Alright, I’m going to go full-out-honesty here, and I am ashamed of some of what I’m about to say and how much it’s likely held me back. We all have self-limiting beliefs however, and I’d challenge you to evaluate some of your own!
I used to have this idea in my mind of what a “man” was and what made him worthy of being a partner. I thought that what the outside world could see, actually mattered. What kind of job he had, what kind of vehicle (truck) he drove, what kind of music he listened to, how he dressed, how old he was (heaven forbid he be younger than me), all seemed to weigh in on my decision making in whom I would consider dating. Ethnicity never seemed to play a role, but I always preferred them in boot cut jeans and a camo hat with country music playing through their lifted truck stereos, and he most definitely needed to identify as a straight male to fit into this nice little box I unknowingly cut out for myself.
I’m here to share how wrong I was to make these judgements – although somewhat typical in nature for a small town girl like myself – and I’m so glad that I opened myself up to being wrong. In fact, anyone who really knows me knows that I actually kind of love to be proven wrong in a healthy way because it means that I am constantly growing and shifting my perceptions of what my life should look like and instead embracing what I actually want my life to look like.
Guess what?! Embracing what aligns with your soul, feels good in your heart, and leaving the worries about appearances behind is incredibly freeing and fun!
Being a strong, independent woman is very important to me, but on the other side of that, everyone has different needs both within and outside of relationships and expressing those needs is incredibly challenging for me. I’m so afraid of being seen as needy, that if a guy doesn’t understand my needs the first time I attempt to (not always so clearly) share them, I shut down. And then I’m upset because my needs aren’t being met. Now, all the guys reading this are probably thinking, “no wonder you’re single we aren’t friggen mind-readers,”. They would be right.
I am so grateful to now see that none of what I used to care about matters.
How other people view my relationships, doesn’t matter.
What kind of vehicle he drives, or if he even drives, doesn’t matter.
His physical age, doesn’t matter.
Identifying as a cis-gender straight male, doesn’t matter. (For the purposes of this article however I have continued to use the term “man”.)
The world is changing for the better; as a collective we are rising and gone are the days that men needed to work the farm and provide for the family while the wife stayed home with the children. Do I even want children?! Growing up everyone just assumed that because I was female I would want a husband and babies. Women all around are coming out and sharing that they wish they’d never had children, not because they don’t love their children but because it may not have been the right life-choice for them. I recognize, that there is a difference between having a child and being a parent; I don’t want to do it if I’m not truly ready to be a parent. And guess what – if I never have a child, nor become a parent, I will still be just as valuable of a woman. Those who are rising are not those who are stuck in their old beliefs, they’re those who are standing up for what they believe in and for the rights of others, challenging the patriarchy and societal norms.
And baby, I’m ready to rise.
I’ve never been one to go easy on men; a defense mechanism that can come off strong and stand-off-ish. I’m certainly not one to bring up the ways men have had it hard in life, especially while the world is busy rising above an entire patriarchal system, however, when it comes to emotions and vulnerability, men have had it tough and I love that that’s beginning to change. I love that I am beginning to change.
I am a financially, physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually independent woman and dog-mom. While Dixie (my french bulldog) lovingly embraces and falls in love with every person she meets, I do just fine on my own in my cozy little comfort zone! In fact, it’s being with someone that’s the challenging part. Allowing someone to see the vulnerable, broken pieces of me that we all have, and trusting them with my heart, is terrifying. Allowing myself to trust that another person will uphold their part in a relationship, especially a man, feels almost impossible. I know, however, that that is my fear talking and I am doing my best to consciously choose each day to trust. I’m learning to let life take the lead.
It turns out that boot cut jeans and camo hats aren’t really what turns me on at all anymore. I need a man with emotional intelligence. Someone who not only wants to have the important, world-changing conversations and can contribute to them in a valuable way but whom also challenges my old, self-limiting beliefs and societal views in a healthy, positive and patient way. Someone who isn’t afraid to call me out when I’m stuck in old patterns or self-limiting beliefs, or making decisions based on fear. Someone who encourages me to grow. Someone who creates space for me to show up exactly as I am. Someone who shows that they genuinely want to know what my needs are and then truly tries to meet them. Someone who is strong enough in himself to allow himself to be vulnerable, honest, raw and real with me.
I want to create space for and truly honor that vulnerability and honesty; the strength that it takes one to allow themselves to be that way. Society puts a lot of pressure on men to be tough and hard-shelled which, in my opinion, could make it incredibly challenging for them to open up not only in a relationship but also about any personal battles they may be fighting on the inside. Men have mental health too and we need to make space for them to be open about those internal wars. Men have demons and baggage just like I do that they carry with them into their relationships that they may need help unpacking, and that’s totally okay, why shouldn’t it be?
A true partnership is not always going to be equal. Sometimes I’m going to need lifting up, other times my (future) partner is going to need lifting up. I’m starting to see that it doesn’t really matter how you define it, as long as each person is taking care of their individual physical and mental health, and is willing and able to catch the other person when they stumble, maybe that’s all the foundation really needs to be.
Gone are my needs for societal norms (or getting there anyways) and my idea that your “tractor is sexy”. But baby, show me communication skills, emotional intelligence, some raw vulnerability, honesty and realness, damn. Now that is sexy.