What Men Need in a Relationship: The 3 Things

This article is an excerpt from the Shortform book guide to "Act Like A Lady Think Like A Man" by Steve Harvey. Shortform has the world's best summaries and analyses of books you should be reading.

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Do you ever wonder what men need in a relationship? Why is loyalty so important? How can withholding sex as a punishment backfire?

According to Steve Harvey, if you provide a man with these three things in a relationship, he won’t leave: support, loyalty, and intimacy. Harvey says that men may hide behind their macho demeanors, but in the end they just want to feel special.

Continue on for more of Harvey’s advice on what men need in a relationship.

What Men Need

Wondering what men need in a relationship? Steve Harvey provides the answer in his book Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man. According to Harvey, men don’t need much from their women. In fact, they only need three things—support, loyalty, and the “cookie” (sex). Give these three things to your man always, and he will stay your man. 

Support Your Man No Matter What

Harvey says that a man needs to know that you’ve got his back. He needs to feel like no matter what happens, he’s still king at home. Men are engaged in battle every time they leave the house. They may fear losing their jobs, being undermined by people they trust, getting mistreated by people in authority, or having someone take what’s theirs. Each day, they have to prove themselves and fight for what they have. And when they come home, they have no patience to fight any other battles. 

What men truly want is a woman who will ask them how their day was and tell them how grateful they are for everything they do. They want to know they are in a safe environment where they are loved. Feeling support is so important that they will work harder to get it if they know it’s available.

When you show a man support and appreciation, you give him the strength to get up each day and battle all over again and a desire to work harder to earn more of your support. If they help around the house and you give them love for it, you’ll see them finding ways to do more around the house. 

Don’t be fooled by men’s hard, macho demeanors. They don’t need gifts and cuddles to feel special, but they do need to feel special. Make your man feel special by giving him your undying support and encouragement. 

Be Loyal Always

Women believe that loyalty is one aspect of love. Men believe that loyalty is love. Being loyal to your man is one of the most significant ways he will feel your love. If he knows you will stand by his side no matter what happens, he will stay by yours. 

Loyalty for men isn’t just about being faithful or taking his side in an argument. Your man wants to know that he is the man for you and that you will still be there if he gets fired or in trouble. He needs to know you won’t run off with Denzel Washington if given the chance. And he wants to know you will stand up for him to anyone who tries to disparage him. Basically, a man wants you to be his sidekick, and you need to make sure he knows you are. When a man truly trusts a woman to be by his side, his love will open up in amazing ways. 

Don’t Ration the Cookie

The last thing Harvey says men need is the cookie. You likely aren’t surprised to learn that sex, or the cookie, is important to men. But maybe you don’t understand just how important it is because it’s not as important to you. Women like to connect through emotional intimacy, but most men connect through physical intimacy. You may not like this aspect of men, but it doesn’t make it less true. 

Men need to be physically connected to the women they love. It’s not that men are animals or callous; rather, making love is how men show love. And if they aren’t able to show love to you, they’ll find someone else to show it to. If you’re in a committed relationship, you have about a month of withholding sex before your man starts looking for it elsewhere. 

Granted, men can be reasonable. They understand that life, hormones, and children sometimes get in the way of sex. If your man loves you, he’s more willing to go without sex for a while. If he doesn’t love you, he’s as good as gone if things don’t turn around. But the worst thing you can do is withhold sex as a punishment. Even if your man loves you, if you ration the cookie for too long, he’s going to start looking for someone else. 

This is unfair, and everyone knows it. You may have a job, children who need attention, dinner to make, laundry to do, a house to clean, friends and family to see. You may do all of these things in one day and the last thing on your mind is sex. But you need to be honest with your man about why you don’t want sex. If he knows what the barriers are, he might help out more or take over some of the responsibilities. He might help you unwind with a glass of wine or draw you a bath. He will do these things because he loves you, but the real motivation is to make you more receptive to sex. 

Still, a man isn’t going to pitch in and pamper you every time he wants sex. If you want a good relationship, you have to accept that sex is part of it, even when you’re not 100% in the mood. 

What Men Need in a Relationship: The 3 Things

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Here's what you'll find in our full Act Like A Lady Think Like A Man summary:

  • How to navigate the adult dating scene
  • What men need, how they think, and how they behave when it comes to relationships
  • How women can gain an advantage and find the right man to fulfill their desires

Hannah Aster

Hannah graduated summa cum laude with a degree in English and double minors in Professional Writing and Creative Writing. She grew up reading books like Harry Potter and His Dark Materials and has always carried a passion for fiction. However, Hannah transitioned to non-fiction writing when she started her travel website in 2018 and now enjoys sharing travel guides and trying to inspire others to see the world.

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