, the importance of physical foreplay for women immediately prior to sex can’t be overstated. Foreplay can include kissing and lightly touching her nipples or other erogenous zones. Gentle caresses on these zones can stimulate nerve pathways and release oxytocin, a hormone integral to sexual arousal. Additionally, don’t ignore often-neglected spots such as the neck or the small of her back. Every woman responds differently, and open communication is vital in discerning your partner’s preferences when it comes to foreplay.

How to Handle Conflict

Once you move past the sex-addled honeymoon phase of a relationship, conflicts are bound to arise. Conflicts can damage a relationship if couples resort to coping mechanisms like criticism, defensiveness, contempt, or stonewalling. However, the authors explain that managing conflict effectively is a powerful way to strengthen your relationship

Listen and Ask Questions

The authors explain that when a woman brings a problem to a man’s attention, it’s often a bid for connection rather than a desire for immediate problem-solving. She wants to be heard and understood. Rather than viewing conflict as a problem to be solved, you can approach the situation with curiosity. Ask open-ended questions to better understand your partner’s perspective, feelings, concerns, and needs. This active listening approach can go a long way in resolving conflicts and strengthening your connection. 

How to Know When to Commit

According to the authors, most men and women want to be in a committed relationship. Research supports the benefits of commitment, with studies showing that men in committed relationships are happier, healthier, earn more money, and live longer. But how do you know when a woman is the one you want to settle down with?

The authors explain that men typically go through three stages in a relationship before knowing they want to commit. The first stage, limerence, is characterized by intense infatuation. The authors caution against making rash commitment decisions during this phase as the lust you feel isn’t necessarily indicative of lasting love. The second stage, often lasting the first couple of years of a relationship, is when conflicts arise and trust is built (or broken). In the third stage, commitment is solidified, with both partners willing to practice monogamy and mutual sacrifice. This stage is about continuing to deepen the relationship and grow together.

How to Build a Relationship That Lasts

According to the authors, everyone wants to build the kind of relationship that lasts a lifetime. They argue that to build a mutually fulfilling and resilient relationship, you need to continue to work on and invest in your relationship. They offer the following strategies as tools for anyone who wants to strengthen and deepen their relationship.

Keep Dating

The authors recommend that you never stop dating your partner, even after years of being together. They suggest having at least one designated date night per week. This practice not only breaks the monotony of your daily routine but also ensures you prioritize spending time with and continuing to get to know your partner.

As a practical tip, the authors are strong proponents of the six-second kiss, suggesting that you should kiss your partner for at least six seconds every time you separate or reconnect as a simple yet powerful way to maintain intimacy.

Stay Curious

The authors also emphasize the importance of staying curious about your partner. They argue that complacency and taking your partner for granted are significant pitfalls in a long-term relationship. Instead, they encourage you to continually strive to understand your partner’s evolving thoughts, feelings, dreams, and perspectives. By staying curious, you demonstrate to your partner that you value her as an individual and are genuinely interested in her personal growth and experiences. This sustained curiosity can lead to a richer, more fulfilling relationship where both partners feel acknowledged and valued.

Invest in Her Dreams

According to the authors, a long-lasting relationship depends on both partners’ willingness to support and encourage their partner’s ambitions and aspirations. You can always offer words of encouragement and affirmation. There will also be times when you may need to take on more responsibility in your home life to allow your partner time to build a business plan, take an important meeting, or explore a new passion. And always take advantage of opportunities to celebrate your partner’s achievements, with a home-cooked meal, flowers, or a small celebration with family and friends.

The Man’s Guide to Women: Gottman on Dating and Marriage

Becca King

Becca’s love for reading began with mysteries and historical fiction, and it grew into a love for nonfiction history and more. Becca studied journalism as a graduate student at Ohio University while getting their feet wet writing at local newspapers, and now enjoys blogging about all things nonfiction, from science to history to practical advice for daily living.

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