I asked two friends today for article ideas and came to this point from two angles, how to show love to a guy and why men are scared of strong woman. These two points aren’t as separate as they first appear though and they both come down to a man’s basic need to be wanted, needed, respected and valued. Men as a rule want to be respected for their achievements; they want to feel their contributions are valuable, that they truly are valued, and that they have some purpose they can achieve in a relationship. Yet first I have to go back a little way to explain why this is so.
I have to start with the life that the vast majority of men live. Unless a man is sporting a 6 pack, rugged good looks and stands six feet tall he is almost never told he is good looking, attractive or handsome. His feelings are almost universally ignored, and when it comes to his thoughts and opinions about what he wants in a partner or a relationship those thoughts are given a back seat. We simply do not get told that women like the way we look, we learn that it’s far manlier to die atop a white horse than fall in the mud and we are told we should put up and shut up when it comes to our needs in a relationship or we lose the girl. Think about it for a second, have you heard about the time a wife bought her husband a six-pack of beer because she screwed up and wanted to apologize? There’s a reason there are no self-help books for men except on how to be successful, can you work out why? (Ok that was a trick question; we all know men don’t need help. Or do they?) Mostly the only form of positive feedback we ever get is about our achievements, whether this is from our jobs, sports or the things we do for our partners.
For good or ill by the time a boy leaves high school he has worked out that only his achievements define him and that who he is, what he looks like and what he feels matter little. Anecdotally I think that most insecurities that guys have when it comes to love stem from this one fact of life. Dressing to impress, buying cars they can’t afford, over representing past achievements and acting like they are the alpha male at work are all over compensations for the fact that deep down they just want to be valued for who they are, but the only way this is recognized is by their successes in life.
I often hear women complain about men’s fragile ego’s and how they need to be complimented every time they do something. If he needs validation every time he does something then yes he probably is insecure but think about it from the context of what I said above. If you take away any validation on his achievements, no matter how small, what is he left with? An insecure man will be trapped in a world where no one cares what he looks like, what he feels and now, not even what he does. I know there is an empathy gap when it comes to women looking at men’s experiences but try to imagine that for a moment. Try imagining a world where nothing about who you are or what you do is valued. If you have a partner who is constantly seeking praise for things he is doing try complimenting him on the things that you value about him as a person. He may have never been told he is valued for who he is and it might just surprise you how much of a change this may bring out in him.
So I imagine there are a lot of strong women out there, I know more than a few of them myself, and most of you probably think that most men are scared of a strong women. This is not precisely true. Insecure men will be scared and secure men won’t stick around and the answer is really very simple. A man, secure or insecure, needs to be needed. He isn’t aware that he is attractive in his own right, that he is valuable just for who he is, it isn’t the lesson he has been taught his entire life. When a strong women can change her own tyres, build her own bookshelves, run a boardroom or investigate bumps in the night on her own their partners begin to wonder. An insecure man will see it as a threat, a taking away of his only possibility of being valued. A secure man will wonder why he is even wanted in the relationship in the first place. If strong women can do all that he can do then what purpose does he serve, how can he show that he is an integral part of the relationship. It may simply never occur to him that the very person he is forms that integral part. Think of it like a blind spot, he has never been shown that his thoughts, opinions and feelings matter, or at least not very much.
So how do you show a guy you love him? Show him you need him, really need him. This isn’t a ticket to ask him to do a million chores, this is an invitation to show him the parts of yourself where you need help, assistance and support. No person can go through life alone, we all need help and we all need support. Let him see that. Let him see that you are scared to investigate the bumps in the night. Let him help talk about your problems with work or friends. Yes I know guys always want to fix things and you just want to express yourself, throw him a bone, let him have the occasional problem he feels he has insight into. You can ignore his advice later, and if you don’t and his advice works then tell him so. The things you consider weaknesses that you want to hide because you’re a strong woman, please don’t. For your partner let him in and let him see he is needed to help you succeed. He wants to help; he wants one of his achievements to be that he supported a strong woman to be successful. He wants to be your partner more than anything else, a true partner.
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*A minstrel was a medieval European bard who performed songs whose lyrics told stories of distant places or of existing or imaginary historical events. Although minstrels created their own tales, often they would memorize and embellish the works of others. The Modern Minstrel observes the world around him and shares it with us as lyrical story. This series was inspired by Luke Davis, whose eye for story and ear for lyrical prose are featured here.
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