On love, relationships and #WhatWomenReallyWant

Love Relationships

[Okay – that may have been a click-bait title. Or maybe not.]


A few days back, I had a rather interesting conversation with a slightly younger friend, about love, marriage and relationships in general.

She said, (and I quote almost verbatim):

“Everywhere I turn these days, I see relationships breaking up. And what surprises me is that most of them seem to be love marriages. I can understand arranged marriages falling through – often they are from different backgrounds and have almost nil in common. But surely, love marriages – the ones that seem to be built on premises of having known each other for a certain duration and having interacted a lot more before marriage – how do they fail, I wonder. I’m slowly losing faith in love itself”.


For a moment, I was tempted to answer that she was probably looking for love in the wrong direction. And that probably a lot of these relationships break up because of late realisation of things such as incompatibility, chemistry and not knowing what they really want from the relationships. But I didn’t. Mainly because I didn’t want her to be any more disenchanted with love that she already seemed to be. I did think about this for a few days, but in the end, I just let it be.


Now, as some of you may know, recently I had the opportunity to be part of a panel discussion organised by Women’s Web. Coincidentally, the topic was #WhatWomenWant in love and relationships, and the lovely folks over at WW thought it’d be a great idea to get a male perspective on it too. [Of course, it’s a totally different matter that I was quite literally sh****ng my pants on the run-up to the event because I’d never spoken at an event previously.]


Anyway, the discussion went rather well with the audience chipping in with a few view points of their own. There were a few contrasting opinions too, as one would expect when having a discussion on a topic like love and relationships. But, it all came down to one thing. Why do relationships seem to run into trouble a lot more today and what has changed?’ Which brings me back to the point that my friend had made earlier.


So here are a few thoughts (coupled with a few of the takeaways from the discussion):


Inherently, I don’t think men and women want different things from love and relationships. Gender, irrespective, what we all want is someone who, in spite of all our differences and quirks, will support us, be by our side, knock some sense into us when needed and be willing to stick it through till the end. I realise that this suspiciously sounds like a ‘friends with benefits’ kind of scenario, and in a lot of ways, I think love in its entirety is something like that. Except that the ‘benefit’ isn’t just …well…sex.


The concept of love has certainly evolved over the years. But deep down, I think we have a rather skewed definition of love. Thanks to books, technology, movies and so on,  we all (okay, I’m generalising) have this very rosy definition of love. Yes, the mush and gooey-ness are very much present, but it’s impossible to keep it going 24×7 365 days a year. Why? Because we’re real people. We have our off-days. And we have our moments. Hence why we indulge in days like Valentines Day and special occasions to try and make up for the other days.


But here’s the truth that most of us haven’t realised as yet. If it wasn’t for love, you probably wouldn’t still be together with your partner or spouse. It is because deep down, we all want to make it work and still maintain the hope that it will. We are no longer the same society that our parents and grandparents lived in. Most of us refuse to be tied down by thoughts such as ‘What will the others think if I get a divorce or break off a relationship?’. Yes, they’re still considered taboo topics, but at least we’re slowly starting to make some progress there. And that means it is, in some ways, easier for us to walk out of a relationship that just isn’t working anymore. Or wait for as long as it takes, to make sure that we find the right person.


As you go through life, your perspective of love changes. While the reasons for relationships breaking up could be many, it often starts with this one simple thing – expectations. Our perspectives and actions change. But our expectations often don’t. We still expect the same Lovey-Dovey-PDA And gestures that we experienced on a regular basis either during the initial stages of courtship or marriage. But circumstances change, and often so does the frequency. It doesn’t mean that we’ve fallen out of love. It’s just that we need to have a more realistic take on it. In many ways, ‘real love’ is an oxymoron of sorts.


We expect real love to be one big fusion of constant ‘sweep me off my feet and butterflies in my stomach’ gestures all day long but realistically it’s much more complex, ever-evolving, and made up of a number of smaller meaningful gestures delivered sporadically.


Don’t get me wrong. This is not a post on how to make relationships work. I don’t think anybody has the perfect formula for that. It’s a whole bag of mixed things that make it work – from knowing when to be expressive to knowing when to let some things go. And it is a whole lot of hard work. But you’ve got to want to keep it going in order to make it work.



