It’s time again for Shortcuts. For every question, I’ll give my advice in three sentences or less, because sometimes the answer to a person’s question is so obvious and the need to hear it so great, being as clear and frank as possible is simply the best way to go. Today we discuss take-charge men, the problem with texting, and turning down a wedding invitation.
I am a strong and confident 54-year-old woman who can take care of every aspect of a home. I can fix things, mow the grass, etc. I want a man who is also confident and strong, but I always end up with guys who are very clingy which I don’t like. I want a man who is going to be the man in the bedroom — not someone who wants to cuddle and have me do all the work. I am also very confident in the bedroom and can be very sexy and, yes, I can tell them what I want and need. How come I get these guys who have to have a road map to decide which way to turn or how fast they have to go? In other words I need a man who knows how to drive and how fast or slow to go and can do sharp turns and race up hills. I always end up with these guys who are the exact opposite. I ask them if I intimidate them and they say no. Are they lying? — Strong and Confident
Even the best driver in the world isn’t going to know exactly how to get around in a town he’s never been before. Do yourself and the men you’re with a favor and give a few directions to help them find your sweet spots. If he still hasn’t found his way around after a few drive-throughs, then you can think about finding someone who’s a more confident driver, but casting judgment on someone who’s never been to your particular town is unwelcoming to say the least.
I have been seeing this guy for a little over a month. Everything was great. He took me to dinner the day after we met and was eager to see me daily. He also introduced me to couple of his friends/ co-workers. He invited me over to his house several times — everything was good. Then, a few weeks ago I was out with a girlfriend and he came and met me. I had a little too much to drink, so, when he came, I totally dismissed introducing him to the people in my group. When we left, he told me he didn’t like the fact I didn’t introduce him. And that he would never do that. So next day I texted him apologizing about my behavior and that I didn’t mean to do that. No response. Saturday and Sunday nothing. Sunday night around 2 AM I get a call from him but didn’t pick up. When I asked him why he called me at that time, he said it was a mistake. Tuesday he texted me to go by his house and watch a movie. I went and then eventually we talked about what happened. He seemed hurt by it, but we squashed it. Then I slept over at his place on Saturday but had to get up early. He texted me Sunday afternoon asking why I disappeared. I explained to him why. I haven’t gotten a response from him now for almost five days. I texted him three days ago, saying, “What’s up? Hope to see u soon,” but nothing. I don’t know what to think. I know he is busy with work, but I hoped he would acknowledge my texts. Is it over? Should I just lie back and not worry like I am now and over-analyzing everything? — Is it Over?
Here’s a novel concept: instead of texting, talk to each other. Unfortunately, it sounds like you may have dismissed your new guy one too many times and he may be moving on. In the future, practice good etiquette, including leaving a note if you have to sneak out of someone’s bedroom early in the morning.
I am a few years out of school and my sorority sister, “Helen,” is getting married to another college friend. Her fiance’s mother is dying from breast cancer that has spread. Over the last year, I have only seen her three times, despite the fact that we live in the same city. After the engagement, she became a different person. I don’t know that the term bridezilla would really cover it. She’s cut her fiance’s mom out of the entire wedding process. As an example, Helen yelled at her fiance’s mom for buying a green dress because her mom is also wearing a green dress (though they are different shades). Helen’s fiance’s mom had limited strength and energy to find the dress, and the green dress was apparently the only one she tried on that day that made her feel comfortable given her scars and appearance right now. I know that all sounds minor, but Helen’s been really tough on his family and this whole year has been about how the wedding is only about her. I just feel like I don’t know her anymore. However, we have many mutual friends, all of whom feel the same way. The difference is that I do not want to attend the wedding, but my other friends are going. When we were all together a few weeks ago, I floated the idea that I would not be attending. Our mutual friends looked at me like I had two heads. The thing for me is that I am a bridesmaid in two other weddings this summer and my budget is tight. Attending Helen’s wedding at this point would cost over $400 because of the location, travel costs, and hotel stay. But, I don’t really want to rock the boat. Would it be appropriate to send a note along with the rsvp and say that I cannot attend but I wish them the best? I have already purchased her bridal shower and wedding gift, so I would obviously send those in my stead. I’ve also committed to attending her bachelorette because it is in our city. Weddings are so touchy with people, and I also don’t want to make things awkward in our group of friends. Any guidance you have would be most appreciated! — Wedding guest
I would simply attach a short note on the RSVP card saying, “Due to prior commitments this summer, I’m disappointed I won’t be able to attend your wedding. However, I look forward to celebrating with you at your bachelorette party soon!” No need to give any more details than that. And if the bride has a problem with you not attending, well, it sounds like she’s not the kind of person you’ll miss from your life anyway.
*If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, send me your letters at email@example.com and be sure to follow me on Twitter.
GatorGirl May 11, 2012, 9:10 am
Helen sounds like a real witch.
JK May 11, 2012, 9:14 am
Addie Pray May 11, 2012, 11:08 am
She’s also a real See You Next Tuesday! (I stole that from Girls. But writing it out doesn’t work as well as saying it out loud. I guess C. U. Next Tuesday works better. Eh, you get it.)
MsMisery May 11, 2012, 1:08 pm
I was going to say the exact same thing. (Except I heard it from SATC!)
cporoski May 11, 2012, 12:02 pm
In defense of Helen, how would the LW know all these details if she has only seen her 3 times in the past year? Was helen just blowing off steam to her girlfriends? Also, most Mother’s of the Groom have little to no say in the wedding process-cancer or not. My MIL wasn’t invited to picking out flowers, photographers, or any of it. I think people in single houses shouldn’t throw stones…or something. That analogy really didn’t work.
GatorGirl May 11, 2012, 12:14 pm
I get what you’re trying to say- LW probably has limited info, it’s probably heresay to some degree, etc. But yelling at your soon to be MIL over the color of her dress is a real bitch move in my book. Cancer or no cancer it is rude and disrepectful and completely out of line in my book.
And FWIW, I’m in the process of planning my own wedding- so I get how stressful it can be and how difficult it can be to include both families. But no matter how stressed you are it is never acceptable to be disrespectful.
cporoski May 11, 2012, 12:48 pm
OK, but I was always under the impression that the mother of the groom waited to pick out a dress until after the mother of the bride for this reason. And again, how does the LW know she yelled? I found that my true emotions came out to my girlfriends during the planning but not to my mother in law directly.
bagge72 May 11, 2012, 12:14 pm
I don’t think she said in her letter that the mother in law was actually trying to do any of the wedding details, she just said that Helen went off on the MIL for picking a green dress out just like her mother did. That sounds like a C.U. Next Tuesday to me especially since the MIL is probably just hoping to be alive by the time of the wedding. and in a case where the MIL is actually dying of cancer, I would say all wedding rules can go out the window. I know that my mother, and my fiancée’s mother talking about what to do with the dresses anyway, and try to follow etiquette by having her mother pick her dress out first and then my mother, and nobody is yelling at each other about it.
cporoski May 11, 2012, 12:55 pm
Right, but those are the rules for a reason. I understand that the MIL is sick but I can see where it would be frustrating if my mom put a non refundable deposit down on a dress and now is going to look like a twin with my MIL. I just think that you think that you are in a safe place when you discuss your problems with your girlfriends. Then you find out that you are being judged by the single ones who haven’t been there before. Now why doesn’t she judge how Helen is going to raise her kids and the size of the house they buy.
ele4phant May 11, 2012, 1:10 pm
“I understand that the MIL is sick but I can see where it would be frustrating if my mom put a non refundable deposit down on a dress and now is going to look like a twin with my MIL.”
Really though, who’s going to care? Is attention at the wedding going to be focused on the parents of the bride and groom, or I don’t know, the actual bride and groom? When the day comes, Is the bride herself going to notice that with what will surely be hectic and emotional day? I could understand being irked for a moment, or maybe when venting about the wedding in private to friends, but confronting and yelling at the MIL? The MIL probably didn’t even know WHAT the bride’s mother’s dress looked like. Take a deep breath and get a little perspective lady. No one is going to give a shit.
