Here’s the standard line on men: We’re simple, straightforward, limited—and usually perfectly happy to leave it there. Why? Because it keeps your expectations of us low. But here’s the single biggest thing women don’t get about men: Masculinity is a complicated performance we agree to in order to be seen as men. Unfortunately, that performance is more designed to conceal than reveal us. For instance, it’s easier and more “masculine” for us to talk about the great sex we had rather than describe the great conversation afterward. So, a woman ends up knowing the male script, but not the man. Breaking character, then, I give you (in random order) 10 things he wishes you knew about him.
1. Even Men Like Compliments Every Once in a While - Real guys, or so the story goes, don’t need praise. Especially not about girlish things, like if those jeans show off our assets. But the truth is, men enjoy a little well-intentioned objectification. A squeeze of the biceps and a lingering stare when we reach for the top shelf—these remind us of what attracted you to us and appeal to our Darwinian sense of selectivity (i.e., what keeps you choosing us over the other monkeys). It also makes it OK, even desirable, to send a little objectification your way, too. And just to be clear, the praise doesn’t need to be physical. In fact, it’s important that women commend those things masculinity tends to belittle, like if we’re good cooks or get passionate about foreign films. Tell us, too, when we’ve been a good father, a caring son or a helpful husband. Watch how much faster the toilet gets cleaned.
2. We Are Brutally Honest Because We Care - We know that, at times, tact can be the only four-letter word that doesn’t describe us, but women need to rethink their reactions to male candor. Men lie and obfuscate with people they have no interest in. The art of BS—and indulging others with their BS—is how we get through the day. But with you, lucky you, we want to forget all that. We want to tell you why your mother bothers us and how you can solve the problem with your high-maintenance friend. In a relationship, honesty is a young man’s mistake because the longer a man feels punished for it, the more he begins to censor himself. And that’s when you really need to worry.
3. You Should Appreciate Our Reliability - Similar to honesty, a good man demonstrates his commitment to you by showing up. So it’s more than a little irritating to hear about your fascination with the jerk who has mastered the art of illusion: He’s there, but not really. It’s a vicious cycle—the more men feel those guys get the benefits of your time and attention, the more incentive we have to become those guys. And that’s bad for both of you since more of those guys turn your illusion into our delusion.
4. Love Means Never Having to Be Attached at the Hip - We acknowledge the importance of couple time. We’d even go so far as to say that, in the best relationships, love that is asserted each day deepens and extends. Lost in this, however, is the belief that time spent enriching oneself also enriches partnerships. In other words, going on a hiking weekend with the boys does not diminish the bond we share. Like women need the affirmation of their girl friends, guys need the companionship of other men. This kind of solo time will refresh us and we’ll come back with more for you.
5. We Respect You as Females—and Love What Makes You Women - It is sad to say that equality in our times means adopting the worst of both sexes: Men get more sexualized and women can be cruder. And while no fair-minded guy wants women to return to the 1950s sitcom (although coming home to a roast chicken and a stiff drink ain’t bad as a fantasy), neither do we want the elimination of the feminine as a virtue. Don’t be ashamed to hold on to those things that make you different from us, like how you care about smelling nice or reminding us of empathy. That isn’t regressive; it’s just beautiful. To see the exception, read #6.
6. Be the Boss in the Bedroom - Two words: Unleash yourself. Express your fantasies. Use your hands along with your…imagination. Show us who’s boss and give us good directions—you already know we don’t do well asking for them. Your explanations will heighten our intuition and your pleasure.
7. Our First Commitment Is to Ourselves - One of the biggest complaints by women (for the second, read #8) is that men don’t commit. Right or wrong, men are raised to believe that a successful life hinges on self-fulfillment. Relationships, at first glance, seem to impinge on that. They make men nervous that the pursuit of happiness will become the path of missed opportunity. But men do come around to understand that true self-fulfillment depends on fulfilling another. What can you do in the meantime? Take a page from our script on this one and focus on your self-fulfillment, your own passions. This kind of healthy withdrawal will make pursuing you part of our happiness.
8. For Us, Seeing Is Believing - Want to know why men like sports? Pure, measurable success. At the end of the game, no one can dispute the number of touchdown passes or home runs. An athlete works toward a goal and is rewarded with concrete proof of his effort. What is the irrefutable proof of a successful emotional life? Here, the data is less tangible. Men fear endeavors where success is vague because failure seems a likely result. In case you hadn’t noticed, we hate to fail. One way to take the failure out is to become his ally in those pursuits that bring him emotionally alive; his attempt at wholeness there will illuminate the great rewards of an emotional life elsewhere.
9. We May Lose Small Battles, but Always Remember the Wars We’ve Won
How important is putting the toilet seat down if the yard is mowed each week? Does it matter that an item was forgotten at the store when he checked off the rest? If he let the kid go to his friend’s with a stained shirt but made sure to spend time on his science project, is there a point to mentioning it? Women should remember to give credit where credit is due.
10. Fathers Are Just as Important as Mothers - It can seem, at times, that the world elevates the feminine over the masculine and that the lessons men can impart are outmoded or regarded as Neanderthal. But when a bully is picking on your son, your husband showing him how to throw a punch is not nonsensical. Or if your daughter has an athletic talent, his testosterone-fueled guidance may teach her more than just competitiveness. Honoring what men know based on their experiences is just as valuable to the young as the insights of women. Freely sharing his wisdom prevents imbalance, both in us and those we seek to help.
A big thanks to littlemiss for this. Read her blog for great articles and images.