What does a woman want?

Once a man confessed, "The great question I have not been able to answer is What does a woman want?" Many husbands and boyfriends wonder the same thing today. But modern psychologists--and women--know the answer. A woman wants most everything a man wants: success, power, status, money, love, marriage, children, happiness, and fulfillment.

Women need to communicate this more clearly. Here are five things that should be told to men.

1. Women need genuine, personal displays of affection.

The breed of women who lives off the expensive gifts a man gives her is vanishing. A woman who values love for its own sake tends to be wary of gifts that are too costly. An expensive gift can make her feel that a man is trying to buy her affections and sees her as a prize rather than a person.

Gifts that give women genuine pleasure are those with a personal touch-an item of clothing, for example--because such gifts, when chosen properly, are statements of caring and high form of flattery, demonstrating recognition of a loved one's special tastes. The best gifts, from a woman's point of view, are those that are on going, rather than flamboyant. In fact, what's missing from a lot of lives is romance, such as doing small chores for her, sharing a laugh with her. These are the "gifts" that really count.

2. Women need a sympathetic ear.

A simple conversation can be different event to a man and a woman. For a man, a conversation is a way to define a problem, debate the rights and wrongs, and find a solution. To do that, he may repeatedly interrupt the woman until she "understands" the point he's making. But a woman would rather have a friendly ear from a man, instead of advice. Women more often view conversation as a way of sharing their emotions with the listener. They talk until they feel better. A man who wants to get through to a woman conversationally needs to tap into emotions rather than solutions. And, often, that can mean just listening.

3. Women don't fall in love as easily as men do.

Men tend to be romantics, often falling in love more quickly than women, who tend to focus on practical considerations in choosing a mate. Women are looking for long-term qualities in a partner. Far more than men, they allow their heads to control their hearts. Even though women may ache for love, they carry around an inner evaluator who asks, Can I count on this man? So any man who hopes to sweep a woman off her feet had better lengthen his timetable, and pay as much attention to characteristics such as kindness and dependability as he does to his hair, his clothes and his adaptability.

4. Women are good problem-solvers.

Men and women solve problem in different ways. A man tends to be direct--line up all his options, select one, then proceed. Women are more likely to simply let problems solve themselves-for example, by giving a child more time to adjust to a new teacher, rather than insisting on an immediate classroom change.

5. A woman wants to be friends with her husband.

"Few women relish being a mother, secretary or general picker-upper for their husbands. A woman wants the man in her life to be a true equal, someone who respects her strength, treats her weaknesses with kindness, and expects her to be the same for him. In short, she wants a friend, a lover and a partner who understands her.