Insight into a man’s heart is one of my favorite relationship topics. But in desperate moments of over-simplification, I often lump men and women into polar opposite categories (like I’ve just done with this post and the last). The truth is, though, both men and women have something essentially human behind all of our emotions, thoughts, and challenges. Men and women are biologically a little different, yes, and socially conditioned almost completely differently. However, at the crux of our humanity you’ll find an intersect with our spirituality — and a deep, mutual, longing to be loved.
A recent article by Yashar Ali on The Current Conscious talks about this exact issue, in relation to break-ups: The Dull, Chronic Pain of Heartbreak | The Current Conscience. He argues that though women can take months to recover from broken hearts while their men move on instantly, in reality, men “suffer from the same pain, confusion, and sadness [that] women deal with”, they just don’t talk about it.
I am committed to empowering the men in my life to articulate their emotions, gain confidence in their intuition, and get help when they feel confused, fearful, or other so-called “feminine” feelings. I believe that when we empower our men to foster their “feminine sides” we women make room for ourselves to be strong, independent, and other so-called “masculine” traits.
Katherine Woodward Thomas’ gives excellent advice on how to understand mens’ basic needs, empowering us to see both the drastic differences and subtle similarities with our own:
Men, on the other hand, need to feel needed. A man will thrive when he feels appreciated by his partner and when he is acknowledged for his accomplishments. Too often, women remember to acknowledge a man for his big accomplishments but forget the little things that he does each day to make her happy. He needs to be acknowledged for these little things, too. He needs to be accepted just the way he is. He will thrive if he feels admired, authentically liked, and respected. A loving partner who encourages and inspires him will bring out the best in him.
My boyfriend is declining comment at this time. However, here are some suggestions I’ve read over the years that have seemed to work:
Appreciate the small things he does. Relationships naturally cause patterned behavior. What started out as a sweet gesture he does later becomes an expectation and an area of conflict when he doesn’t do it. Here are some things I forget to say but won’t any more:
- Thank you for taking out the garbage and the recycling out every time and for cleaning up the garbage when you leave it on the porch and the raccoons get it. I am so lucky that I rarely take the garbage out, a little princess.
- Thank you for pouring me a glass whenever you pour yourself something. I am a thirsty camel that won’t drink unless led to the watering hole.
- Thank you for saying my cooking is good 100% of the time. You inspire me to be creative in the kitchen because I know you’ll always say it’s great, even when it’s not.
Accept him just the way he is. Deep down he wants to do a good job, he wants to do it right, and he wants to make you happy. Love relationships require men to use parts of their personalities they may not use as much as we do: processing and expressing emotions, articulating feelings, reading between the lines, multi-tasking…(maybe that’s more of a personal requirement). Acknowledging what he’s doing well is a great way to empower him to find clarity in his emotions and turn a situation from one of conflict to collaboration.
- I can see how much you care about me by how upset you are right now.
- This conversation is hard for me too. Thank you so much for working through it, I know we’ll both feel better when we understand each other.
- I’m sorry I yelled, the last thing I want to do is yell at you, I’m feeling unheard and misunderstood, I stupidly think yelling will help.
- You are trying really hard and I seem to make this impossible. Let’s figure out a better system for dealing with this.
- I love you just the way you are.
Show some respect. I have endless respect for mens’ strength, intellect, rationality, and courage. I think all of us women do, it’s both biological and psychological; men are built to be “strong.” However, QUITE OFTEN I see my women friends doing subtly (or outright) disrespectful things to their boyfriends and husbands. Sometimes it’s little things we don’t even realize we’re doing that hurt the core of the men we love. More on that later, but here are some example statements I can use to convey the deep respect I have for my man:
- My dad, stepdad, and brother respect you, I can tell by how they talk about you when you aren’t around.
- I respect what you do for a living so much. Even when you are working on a MacDonalds commercial and you hate yourself, I only understand you more and can see how great you are and how great you will be.
- I knew that you were an amazing man when I saw how you treat your mother. I respect how selective you are in committing to women, because once we have your love we’ve won the lottery.
Let him see how much you need him. As an Aries woman, my independence is quintessential to who I am. I come from a long line of women who worked hard to prove that they can stand on their own two feet — with the satisfaction and heartbreak that comes with it. I’m now learning to balance my self-reliance with a vulnerability and openness that comes with a deep love relationship. And the truth is, that though I don’t really need him, he fulfills so many of my needs, and should get the credit for it!
- You are an incredible boyfriend. You are always telling me how much you love my idiosyncrasies and how happy you are that I turned out to be a crazy weirdo, like you.
- Thank you for letting me cry. You allow me to let it all out, and I always feel better afterward.
- I feel safe in your arms.