Your own attitudes about men may be keeping you from having a successful relationship with one.
If you’re like most women today, you feel pretty clear about what you want in your romantic relationship with a man.
Your list might look something like this:
- Awesome communication
- Closeness and intimacy
- Complete trust and comfort
- Generous support
- Fun, laughter and adventure
- A safe future together
There is nothing wrong with that list. I mean, hey, who wouldn’t want those things in a relationship?
The problem is that you’ve got some things working against you:
- The role-models you had growing up didn’t teach you how to create what you want (for example: you want safety and comfort, and yet your parents fought like cats and dogs—something you’re likely to repeat in your own relationship);
- Your prior experiences with men—and what other women complain about in their relationships—seem to support your negative beliefs about men (the boyfriend who suddenly disappeared after what you thought was a blissful beginning to a fabulous life together);
- The media’s terrible messages about men being useless idiots (it was the main reason I wrote “Men are Great” – to try to counter the damage being done);
Speaking of negative beliefs, here are some common attitudes women have about men:
- If a man really cared, he’d know what I want and need (without my having to ask for it);
- Men are terrible listeners; they just want to jump in and fix everything;
- They don’t share their feelings—they don’t want to be intimate
- Men are commitment-phobes and can’t be trusted
- All men care about is sex
Can you imagine trying to create a relationship like the one you really want, while harboring any of these attitudes about men?
Not very likely!
What it will produce is you being guarded, distrustful, unhappy—maybe even the dreaded resentful.
And what do you think happens when you relate with your man from a place of resentment?
He is going to protect himself. And he’ll end up validating those negative attitudes you have.
It’s a terrible cycle, and it can change (and very quickly, I’ve observed). I’ll give you just three areas to focus on that will have very positive results:
The Big Three
When it comes to having great relationships with men, there are several things that matter a lot to them – which means they should matter a lot to you.
1) Acceptance – Simply put, this means you know and accept all of who he is. Notice I didn’t say “like” everything. I said accept. This is key to having a successful connection with a man you care about.
Here are some definitions of “accept”:
- “tolerate or accommodate oneself to” (you’ll learn to live with those things that annoy you);
- “consider or hold as true” (you see who your man is—you see what is, not what you wish he was/wasn’t);
- “to receive something, especially with favor” (you actually welcome and enjoy who he is).
If you’re not with a man at this time, you want to be absolutely sure that when you do start to date a man, you know the qualities, values and lifestyle you require from him – so you can accept him (or know you need to move on, as the case may be).
Action plan: find one thing you currently nag or criticize your man for, and practice saying to yourself “I accept this about (that man)”.
2) Appreciation – Like all of us, your man wants to know that his efforts are noticed. It lets him know you’re paying attention, and you’re grateful for what he does for you, for your family, and for the community.
Here are some definitions of “appreciation”:
- “Recognition of the quality, value, significance, or magnitude of people and things”
- “A judgment or opinion, especially a favorable one”
- “An expression of gratitude”
Men really do want to make us happy, but they need the reward of appreciation. In fact, think of appreciation as fuel in their tank. You wouldn’t get into your car with an empty gas tank, and expect it to take you on a trip, would you? Don’t expect a man to have the energy to provide for you without this essential fuel in his tank.
Unfortunately, many women are not very good (or consistent) with this. This can stem from poor role models growing up, or lack of feelings of appreciation for yourself (you can’t give what you don’t have), or having negative feelings about men.
When these obstacles aren’t in your way, showing appreciation is much easier. It’s a simple thing, to acknowledge and express appreciation. And it pays off hugely in the quality of the relationship with a man.
Action plan: notice and appreciate at least one thing that your man (or a man in your life) is doing, every day. I’ll bet you’re going to notice he’ll start doing more of it…or something else that may earn more appreciation from you! (And hey, while you’re at it, practice appreciating yourself.)
3) Trust – For many men, being trusted equals being loved. If you don’t trust your man (or men in general), you will not be able to create and/or maintain a satisfying relationship.
Like the title says, you get what you expect. You won’t be able to attract a man whom you can see as trustworthy, if you don’t trust men. This means you’re going to create a self-fulfilling prophecy; a situation where you can’t trust, and the cycle continues.
Here are some definitions of “trust”:
- “Firm reliance on the integrity, ability, or character of a person or thing”
- “To have or place confidence in; depend on”
If you feel it is impossible for you to trust men, please do whatever you have to do to change that. Men are great, and they’re everywhere.
You’ll be amazed at how differently men will “show up” in your life when you have the ability to trust them.
Action plan(s): 1) Intend to notice trustworthy men—whether your man, or other men. This will grow your ability to trust them. What you seek you will find.
When you find your self-talk going toward the negative, distrustful place, ask yourself if what you’re perceiving is true, or is it possible that it’s distorted through your attitude of “men can’t be trusted”?
Sometimes, all you need to do is question the validity of your perception, in order to be able to see a different “story”.
2) Risk revealing yourself and being vulnerable with your man. It’s a profound way of telling him you trust him. If there’s a place where you’ve been withholding trust from him (i.e. regarding your children, or how he spends his time outside your home, or some other issue), practice trusting him. After all, trust is a decision, and if you are with him, you should know that you can trust him.
Positive Changes Happen When Men Get What They Really Want.
When men are accepted, appreciated and trusted, they respond in predictable ways: they feel more energized, better about themselves and their lives, and happily work harder to please us and make us happy. We get so much in return for giving them what they really need. Try it—you’ll love what happens!
Photo Credit: Big Stock.com