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What men really want

Want to know what your man is thinking? The male brain's needs, fears and secret desires will surprise you.

1. Talk More Like a Man
We don't mean to clear your throat or speak in deeper tones. Just get to the point quicker. As much as men love the sound of your voice and really love to help you out, their attention spans are short. 

Their minds will wander if they don't see a conclusion on your story's horizon. So, as you are sharing the details of today's run-in with Brenda from Business Affairs, skip the transcript of the exchange and create a highlight reel. He'll get the gist if you keep it short and just say what's on your mind—like most men talk when talking with other guys.

But, remember, he's not hearing the story for story's sake. He's looking for a problem to fix for you. So, if there isn't one or you're not really looking for solutions, broadcast that to him in black and white: "I'm not looking for you to fix anything; I feel better just having you understand how I'm feeling." Say it your way. Suddenly, you will have given him the reward he was looking for—the satisfaction of having provided something of value to you, the woman he cares about. (Does your guy sometimes tune you out? Learn how you can communicate better with these 4 Ways to Talk to Men.)

2. Grab Hold of His Hand
Many women think that men don't like cuddling, hand-holding, and other non-sexual forms of closeness; they're wrong. Men enjoy it as much as you do, but they are conditioned to hide these deep desires to avoid the appearance of weakness—"non-maleness"— in front of other men and even from you. When you display your love in public by grabbing his hand, planting a brief but passionate kiss or touching his thigh with your hand, you demonstrate confidence in your sexuality, which men find irresistible.

3. Give Him Props
Remember how hard you worked on those show-and-tell projects in kindergarten, and how good you felt when the class clapped and, at home, Dad said "attagirl"? Men are, in many ways, kindergarteners who want nothing more than your appreciation and respect for their hard work.

Because that recognition rarely comes from their bosses, it's even more critical that you give it to them on occasion at home when they do something particularly thoughtful or skillful. Men grow up with cultural expectations to be strong and brave, to suppress their emotions, fears, and hurts, so it may be very difficult to detect this need beneath their stoic armor. But, rest assured, it's there; men can be insecure. (Find out why acknowledging his little acts of kindness is The Easiest Way to Build a Better Relationship.)

One of the most effective ways to show your love for him is to fulfill his need to feel valued and needed as provider and protector. In a poll of Men's Health readers, 66 percent said they want women to compliment them on an intangible yet specific quality, something they uniquely possess. Be sincere: "I love how you always can make me feel better" is much more effective than "You're wonderful" because it reinforces his efforts to care for you.

4. Laugh With and at Him
After her body, her sense of humor is the most attractive thing about women for men who responded to The Big Book of Sex survey. But that doesn't mean you have to be quick with jokes and witty one-liners. 

Simply being able to laugh with him, at him, and at yourself is a sign of intellectual compatibility, says Dr. Billy Goldberg, co-author of Why Do Men Fall Asleep After Sex? "Men want a woman who is as comfortable relating her own ridiculous anecdote as she is listening to ours."

5. Ask for What You Want 
Men aren't the best mind readers. But they understand coaching, having spent years playing organized sports. So most of them respond well to feedback and direction. In fact, they would very much enjoy hearing what you'd like them to do to you in bed. If you're not really comfortable asking for specifics, take the pressure off by talking in generalities when you're not in bed. 

Once you're between the sheets, "turn requests into erotic expressions, not instructions," says Joy Davidson, a sex therapist in New York and author of Fearless Sex. "Saying 'Oh, do that. . .' isn't an order, it's sexy." (Certain words can make good sex great. Learn What to Say in Bed.)

Click here for more on what men want from Women's Health.