Graceful Connections: The 5 keys to What Women Want
by Philippe Lewis
Last summer, I went to a festival with a lover. As I picked her up from the airport and first saw her, something in my body shifted, a pleasurable feeling arose. I said “How do you feel?”. She said “I’m so excited to see you!”. As her words sunk in (and lips connected with mine), they met with the feelings in my body, confirming what I already knew. I asked “What would you like most for the weekend?”, and she responded “For us to dance and make friends and enjoy each other deeply! But I will need to get some good sleep too -- I had a big week!”. Again, all of her words, body and gaze spoke to me of a particular “way” that she was, right at that moment, moving in a certain direction, with some internal “destination” in mind. I was reading her with all my senses, and all that she was expressing every moment was confirming that I was reading her well. “I might need to keep you up longer than you think”, I said with a wink, and her response was, with a beaming smile, “Not if I’m the one keeping YOU up!”.
That’s what she said, as they say.
The dance was on.
Let’s begin with a hypothetical situation. You are on a first date with a lovely woman. You believe things are going well, so at the end, you move in for a kiss, but she gives you the cheek and she backs away awkwardly and surprised. You’re thinking, WTF? What went wrong? How did you misjudge the situation? All systems seemed a-go. Is it possible you misjudged her pace? Or maybe what she really wanted or how far she was willing to go? Or perhaps she hadn't specifically been a yes with her body or in her words. Whatever the case may be, you wonder how you could have seen this one coming. And indeed, women often wish that men could read minds and rarely seem to give enough information for them to figure it out.
In fact, if you gauge by the number of books on the topic, figuring out “what women want” is likely one of the greatest mysteries men have ever faced. But I'd like to think otherwise: I don't think it's a mystery AT ALL. If I have your attention now, keep reading: things are about to get much more interesting.
So what do women want? I’ll give you the easy answers:
Women want to feel received, desired, seen, considered, felt, heard, held, supported, loved, nurtured, accepted, wanted. And there's likely many more.
Not bad for a start, uh?
But this calls for a simpler answer: what women really want is to be fully “gotten”.
When you “get” her, all of the above falls into place, everything starts to make sense. Robert Heinlein, in his novel “Stranger in a Strange Land”, calls this “grokking someone".
So how will you “get” (or “grok”) the woman in front of you? I’m sure there are many ways, but we’ll start with something much easier than most seduction techniques I know: you’ll get curious, you'll start paying attention, you’ll use your intelligence (intellectual, emotional, physical, social, spiritual and erotic) and then, through this exploration, you’ll discover her state of being, her pace, her desires, and her boundaries. And knowing that, you’ll bring her possibilities for fulfilling her desires that leave her excited, empowered, turned on and aroused by giving her a chance to consent to the what, where, when, and how of these possibilities.
Did you get that last paragraph? If that all made perfect sense, then you likely don’t need this article and can just skip to going out and having fun. But if you were left a bit confused or if you need to read that paragraph 5-6 more times, then read on...
Her State (or How is she feeling?)
To begin, you really need to assess a woman’s state of being. What is her emotional state in terms of mood or feelings? What about her erotic state, how turned-on is she? Where is she at physically, well-rested? sore? aroused? Where is she in her cycle? And finally, what’s going on in her mind? What is she thinking of? worried about? afraid of? looking forward to? Having clarity around these states of being is pivotal for an interaction. If you don’t know where she’s at, then it’ll be almost impossible to calibrate and feel connected to her, or deliver what she wants. In order to assess the above, pay attention to what she says and does. And when in doubt, ask simple questions that will get you some hints: How are you feeling? What’s on your mind? How do you feel in your body? Or ask questions that point in specific directions, such as: How can I take care of your heart? What (foods/exercise/movement) would feel good to your body right now? What small thing would turn you on the most? How can I help you trust me more? How can I put your mind at ease? Of course you don't want to launch into a game of 20 questions (though a few questions sprinkled here and there are great) but rather take this as an opportunity to gauge these answers just from what she is sharing in the conversation.