Weddings are insane, I don’t want one.
cporoski May 11, 2012, 1:19 pm
Now, you are right, if she screamed at the MIL. Fair enough. I don’t think the LW knows that because she has only seen her three times. This isn’t her best friend, it is her sorority sister and I am guessing she has a hundred of them. I think she had heard hearsay or the retelling of a story. You are assuming the facts stated by the LW are correct, and I am assuming that it is gossip.
ele4phant May 11, 2012, 1:29 pm
You’re right we don’t really know, but we have to take the LW at her word or we could go off any direction we wanted. She said Helen bitched out the MIL, so I’ll take it as truth unless she writes in to correct or adjust that statement.
On a related note: I’ve never had my own wedding, but I have been to many. And as I guest, I care about three things: sharing the joy of a couple declaring their love and committing themselves to one another, is a lot of time being wasted sitting around waiting, and the food. I figure, as long as those three things are met, no one cares about the details, like who’s wearing what and what are the flower arrangements. Except for the bride (and maybe the groom). So they should just relieve themselves of all that anxiety and stop worrying about details no one else cares about.
I’ve planned and executed several major non-wedding events, and a similar principle applies: make sure the meat of the event pulls off, feed people, and don’t keep them sitting around to long. If you do that, success!
How caught up people get in the teeny-tiny details of weddings is just so weird to me. Did you get married? Did people have fun? Congratulations, you just had an awesome wedding. Case closed.
cporoski May 11, 2012, 2:09 pm
You are right. But for many brides, a wedding is the first major event they have planned. It is overwhelming and there are so many people who yu are trying to please. It gets stressful. And see, I think the love is in the details.
ele4phant May 11, 2012, 2:43 pm
I get it – planning a major event (particularly your first) = major stressballs. And as the planner, the details ARE important. But just because its stressful you want it to go really really REALLY well doesn’t give you free reign to be a bitch.
And I think, even venting to friends needs to be curtailed to a point. Like let out your frustrations, but then let it go and remember what’s more important. Like having your dying MIL comfortable and at your wedding is more important than adhering to “wedding rules” (and who cares? Its not like a law of physics. Its not like if you break one of them a black hole will be created and the universe destroyed).
I would assume if the LW is off-put enough by Helen’s behavior that she wants to end any sort of friendship with her, she’s going well beyond complaining and reacting to stress, and being a mega-bitch. Which isn’t cool. Even if its stressful, and even if its her first major event.
katie May 11, 2012, 5:25 pm
i couldnt agree with you more about weddings in general. they should be about the love of a couple and two families coming together. wedding rules? those dont actually exist, except for in the heads of certain types of pretentious people.
there is no reason to be a bitch to someone- almost in every situation. and, i think, especially in a situation where you are critizing someone who has cancer over the color of a dress. that person you are yelling at is on such a different level then you, facing their own death head-on, and you care about a DRESS? really? that is a type of low i dont know if i have ever heard of. there is a special place in hell for people so insensitive….
go read the article about weddings causing divorces. i am giving “helen” and her new husband less then a year if this bride is so concerned over the color of her dying MIL’s dress.
ele4phant May 11, 2012, 1:55 pm
I’d also like to add, if the Helen was just bitching to her friends (which included the LW on a few occasions), I hope one of them would have said something along the lines of:
“You know Helen, I know planning this wedding is very stressful, and there’s a lot going on, but I think you need to look at the big picture here. When you and your husband look back at this day in 10, 20, 30 years, you won’t care that your mom and MIL wore the same color, you’re just going to be happy that your MIL was able to be there and share one last important event with her son.”
Its fine to get caught up in the fine details and lose sight of the big picture now and again, but Jesus, if you can’t come up for air and see the big picture, you ARE being a bridezilla.
bagge72 May 11, 2012, 1:11 pm
Helen, everyone gets judged in every situation, and like in those situations your friend did not mean for you to read this on this website! Just kidding, but seriously things change when there is a dying parent involved, the rules were there for a reason hundreds of years ago, you don’t need to stick to all of them anymore, I promise you that. That is one of things that drives people crazy is sticking to these stupid backasswords rules.
The thing is, that not matter what kind of safe place you think you are in, if are being a bitch, you are being a bitch, and that is only tolerable to a certain extent.
That, and how do you know the LW is single, and isn’t either married or planning to get married in the near future, you are kind of doing the same thing by judging her for being “the single ones who haven’t been there before”.
cporoski May 11, 2012, 1:26 pm
You are right, I am making ALOT of assumptions here. I assume she is single for a few reasons, the first is simply, when she talks cost and travel she uses I instead of we. Second, I feel that people who have been through a wedding are alot less judgemental about planning. This LW is judging conflicts within a family that she is not part of and could not possibly have all the information. she is an outlying friend. I mean she isn’t close enough to be a bridesmaid and only has seen the bride a few times.
By the way, the helen joke is really funny 🙂 made me giggle at my desk,
bagge72 May 11, 2012, 1:50 pm
Oh I agree she is judging conflicts within a family that she isn’t part of, but that doesn’t mean she can’t separate herself from them if she feels like they are being asshats. Just because she has only seen her three times this year doesn’t mean she isn’t good friends with her though, she has known her for a long time, and I’m sure she trust what she hears from her friends, though that isn’t always the wisest thing to do, but if they are all saying the same thing, and she did witness it the three times she saw her, it is pretty easy to make an assessment.
LW3 May 11, 2012, 2:07 pm
I’m not single, actually. I’m in a committed relationship. However, Helen is not providing many plus-ones, including to people who are engaged, living together, and some who are married. I’m also not saying that she isn’t under pressure or anything, my basic point was that I don’t think I will be friends with her after the wedding, and is it okay for me to send a nice gift and not attend.
ele4phant May 11, 2012, 2:16 pm
I say yes. Send the gifts, a brief note of apology for not attending, and then if you wish, let the friendship fade out afterwards.
cporoski May 11, 2012, 2:27 pm
I meant it saying that you hadn’t planned a wedding before. You can absolutely chose to attend or not. That isn’t an issue. I wonder if the question was that simple, why the details about the planning were important? If she was nicer when speaking about her mother in law, would you attend?
LW3 May 11, 2012, 2:47 pm
I’m not sure what you mean. The planning and details, and I only gave one example, were to illustrate that I just don’t feel like I know her anymore. I did try to point out to her that maybe not inviting married plus-ones would be awkward since she was attending some of those people’s weddings prior to hers. It’s merely that this used to be someone I was close with, but now I just don’t recognize my friend in there. I totally get that planning is stressful, and I’m also trying to support my other two friends who are brides and are also very stressed out. This has just been a little different and I think it was also just hard for me to accept my feelings on it and that I really just didn’t want to go after all that’s been going on. I also didn’t want to go when I feel this way. I just didn’t think that would be right, even though our other friends are upset but still attending.
oldie May 11, 2012, 2:53 pm
Yes, you can decline to attend. No you don’t need to send a gift. If the groom-to-be had written in with the info in your letter, I’d recommend that he also give this wedding a pass. Yes, planning a wedding can be stressful, but if it is too much to do and remain a basically civilized person, you can make it smaller. To treat the groom’s mother like that is way beyond the pale. Helen has no concept of what is important in life and that is a bad trait to find your future wife possesses. I did wonder a bit whether Helen didn’t give in to pressure from her mother. Perhaps it is like-mother-like-daughter. I do pity the groom.
katie May 11, 2012, 1:31 pm
talk about missing the point of a wedding… lol
Brad May 11, 2012, 1:34 pm
I’m sorry but why would anyone give a shit if you look similar? Men all look the same wearing tuxes. She needs to get over herself. There are a hell of a lot more important things to worry about (like cancer) than if two people have a similar dress. She needs to grow the **** up.
ktfran May 11, 2012, 1:52 pm
Stated perfectly Brad.
