The masculine and the feminine: both are present in each of us. Both create a tension that challenges personal relationships and professional alliances. In my previous post I wrote about what women want from their men. I will now address the other side of the coin.
Men in healthy relationships seek interdependence with other as much as women. They just go about it differently. Men discover their truest and best selves when their mates are confident and strong as well. Most men I have worked with may not understand their feminine side but they look to women to draw it out of them, while still affirming their masculine qualities.
Men want to be heroes. Heroism is very much rooted in men’s tendency toward linear thinking and acting. In this model there is usually a clear goal, a strategy or two to achieve the goal, materials and resources, and the inner resolve to finish the job. We see this linear mode of acting when men are rescuing victims in a burning building or simply shopping for underwear.
Men need women who will communicate their respect and appreciation for their hero-mates. This often means letting a guy do most things his way. This is particularly true when a man enters the traditional female domains of home-making and child-rearing. There is, after all, no perfect method for changing a diaper. The last thing a man needs is “mommy” telling him he’s wrong.
Men like to be strong even when they don’t feel it. This is not necessarily a form of denial but rather a way that men prepare for what is coming next. Real men don’t need the strength of being “macho.” They know that “macho” is narcissistic and often results in someone feeling diminished.
True strength lies in a man’s ability restrain himself. A man who thus refines his actions and reactions becomes a true gentle-man. A woman who affirms this quality in her man will deepen his self-respect, the source of his strength. And in the naturally quiet, sensitive or intellectual man, she will open new doors for expressing his inner strength in ways which may not have been obvious to him until then.
Ultimately, like women, men want their mate to listen to them. It may take time for her man to formulate his thoughts and say what he wants to say, so give him space. Remember he is trying to reconcile the contradictory messages he’s getting from society about what constitutes a “real man” today. As a woman comes into her own personal power, she can be an agent of transformation for her man. She can be what a man needs most: an intimate friend, a trusted confidante, and an equal partner in life.
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