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What if I told you that you could be a fly on the wall and hear what men really have to say about love, relationships, and finding that special someone?

Well, in the past couple months, I have been that fly on the wall. I am at that wonderful period in my life when many of my friends are getting engaged, getting married, and having kids. But in my time spent being a relationship sponge and soaking up all the pre- and post-wedding advice, I realized something: Women really deserve to hear what these guys are saying.

Sometimes I worry that popular TV shows and sultry advertisements give women the wrong impression of men. Despite how it might appear, there are a lot of good guys out there who are looking for the same romance, commitment, and monogamy that women are. Sure, some guys get caught up in the narrative about who they should be—sexy men of steel who can’t be tied down, who are looking for sex but not love yet. But when we really get down to it, even the bachelors who are “living the dream” admit that this narrative about men is unfulfilling.

In an exposé on bachelors living in New York City, one, Mr. Gollash, tells the New York Times that he wanted nothing more than to be married. “At a certain age I became more conscious of the fact that I knew the following year would be better if I was in a loving, committed relationship with someone that I was going to start a family with,” Gollash said. “I don’t think any of my married friends had any illusions that I was living the dream. Maybe the guys would joke about it, but I would enlist the help of all the wives of my friends, or the women friends in my life, to help me become a better person, to get ready, so when I met the right person, I was in the right head space.”

I spoke with a handful of men about relationships, love, and what it all means to them. They told me what they really think about love and how, when it comes down to it, the one thing they truly want is an authentic relationship with that special woman.

So from one fly to another, here are some honest reactions that men have to love and relationships in our modern age.

Casual Isn’t Our Game

A relationship that is authentic goes below the surface. It is loyal, dependable, real. I think both men and women share a desire for this kind of relationship. Men are tired of the superficial, selfish, and surface-level romance that society wants to sell us. As Kathryn Wales pointed out last year, despite their obsession with sex and novelty, people are not satisfied by such l0w-level romance. There needs to be more.

If you are single and waiting, know that he is out there—the guy who wants more than casual, who wants something authentic. One of my buddies told me this week: “I can’t stand how ads, TV shows, and pop culture portray the idea that men just want casual relationships. I don’t want casual sex and hookups! Who has ever been satisfied by that? We all want something that lasts, someone we can lean on and trust. We want authentic relationships that are grounded in sacrifice and not on fleeting feelings and pleasure alone.”

For those of you who are already in relationships, find ways to encourage these good desires in your man. Ask him questions. If he says how much he loves Russell Crowe in Gladiator, ask him why. Chances are he admires Maximus’ bravery and willingness to sacrifice. So when you hear words such as authentic, brave, sacrifice, and fearless, encourage him to share why those characteristics stand out to him. The more he sees that you appreciate these qualities too, the more he will be motivated to make them his own.

We’re Ready for Love

I love social media for a lot of reasons, but I hate how it seems to inspire comparison and dissatisfaction with your own life compared to others. I know that for me it can feel like everyone is getting engaged, or everyone is in a relationship—everyone, that is, except me. I don’t think I am alone in this.

“I just want women to know that guys struggle with being single, too,” one guy told me this week. “We see all these relationships on social media and wonder when it’ll happen to us; women are not alone in that. We wonder where she is and when we’ll find her. We find it hard to wait, too.”

Ladies, don’t fool yourselves into thinking you’re the only sex sitting around wondering: “When will it be my turn?” Most of us can admit that coupling sounds pretty appealing, and we should all help each other out in finding the right person. Don’t let the cool and aloof guy with the classy Ray-Bans trick you; he wants to find the right woman, too.

Guys Want Depth, Too

Some stereotypes about men make it seem like guys are only interested in finding a woman who will flatter them and and look good on their arm. But this couldn’t be further from the truth.

The truth is, men want a challenge. We feel best about ourselves when we are held to a high standard and when we have goals for bettering ourselves. We want this from our friendships, and we want this from our romantic relationships as well.

As one guy shared with me this week, true friends make each other better, something especially important in romantic relationships: “Isn’t that the kind of guy women want—a guy who is going to do everything he can to be better for her, to be worthy of her love? That’s the kind of woman I want, someone who is going to inspire me to be better and who won’t let me settle for anything mediocre. A true friend wants what’s best for you and will do anything they can to help you. In a way, it’s a ‘friendly competition,’ and by that I mean it’s rooted in friendship, and you drive each other to be better.”

I don’t know about you, but that kind of friendship sounds exactly like what I am looking for, too. Don’t let anyone tell you that the guy who doesn’t work hard for you is as good as it’s going to get. Be clear with your guy about what you need and want in a relationship. Things like feeling pursued and understood are non-negotiable.

So, I have to ask: Are you surprised by what you’ve heard? It seems to me that most men and women are looking for the same things in love, and if we operate under that assumption, dating might be a more hopeful and promising experience for everyone.

Photo Credit: Xavier Navarro Photography