EricaSwagger May 11, 2012, 2:10 pm
Seriously? My future mother in law will be just as involved as my own mother. Is that crazy/wrong of me? Because I feel like it’s horrible to exclude her from her son’s wedding.
GatorGirl May 11, 2012, 2:29 pm
We’re including both families as equally as possible. It is just as big of a day for my fiance’s parents as it is for mine. My fiance’s sister is getting married next week (ECK!) and her soon to be husband’s family has had literally ZERO input. They are “hosting” the rehersal dinner but all the means is they are paying the bill- they didn’t plan it, mail the invitations or tally up the RSVPs. I don’t get it.
cporoski May 11, 2012, 2:36 pm
I will say time will tell. Your sentiment is beautiful and I hope it works for you. But here are the problems that can come up with that. Lets say your parents are paying, and your mother in law wants you to pick the more expensive centerpiece and your mother wants to keep the budget in mind. What happens? What if you have your heart set on stations for dinner but your MIL thinks it is tacky. then what? If you want to see three photographers to compare prices, how long will it take to coordinate your schedule, your mother’s, your fiance’s, and your MIL? It is complicated enough blending two families without money and schedules getting in the way.
ele4phant May 11, 2012, 4:10 pm
What will you do when things get complicated? Gee, I don’t know, work with it despite the difficulty. Because its not just about YOU, or even YOU AND YOUR HUSBAND, its as you say the “blending two families”. If that’s what a wedding is about, why would one family, much less just one person, get to steer the whole show?
As far as finances, this isn’t the fifties anymore. There’s no law saying just the bride’s family has to pay. If MIL wants fancier settings, negotiations about how to make that happen and how to pay for it can ensue.
cporoski May 12, 2012, 7:25 am
Maybe, I just don’t know how to have a money conversation like that without offending all parties. With my friends, and that is all I can speak to, it has always been a real sticky point no matter who was paying.
Katie wrote up to that these rules matter to pretentious people, and I am probably one of those people. But these things are big events with big budgets involved. I think that the rules are there to help avoid conflict.
I truely hope your wedding is a breeze and you negotiate all of this better. I just think people are more sensitive to brides after they have been through the process.
theattack May 15, 2012, 3:15 pm
Actually, I’ve always thought of weddings as celebrating the couple… A lot of families recognize that and just pay for what the couple wants. And a lot of couples just want to pay for everything themselves so they can do what they want. Some families pay for it and expect that they get to make decisions since they’re paying, and some families have arrangements where both contribute. There’s really nothing wrong with any of these scenarios, ele4phant.
bagge72 May 14, 2012, 8:58 am
I honestly don’t get why you are listening to other people so much about your wedding, even though her family is putting in a good amount of money, and my parents are as well, they aren’t picking our center pieces, food, flowers, dresses, location or anything else. They can have an opnion that we will take in to consideration, but they certainly cant tell us what to do. I have had not one issue with anyone clashing on what to do, we have a budget, and we pick out what we love that works in that budget. It is very easy to tell somebody in your family that it is your wedding, and you will do what you want.
bagge72 May 14, 2012, 9:01 am
Also you don’t have to bring them along to pick out photographers or anything like that, because that should be your choice. The only thing my parents or her parents have come with us to was the location, and finding a place for the rehersal dinner. Well that is besides the mother daughter things like dress shopping, and stuff like that.
theattack May 15, 2012, 3:04 pm
I think it would be really difficult to have that many people involved in planning, honestly. I’m just starting the planning, but I’m already finding it overwhelming that, in addition to talking to my fiance about everything, my mother and my bridesmaids want to talk about and plan everything too. That’s pretty typical, but it’s still a lot of input when really my fiance and I are the ones making decisions. My future MIL doesn’t seem interested in planning so far, but my plan is just to ask her if there’s anything especially important to her that we should include. It’s a nice sentiment to include everyone like that, but in reality, it’s a whole lot of Indian chiefs…
JK May 11, 2012, 9:16 am
LW1 does sound a little intimidating (to say the least).
I usually find that couples complement each other, one taking charge more than the other, etc. Maybe that´s why you´re attracting more “submissive” guys?
Leroy May 11, 2012, 10:09 am
I think you’re right. This seems to be a very common complaint among ‘inimidating’ women.
What she thinks is ‘cuddling’ may just be the affects of shock.
FireStar May 11, 2012, 12:15 pm
I think people confuse being accomplished and being intimidating. Be accomplished all you want – unless an accomplished man is interested in an empty trophy wife – he WANTS an accomplished partner. I find that sometimes the way those accomplishments are conveyed is what people find off-putting. How are you communicating your accomplishments LW? Is that what people are actually responding to instead of your actual accomplishments? If your letter is anything to go by, to me it sounds you are in full “I am woman hear me roar” mode. I’m strong, confident, can swing a hammer and fling a man down on a bed in under 3.5 seconds. Anything wrong with that? Nope. Are accomplished men looking for an equal likely to respond to that? Maybe not. You are going to get the type of men you have been getting – the men that want to be submissive in a relationship. Because what comes across clearly is not so much confidence but a “I run things” type of mentality – so you are going to get the men that like to be run. They don’t find you intimidating – you are the ying to their yang – they find you dominant – and that is what works for them. Other men steer clear because they do not want to be run by anyone and aren’t interested in the dynamic you are advertising.
I, personally, don’t buy into the whole dominant/submissive paradigm as how couples should be. I have found in my life that like attracts like. Confident, accomplished people like confident, accomplished people. I think that is what you want for yourself – an equal. And if that is true, why would you ever need to ask a man if he is intimidated by you? That almost conveys the expectation that you think he is/should be. It’s like asking “does my ass look big in this dress?” You ask because you suspect your ass might look big. So unless you want your ass to look big – go put on a different dress. And unless you want to be intimidating – go find a different type of man. You don’t have to give your time to every guy that likes you. Your time should only go to the ones you like. Maybe it seems like a small nuance but there is a big difference in you telling someone you are strong/ confident and asking them if they find you intimidating and you just being strong and confident and wearing your accomplishments naturally. I’ve said it before – truly rich people don’t brag about money and truly intelligent people don’t talk down to others – and my dear – truly confident people don’t ever have to say they are. So if you are truly confident/strong and whatever else you are – stop saying so – everyone will figure that out that piece for themselves.
ele4phant May 11, 2012, 12:40 pm
I really like this. I had the same thought reading her letter, I keep thinking this woman is INTENSE. And LW, if that’s your personality, if you’re super confident have an in your face personality, and you’re happy about it, that’s great. You shouldn’t have to change yourself for anyone. Just know, when people have particularly intense personalities, a personality that says “This is who I am! Like it or leave it!” some people are going to leave it.
And I agree with Firestar that men who are generally strong and confident like having an equal partner (and this is true in the reverse of course – but we are speaking from your perspective not a man’s). But if your personality is cranked up to an 11, they still may take a pass. I’m not saying you should change yourself, but maybe considering toning it down a few notches for the first few dates?
rainbow May 11, 2012, 12:49 pm
I really really like you.
FireStar May 11, 2012, 4:25 pm
Brad May 11, 2012, 1:40 pm
“and fling a man down on a bed in under 3.5 seconds.” Ugh, and there went my ability to concentrate for a while…le sigh.
bagge72 May 11, 2012, 1:57 pm
Just move your feetza to daddy green’s pizza!
Michelle.Lea May 11, 2012, 10:19 am
See.. i dont find her intimidating. I get where she’s coming from, and it’s hard to find that balance if you’re already a dominant personality. Two dominants tend to bonk heads a lot, so that may be why she cant find one..
