Jewels asks: It must be hard to be a young man these days. There’s so much expected of a man…he’s supposed to be smart, capable, competent, tough, able to fix anything, successful, wealthy. But also sensitive, open, flexible, funny, warm, thoroughly honest, great at romance, overtly complimentary, patient. Perhaps it’s the exposure we have all had to zillions of characters we’ve all seen portrayed on camera, or perhaps it’s our conditioning through our fast food, order-it-up society, but so many a single woman today has the expectation that her man will indeed have all of these qualities, and anything less would be settling. So, my question is, how should a man deal with these expectations?
Hi Jewels –
You are RIGHT! It’s very tough to be a young man right now. But you know who else has a hard run these days? Children are supposed to do so much more homework than their parents did, and stay connected with what’s going on in social media, and get perfect grades in elementary school to get them into the right universities. Teenagers are tested and graded constantly, and looked down on any time they’re ever not good at any particular thing.
And young women today? Oh my floppy-eared head just swims! They’re expected to be perfect ladies, and tough as nails, and have great boundaries, and be open for everything, and submissive and aggressive, and have perfect skin and teeth and abs and hair and overall shape (whatever that is). It’s just impossible for everyone!
You know, the whole thing with expectations has been goofy for centuries, but it used to be us pooches who had all the trouble. “Hmmm… this Dachshund has good legs but its tail isn’t the right length…” “I’m not sure I like the way this Poodle’s ribcage hangs…” It’s been a load of nonsense on us, but it’s even crazier that you humans are now doing it to YOURSELVES!
You see, it’s like another letter I got today, about perfectionism in grades. This mindset just gets in people’s ways! If you use a checklist when you look at a person, you’ll never see their true qualities, and you’ll certainly never be able to truly love them, or be loved by them.
I’m not saying everyone shouldn’t be looking for what really matters to them. Of course they should. If a woman wants a man who can fix anything in the house, there are lots of guys out there for her. But if she also insists he’s a billionaire, the odds get a lot worse (billionaires tend to hire people to do their home repair for them, so they never learn the skills). If she wants a guy who’s super-nice and caring, I think that’s smart. But if she also wants a bad boy who’s dangerous and excitingly cruel, these qualities just don’t match!
In fact, Jewels, your question makes me realize… it’s worse than I was thinking! You see, no one looks at a German Shepherd expecting it to be small enough to sit on their lap all day, or buys a Corgi to pull a sled through tundra. So you people are actually worse to each other than you’ve been to dogs! This is CRAZY!
So here’s my solution. When anyone starts to complain about the qualities you lack, ask yourself two questions. First, are those qualities ones that you could get even if you wanted them? (Adele will never look like Megan Fox, no matter what) And second, if it is possible, do you really want to make those changes? (Maybe a math whiz could train hard enough to become an Olympic athlete, but are they willing to devote their whole life to it for years?)
And then, turn to that person and tell them what you came up with. And add, “You know, the only quality I’ve really counted on your having was that you liked me as I am. If you’re unable to do that, I guess you’re just not good enough for me.”
And walk away. Because you’d be right. They’re so “in their head” that they’re not enjoying the wonderful qualities you’re bringing into their life.
You see, if I go up to a group of people, and someone who only likes cats avoids me, I just give them a sniff-over and leave them alone. Because somewhere else, there’s bound to be someone who just loves scratching doggies’ chins. And that cat-lover, who might be just fine in many other ways, is just in my way of getting that chin scratch.
So my advice to men – and women – is to simply appreciate yourself, and see if you can find someone else who appreciates you too. (While still, of course, working to be the most and the best you can be. You certainly want to help them along in their appreciation!).