Top 10 Traits Men In Their 40s Want In A Woman

The question “What do women want?!?”, followed by its glib response, “Everything!” has been repeated forever. But what about MEN? What do they really want?

The standard trope is that they want young, pretty women and not much more.

For a couple of decades now, it’s literally been my job to talk with women and men about their respective perspectives as it relates to dating. I can assure you that while men may be visual, most men, especially those a little older and worth having, want something more.

By the time men are in their 40’s, they’ve experienced the world, a few relationships, and a ton of life experience.

Young Men Grow Up

I’m not going to pretend that young men aren’t looking for someone attractive, with a certain kind of body, a killer smile, and a strong interest in the physical. We’d all like that, right? But as time goes by, guys start to realize that there’s more to life than easily accessible sex and someone to show off to friends for a few weeks.

They start to realize that they actually have to spend time with a partner. They begin to get a perspective on the longer-term picture. They start thinking about establishing a real family, having kids with someone, and sharing a life over the longer term.

This isn’t to say that they don’t still want someone who is attractive, takes good care of themselves, and is fit. It’s just that other characteristics take on greater importance.

No-Drama zone

If there’s one thing I’ve heard over and over when talking to men about what they want, it’s that they want someone who is happy and healthy. They specifically say they don’t want drama.

While we sometimes think men have it easier, in truth, they have fewer opportunities to experience and express emotions. They often feel the burden of responsibility in a culture where men are still seen as providers. They may feel more pressure to stay at a job that is stressful or unpleasant to be viewed as dependable.

They don’t want their relationship to feel like another job. They don’t want to be taxed with managing someone else’s volatile emotions, especially when they’re out of proportion to a given situation. They don’t want to be someone’s therapist or punching bag. They don’t want to have to fish you out of the pool at an elegant party or intervene between you and their family at Thanksgiving dinner.

So a positive attitude, a healthy emotional landscape, sound mental health, and a fairly easy-going demeanor are very attractive, especially to any man who’s experienced a high-maintenance partner. Work out your problems in therapy, meditate, exercise – do what you need to do to bring emotional intelligence and self-awareness to the table.

Ready for Lasting Love?
Ready for Lasting Love?

Get Real

Men often have less practice or interest in intuiting what’s beneath the surface with someone. They may be more trusting that what they see is what they’re getting. Honesty and authenticity are hugely important to them. Sincerity can be a superpower. Being able to trust you means that they can open up and be more emotionally vulnerable…eventually.

Men in their 40s have usually experienced a fair amount of disappointment and heartbreak in love. They’re at the age where they want to feel like they’re making a sound investment in the future with someone who means what she says and says what she means. Someone they can count on to be relatively consistent. Someone with the confidence and courage to present who they really are rather than some big fake personality that changes hour to hour.

The refreshing thing about this is that if you’re authentic and he’s authentic and you find you’re not compatible, you can amicably move on quite quickly. If he’s struggling to figure out who/what is the real you, it can take a long, agonizing time to realize you’re not for one another. A woman who is transparent and courageously vulnerable can inspire a man to truly commit.

Dependence vs Independence

Men love to feel useful.

They don’t like to feel like suckers.

By the time a man is 40, he’s probably experienced at least one younger woman whose financial plan is a man. Even the wealthiest man can feel taken advantage of, and there’s a big distinction between feeling useful and feeling used.

While asking for a little help with a DIY project might appeal to their male ego, an older man appreciates a woman who is independent enough to take care of herself. In today’s economy, many men are not so fortunate as to be able to support someone else. It adds a huge layer of stress to feel completely responsible for another adult. More often, men are looking for someone to be more of an equal partner in a long-term relationship.

They can also really appreciate a woman’s nurturing qualities. This isn’t just about caring for him when he’s sick or in the years ahead, although there’s certainly a subconscious draw there. An independent but nurturing woman can keep him from making mistakes, help him to stay healthy, and fill in with areas that are his weak points.

Having your own life, friends and interests gives him permission to do the same thing rather than worrying about keeping the things he loves on hold while he tries to entertain you. Having two adult lives, learning, growing and coming together to share is more rewarding than being completely insular.

Physical chemistry and energy

Middle-aged men in their 40s and beyond have not given up on sex, I can assure you. With luck, they’ve learned that sex goes beyond their own erection. They’ve picked up a few things and are aware that women have their own unique responsiveness. Providing pleasure may be a keen source of excitement for them.

But they also want a partner who is worthy of that. Whether you’re 23 or 63, joyfully engaging in sexual activity, having a sensual nature, and being confident enough to exude a sexy, feminine vibe is enormously appealing.

You’re more likely to have a few tricks up your own sleeve than a young woman does, and you know your own body much more than you did. An experienced man knows that he’s going to have a potentially sensuous, erotically deliberate, sexy encounter with someone who realizes that sex isn’t just a performance and really commits to mutual pleasure.

Beyond sex, having a certain zest for life can be truly inspiring to an older man. They’ve often had to play the leader. If you bring a joie de vivre and can-do attitude to everything, he’ll find himself feeling more youthful and energetic around you.