EricaSwagger May 11, 2012, 10:39 am
Yes. Honestly, this is now nature works. “Manly men” want to be the man. They want to fix things around the house and take charge in bed. In general (disclaimer: IN GENERAL), they’re not going to be attracted to a woman who is also an alpha-male. Strong, confident men have learned their whole lives how to take care of a girlfriend or wife and kids.
So when you take charge of everything and leave him nothing to do, he’ll feel emasculated, and that’s not how you want to make a manly man feel. They’re very sensitive about their manliness!
Guys who are a little more submissive are used to not taking charge, so they’re fine when you do.
utopiaballroom May 11, 2012, 11:51 am
This is not so much nature as it is social conditioning towards gender-normative behavior.
My case may be the exception rather than the rule, but my boyfriend does not fit on one end or the other of the strong/submissive binary. I fancy myself an independent, intelligent woman (which, yes, many men seem threatened/intimidated by). Like LW, I can’t stand clingy guys. My boyfriend is independent, smart, and confident but he doesn’t take independent behavior on my part as a threat to his masculinity, and he doesn’t easily get emasculated (even when he is baby-talking the kitties).
Sidenote: The notion that we as women have to be sensitive and careful not to damage a man’s precious ego leaves a very bad taste in my mouth.
I think LW may also be mixing up the idea of a “strong man” in the bedroom with that of a “mind reader.” The expectation that a man should just know what to do seems unrealistic (and maybe even a bit passive aggressive). Even if bedroom antics have a more dominant partner, it’s still a two-person activity…each person should take SOME responsibility for both partners’ satisfaction.
Leroy May 11, 2012, 12:14 pm
There’s really no credible evidence that men’s preferences strongly derive from social conditioning. That’s a political claim, not an empirical one.
Fabelle May 11, 2012, 12:21 pm
This is a good point– something the LW should consider!
I’m also thinking she may be gravitating towards men that seem super-masculine, only to be disappointed that their dominance doesn’t extend to the bedroom. People are multi-faceted– she might need to go for the timid looking, nerdy guy in order to get what she wants (which is to say, expand her horizons)
ele4phant May 11, 2012, 12:55 pm
Whether its nature or social conditioning, I think Erica has a point. Sometimes the manliest men (and not all by any means) want a more stereotypical relationship. We can hem and haw about why that is, and certainly if we want to change it on a societal scale its important to determine its genesis, but in the case of one discrete woman looking for a particular kind of guy, that is the reality she’s faced with. Doesn’t matter why, it’s the way it is right now.
Now, there are all sorts of exceptions to the rule, and somewhere out there is an alpha male looking for his alpha female. And personally, I have the inkling its not her personality that its the problem, its the intensity of it. I think plenty of guys like a strong, confident, and competent woman, but the in your face “I am a woman! Hear me roar!” can be a bit much for some.
Brad May 11, 2012, 1:49 pm
“I think plenty of guys like a strong, confident, and competent woman, but the in your face “I am a woman! Hear me roar!” can be a bit much for some.”
Exactly. Bimbos suck (pun intended) but the in your face types or super feminism conscious types are just draining. Someone more relaxed is far more preferable.
ele4phant May 11, 2012, 2:06 pm
When I read the letter, I kept wanting to say, “Chill, LW, chill.” I feel I am confident, smart woman who knows what I want and goes after it, but I can’t handle high intensity personalities (male or female) for too long. Just do your thing and relax.
EricaSwagger May 11, 2012, 12:46 pm
Social-conditioning in any form, in any culture, is part of our natural instincts as human beings. So yes, it is nature. The same way mother chimps teach their daughters how to find bugs and build nests, and male chimps practice fighting.
I understand that “we’re humans and we have higher brain functioning and we can choose not to force male/female roles and blah blah blah.”
But the fact of the matter is that if you were to raise a group of kids all at the same time, with absolutely gender neutral toys and no influence from the outside world, most of the girls would still grow up to act like girls and the boys, boys. It’s nature.
FireStar May 11, 2012, 12:54 pm
What exactly do you think a “girl role” is?
Brad May 11, 2012, 1:43 pm
Cookies don’t make themselves you know…
FireStar May 11, 2012, 4:33 pm
Funny you should say so – I just baked some!
Brad May 11, 2012, 5:16 pm
So what time should I expect you to stop by with a plate for me?
FireStar May 11, 2012, 8:52 pm
They say hope is the anchor of life.
Brad May 11, 2012, 11:46 pm
So it’s almost midnight now and you still haven’t brought me any cookies! Did you forget about me? HELLO?!?!?!?
FireStar May 12, 2012, 8:07 pm
Oh sweetie pie – if a man wants cookies from me – he has to come and earn them.
Brad May 13, 2012, 11:38 am
Why do I get the funny feeling that my definition of “earning them” is going to be different and less fun than yours…?
katie May 11, 2012, 1:37 pm
this is very true. i was reading on offbeatmama about gender-neutral toys or something and a commenter said that as much as she tried to have her daughter play with “boy” toys, she still just ended up wrapping the truck (in one case) in blankets and calling it “trucky” and being its mama. its hard wired into some people. its not good or bad, just a fact.
EricaSwagger May 11, 2012, 1:44 pm
Exactly my point. I remember this being brought up on another post about an intimidating woman like a month or two ago.
Will.i.am May 11, 2012, 1:43 pm
I disagree. I love a woman that can do things. I just don’t want her to be a jack of all trades. I hope that both of us could blend together to be that power couple. Shoot, I would jump at the option to meet a nice woman and have the ability to be a stay at home Dad. I’m not ashamed of it at all.
FireStar May 11, 2012, 6:40 pm
I think this is very dated. I believe it is silly to discount nature – giving boys dolls and girls trucks is not going to change who they are intrinsically – but gender does not speak to accomplishments, or confidence, or ambition, or success, or even dominance. Even in the animal kingdom – the lioness hunts while the lion stays with the cubs. The notion that the alpha male protector and the submissive woman is intended by nature somehow …is archaic. You have to make room for someone in your life if you would like someone to be in your life – but you don”t have to pander to notions from the 60’s to do it. Whatever your gender is, you can be confident and secure in yourself and your successes in a way that isn’t abrasive – in a way that actually attracts someone else who is just as confident and secure. Perhaps I’m biased to think so – but isn’t that the best of all worlds? To be with your equal?
Nadine May 12, 2012, 8:28 am
All that evo-psych “its nature for us ladies to be decorative!” bullshit really gets me down. Be who you are, and dont judge other women for being stronger than you, jeez.
Ricki May 12, 2012, 11:10 pm
FYI the male lion stays with the cubs because he can’t be bothered to hunt. The females are smaller and faster, and hunt in the group. Usually 6-8 females to 2 males.
The males are more affectionate toward the young because the odds of any particular cub in the pride being his offspring is 50-50. For the females, the odds of that particular cub being her offspring is 14%. So anyone smart will understand that it makes more sense for the males to stay with the kids because he’ll be more willing to protect the cubs than the females. Because there’s a much higher chance that it’s HIS cub, and in nature, all that matters is keeping YOUR particular DNA in the pool.
I’m sorry, you don’t even get to use lions as a comparison. The males own the females. They make the females hunt. Also, the males eat first.
Biology lesson over.
FireStar May 13, 2012, 8:59 am
The point was that the lioness is accomplished – not passive in her abilities. No one was comparing the structure of a pride to a monogamous relationship. Though if you want matriarchal structures in the animal kingdom then you can look to bees, elephants, killer whales – the list goes on – feel free to avail yourself of the Discovery Channel.
Amanda May 11, 2012, 9:19 am
LW1: Yeah, the “drivers” you have recently been with are lying. You are VERY intimidating.
LW3: Your friend sounds like a wonderful person. Why wouldn’t you want to attend her wedding?
OK, I’m joking, she sounds like a massive bitch. Why are you friends with her? Definitely RSVP ‘NO’ to a person’s wedding who yells at their dying mother-in-law. That’s a sign of a scumbag.