So give each other that space and respect. Have friends outside your common ones and each other. Most of all, trust one another. Also, it’s high time that relationships move on from this concept of ‘the other person completing us’. You should be complementing each other, not fitting the pieces of a jigsaw. But at the same time, don’t get too used to not having each other around. It’s all about finding the right balance of being with each other, while not giving up on your individuality. See, real love is a very complex thing. [I’d also like to add a very ‘un-sanskari’ thing to this – if you can, live with each other before marriage and take a couple of trips. You’ll be amazed at some of the things you discover about each other]


Now, if I told you that in Reality that all this gyaan was for me to plug this clip of the Women’s Web event, will you shoot me? You probably would. 😁



PS. Yes, I gesture a lot while speaking. I did not realise that.

PPS: There is some awkwardness, but I did speak better after this initial hiccup. Or so I’m told and I believe them.

PPPS: (okay, this is too many ‘P’s – this is an edited version of a small portion of the event)



So, what do you think #Womenreallywant in love and relationships? And do you think it’s different from what men want? 

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  1. I agree with you that being friends in love relationships is important. I also believe that at core both women and men want the same qualities from their life partners, they both want support, understanding, caring, honesty, kindness, trust and love. The partners in a love relationship want to enjoy shared interests and at the same time to have their own individual space and independence.
    I am awesome made me laugh, I was going to post the comment without check marking it, thank you for the reminder!
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  2. Thoroughly enjoyed reading this post! Expectations do kill relationships, however I feel it’s the lack of communication and clarity of what each one expects from the other plays a bigger spoilsport. Couples living together should be sensitive and respectful to each others feelings and support them in the journey of life, after all that’s what marriage is all about. I liked your view that couples should have their own circle of friends too and give a little space to each other, this strengthens the bond between the two. Well, inspite of all the logics marriages last and marriages break so to admit there is never a set of rules that can be applied when it comes to maintaining relationships. Thanks for sharing!
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  3. Loved reading this piece and I agree that essentially what men and women want from a relationship is the same thing – support, understanding, care and then of course love. There was a point in my life when I assumed love is holding someone close but then, I grew up a bit and understood that even I needed space to grow as an individual. While I did not meet VT at work or in college, that worked as we had many different perspectives to share. I agree about the un-sanskari gyaan too. Being too much together all the time doesn’t bring out the real self. A long distance should be a mandate in a marriage 😉
    Btw – pretty cool and proud moment. Such a bummer that I missed the event.
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  4. I don’t know if you remember (or if you read it) but I wrote a post a while ago about how the definition of love as we know it is all poetic and idealistic, which isn’t how it is in reality. Honestly, if it’s all too rosey and gooey, wouldn’t it cause a migraine?
    I agree with you on the bit where you say people look for similar things in love, irrespective of gender. Funny how the conversation always seems to be centred around women, but oh well!

    (PS: Couldn’t watch the video as I’m on the office network)
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  5. I’ll begin with a PS :-P…… I gesture a lot while speaking too 😉 Probably if and when we get to meet, we’ll be conversing in gestures and not in words 😉

    The answer to the question can never be generalised, I guess. We all are bound by love. While love forms the basis, love alone will not suffice, because we look at things like respect, growth, recognition etc for self actualization. At times, it is true that we ourselves do not know what we are looking for 😛
    As a child, I thought arranged marriages were the only way to get married. The concept of love marriage got into my head , interestingly, from mythology, with Krishna kidnapping Rukmini, and Sita looking at Rama with a silent prayer for him to break the trayambaka. And hence I didn’t understand what the fuss over love marriages was all about . After all, if Gods did that, man could do it too. Then came the realisation that marriages fail for a variety of reasons. As I grew into a woman, I learnt that I did not want to get married. I couldn’t place my finger on what I was looking for, in a marriage. I was a girl who couldn’t be loved by anybody ( or so I thought). Utter confusion followed, and here I am, six years later, married, and a mom.
    It’s not been a bad journey , after all ! To each, his / her own story !!