After that pace, desires, and boundaries are the next things to consider. All four of these aspects are interlinked as they are facets of freedom and connection, what you want or don’t want, how much you want it, how fast you want it, and the what/where/when/how of what actually happens. They are key in any relationship: romantic, work-related, family, friendship, etc. When people can feel both connected and free in those relationships, they have a chance to blossom in whatever capacity they need to.
And that, my friends, is gold.
Because when you have a fully self-expressed human being in front of you, it calls the same in you, and it calls the same in everyone around you. And this means the most amazing fulfilling empowering -- and yes, hot -- relationships.
Getting a woman’s initial state of being is not enough. From that place, like water she is ever changing, evolving. So you need to keep track of her state, as she changes. This rate of change -- intellectually, physically, emotionally, erotically, socially (and even spiritually) -- is called “Pace”. A woman feels more connected, at choice, and seen if a man can keep up with her (ever changing) pace. Sometimes she goes fast, sometimes she goes slow -- in the areas mentioned above. A standard example is sex, how things unfold from flirting to kissing to heavy petting to intercourse (and sometimes back and forth many times). In order to stay with her, you might need to back off at times, slow down at times, speed up later, and even stop. It can be a roller coaster, but that’s part of the fun.
And as you get to know her, you will find that the changes to her state and pace start to take the form of a "movement" of sorts, telling you about her own particular "dance". But this is advanced stuff. Start by simply paying attention to her state as it changes, and get a sense of the pace at which it changes.
For some men, faster faster, harder harder (at least physically and erotically) is their only speed, but it doesn't necessarily means it’s their partner’s pace (and in fact, it rarely is). For other men, they have the idea that such a fast pace is expected of them, so they default into it and miss out on the joys of slowing down. If you are dancing, for instance, you’ll consider the song that is playing at that moment, how fast it is, the style, and dance accordingly. If you keep up with her pace, then she will feel closer to you, and more will become possible as you will remain connected. This is intimacy.
There’s so much to say about desire. As Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “Desire is possibility seeking expression.” Desire is essentially what a person wants, what moves them, what touches them, what inspires them, and are the things that await at the edge of their consciousness, ready to manifest as an impulse. Desires can also change, mainly because they are part fantasy, part expectation and also because moods changes and thoughts change (see "Her Pace" above). But even when a woman’s desires change, they are always congruent with who she is. So as you ride a woman’s ever unfolding sea of desires, be ready for an adventure!
Consider that the main key to discovering someone’s desires is curiosity. Get a window into her happiness, fulfillment and bliss by listening to what she wants -- with her words, her body, and her mood. Find out how she would like to manifest the things she’d love - or you think she’d love - to experience. Find out if the details (such as what, where, when, and how) make a difference for her. Ask her… What do you love? What gets you excited? What makes your hair tingle? If you could have anything right this moment, what would it be? Play with fantasy, see if she’ll bite: Want to go for a hike? What direction and how far? Want to go out on a date? Where could that be? What would make it special? What would make it epic? And as you play and explore with her, do it without attachment. This is for her pleasure and for you to get to know what’s possible with her. And as you start to hone in on this wealth of possibilities, begin to look at the next key, boundaries, that which makes desire safe by giving it form and edges.
If the impulse of someone’s growth is their desires, then at the edges are their boundaries. Boundaries can mean the difference between safety and trauma, growth and suffering. Certainly boundaries can be fluid, impacted by mood, what someone ate, how they slept, who they are with, etc. They can be changeable, especially soft boundaries, which can be pushed to foster growth, i.e. much like pushing yourself at the gym will make you stronger, but lifting 500lb on the bench press before you’re ready (if you ever will be), can hurt you. That’s why it’s critical to find out where someone’s boundaries are. Within those, they feel safe and most able to grow and explore with the greatest aliveness.