Muffy May 11, 2012, 9:48 am
I wonder if LW3 is the whole story – it sounds too mean to be true. But either way if you don’t like the person don’t go to their wedding – why waste that money
cporoski May 11, 2012, 12:07 pm
Muffy – I totally agree. If she has only seen her three times, how does she know all these details? Mother’s of the Groom are not normally involved in details. I think the LW will whistle a different tune when she gets married.
Micah May 11, 2012, 9:20 am
Re: Letter #2
That is one of the many reasons I hate texting! It’s so impersonal. If you need to apologize for something make a phone call. It will sound more sincere. And you really miss this guy, call him up. Waiting for a response to a text message that may or may not have reached him is a) excruciating (another reason I hate texts.. waiting for them is the worst) and b) not an excuse not to reach out to him one more time. Leave a voicemail if you have to. At least then you’ll know you made the effort to get in contact with him, and if he doesn’t reply you’ll know where you stand for sure.
That’s all I have to add. Great advice all around. (And I agree, Helen sounds like a nightmare.. Sheesh.)
jlyfsh May 11, 2012, 9:35 am
I read letter #3 wrong at first and thought it was her Mom who was sick and I felt a little sorry for her. Then I realized it was the poor woman she was being awful to who was sick. Personally I wouldn’t care if I lost someone like that as a friend.
SweetPeaG May 11, 2012, 9:38 am
I hope there is more to the story with “Helen”… I just am trying hard to believe there aren’t people that evil. Because it makes me really sad.
kerrycontrary May 11, 2012, 9:57 am
I think there is probably more to the story. While it seems selfish, Helen may be…jealous? about all of the attention here MIL is getting. A wedding should be one of the happiest times in a couples life but the MIL is sick, most likely dying, and therefor taking away from that feeling. While Helen probably realizes how she is feeling is inappropriate and immature, sometimes we can’t help feeling the way we do. She probably doesn’t know how to express it properly and therefor is acting out. Or perhaps Helen is very upset that her MIL won’t be around. Maybe there are very close and this is Helen’s way of grieving. People can act very strange when someone they love is experiencing health problems.
landygirl May 11, 2012, 10:18 am
Sorry, but that is no excuse. If being a princess for a day is more important than the health and well being of your future mother in law, then something is seriously wrong with her.
Jubietta May 11, 2012, 10:22 am
I love your empathy!
kerrycontrary May 11, 2012, 10:43 am
Thank you! I used to be pretty quick to judge so I’ve really been working on coming from a positive place and always assuming there is more to a story. In reality, this Helen really could just be a horrible person, but I like to assume she’s not.
Matcha May 11, 2012, 9:39 am
#2- Why wouldn’t you mention you had to leave early the next morning so he wouldn’t be surprised when you’re gone? That’s something almost ONS. I get that you didn’t mean it, but texting doesn’t convey tone the same way as a voice or in-person communication does. I would try to call him again, and if he won’t accept your apology, then you can say you tried.
Muffy May 11, 2012, 9:47 am
what’s ONS? I agree with you though!
lets_be_honest May 11, 2012, 9:51 am
Junior marketing service
Muffy May 11, 2012, 10:00 am
lets_be_honest May 11, 2012, 10:11 am
Yay! Someone got it!
buttoned May 11, 2012, 9:57 am
I think one night stand.
JK May 11, 2012, 10:02 am
Apparently that´s it. Thank goodness for Urban DIctionary. 🙂
Muffy May 11, 2012, 9:46 am
LW 2 you were rude twice. He forgave you the first time and then the second time decided not to bother with you anymore. You couldn’t even call him up to apologize!
Did you act like that because you aren’t that into the guy and now you’re surprised that he’s not that into you anymore? Or did you act like that because you genuinely have no clue how to treat others? Either way, I don’t blame him for moving on.
ktfran May 11, 2012, 11:46 am
Third option. She doesn’t know how to comminicate in a relationship at all. I’ll give her the benefit of the doubt, that she just doesn’t know how to act. Because LW – I can see how you seem uninterested to this boy. TALK to him. He can’t read your mind. Unfortunately, I think it’s too late for this one to work. Take what you learned an use it in the future.
utopiaballroom May 11, 2012, 11:55 am
Yeah, there’s some serious game playing going on with those two. She seems pretty immature and he acted pretty passive-aggressively after the no-introduction incident. They both seem pretty young, emotionally anyway.
tbrucemom May 11, 2012, 9:48 am
LW #1. You do sound intimidating. “Strong” men also like to be the ones to “drive” and I’m sure you’re attracting the opposite because of both of these. I’m not sure by your letter if you’ve actually been intimate with the men you’ve dated or are just assuming because they’re “submissive” in general that they’ll be like that in bed. If you haven’t, you may be surprised.
LW #2. Helen is not the kind of person I’d want in my life. I feel so bad for her fiance and future mother-in-law. I wouldn’t even go to the bachelorette party if I didn’t want to go to the wedding. Move on from that friendship.
LW #. Please stop with the texting and give the guy a call! It may be too late. You’ve made him feel unappreciated a couple of times but at least you’ll know for sure.
Fabelle May 11, 2012, 9:53 am
LW1, you sound like an awesome, take-charge person, so I think the guys you’re attracting might be defaulting to their submissive state in order to balance you out? Like JK said above, couples tend to complement each other.
LW2 I think your etiquette skills slipped too many times with this guy, & he’s losing interest. It’s understandable that you were a little thoughtless about introducing him (although that happens to be one of my pet peeves), but leaving without saying bye is kind of a jerk move. If you didn’t want to wake him up, a note (or a text) being like “Hey, sorry I had to leave early this morning, but I had a great time & am looking forward to the next :)” would have worked.
LW3 Ew, Helen sounds…really difficult. I don’t blame you for not wanting to go.
bethany May 11, 2012, 9:54 am
Unless you are in the Bridal party, you are not required to go to a wedding!!! Invitations are just that, and if you don’t want to go, don’t go! Trust me, she probably won’t even notice that you’re not there- why spend all that money on a girl you clearly don’t really like that much?
TheGirl May 11, 2012, 10:42 am
LW2 – this guy thinks you aren’t really interested. In fact, I kinda think you aren’t really interested, except you must be since you took the time to write in to Dear Wendy… It sounds like you could definitely use some sort of etiquette course.
Wendy, I sense a potential dating etiquette list!
ktfran May 11, 2012, 11:48 am
Yes! Dating etiqutte. From both a female and male perspective. God, I still need help.
d2 May 12, 2012, 9:06 am
Good idea. And Wendy does that kind of thing so well.
Jubietta May 11, 2012, 10:42 am
LW #1 – perhaps a “newer model” with more “horsepower” would provide the “drive” you’re after in the sack. And I’m only partly kidding. There’s something different about a young man who’s got more testosterone than he knows what to do with, his drive sure has more intensity. As a woman who can “take care of herself” it might be time to reframe the situation and consider breaking some taboos to get your needs met in life.
LW #2 – Ditto everybody! Texting is not for building relationships, it’s impersonal, doesn’t convey emotion from tone of voice, and because it’s asynchronous it lacks the immediacy of the kind of attention the people we care about deserve. If you care about him, give him another chance and then give him the best of yourself…not the least. If you don’t have time to talk right that instant, wait until you have the time to give him your undivided attention and pick up the damn phone. Or better yet, make some goofy grand romatic gesture that makes you feel really, really vulnerable. If it works, you two will have a story to tell for the rest of your lives…if not, you’ll go down knowing you did all you could and in the future you can treat someone you’re interested in better early on so grand gestures become unnecessary, but they’re still awfully sweet.
