I expect this essay will offend people. Since it seems any discussion about what a man needs most from a relationship and a woman in particular is best had by someone other than himself. And for good reason, should any man attempt to weigh in on the conversation, he’s usually greeted with accusations of self-interest at best and chauvinism at worse.
From the outset, we should make one thing clear, all men are not created equal. What I mean is there are men and there are ‘real’ men, and for the purpose of this conversation I’m talking about the latter. Countless articles and posts – written predominately by women– reducing the needs of all men to genital friction and the occasional existential impulse summarize the former category quite adequately. I’ll waste no ink challenging those shallow explanations on inch deep men.
But for this discussion I’m talking about real men, the ones who get it, those who look out over the landscape of life and eagerly accept the sweat and sacrifice necessary to cultivate that native soil into fertile masculine ground. Terra firma that in time will produce vibrant thoughtful children fit for the world, an honorable marriage that can survive the most bitter storms, and healthy friendships that edify and uplift – the man who desires his life to nourish those around him.
These are men who cast aside the frivolities of youth to make way for the responsibilities of manhood. This is the man who works tirelessly to make his partner feel the Queen and who postpones many of the wants and aspirations for his own life knowing they would otherwise distract him from pouring that life into his children.
Women ponder to where these men have disappeared, if you don’t believe me Google the phrase “where have the real men gone?” It’s a question that has been asked at girls’ nights out for so long its answer is in the realm of myth and legend. Yet before we come to view the idea of a real man in the same way me might a unicorn and Bigfoot it’s necessary to pause and wonder, ‘where are all the real women?’
I know a select handful of real men and there is one similarity between them – each has a real woman standing at his side. I have yet to meet a man, one that most would describe as a real man, who is married to or in a relationship with a selfish, manipulative, bitter, indifferent, woman. In fact these women possess most, if not all, of the very same qualities that make these men so exquisite. But that shouldn’t be surprising, because the fact of the matter is – a real man can only be so because of the influence of a real woman. If you think I’m wrong, ask any man you admire, one that you would describe as being a ‘real man’, and I’ll bet a steak dinner he credits his wife or partner as the main inspiration for the person he is today.
Further more, listening as these men talk about the women in their lives, the more you realize just how much these ‘real women’ have in common.
Self Respect – A real woman doesn’t subscribe to the latest emotional, physical, or spiritual fad promising happiness. Her happiness is based on something far greater than mere bourgeois motives.
Conviction – A real man needs a woman of real conviction. A woman whose life is undergirded by a set of principles that are unwavering in the face of criticism and bad hair days.
Optimism – Couples who see the best in each other – get the best from each other. A real woman sees the best in her real man and he responds in kind.
Priorities – A real woman puts the relationship with her husband or partner above all others – and that includes her children. She understands how quickly kids grow up and leave, and is wise to appreciate that life will go on once they have gone.
Boundaries – A real woman has steep rugged boundaries; guardrails that preserve her dignity and reputation. She will not put herself in a position to test fate or tempt her will; nor will she associate with others who would seek to break down those boundaries for their own validation or self-interest.
Accountability – A real woman is accountable. She doesn’t offer excuses or pass blame. She understands that relationships aren’t one-way streets and will take the responsibility for her part in any mess, no matter how bad it might be or how badly it may reflect upon her.
Humility – A real woman understands humility. She casts aside any Madison Avenue pretensions, she appreciates her strengths and weaknesses without feeling superior or undermined by acknowledging either.
In our search for lifelong commitment, we should never expect from another anything more than we already expect from ourselves. Our motivation and character, the why and how of our life, should serve as a blueprint for the type of person we hope to find. A man should be able to look at how a woman lives her life, how she treat others, her honesty, moral fiber, and immediately recognize that she is a girl of a different kind and her expectations will be unlike others he’s met. Her life should cause him to pause and evaluate his own; does he have those same personal qualities to match and compliment what she possess, can he live up to the standard she’s established? Because for the real man it will be these loftier attributes that will be the most attractive.
Similar to magnets straining towards one another, those qualities you most desire in an man you should already possess in abundance – since what a real man needs is a real woman.