Hey SuzyKnew! Readers!
I was recently in a Facebook group about relationships, and got engaged in an interesting conversation. It was based on an article I’d written in which I implored women to stop staying in toxic relationships for these reasons: you think you can change a man into someone who treats you better; you think you don’t deserve any better, or you believe that having a piece of a man is better than having no man at all.
This particular Facebook group is co-ed, so I was pleased to receive feedback on the article from men. Well, one man, anyway. Only one man commented on the article. And one very logical point he made caused me to re-evaluate my own relationships.
In part, he said “it’s important (for women) to be clear on what you want, expect and will tolerate before things get serious. A lot of ladies are not really clear on what will cause them to walk beforehand. Guys tend to have more solid rules here”.
I don’t have this gentleman’s permission to use his name here. But if I could, I’d scream it from the mountaintops because he preached some serious truth right there in those few simple sentences. He made me realize that the one constant in all of my unsuccessful relationships was my own lack of clarity about what I wanted, expected and would tolerate. I mean, I THOUGHT I knew what I wanted. In reality, I had no idea.
Don’t get me wrong. I didn’t just fall into my previous relationships without forethought or consideration. However, I did tend to get serious before I really considered if the guy was really right for me. I tended to follow my heart, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. I just should have allowed my brain to have more of a say, as well. And I know I’m not alone in this.
We women like to think we have it all figured out, don’t we? I mean, we sit around with our girlfriends and talk about what qualities we look for in men. Some of us even have lists that date back years about what our “ideal” man would be like. But those lists are usually superficial and short-sighted. They often include such clichéd characteristics as a “good” personality, “good” sense of humor, or “good” values.
What do those things even mean? A “good” personality? As opposed to what, a “bad” personality? Like anyone wants to be in a relationship with someone with a “bad” personality.
These superficial lists of requirements are ridiculous and let’s be honest here, unrealistic. Not only that, most of us end up with in relationships with men who don’t even match half the items on these silly lists!
Ladies, we have to do better. We have to make better choices for ourselves if we really want to build long-lasting, successful relationships. To make better choices, we need to be clearer about what we want, expect and will tolerate.
So, let’s throw away those old, tired, unrealistic and unhelpful lists about what constitutes our ideal man. Let’s rid our minds of the superficial stuff that never did us any good anyway. And let’s come up with some sound ideas about the kind of man we really want and deserve.
It all begins with an honest self-appraisal. Take a long look in that metaphorical mirror and discern exactly who YOU are. You’ll never be able to figure out who you want in your life until you know yourself better.
But you must be honest, here. Don’t sugarcoat anything. Really assess who you are as a woman and what you bring to any relationship. Not that I want you to turn this into a self-flagellation, but if you aren’t honest about your own flaws, how can you properly asses who’s right for you?
Once you have a clearer picture of who you are, you can better discern what kind of man would be best suited for you. Now you can start re-doing that list. However, instead of simply wanting a man with a “good” personality, dig deeper. Ask yourself probing questions about what personality traits mesh well with yours.
For example, if you’re more of an Alpha personality, who likes to be in the driver’s seat, would an Alpha male really work for you? Or should you seek someone who is comfortable letting you drive the relationship? Or, if you’re very sensitive and empathetic, would someone more logical be good for balance in the relationship?
Instead of saying “good” values, be more specific. What do you value? For example, if you’re devout, would you blend well with someone who is more “spiritual”, but doesn’t share your faith? Or maybe he shares your faith, but isn’t a regular church-goer. Would that be okay?
If you earn a great living and enjoy the finer things in life, would you really be okay with a man who earns about half what you make, but has a real passion and zeal for what he does? What if his job just isn’t a high earning one, but it helps elevate your community? Would that be okay?
Let’s say you have multiple degrees. Would you ever consider a man with no college education? But what if he earns as much as (or more than) you? Would that make a difference? What if he’s well-informed, well-read and knowledgeable about a myriad of topics, but has no college education? Does the degree (or lack thereof) still matter?
Once you have an idea of what you want in a man, you need to examine what you will tolerate in a relationship. Most of us have the obvious deal-breakers on our lists: beaters, cheaters and bums. But again, dig deeper. Based on your previous experiences with men, what other things are you willing to tolerate before you’ll walk away? Maybe something that was a deal breaker for you in the past really wouldn’t bother you so much now. Or maybe the opposite is true for you. Maybe you’re at the point in your life where certain things you put up with in the past are now deal breakers.
I believe that once you’ve re-assessed what you want, expect and will tolerate in a relationship, you’ll make better relationship choices. If nothing else, you won’t waste any more time on men with whom you have no future.
And, if you follow my advice and examine yourself first, you’ll probably come away from this exercise with a better appreciation for what you bring to the table in a relationship. That’s important to know because to know that is to know your worth. And when you know your worth, you’ll accept nothing less than the best for yourself.
And you deserve the best … the absolute best!