LW #3 – enjoy your summer, enjoy the other two weddings, enjoy the bacherlorette party. Next time, though, it might be less embarrassing for everyone involved if you make an independent decision rather than putting your mutual friends in the tough spot of knowing all the nitty-gritty details of why you’ll be declining. “Helen” may not be making the choices you’d like her to make, and that’s putting your values under a magnifying glass. A person’s character is often best seen under stress and if you don’t like the way her values clash with your it’s a signal that more distance is appropriate…no more, no less (unless it’s your duty as a moral human being to step in and protect Helen’s MIL, but I think that would be highly inappropriate).
cporoski May 11, 2012, 1:29 pm
Great answer for LW3!
bagge72 May 11, 2012, 11:07 am
LW3# I also agree that if you don’t want to go, then don’t go, but I think if you don’t, all of your friends will definitely be talking about it when somebody asks since they all know the real reason why so just be prepared for that.
LW2# I agree with everyone, it was rude that you left without telling him, and then appologizing through text. Just try and pick up the phone, and if that doesn’t work move on to the next one.
Lw1# Are you AKChicks older sister?
Muffy May 11, 2012, 1:31 pm
I didn’t even think about the part that all her mutual friends know why she doesn’t want to go. That’s a tough spot to be in LW – if you don’t go Helen will likely find out why – but if you plan on never speaking with her again then I guess it doesn’t really matter…
LW3 May 11, 2012, 12:48 pm
LW 3 here…some of that information is indeed second-hand. However, a substantial portion of it I heard myself during my interactions with her over the last year, even though they were limited. Initially, I tried to tactfully point out that maybe she should try to see it from his family’s perspective, and I think that’s why I haven’t heard from her much since then. Just wanted to clarify. Thanks for all the great advice Wendy and readers. I think I knew what I wanted to do, and I just needed a neutral third-party to say it was an acceptable decision.
*HmC* May 11, 2012, 1:51 pm
LW2- I agree with Wendy regarding texting. God I could write a novel about how annoying it is when people over text and create issues when they should be communicating their serious conversations through just talking! So many issues would be solved and/or avoided altogether.
However. Honestly, this guy sounds a little dramatic and high-maintenance to me, which is a red flag at only a month into a relationship. Get annoyed that the girl you’re seeing didn’t introduce you? Sure. Get a little peeved that she left without saying good-bye? Ok. But talk about it like a mature adult, don’t immediately start ignoring texts or refusing to talk. Whether he’s just pouting or actually fading out, I say good riddance.
Brad May 11, 2012, 2:12 pm
I’m not a huge texting fan either. I hate it when you call someone and they don’t answer, only to text you a minute later asking whats up. I so rarely dignify that with a response. I only repond to those when they give a legitmate reason for why they can’t just talk.
Budj May 11, 2012, 1:52 pm
LW 1 – I agree with the above comments that you may be putting out too intense of a vibe for the type of man you think you want to attract. That said – you need to give time to people to understand you / your needs. I too wish a beautiful woman (man in your case) would fall from the sky at my front door, know everything about me (good and bad and more importantly how to navigate it) but that just isn’t reality. I for one start out kind of submissive…but as I get to know the person I’m with (and for example if they like an aggressive partner in the sack) then I get more comfortable being that way with them…I just need to get comfortable with that person.
LW 2 – I also ran into issues with multiple flaky girls when I was a couple years younger. They totally raised my bull shit detector with women. If this guy has had similar experiences the behavior you are exuding (while unintentional) comes off as flaky and also inconsiderate. Not responding to you is lame though. He should express himself regardless of the outcome so that you guys could navigate your miscommunications.
LW 3 – what wendy said…
p.s. I think I hate the whole concept of weddings.
landygirl May 11, 2012, 1:54 pm
I think Addie Pray might be getting ready to skydive right now…
Brad May 11, 2012, 2:24 pm
Skydiving is a blast! I’d love to do it again. Everyone should try it if able.
Brad May 11, 2012, 2:15 pm
“I for one start out kind of submissive…but as I get to know the person I’m with (and for example if they like an aggressive partner in the sack) then I get more comfortable being that way with them…I just need to get comfortable with that person.”
I’m the exact same way. It’s just in my nature to keep my hands to myself and be flexible/accommodating in the beginning, which I’m sure doesn’t exactly paint me in the best of light. I just move slower I think than the average person and I’m pretty sure that’s why the last person I was dating lost interest…
june May 11, 2012, 3:51 pm
Why is everyone mentioning sex with LW1’s letter? I’m pretty sure that one was about driving.
LW1, maybe get your next boyfriend a GPS. Or just try driving yourself for awhile.
bittergaymark May 11, 2012, 8:43 pm
Um, she was using driving as a metaphor for sex….
rachel May 11, 2012, 10:04 pm
Haha, I couldn’t decide if she actually thought it was about driving, or if she was being really sarcastic.
june May 12, 2012, 10:05 am
guess I should have added………………..amirite???
bittergaymark May 12, 2012, 1:34 pm
Sorry, June. I’ve just been surrounded by super dense people all week and feared that they had migrated over to here as well… 😉
katie May 11, 2012, 5:08 pm
i think that Helen from LW3 needs to read the marriage peice from the Daily Mail in friday’s links….
bittergaymark May 11, 2012, 8:42 pm
LW 1) Wow…after reading your letter I have no idea why you’re alone at 54. None at all. One thing, I’ve learned though is that aging, rundown towns are often very tricky to navigate without a map.
LW 2) You blew it. It’s over. Maybe drink a little less and talk a little more.
LW 3) Helen sounds like a bitch, sure. But how do you even know all of this? Did you bug her house or what? Seriously, you seem to know so many specific details that it all begins to sound, well, very made up… Or do you and your gang just sit around endlessly gossiping and bitching about your friends? At any rate, thanks for kindly providing me reason #1,567,921 that I am grateful not be a female…
lets_be_honest May 11, 2012, 8:46 pm
Yea well thanks for giving me reason number 1567922 why I’m glad I’m not female.
Oh crap, I am. God damnit.
bittergaymark May 11, 2012, 8:51 pm
LW 3 just depressed me as it seemed that EVERYBODY involved was just needlessly bitchy… Helen, the backstabbing friends, the holier-than-thou LW… Ugh, it was like a vast gaggle of bitches. Yeah — absolutely no one to root for in letter 3. Actually, there was pretty much nobody to root for in any of these letters this afternoon…
lets_be_honest May 11, 2012, 8:55 pm
Vast gaggle of bitches! I will find a way to use that tonight. Can you root for me to find a way?
Kiddo is out for the night. Here I am with a night off. No one to hang with. DWing. My friends are a gaggle of bitches for not coming over.
bittergaymark May 11, 2012, 9:00 pm
Bravo! Your use there was epic! 🙂
lets_be_honest May 11, 2012, 9:02 pm
Did everyone see that?!? BGM gave me positive feedback!
bittergaymark May 11, 2012, 9:05 pm
Well, admittedly, I do love to be quoted. Still, truth be told, the only possible “bad” thing I could say about your epic usage would be that, trust me, effective as that line is in print — or would that be, in web? — it totally KILLS much more powerfully in person.
Calle May 11, 2012, 11:21 pm
I’m sorry, but the LW 3 needs to mind her own business. Maybe if she had provided more examples, etc., but a second hand account of how the the bride yelled at the MIL for wearing a dress similar to her mother’s is not the worst thing I’ve ever heard…and did she really yell, or did she just get huffy about it? I just don’t see how the LW (a distant friend) or even a close friend would know every detail of the bride’s relationship with her MIL to be. I certainly don’t hang with my friends and MIL at the same time unless it’s a birthday or a big, family style shindig and those aren’t that frequent. I have a hard time picturing some girl screaming at her dying, cancerous MIL without anyone else saying a peep. While I don’t understand bridal stuff for the most part (I’m a simple kind of girl), I could also see getting irritated if my MIL to be bought a nearly identical dress in style and color to my mother’s, especially if I told her about the dress my mother was planning on wearing to the wedding. Maybe this is just bias though, because I have heard way more stories of MIL’s getting cray cray around weddings than bridezillas. Also, LW should not have told her friends the reason for not attending the wedding and the friends shouldn’t have gossiped about the bride. I agree with the people before, I think everyone is acting kind of badly in this situation.