  6. Ever since human pair-bonded in society, there have always been relationship issues. Until a few years ago, there was no option but to stick it out and push issues under the carpet for various reasons – social norms, taboo, security etc. Now that those aren’t as critical, the discords are more apparent.
    I used to believe in the holiness of relationships and all that crap when I was younger. Now I think relationships are a matter of convenience and comfort, nothing more.
    And no, I am not a single woman from a broken family/marriage. I have a very functional and healthy-enough family. But I am always aware of the fragility of the whole thing.
    So, like Pheno Menon said earlier, we just like to dissect things that are already there. And contrary to his second statement, some women want rest too.

    1. I suppose, like you say, the ‘conflict’ goes back generations.
      And yes, people – and to some extent, society- does help people move on/away from broken relationships.
      PS: Not quite sure why you wanted to reiterate that you weren’t a single woman from a broken marriage 🙂 I never assumed so.
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  7. You’ve covered basically every point and I guess there isn’t much I need to add. I completely agree that we should have a life and existence beyond our partners. We are spouses, not conjoined twins to be bound to each other the whole time!

  8. As always thoroughly researched, well-balanced with the right seasoning of good humor, though man-woman relationships are a slippery ground and we could agree on some basics but with such volatile ingredients as trust, expectations,parenting,sexual compatibility there cannot be a blueprint ever through this maze.
    Loved it.

  9. That was one good read, Sid. And it was delightful to see your gestures 😛
    Sure, expectations kill all the goodness of a relationship. And relationships have evolved so much in all these years!
    Enjoyed reading your take 🙂


  10. What women really want is something which undergoes change with different phases of life. When young or may be newly married, it might be that mushy mushy and PDAs but as we grow up middle-aged and beyond, we want to be respected and appreciated for who we are, which can be in wide contrast to the set norms of how women and wives should be. And, I believe the men also want the same thing.
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  11. Oh man! This is something no one can really deconstruct. At a larger level, l think women have seen a lot of change in their status and expectations from marriage in the last couple of generations. It has turned the way men lead their lives and are around women. In the end, it boils down to expectations and give and take. I don’t think it has any thing to do with love or arranged marriages. Circumstances change as we go from a couple that days to newly wed to having kids and beyond. No one can envisage what change will come about. Hence how strong is your expectation from each other and what you are willing to do often decides the fates of relationships.

  12. It takes us a long time to figure out how or rather why your partners behaves in a particular way and what is expected from the relationship. I assume or I believe that communication is the main key to any relationship. I mean you really need to open that mouth and tell your partner how you feel rather than expecting him/her to understand your mood or movement or your isharas. It’s such a relief when channels of communication are open and you can talk to each other. So I guess that’s the key.

  13. The concept of ‘the other person completing us’ fails me too. I think giving each other space and trust are two most important things in any relationship. And yes, expectations are a killer. We all want the same thing – to be loved with all our quirks. For that, I also feel you should love and know yourself completely first. Your partner then has a much better chance of getting to know you really.

    P.S. You spoke really well! 🙂
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  14. hahaha, love and relationships are simple when you maintain TRANSPARENCY in life. most of people lack transparency when they meet people,they try to please and convince people with their positives hiding their secrets/negatives.when these secrets and negative side of personality is realised after getting into a relationship,people go for breakup/divorce.TRANSPARENCY IN DAY TO DAY LIFE KEEPS YOUR RELATIONSHIP HAPPILY EVER AFTER.when people maintain transparency,its easy to know who is compatible when you fall in love or to get into a relationship.TO BE TRANSPARENT ALL THE TIME,ONE MUST BE MORALLY RIGHT TOO.people fail at this point.

    had two gfs in past,to be frank ,speaking to a girl is very suffocating like asphyxiation.i am saying this after having conversation with many girls/women.i always have this question,WHY WOMEN DON’T SPEAK UP/ STRAIGHT,WHY DO THEY KEEP A PERSON GUESSING,WHY DO THEY BEAT AROUND THE BUSH. ok these observations are made on majority of women .we form opinion based on majority behavior and not few. whenever i did not find transparency in someone’s behavior, i left them in very short period whether its girl or boy.living without transparency is superficial life and a whole-hearted person will never like superficial life cuz its bringing sadness knowingly into your life.i don’t think any wise person will dig his/her own grave.issues arise in relationships only when people don’t have same magnitude of love and are opaque.

    true love is really about living happily ever after like its written in fairy tales only when you meet someone who is as transparent as you are.

