Understanding what a person wants in a relationship can be complicated, whether you’re in a committed partnership, or just starting out. Of course, the best way to understand is to simply ask and communicate wants, needs, and boundaries. But having that conversation can feel a bit daunting to some, or you might just be curious what makes other people happy in their relationships. When it comes to men — or any person of any gender-identity, for that matter — it’s impossible to generalize what will make them feel wanted in a relationship. That said, there are plenty of internet forums where men have weighed in.
To get a sense of what some men say make them feel wanted in a relationship, we culled comments from various Reddit threads. One thread we look at posed the question, “Men of Reddit: what makes you feel wanted in a relationship?” Another asked, “Men of Reddit; as a girlfriend who wants to up her game, what makes you feel appreciated?” The answers help us to uncover some of the things that make a man feel good, and the results may surprise you. As it turns out, there are many easy solutions if you’re looking to let the man in your life know he’s valued.
Here are 13 things the men of Reddit say make them feel good in relationships. Note that these comments have been edited for clarity.
1. When their partner takes a little initiative.
“Initiating. Initiating what? Basically anything. Shows me that she isn't just tagging along because it's the path of least resistance, but that she actually wants to be with me.” -TwistedRipped
2. When they feel taken care of in their relationship.
“Actions speak louder than words. Compliments and intimacy are nice, but I'd LOVE if a S.O. would do something independently that's just for me...Like the difference between saying something and putting it on a card. It shows that you care enough to bother going to the store, reading two dozen cards, and filling it out and going through a little fanfare to make someone feel special.” -AGS16
“She cares for me in the ways I neglect myself.” -Oldswagmaster
“Doing things for me. Like if we are on the couch and she leaves the room, asking if I would like a glass of water.” -vrrrrgggggl
3. When they get a compliment or two.
“Hearing someone else say what they like about you and explaining why is such an incredible boost and motivates me more in the relationship than anything else.” -Critical_Lit
“It helps when they sort of boost your ego sometimes in subtle ways — it feels great to know that she thinks of you as someone who is strong, able, capable, etc., and it encourages me to do better in general to know that someone (who I care about) is recognizing my strengths. I'll go the extra mile with things that I probably otherwise wouldn't have if I thought nobody was noticing.” -AcresWild
4. When their partner gets a thrill out of seeing or talking to them.
“What makes me feel appreciated is someone just choosing to spend time with me.” -Blutarg
“When I show up and she gets the biggest smile on her face and gets excited I'm there and comes and hugs me super tight and doesn’t let go for a minute or so.” -Justwant2watchitburn
“When she calls me right after work to update me on what went down at work or just to chat. The fact that the first thing she wanted to do was talk to me says a lot and goes a long way.” -TheGreatWhoreofChina
5. When they feel they can be open and honest in the relationship.
“Honesty. Being able to speak honestly without it being used against me. A lot of the time if I confide, it is because I don't know who else to turn to, but after having a lot of relationships in which former partners had grabbed my insecurities and used them to hurt me in a fight or when we broke up, I learned to just never talk about anything that might be used against me.” -ThawneInHisSide
6. When they’re simply reminded that they’re wanted.
“You can also just remind him. Hearing stuff like ‘you’re mine’ from my girlfriend always tugs at my heart like more than anything.” -akasha57
7. When their partner takes an interest in what they like.
“Show interest in things I'm interested in. You don't have to enjoy it, but at least recognize it as a part of my life and show that you care about getting to know me better by getting to know what I like more.” -fou-lu
“See what his hobbies are or get him something that he has been talking about lately. Wrap it nicely and just leave it on his desk/work station. Do not ask him directly what he wants, try to understand what he is talking about. What blogs or reviews he watches. You're a good girlfriend for doing this.” -TheCriticalPizza*
“Recognizing and appreciating and being interested in someone’s passions/hobbies is the best thing you can do!” -Icaruis
“Taking the initiative to do something that I'd enjoy. That could be cooking my favorite food.” -ChunkyJo
8. When their partner follows the golden rule.
“Generally, [we want] the same things that make a woman feel wanted in a relationship.” -spiteful-vengeance
“Being the recipient of nice things like physical affection, compliments, etc. It’s pretty similar to women.” -akasha57*
“Pretty much all that stuff you like...we like that stuff too.” -SlipstreamDrive
9. When their space is lovingly respected.
“Men need time to do their own things. Showing that you understand that and are okay with it, at least for me, is a huge way to show appreciation.” -imitators
“Understanding the need for guy time.” -DCharlieW
“When she says: ‘Why don't you go out with your mates? Go to the match this weekend too! Here's a beer too with this steak about to be ready.’” -Amnsia*
10. When their partner learns their love language, and pays attention to it.
“Learn his love language, for real. Chances are, the way he shows you affection is the same way he wants to receive it. Give that a shot.” [user deleted]
“Read Language of Love. This will give you specific ideas and even help you figure out what matters most for you. It sounds hokey, I know but it will help.” -quiane*
“Consider talking him into you two both taking the Five Languages of Love test.” -megazver
11. When they get some physical affection.
“Contact. Not in a sexual way per se, just stuff like patting my shoulder, touching my leg, etc. It gives me a warm, happy feeling every time.” -KnyasVelikiyay
“If we're not doing anything that requires attention to each other, and she decides she wants to be touching my arm or chest in some way.” -ISaidThatOnPurpose
“When my girl reaches out to hold my hand in public.” -snoopywasnthere
12. When the ways he tries to make his partner feel wanted don’t go unnoticed.
“An awareness of the unspoken things I do that illustrate my love for her.” -boomermax
“The single greatest thing that made me feel appreciated is simply saying ‘Thank you.’ As relationships go on, people kind of forget to keep saying it.” [user deleted]*
“Actually showing that you appreciate things, with your actions. You can say thank you, but if your actions don't back it up, it's meaningless.” -kingeryck
13. When their partner’s intent to love them is clear.
“I could list a million little things, but honestly I think your intent comes through. If you genuinely care and don't try to hide it, it will come through.” -NjalBorgeirsson
As these heart-warming answers reveal, there are many low-maintenance ways to let a man know he’s appreciated, or to keep in mind when you’re flirting with someone new. The main takeaway? Whether you take an interest in his favorite game or simply take his hand the next time you’re on a walk, as long as your intention to love on him shines through, the gesture will be much appreciated.