Calle May 11, 2012, 11:28 pm
I forgot to add, I just have a hard time believing that the ONLY dress the MIL had the energy and effort to try on and liked was green and similar to the bridezilla’s mother’s dress. That’s a very big coincidence. Either the story got twisted around, or MIL is passive aggressive. It’s just, like I said I’m not into big productions for weddings and such, but even I know that etiquette dictates that the mother of the groom is not supposed to wear a similar color and style in relation to the mother of the bride. Again, I believe it’s a dumb custom but I wouldn’t violate a dumb custom if I knew my DIL to be was a bit of a bridezilla.
landygirl May 12, 2012, 12:47 am
bittergaymark May 12, 2012, 12:53 am
Actually, I agree… It’s all like a badly scripted soap opera!
Nadine May 12, 2012, 8:31 am
OH MY GOD ITS A DRESS THE WOMAN IS DYING EVEN IF SHE WASNT ITS A FREAKING DRESS.
katie May 12, 2012, 8:43 am
God that is exactly what I’ve wanted to say about all this!!! You got it. It just a freaking dress! I can think of like 15 other things that a person could be legitimately worried about planning a wedding. Dresses just are not one of them. There are such more important things in life. It’s sad, really.
Red_Lady May 12, 2012, 10:44 pm
Really! Mother’s dresses seem so unimportant in the midst of everything else involved with planning a wedding. As long as they look nice and feel good, what else matters?
My childhood neighbor recently got married, and apparently there was some huge drama b/c his mom bought a black dress, which the bride was absolutely against. I wasn’t even invited to the wedding, and rarely see my old neighbors, yet I somehow heard about this. I just don’t get it.
Dan in Philly May 15, 2012, 8:17 am
All snark aside, LW#1 doesn’t seem to be interested in understanding the world as it is, but rather is frustrated that at what it isn’t. You can argue that strong men who want to drive SHOULD respect a woman who is as independent and take charge as she is. You can argue that a 54 year old woman who is probably still quite pretty and in shape SHOULD attract a good strong confident man. You can argue that women and men SHOULD be able to have a totally equal relationship. You can argue that war shouldn’t happen while you’re at it, and probably make a pretty good case.
The world is the way it is, and the tragedy of most is they have a weird idea that they should be responsible for changing it and should change it. There are two problem with this thinking – first of all they can’t change the world, and second of all even if they could they probably shouldn’t.
If LW#1 wants a strong confident man, she should try to attract one. What do strong, confident men want? They want women who recognize that in them and don’t get in the way, but are instead willing to follow where they lead. Another term for this kind of woman is “submissive.” Yes, I know it’s kind of a shock, but the fact is that strong, confident men really love being with submissive women. They do not love having to fight for the lead all the time with agressive women. They feel they know where they are going and only want support, not direction or back seat driving.
If LW#1 wants to get the kind of man she’s pining for, she should work on her.
FireStar May 15, 2012, 9:45 am
There is a difference between dominance and confidence. She doesn’t want a dominant man – she wants a confident one.
I would even argue that the more dominant you are – the less true confidence you actual have in your abilities – whatever your gender.
Dan in Philly May 15, 2012, 11:04 am
There is indeed a difference, but the problem is she wants something (or someone) she does not know how to attract. She wants a confident man – she and every other woman I have ever met share that desire. Confidence in men is like looks in women – it’s what the opposite sex seeks in each other. Just as women with good looks can generally have their pick of men, so confident men can usually have their pick of women.
So if you want to attract a confident man, what is your best strategy? The first thing you can do is stop approaching men as other men do – that is by proving your worth in the eyes of the world. Most men value confidence in other men, just as women do. The value accomplishment and a courage to fight for what one believes in and good judgement for what is worth believing in and other such traits which can sometimes be labled “domance.” But the shocking thing for many is that men do not particularly value these qualities in women.
To understand the kinds of qualities men value in women, you can again consider the kinds of qualities men value in each other in themselves. Men value confidence – and want their women to think them confident. Men value their good judgement – and want their women to value their judgement as well. Men value their own courage – and want their women to think them courageous and not to fight their battles for them but rather to depend on them (the men) to know best how and when to fight.
Do you see how this works? Men want to be treated by women as if they think their men all the qualities men most admire in other men. They care less if the women possess these qualities themselves. The best way women can attract and retain a confident man is to make him feel confident and manly. The best way of doing this is to act as if you think this man is in fact confident and manly. You can label this behavior “submissive” or whatever, but that’s how and why men seek such women.
FireStar May 15, 2012, 11:29 am
So a confident man looks for a woman who possesses the trait of…the ability to value him? If you agree with me about how great I am – you must be smart? That sounds insecure to me. A man secure in his intelligence and his abilities isn’t running from an intelligent secure woman – he is running towards her – her opinion of confidence and strength carries weight if she knows personally what having those traits entail.
The type of man that wants to partnered with someone he views as inferior to him isn’t the type of man I’m referring to when I say confident. But there is a lid for every pot – or so they say – so I’m sure those men will find women to drink the kool-aid. Clearly we disagree on what a confident, strong man is… and I suspect the LW isn’t looking to drink any kool-aid herself right now.
Dan in Philly May 15, 2012, 12:07 pm
The ability to make a man feel valued is not shared by many women. Often women have a great ability to make a man feel unvalued and unappreciated – indeed just about the worst thing a woman can do to a man who loves her is not appreciate him. I can’t speak to your relationship with you man, but no man – NONE – want to be with a woman who does not value him as a man.
The ability to make a man feel valued is not dependent on a woman’s intelligence or accomplishment. Just because a man is valued by a woman does not mean the woman is less valuable or in any way inferior to him. I re-read my posts and I’m quite sure I did not say that or even imply it. No one wants to be partnered with someone for whom they have contempt – and certainly no one wants to be partnered with someone who has contempt for them. Saying that a man wants above all to be valued by the woman in his life is not to say she should be a dumb, mindless worshipping machine. People are not simplistic robots, but we do all have common needs and desires.
LW1 might not want to drink any kool-aid, but it seems what she’s trying isn’t working. What she is trying is telling her men what she wants and how to do it. That is not a posture which is going to get a man to act in confident and assertive ways. It’s far more likely to undercut what confidence they do have. The only men who are willing to be told what to do to that extent are ones not confident in what they are doing in the first place. Sometimes you have to let him work it out on his own, and maybe make a few mistakes, and try more gentle guiding rather than handing him a map and saying “Go to it!”
evanscr05 May 15, 2012, 12:17 pm
I do not value my husband as a man, I value him as a person. I love him for all of his weaknesses and his strengths. I love him for loving my own confidence of self and personal aspirations, and for having his own self confidence and aspirations. I love him for appreciating my own uniqueness, as I appreciate his, and for enjoying that my intelligence challenges him to be smarter, better, and kinder as his intelligence challenges ME to be smarter, better, and kinder. I am a strong, independent, educated woman that will NEVER change into some submissive, dependent girl just to stroke some guy’s ego. That’s pathetic. It’s BORING to be with someone that only loves what you love. Only valuing a woman as much as she values you is self-centered and the complete OPPOSITE of what a loving relationship should be like.
Dan in Philly May 15, 2012, 1:46 pm
I undersatand your point, but your husband is a man and all men have certain things in common. All men want to be admired by the woman he loves, and all women want to be loved by the man she admires. It’s one way in which men and women are different, but complimentary. What is boring is to be with someone who is so much like you they do not round out the places where you are weak, and do not soften the places you are strong.
Certainly the dynamic I describe is fairly simplistic, and it would be a great mistake to think that’s all there is to love and marriage. However if you consider the alternative, the contract is pretty clear. If a man is married to someone who does NOT admire him, he will be far less happy than if he is married to someone who DOES. If you, as a woman, know this key to making your man happy, and you want to make him happy, why not do it? Not talking about subjugating self in mindless deference to him, but by admiring the man he is, the man he should be, and the man he could be. Such admiration is intoxicating to most men, and most men will aspire to be worthy of it.