An Affectionate Nature

We sometimes forget that while men treasure sex both on its own terms and as an indication of intimacy, they really respond well to simple affection. There’s a difference between that and more goal-oriented physicality. Knowing that it was your idea to act in an affectionate way is a big boost.

Keeping “in touch” with affectionate gestures makes most men feel loved and cared for. A physical connection makes a man feel safe with you. When there’s a shared sense of intimacy, it informs everything from the bedroom to the outside world. Touching his arm or neck, stroking his hair or cheek – these are not overtly sexual, but keep his love light and desire on high.

When you can’t be right there, a sweet text, sexy voice mail, or romantic gesture can still show that you love him and are truly interested in his well-being.

Loyalty and Fidelity

By the time a man is 40, he’s spent a great deal of his life feeling like he’s in competition with other men for everything. He also may have been cheated on by girlfriends in the past – a devastating blow to his trust and self-confidence. He really wants to know that he is the only guy for you. Loyalty is an important quality most men, especially middle-aged men, are seeking. His need for it occurs at an almost primal level. There is no betrayal for him quite as large as that of you being unfaithful to him.

Besides sexual fidelity, a man wants to know you value him. He wants to feel like you have his back and will support him privately and publicly. That you won’t shame him in front of family or friends. That you’ll stick up for him. He expects this from his male friends, and he expects it from you.


The kinds of games that are more typical of young women won’t fly with a more mature man. Act up and make him jealous to test his love? Not a good idea, and one that can easily backfire.

He wants to know he can trust you, and he wants to know you trust him. Keeping good boundaries means not snooping on his phone, computer, or social media. He knows by now that if he’s an innocent man, he can’t spend his entire life walking on eggshells under the presumption of guilt.

Respect, praise, prioritize

Because men have been socially conditioned to take the lead, they often find themselves needing the courage to put themselves in a vulnerable position. Even a middle aged man – or older – may not be as confident as he appears. Feeling like he’s respected is important to him. The most modern guy is often wired to feel like he should protect and provide. A little praise can go a very long way to bolstering his confidence and self-esteem.

Find the things he’s good at. Let him know you admire his driving, his commitment to exercise, the way he does sums in his head. Let your praise outweigh your criticisms, but when you have a correction to make, make it with the respect of a peer. Show that you have confidence in his ability to make good decisions. Older men aren’t looking for a “yes-man” woman who is completely deferential. Having a mind of your own makes your admiration for him that much more valuable. You don’t have to share all his passions, but even a little interest in what he likes makes him know he has a partner.

Coupled with giving them the respect they’ve earned by living life for a few years, men in their 40s also seek someone who is interested in making them a priority. While it’s important to have your own life, demonstrating to him that he is number one for you makes him feel valued. Whether it’s making a big deal about his birthday, checking with him before making plans, knowing the certain way he likes his coffee, or carving out special time to be together, actively let him know how important he is to your life.

Men, especially older men, love to be a hero. A confident, healthy woman, no matter how independent, knows that letting a man fulfill this emotional destiny is huge. It takes nothing away from you to ask for a little help now and then. To celebrate his successes. To let him know he’s the reason you’re as happy as you are. It’s fun to find and focus on his positives.

Full Partnership

While I’ve alluded to this previously, the dance between dependence, independence, and interdependence is never as difficult as it is within a romantic relationship. It’s a Goldilocks situation of finding the right amount of each. In the age range we’re discussing, a history of other relationships has probably played out with various degrees of wrong.

A man in middle age wants and deserves respect. He also needs someone who can take care of themselves. He needs someone who will call him out on mistakes but with love and understanding. He needs time to himself and to be made a priority. While these things may seem contradictory, they really fall under the heading of full partnership. Navigating another person’s feelings and needs is never easy, but when you focus on “us”, and what’s best for you as a couple, you’re headed in the right direction.

A younger woman may lack the self-awareness or understanding about all the things that make a relationship strong and ensure its future. Men in their 40s are looking to your life experience. You’re not going to just rest on the laurels of your looks. That makes you much more valuable to an older man, who knows that looks fade while substance takes you forward.

He wants equitability. He wants you to love him and be attracted to him just as much as he loves and is attracted to you. He wants give and take on both sides.

The list

So to summarize, here are key things men in their 40s are looking for in a woman:

  1. Honesty
  2. Loyalty
  3. Sanity
  4. Affection
  5. Authenticity
  6. Physicality
  7. Independence
  8. Dependability
  9. Respect
  10. Mutual attraction

The Perspective of Age

The bad news is that older men have had their fair share of life experience: the good, the bad, and the ugly. In the best of circumstances, they’ve used that to develop a clearer idea of what they really want. Instead of a midlife crisis involving a convertible and a younger woman, they may be taking a course in relationships, surfing the hack spirit articles or seeing a relationship coach.

They still want to have fun, but it’s taken a back seat to finding the kind of person they want to spend their life with. While a great body is still going to catch their eye, they know that it’s not worth the stress to disregard more important things. Their general well being matters now. Finding someone within their own age range and focusing on the upcoming years ahead helps older men find someone with whom they can share their world.

So bring your best authentic self. Be a good person with good values who cares about your partner. The magic of this is that you’ll probably find someone who is the same way.