    1. As much as women and men do want the same things, I do think they are also inherently different in the way they deal with certain things. I wont comment on the ‘why women don’t be straightforward’ and all that – most of the women that I’ve known have been pretty straightforward. And transparency is a great thing to have in any kind of relationship – be it romantic or friendship.
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  15. That’s a bit of a tough one. And there really is no formula to it – I’ve seen arranged marriages working perfectly and love marriages falling apart as well as the other way round. I think trouble starts when the couple has unreal expectations from each other or when their expectations aren’t in sync. And of course there’s the issue of patience and tolerance which one needs in huge doses to stay together.

  16. That was some real beneficial gyan on Love and relationships! As far as I can tell, all one needs in a relationship is acceptance, to be wholly accepted by the other person for who we truly are? Isn’t it? And as to why do relationships break-up so easily, may be because of lack of patience we have and the fact that we all are too spoiled for choices these days and the easy availability of other options. Just my two cents.

    P.S.- You are not at all bad at the speaking part! Long way to go Sid! Good Luck!
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  17. I’ve already told you how proud of you I am for doing this. Yeah, I hate myself for missing the event, but I’ll be on the first row next time carrying a bottle of Gatorade for you 🙂

    I think a relationship should be like parallel lines. It should go together and yet give one another space. Expectations ruin every sort of relationships. As partners, you need to know and be there for the other when they are at their worst. For some couples love fizzles out after the balloons and heart pillows. Falling is love is easy, staying in love is the tough part. With Cal and I, we’ve been through so much together that it is so easy being with each other. Plus our conversations keep us going on and on. One should not focus on making a marriage work, if the couple focuses on the differences between each other and accept it, the marriage shall automatically work out.

    Okay, enough of the gyan. 😛
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  18. Bottom line people are complicated and unfortunately it is all about expectation vs reality… Even though I tell myself everyday not to have expectations, I end up having them now and then, which beats me down black & blue.. sigh~ C’est la vie..

  19. It’s pointless expecting anything from anybody, is what I have realised over time. It’s best to give each other a lot of space, and enjoy the time you spend with yourself or your friends. Make sure you have a different set of friends. Try not to be clingy, lest it suffocates your partner and learn to turn a blind eye and a deaf ear to trivial issues. This is what I have learnt in the past 19 years. And, believe me, it gives me a lot of happiness following these rules!
    Sid, you were good! I tip my hat to the new Love Guru! 😛
    You speak so well! Wondering when I will learn to do it, too!

  20. True. both want the same thing, it took me a while to realize that. Like you said, all of us have our share of low moments , sometimes i find myself in the dumps too. But we pick up from where we are, do our best to leave behind the baggage and move ahead. This applies to all relationships but I guess it is experienced the most with our partners. Very practical perspective, Sid.. as always 🙂

  21. I think you hit the nail on is head when you said the one word that breaks relationships is expectations. According to me it is also the age old idea that most fairy tales feed us, once we are married, we shall be complete. So most people look for a need gap that another person is expected to fulfill. Totally the wrong reasons to get married!

    Like you said it is very complicated – real love. and it is surely not based on expectations, sacrifice or being a jigsaw puzzle piece.
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  22. Big questions these. I also think men and women want the same things from relationships. At least, the important things that are a must are the same, irrespective of gender. No expert in relationships but what works for me and S is that we can be our absolute worst with each other and still come back to each other at the end of the day. The things I have said to S, he must really love me to be with me even after 11 years. And it works both ways. I guess unless we see the worst in each other and still manage to love each other, a relationship will never work. And why do relationships don’t work these days, well, don’t they? Our relationships have lasted no, haven’t they?

    By the way, thank god for engineering no? How would we meet our partners otherwise 😀

    1. I agree, Naba. There are some inherent similarities and some differences. But I think the basic requirements are all the same. And yes, the key is that we can be our absolute best and worst with the person we’ve chosen to be with, without the fear of being judged. And that’s what matters.
      And yes, at least some good came off my engineering degree 😛
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