I’ll never forget the moment that a former partner of mine changed how I saw myself.
I’d been complaining to him about my lack of productivity and follow-through. It was an old refrain that I could barely stand to hear, anymore.
In a quiet moment when I looked to “Adam” for his input, maybe his agreement? He paused, looked at me intently, and said: “I don’t see you that way.”
His tone was so even and matter of fact that it caused the turmoil inside of me to come to a halt.
Adam held his gaze and his presence, steady, allowing me to slowly take it in what he had said.
Cutting through to the truth continued with him in this way – softly but relentlessly. He insisted on seeing me in the light of truth, not through my self-judgments or his own. And as a result, I stopped telling the old stories about myself that brought me down.
Men look at women but they don’t often see them – not like Adam saw me.
To see a woman is so very different from looking at her. Adam saw me – not as he thought I should be, but as I was. He saw me too as a woman, not as a feminine version of himself.
One day when I was feeling particularly emotional and afraid he’d judge me for it, as so many men had, he said: “Of course you’re emotional about this. You’re a woman.”
Many people might think his comment sexist. But coming from a man who loves you and who sees you clearly, it had the most incredible and unforgettable effect. I felt seen as a woman for the very first time.
A lot of men, before Adam, had seen me at the level of how I looked. They got caught up in that. The fact that I was a woman was secondary. In fact, any part of me that didn’t jive with their idealized image of me was essentially ignored.
In my book, Open Her, I dedicate an entire chapter to seeing a woman and how it feels to her, and why women crave this experience with men. Most men understand that a woman likes to be looked at and complimented, but miss the deeper opportunity to love and to open a woman through this masculine gift.
To see a woman’s physical beauty and tell her so is a wonderful exchange. No woman tires of that. But to point out who she really is and may not trust in herself, yet, is a gift beyond measure. The beautiful thing is that men naturally possess this power to see, and all they need to do is to turn it up.
I was changed by Adam seeing me as who I truly was. I became more of who I am because of his loving generosity.
I’m not suggesting that it’s a man’s job to unleash a woman’s authentic self. Rather that a man has the power to see deeply and to illuminate the beauty and truth in the woman he loves – and that it’s a gift to be given and shared.
Photo: Getty Images