Let’s take one illustration to show what I’m trying and it seems failing to convey: When your husband fails to be the man you want him to be, how do you respond? I think you probably believe I would say you should say nothing, or even worse mindlessly say how great he is as you are actually disappointed in him. I’m talking about something else. I’m talking about understanding that at this time, your husband is in a very vulnerable state – he has failed and is probably more disappointed in himself than you are. What do you say?
You can choose the path of saying “This is what I expected, you are not much of a man, are you?” This is showing him you view him in a very low light, and is crushing to a man to hear from the woman he loves. On the other hand, you could say “You are a better man that this: I expect more from the man I love.” The second way of expressing yourself is quite similar buy different on a very fundamental level: it shows that you believe your man to be a very noble and good man, worthy of the love of a woman such as yourself. Though fallen for the moment, it conveys confidence that he is such as man as will pick himself up and deserve all the respect you are showing him. That’s the kind of respect that devotion that all men desire from the woman he loves.
evanscr05 May 15, 2012, 2:32 pm
If I ever told my husband “You are a better man than this: I expect more from the man I love” when he is at his lowest, I would be the biggest bitch on the planet. Anyone who kicks someone while they are down like that doesn’t deserve to be with anyone. Respect is a two way street, and women deserve respect just as much as a man does. Your commentary leads me to believe you view women as secondary citizens to men and that our only role in life is to make sure your egos are properly stroked. We are not trophies. Our role in a relationship is THE EXACT SAME AS A MAN’S – we are partners. That’s the only healthy relatiobship to have.
Dan in Philly May 15, 2012, 2:42 pm
FireStar May 15, 2012, 2:54 pm
Dan – a woman wouldn’t be with a man she didn’t admire and love – just as a man wouldn’t be with a woman he didn’t admire and love. When your husband fails – you do not take that time to tell him you hold him to a higher standard. You take that time to pick him up and say we are in this together and nothing and no one can defeat the two of us. And when you are beaten down? Your husband should do the same thing for you. You seem to subscribe to a very old fashioned notion of roles of men and women in relationships. Perhaps it is a generational thing. But today- in my experience – men of substance want women of substance to build a life with – you end up being partners. That doesn’t mean you are exactly the same – each person has their own strengths they bring to a relationship – but you are equal in your role as partners.
Dan in Philly May 15, 2012, 3:12 pm
“Dan – a woman wouldn’t be with a man she didn’t admire”: This is not true. I have seen it many times. Sometimes one falls out of respect with a man she once respected, sometimes one marries despite a lack of respect for other reasons.
When your husband fails, it is quite admirable if you are mature enough to not express any dissapointment then or any other time. On the other hand, if you don’t express any disappointment at all, are you being honest with him? Doesn’t he know that he has disappointed you, and isn’t he smart enough to know the reason you are not expressing it is out of pity? Isn’t pity a form of condensention? Finding a way of telling him that you are disappointed in a way that shows you shill believe in him a way of showing his you also think he’s man enough to take your dissapointment in him, and that you are confident he will overcome his occasional failings. In my experience and study, this kind of gentle honesty gets the best results.
As far as your comment about old fashioned notions, all I can say is my opinions are not the result of what my father and grandfather taught me. My father held to beliefs more close to yours than to mine. It is through experience and quite a bit of study of human nature which lead me to conclude what makes men and women tick the way they do. You absolutely build a life with a partner, but the idea that men and women are exactly the same is one which is false, and believing it with all your heart does not make it so. The idea that men and women are different does not mean better, but it means the most men have certain things in common with each other which is generally different than what women have in common with each other.
FireStar May 15, 2012, 4:02 pm
I don’t hold my husband on some sort of pedestal – and am horrified or disappointed if he doesn’t live up to my expectations. His standards for self excellence are higher than any I could ascribe to him. On a smaller scale – if someone has a need that isn’t being met, we tell each other what we need from the other and we put a plan a place to ensure our needs are met going forward. It isn’t complicated and disappointment really doesn’t factor in. Maybe I just picked better than most – in which case I’m glad for it because your scenarios sound angst ridden and exhausting.
Dan in Philly May 15, 2012, 4:13 pm
Firestar, I’m really glad for your wonderful relationship. Most people I know are not in a happy relationship, and I’ve spent quite a bit of time and energy trying to figure out why. It’s quite clear how much you admire and love your spouse, which is great. Not everyone is as lucky as you are, and what would happen if suddenly you lost respect for him? He lost his job and couldn’t find another, or didn’t want to? I’ve seen both situations happen and both situations were very stressful on the wife, whether she worked or not.
It’s easy to love someone when times are good. You marry someone because you love him. There may come a time when you have to love someone because you have married him. At that time, you might not have the natural loving feelings you once had for him – what do you do then? It is wise to consider how to make your spouse feel loved and appreciated so that you can express your love even if you are not at your most loving. Love is a choice and an action, not just a feeling. What trips so many up is they assume that when they’ve lost that loving feeling you obviously have for your husband that must mean they no longer love them. No, you can still love someone in such a situation – if you look upon it as a thing you do, rather than just a thing you feel.
FireStar May 15, 2012, 10:27 pm
Now that I actually agree with you on. Love is a verb – intense feeling may ebb and flow with time but how you choose to treat your partner – that should be a constant.
iseeshiny May 15, 2012, 11:42 am
I would argue that a man who is confident in himself and his abilities does not actually need a breathless sycophant to make him feel confident. The whole point of self confidence is not needing affirmation from an outside source. My husband? Self confidence in spades – he’s even been called arrogant. He loves me because I have plenty of self-confidence of my own. We don’t mind having holes poked in our egos because we have so much to spare. His last girlfriend? Worshiped the ground he walked on. And part of the reason he left her (for me! I’m a thief!) was because he felt like he could never just be human or admit weakness around her.
Dan in Philly May 15, 2012, 12:12 pm
Making the statement that any man wants to be appreciated does not mean breathless sycophancy. Often mindless worship of the kind you describe is a failure to appreciate a man’s true qualities. All men have good points and bad points, strenghts and weaknesses. If a woman (or a man) abases herself to the point where she’s saying everything he does is perfect, it’s clear she has lost her perspective and by elevating everything he does, it’s almost as if she is elevating nothing he does.
Far better to be appreciated by someone of discerning and refined taste! I’m glad your husband is man enough to be appreciated by a woman like you. But I promise you if you did not appreciate him as much as you obviously do, he would not be so lucky a man.
Rignerd May 15, 2012, 9:05 am
In re LW1. Back in the old days strong confident men would bash you over the head with a club, drag you back to their cave and have their way with you. Now days thats called rape and will land you in jail, and we don’t like that. So we find it easier and more satisfying to have a willing, cooperative partner who can communicate, is a little flexible and understands the process of negotiation and compromise to achieve a mutually satisfying conclusion.
Most men over 40, like my self, have come to understand that just bulldozing a partner on your way to your personal satisfaction is a sure ticket to not getting a second chance.
uncleFred May 15, 2012, 2:20 pm
Competition vs cooperation. A “strong competent manly man” will be fine with a woman who has those same traits, provided that she does not feel the need to compete with him to prove it. Frankly life is too short to arm wrestle for control with your life partner at every turn. You may indeed be all that you claim, although most people who have those traits tend not to advertise it so pointedly, but you clearly don’t have the empathy to understand how to share control in the relationship. Sometimes you drive, other times he drives, the key is developing the empathy to understand when. It’s not something you can negotiate. It’s about taking the time to understand what each other needs and wants in the moment.
MarkD May 15, 2012, 3:20 pm
LW1 could learn a lot from her Japanese sisters. You don’t have to show it to be it, and if you have to talk about it, you probably aren’t.