One of the hardest things for me as a woman was to listen to the true nature of a man, but it was the most enlightening. I learned a lot being in groups with men who felt free to express exactly what they thought without worrying about alienating the women. They became my teachers.
Let me explain the struggle.
See, as a woman, I had been given this fantasy view of men as these strong, protectors who can withstand all temptation no matter how much sex you deny them and who don’t really need much of anything emotionally to do what they have to do. They are like self-sustaining machines of power who go to work day-after-day and don’t say much if you just leave them alone to their sports and throw some meat at them. At the same time, they were idiots who couldn’t make simple decisions and had to be punished and treated like children when they did something you didn’t like. It’s a weird dichotomy.
I’m making fun of this metaphor, but it’s because I realize now how inhuman my view of men used to be.
Anyway, there is also a little unspoken thing among women that the minute a man starts to contradict your view of this fantasy that you instantly shut him down and stop listening because he has no idea what he’s talking about. He knows nothing about being a feeling human being so his input about feeling is obviously wrong and the man’s way of doing things is ass backwards. So, I got used to just shutting men down when they tried to explain how they saw things.
I read recently that crisis opens you up to change. After being cheated on, I was so open to listening because I obviously knew nothing about men and I must not have been paying attention. I got into these groups and I watched the dynamics. The first thing I learned is if you can find a man who is willing to be honest about topics that could reduce his chances of sleeping with you, that’s a gold mine. Do not shut him up. Take notes. At first, when the men used to talk, I felt an actual tension in my chest. It hurt to listen to them because it was shattering all my pretty little notions about romance and love. All my defenses went up. A few times I got so pissed that I literally shut down.
“You can tell the strength of a nation by the women behind its men.” ~ Benjamin Disraeli
But, I told myself I needed to listen. I needed to make their viewpoint valid in my mind. And, as I listened I heard them for the first time. It was like when NEO suddenly could see the MATRIX (Nerd reference). I’m not saying some of the stuff doesn’t still sound ass backwards to me because some of it does. But, that’s not the point. The point is that it exists. It’s the way they approach things. It’s their needs. It’s their expectations. It’s the way they see things. What I realized is I can have argument-after-argument trying to change someone to how I want them to be or I can just understand it is their nature. I tried the pointless arguing and it didn’t work. If I had known all that I learned during my relationship, I would’ve recognized that I was with someone who would never change.
I had to stop overriding their ways of the world with what I believed it should be. I learned that men who want to be with you are very clear (in words and actions) and direct. Men who don’t want to be with you are very confusing, elusive, secretive and defensive even if they sleep beside you every single night. Men who really love you won’t risk losing you. Men who risk losing you don’t really love you. This is what men mean when they say men are simple.
What I slowly started to see is if I want to be harmonious with a man that I can’t think that he is clay that I mold into what I want. Instead, I have to use the best of what I am to work with the best of what he is. There are so many jokes about the unhappy husband who has given up on life because his wife has sucked everything out of him that makes him a man. And, as I listened to the men, I realized their fear is of being engulfed in a woman whose aim is to take everything away from him and turn him into an archetype instead of the man he is while also not being appreciative of his sacrifice. He wants something in exchange for surrendering his freedom. And, it’s more than sex, but emotional support. Emotional support for men is a loaded topic because they aren’t supposed to need it and they can’t really go to anyone but to their woman for it, so if she cuts it off they are really in trouble. They have no other source while women can go to their friends, family and even strangers on the street and receive sympathy.
I realized their fear is of being engulfed in a woman whose aim is to take everything away from him and turn him into an archetype instead of the man he is while also not being appreciative of his sacrifice.
The battle of men and women is really just men and women trying to avoid being hurt and afraid of being misunderstood. There is no us vs them. It’s just everyone wanting to be loved for who they are. And, let’s be honest, people suck whether male and female because we are all inherently selfish and self-serving. If you dug through the assholes and came out with someone who really cares about you, that’s worth working together to make it the best love for both of you. If you can learn to stop being disappointed because they aren’t like you and appreciate their differences, then it can make things a lot easier. If you want to be mad at them for who they are born and conditioned to be, the dating world is going to be a hostile place. Erase “should” from your vocabulary.
I learned if you really want to understand men, you have to ask a question and listen to their answer. But, that’s still not enough. You have to believe they mean what they say. Don’t reinterpret it in woman. See their actions as how they move through the world and not in opposition to you and your ways. It’s not about hammering a man into what you want, but finding the man who fits perfectly into the type of woman you are while still being himself.
“Any fool knows men and women think differently at times, but the biggest difference is this. Men forget, but never forgive; women forgive, but never forget.”
― Robert Jordan
And, if you are a man reading this, before you celebrate, the reverse goes for you. Stop trying to turn her into your homeboy and enjoy her womanly qualities. If we can both accept who we are, we can begin to work together with those differences to make something beautiful.