Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Man Enough for a Woman?

Except for a five year period of time when I thought first that I'd be a priest, then that I'd be a monk, I always dreamed of marriage ever since I was old enough to show any real interest in romance and dating.  I wanted to have the ideal relationship, a happy family, and live out the dream and adventure of life with my lady love by my side.

I am honored and happy to have found just that, with my wife.  There was a time that I thought this wouldn't be possible.  And yet, even now, I have the sense--and I tell my wife this all the time--that I really hit the one in six billion jackpot, that I could never have met anyone else I would have married.  In one sense, my wife should be rightly flattered by this.  Because one aspect of it is that she alone is a woman who "lives up" to all the things I ever dreamed of in a woman...

But there is another aspect of my thinking "I could never have married another" that, rather than having to do with my wife's worthiness (which she has in spades) has to do with my own unworthiness as a man.  It's true that I can't imagine, at this point, ever wanting to marry another woman besides my wife.  But if I'm honest, it's also true that I can't imagine any other woman wanting me.  Although I believe that my wife wants me, I feel as if only a woman as wonderful, caring, and selfless as she could be willing to "condescend" to a man like myself:  A man who is "soft," an emotional mess, and even whose positive traits are traditionally associated with being the strong suits of women, while lacking many traits often associated with men.

"I love him because he's like a delicate flower!"
Is probably not the best way to make your guy feel like a man.
(Note:  My wife has never said anything remotely like that,
and I'm sure she'd want to make that clear)

I realize, in fact, that a large part of this has to do with the difficulty I have achieving a certain "charge" that "straight" men often feel toward women.  It's that I just can't see myself as the sort of man that would drive a woman wild; I have a hard time seeing myself as "tall, dark, and handsome," the kind of guy whose woman looks at him as a strong protector, a rock, a leader to whom she can entrust herself.  I remember once, years ago, when a girl spoke of a friend of mine, and her facial expressions and tone of voice suggested an inward "shudder" evoked by being impressed with his masculinity; y'know, "Ooo, what a man!"  I have rarely ever felt that women could see me that way.  If a woman loves or falls for me, my inner narrative goes, it'll only ever be because I was nice enough to her to win her over, not because my masculinity moved her or made her feel in the presence of "a real man," her opposite to whom she was drawn like  magnet.  And so, I think some part of me refused to let women have the kind of raw power over me that they have over the typical "straight" guy, because I did NOT believe I had the opposite equivalent power over women that many of my more traditionally masculine counterparts have.

This is true even with my wife.  She loves me, she constantly gives me reasons to believe that my body and my masculinity make her crazy with attraction to me.  But on some level, I can't believe it.  I just can't believe that she really sees me that way.  I'm not saying she doesn't, but on a gut level I can't convince myself of it.  I can't believe that, when she looks at me, she feels giddy or weak not merely out of love, but because she is a woman in the presence of a man.  I can't shake the feeling that the reasons she likes me are limited to the same reasons that my grandmother or mother might have praised me:  Because I'm sweet, because I'm non-threatening, because I'm kind.  I'm a "good boy."  In fact, some part of me suspects that she's attracted to me specifically because of some of my traits which are traditionally feminine.

I think that a lot of men--including me--have the need to know that women see them as heroic, virile, and "dangerous" in an attractive way.  There is a part of being "man" that includes being wild, unpredictable, and most certainly not "sweet" or "safe."  Of course, we want women to feel safe with us, but precisely because we're dangerous, the way that you feel safe with a bodyguard because he is dangerous; just not to you.  And while it's perfectly fine for a man to do things, even frequently, that are "sweet," I think many of us want to think of sweet as something we do, not something we are.  We want to be warriors, we want to be superheroes, to inspire awe in our women.  I think that often (though I don't speak for everybody) we want to be a sort of "mystery," we want our ladies to see us as "foreign" and different, and we want that to be exactly why they're mad about us.  When a woman sees a man this way, she finds him somehow beyond her ability to "tame," like a wild lion.

And this is a lion's response to the suggestion he can be tamed.

In fact I've often felt that the beauty and essence of men can be captured best by the symbol of a lion.  I might even revisit this in a future post.

But I, on the contrary, have spent a lifetime being the "good boy," or the sweet one.  Women have seen me as about as dangerous as a puppy dog, and so insofar as women have been attracted to me, it has almost seemed to be the way that they're drawn to cute critters.  I am tame.  And thinking of myself that way, and more importantly thinking that women see me that way, is (for lack of a better word) a huge "turn off" when it comes to the fairer sex.  And I have no doubt whatsoever that's part of the reason why, for me personally, my opposite-sex attractions are not nearly so "physical" as my same-sex attractions.  I mentioned in a previous post that sometimes the female form does have an effect on me that's probably similar to what "straight" guys experience.  Well, at those times, I become convinced, for a brief but hopeful period of time, that women can see me as all those masculine things I've mentioned.  I get it in my head, if only momentarily, that a woman could look at me and think "What a MAN!!"

Yet I mostly go on believing that the only reason I was able to marry is because I found the most wonderful woman in the world, one who, despite being worthy of a "real man," was willing to stoop down and take unto herself a mere "good boy."  Or perhaps at times I think that her tastes have been distorted so that she even wants a "good boy" more than "a real man."  If that's not it, then perhaps her own self-esteem issues have convinced her that she's not worthy of a "real man," so she's trained herself to like men like me instead.  If anything, God forbid, were to happen to her while the children were still young, I often say--over her protestations--that I could not seek out another wife.  What other woman is wonderful and selfless enough to settle for me?  What other woman, after getting to know me, wouldn't decide I was a fraud, a false man?

"Wait, dude, is he saying there's something wrong with that?"

When it comes to my ability to see myself with any other woman (at least in any meaningful way), it doesn't matter for its own sake.  I love my wife so much that I don't want a relationship with another woman, even if the entire female population were scrambling for me.  But I can't help but believe that it's unhealthy for me to think that I couldn't get or impress another woman even if I tried.  It's not fair to my wife either, because the more virile I feel, the more I feel like I am "man enough for women" in general, the more physically attracted I am to females, in a direct and acute manner.  And that includes my wife.  So I owe it to her, ironically, to believe that I'm man enough that a woman doesn't have to be equal to her kind and accepting nature in order to want me.

The problem is that I don't know what to do about it.  My wife, as I said, has given me every reason to believe she sees me as a "real man," that she is in awe of my masculinity, that she is moved to inward euphoria when she reflects on my identity as man.  So just receiving this affirmation is clearly not enough.  Somehow I have to believe the things she affirms.  I'm not sure, yet, how to get there.  But I know it's important that I try.

Note: The next two posts are going to be continuing this theme, so be sure to keep your eyes open for them.

No comments:

Post a Comment