Every once in a while, I'll hear someone, sometimes on the internet or on TV or even sometimes in a face-to-face conversation, ask the question of what it is women want. It's always delivered by a male voice, it seems, either some young boy who's just entered into the world of relationships and doesn't know what to do, or some older man who finds himself surrounded by women and acts constantly baffled by their behaviour. It can be asked in multiple different ways, as well - sometimes bluntly, but sometimes in more subtle ways. "I don't get you women," or "you're a girl, you'll have your own prerogative". They say it often to distance themselves from women, to say that men and women are two entirely separate entities that cannot understand each other. 

The same question is never asked of men in quite the same way. I mean, the question is raised, sure, but you don't see masses of women completely misunderstanding what a man's intentions are, or speculating about what's most important to him. Instead, we see the question raised once again from the male voice, with books teaching women "what men want", or with Facebook posts or derogatory comments informing girls that they shouldn't do something because "men don't like that".

And while I won't deny that men and women most certainly think differently, whether that be the influence of nature or nurture, this does raise a question for me: when did the genders come to be thought of as a hive mind? Why is it that men can seriously ask "what do women want", as though all women want the same thing? Why is it that men can tell girls don't wear too much make-up, or be too fat, or be too skinny, or wear those pants, because "men don't like that"? Which men? Certainly not all of them as a group.

Because here's the thing: different people, regardless of gender, want different things.

When it comes to relationships, some women want someone who will listen to what they have to say.

Some women will want someone who will make them laugh.

Some women want someone who will be there for them, night and day, regardless of anything else that's going on in their lives.

Some women want someone who will give them space from time-to-time and let them sort out their own lives.

Some women don't want anyone at all - they just want to focus on their careers, or on their school work, or on eating macaroni and cheese in a pillow fort while watching Spongebob at three in the morning.

Some women even want any combination of the aforementioned things.

So if you're yearning to discover what it is that women want in a relationship, there is no one answer: you have to go and ask the specific woman who you are thinking of. Women are not a hive mind, and there's nothing that you can do that will satisfy every single one in one fell swoop. And women are not all that different from men in that regard. Men, too, think differently from one another, act differently from one another, desire different things than another man would. There's nothing that a woman can do that will satisfy every man in the world, just like there is nothing that a man can do that will satisfy every woman in the world.

You can wear the lightest, most natural make-up there is, and there will still be someone out there who will prefer something more dramatic.

You can be a good five pounds underweight and look like a supermodel, and there will still be someone out there who prefers heavy women.

You can be the most beautiful woman in the entire world, and there will still be someone out there who prefers big, muscular men with hairy chests.

It baffles me that we seem so quick to dismiss these differences of thought - that we are so desperate for a quick formula to pleasing everybody that we try to state "this is what men want" or "this is what women want". We forget that desire isn't necessarily gendered like that, and that it isn't universal. All people want something different, because all people are different, and that is a beautiful thing. So what we need to do is stop focusing so much on pleasing everyone and start focusing on pleasing ourselves - on doing what makes us happy. Only once we start doing that will we start attracting those who will love us for who we really are.

Published by Ciara Hall