I remember in high school the very distinct feeling that I would never understand men. The boys I had dated long-term in both high school and college sent me such conflicting messages that I truly believed men simply didn’t have emotions. Not like women did, anyway. After all, how can you tell someone you love them one day, and then blow them off to party with your friends the next? It seemed I was always waiting to hear how the guy felt, what he thought, and where he deemed our relationship was going. Everything was on the guys terms because I cared too much and wanted to work through anything, while they took their time mulling over the pros and cons of being with me. It was frustrating, demoralizing, and exhausting. I remember thinking, how in the world can I sustain a relationship with any man if they aren’t as emotionally invested as I am?!
Luckily, after I graduated college, I met and dated a boy that showed me that not all men are cut from the same cloth. He was sweet, fun, and the first real relationship I had ever had. And thanks to him, my previous philosophy on men being void of emotion completely changed. I realized there would be men in the world that would match my emotional investment, and I learned a few very key insights that helped me continue through the dating world, and end up happily married to my wonderful husband today. Had my mentality not changed on this, I might still be dating in circles right now.
Here is what I want to pass on to women who feel as I did back then.
1. Men need reassurance. I realize now, looking back, that I never really gave any love to my high school old boyfriend. I was brought up that men needed to treat me with respect. I was told they were lucky to be with me, and that I needed to keep them in pursuit. In essence, I just had to “be” in the relationship to make the guy happy and my job ended there. My poor BF brought me flowers, wrote me love notes, and met me after every class. What did I do for him? Complained if he had to stay late at practice, or decided to eat lunch with his friends one day out of the week. Sadly, it didn’t dawn on me until later in life that my job wasn’t to just receive love from a guy, it was to give love to him, too. And that included positive affirmations of my feelings – which I never gave anyone because it was drilled into my head that I was to keep them in hot pursuit at all times. But at some point, the chase has to end for the relationship to really begin.
2. Not all men are created equal. Yes, there are guys out there that are jerks, players, or narcissists, and they do not know how to be in a relationship with anyone. But there are also men that are kind, loving, supportive, yet still strong and masculine. I went into a lot of my younger relationships expecting to be let down and hurt because that is what the guy before and the guy before did. However, assuming this made me defensive and suspicious. In other words, a real joy to be around! I spent a lot of time overreacting to certain situations that warranted no reaction at all because I just assumed all men were the same. If one had wronged me in the past, it was only a matter of time that the current one would too. Letting go of the “all men are the same” mantra was one of the biggest feats my younger self ever had and one that changed the course of my relationships going forward.
3. I could take the lead sometimes. I remember thinking that whoever I was with was not only less emotional but somehow smarter or more together than I was. I assumed that the logical male mind meant that all men had a plan and any proposal that I came up with would only be secondary to theirs. It wasn’t until dating around in my early twenties that I realized there were a good deal of men that were (and I say this lovingly), clueless. And sometimes guys just want you to take charge and tell them what you want instead of always having the responsibility of doing the planning. It doesn’t matter if we are talking dinner plans or financial plans. Men don’t have all the answers. Assuming they did always made me upset when they didn’t fully take charge, because I assumed it was due to lack of interest in me. Now I know, some guys just need direction on things. In fact, most of the good ones, want your direction at least half the time.
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