What men and women really want
A new survey has found that women believe a modern gentleman does the recycling and brings them cups of tea in bed. But is it really that easy? Susan Daly and Joe O'Shea report
What men want
There is an entire industry devoted to telling women what men want and vice versa. Ever since Jane Austen (who, if she was around today, would probably be a columnist for Grazia magazine) first wrote about modern manners, great effort has been expended on refereeing the war between the sexes.
The latest survey, conducted for a UK clothing chain, claims to redefine what women are looking for in a modern man.
And far from endorsing traditional requirements, holding open doors, paying for dinner, buying flowers and gifts, the survey reveals a more practical wish-list that includes taking out the rubbish, sending regular romantic texts and posting on her Facebook wall.
Hopeless romantics may despair and wonder why modern-day Elizabeth Bennets should settle for Mr Darcys who simply do the recycling and send the odd "Hey Lizzie -- I fancy the petticoats off U!" text.
Guys may be secretly thankful that expectations have fallen so low that taking out the wheelie-bin now counts as a grand romantic gesture to rival the building of the Taj Mahal.
However, the women of Ireland, if they have any sense, should be thinking less about the bins and asking themselves what they can do for the man in their life.
After all, ladies, keeping a man happy is hardly rocket science.
We are simple creatures, we do not ask for much.
And if the average woman could only spend half of the time she devotes to keeping up on which type of shoe is currently in fashion to thinking about her guy's needs, serenity and peace would reign.
When one of my girl-friends comes to me looking for advice, I will give her a fatherly smile and tell her to:
Women of Ireland, "What do you want to do at the weekend?" or "Where would you like to eat?" are not multiple-choice questions and should never, under any circumstances prompt the response; "I don't know, what do YOU want to do?"
Take your time, pick an activity/restaurant you would enjoy and then tell us. It's easy. Seriously.
Give Us Some Space
Most men need their alone time, a couple of hours at the weekend watching sport on the TV. This does not work if you are hovering around, rearranging the cushions, loudly doing your nails or asking us if we saw what your second cousin was wearing at Aoife's 30th.
Why do you think so many men have hobbies like fishing or golf? It's certainly not for enjoyment (seriously, you have no idea how boring fishing is).
It is simply so we don't have to deal with stuff for a couple of hours.
Not Everything Is "A Thing"
Men are occasionally rude, unthinking and dumb (no, seriously!). You may catch us giving you a funny look or forgetting it's the third anniversary of our first proper date (not the one where we went for coffee and ended up in the pub all night, the other one).
None of these things mean we are having an affair, about to run off or secretly despise you. Relax.
Make the Most of the Good Times
On those rare occasions when we are romantic, attentive and giving, don't for God's sake utter the killer words; "Why can't you be like this all of the time?".
If they crossed George Clooney's charm with Brad Pitt's body they still couldn't come up with a man who could keep his woman happy 24/7.
If we give you flowers, smile and say "Thanks!".
Susan's response to Joe
Is that it? The way to a stress-free relationship is to give your man some man-space to do manly things and tell him what you want, what you really, really want?
I have a suspicion that men are not the simple fishin' and sports-watchin' creatures Joe makes out.
They have their needy moments too. (Show me the man who doesn't occasionally need reassurance that they are not developing a pot belly/bald spot/dicky golf swing.)
But I think he may have hit on something when he urges women to be decisive.
It may be a hangover from a time when it was 'unseemly' for a woman to make her desires known, but I have observed that some of my female friends are more backward in coming forward than their male partners.
I can see how that can lead to frustration and misunderstandings.
So it's up to men and women to be more plain-spoken and mutually respectful.
Ever had an argument where you have been bottling up resentment and frustration, hoping he'll notice how annoyed you are, and the thing explodes when he doesn't?
Gals, don't be afraid to tell him about it. Guys, be prepared to turn off Sky Sports -- sorry, Joe -- and listen.
What women want
Bonnie Tyler had it all wrong. Women are not holding out for a hero -- we just want someone to bring us a cup of tea when we're hungover.
It doesn't sound very edifying but that, according to a new survey, is what women want. That, and regular texts, help around the house and hand-holding in public.
A gentleman, apparently, is no longer one who holds the door open for you; he makes the grade if he doesn't shut it in your face.
This should all sound a bit depressing but actually I think it shows we're being more honest about what really matters in a relationship. I don't need a man to defend my honour in a duel at dawn -- but I do need him to pay up his half of the electricity bill without being asked twice.
I don't need his cloak beneath my feet -- but I do need his jacket around my shoulders if we're out and the night turns chilly. (It's a scientific fact that women feel the cold more than men, right?)
Don't be milk tray man
Men often make the mistake of thinking 'le grand geste' will save a relationship that is dying of a thousand little cuts.
I've never understood the attraction of the Milk Tray man. A man in a ski mask breaking into your bedroom at the dead of night? Er, no thanks. And did he buy milk for the morning when he was picking up those petrol-station chocs? Did he heck.
Get on our wavelength
There is a presumption that women only consider a guy to be a class act if he showers them in expensive baubles and surprise trips to Paris. Let me confuse things by saying that this will sometimes work. One woman I know of decided she had met her future husband when he bought her a pair of designer shoes that matched her style perfectly.
I'm not averse to a touch of bow-tied romance myself but the loveliest present I ever received was an MP3 loaded up with every album I had ever owned. It was a gift that didn't cost as much money as it did time, effort and -- that most elusive quality of all -- thought.
Men accuse women of wanting them to read our mind. We just want to know that we're on the same wavelength.
We'll hang up on booty calls
One more thought. There is an Old Spice ocean of difference between being a ladies' man and being a gentleman. During an extended foray on to the singles scene a few years back, I went on a date with a guy who I wasn't entirely sure about. I agreed to a second one to give him the benefit of the doubt, but he didn't turn up.
Instead, a few nights later, I got a phonecall at around 2am from my errant date. "Whatcha doin'?" was his coy opening gambit. "Sleeping," I said and hung up.
Annoyed, I told a friend. "Ooo, you got a booty call!" she teased. Who was this guy -- 50 Cent? Or has sexual currency become so devalued that while I wasn't good enough to meet for a drink, I was good enough to have on speed-dial when drunk?
Chivalry is such an antiquated word. It makes me think of a mustachioed man waving smelling salts under the nose of a swooning lady. Manners, however, never go out of style.
Joe's response to Susan
Susan's views on what women want from a modern man confirm what most men should (but probably don't) know already. With girlfriends/wives, it's all about the amount of thought and effort that a man is prepared to put into the relationship.
And a thoughtful present, such as getting an old photo of them with friends nicely framed or finding a cool vintage bag (not as hard as it sounds), will trump a big voucher for Brown Thomas most days of the week.
Where it tends to go wrong is the touching belief that many women have in the psychic abilities of their partners. Ladies, you can drop hints as heavy as a big bag of spanners but most men, unfortunately, do need it spelled out for them.
If you want something special, a bit more attention or for him to lose weight/throw out those stonewashed jeans he's been wearing since 1992, you have got to pretty much tell him.
And by the way guys, as Susan has hinted, if all else fails, there is one simple rule that you should always remember.
What do women really want? They want the heating turned up.