As defined here, boundaries are typically either where there’s an edge for growth (a soft boundary) or a place where crossing them can cause great suffering or even trauma (a hard boundary). These boundaries can be intellectual (what they believe is or is not okay or possible), emotional (what feels safe or unsafe), physical (what their body can and cannot do, what feels good and what doesn't feel good, and erotic (what is exciting or a turn on, and what isn't). They’re critical because if you’re crossing hard boundaries the woman will feel like you aren't listening in addition to being potentially damaging and unsafe. When a woman speaks of “transgression”, that’s what she speaks of: men crossing their (hard) boundaries without consideration. On the other hand, pushing boundaries -- especially the soft ones -- when done right, can be the most exciting thing there is, not only because it tells a woman how well the man can read her, but it also allows her to discover aspects of herself she didn't even know were present as she experiences the growth that accompanies her boundaries.
This is where consent comes into play.
"In an age where women are still often given too little choice in intimate encounters and where sexual pressure is almost the rule, a man who is able to obtain consent with skill and little attachment will stand out among a thousand of his brothers."
After you have a good sense of a woman’s state of being, pace, desires and boundaries, then comes the time to engage her around making some of these desires a reality. In order to do this, a man must first show that he respects a woman's sovereignty: her ability to choose the what/where/when/how of what happens to her. Checking in with her around this is what we call “obtaining consent”. He does it by making offerings, suggestions of ways he would be excited and enjoy supporting fulfilling her desires. How he does this is very important: not only should there be (at least at first) a clear offering -- matching a woman’s state, pace, desires and boundaries -- but also the offering should be made in such a way as allow her to pick the what/where/when/how (if she wishes it) and to leave her satisfied with her answer. This is the crucial part: if she is allowed to choose freely, she can walk away from the experience with more freedom and more trust. If she is pressured into a particular answer, she will walk away with less freedom and less trust. In the man, and often in men in general.
Offerings can be something small and safe (a coffee date?) or something bigger like kissing or having sex. If you’ve been paying attention (to the four keys above), then a woman will often give her consent because you have calibrated well to your partner. In other words, you “get” her so well that you multiply the chances of her saying "yes". In fact, your offering is what she might have wanted in the first place. When you get good at this, it will feel to her like you are reading her mind (see the story at the top of this post). Ultimately, though, the woman needs to feel like she has a choice - freely accepted, freely turned down, and both of you get to walk away feeling good with how things turned out. There’s no pressure and no shaming for saying no or maybe later. You are leaving her and yourself free of entanglements with whatever response arises.
Obtaining consent ultimately means the woman is in charge of the thing she’s desiring while you are showing up as being in service to these desires (while making sure you are freely doing this yourself -- no point in being a puppy dog). And that's hot. Usually this is done verbally, but it can done physically if you can read someone’s body really well (though this is an advanced skill -- generally err on the side of asking verbally). Consider obtaining consent every step of the way as things can shift quickly and you may miss something in the process. How is this? And this? How about that? Perhaps a kiss on the neck? What about a nibble on the shoulder? How could this be better? And remember to slow down, listen to her verbal responses first, and then use your own body to listen to hers.
Bringing it all together
If you can calibrate to your partner’s state of being, pace, desires, and boundaries, and allow her to consent to what she gets involved in, then what you are creating is freedom (for her) and connection (for the two of you). Through the above, you get to create more choice in a world where most people -- especially women -- never seem to receive it enough (much less have it created for them consensually). You get to find those places that are a “yes”, a “maybe”, and a “no”. You get to offer to fulfill desires without attachment, and then be willing to walk away freely without pressure. After all, the five keys we speak of are not only about the woman you want to connect with; they’re also about you and endless the possibilities you have for connecting with people in your life. In other words, they apply to you too.
In upcoming posts, we will dive deeper into each of the above keys and six intelligence (intellectual, emotional, physical/somatic, erotic, social, spiritual) so you can continue to learn and practice the art of graceful connections and become an exquisite lover.
A bientot et avec amour,
Philippe Lewis is organizer for ISTA, a Sex & Intimacy Coach, Certified Sexological Bodyworker, and Event Producer. For the last 18 years, he has been exploring relationships, intimacy, sensuality and sexuality with individuals and communities through teaching, writing, coaching and (sexy) events with the goal of growing men and women into better lovers and better humans. He is a father, a lover, a partner, a husband, a teacher, a producer, a writer, a social artist, a social engineer, a coach, a counselor, and many more. His love for life is as polyamorous as his love and sex life.