Before We Begin: My Father is Awesome
When I was younger, I would hear that one saying about your parents all the time. You know, the one where "they" say boys always end up with women who are like their mothers and girls always end up with men who are like their fathers? Yeah, that one. It used to make me uncomfortable because I didn't understand why one would want to be on an intimate level with someone who reminded them of their parent. As a young adult, I now realize that the values, morals, habits, and mind set that your parent holds, that you are used to having in your life, is what pulls you into being with someone who has like ways (if those ways happen to be acceptable to you, of course). I have to note that my father is a great role model for me when it comes to men, and he has set the bar high for any man that I am serious about having and keeping in my life. It has just been slightly difficult to sort through the crap boys and see the man whom I want.
Shattering the Norm
As a 25 year old woman who attended university and has met a lot of people in my life, I have had many interactions with a lot of different kinds of men. After a while, it seems that they only have a few things on their minds and it becomes difficult to escape that way of thinking. I am learning so much in my current relationship, things I thought I knew but I apparently had no clue about. I have been surprised many times by the stereotype shattering tendencies my man has, and I love it every time he shreds those suckers to pieces. Along with shattering those gender stereotypes, he has also helped me learn to calm myself as I get worked up on occasion, shown me what it means to be truly honest and emotionally fearless, brought back the meaning of physical connection within a relationship and he has shown me the true meaning of understanding and compassion. I have to note that I credit his mother and sisters for the man he has become today due to the fact that he spent his childhood and life mostly around them as well as the fact that he is an amazing person.
Gender Stereotypes: Not the “Typical” Man, but Still a Badass
When it comes to men, there are several stereotypes that women like to lop them all into. We have: The Sports Freak, The Food Fanatic, The Gamer, The Outdoorsman, The Country Boy, and The City Boy, and the most popular: The Ladies Man. This stereotype fits a lot of men (I have trouble saying this, because it is not ALL men, but a few) in my experience and is defined by me as: Everyone wants him and he soaks up the attention like a sponge. He has more than ten different women in his phone and he’s slept with all of them whom he is not related to. This man is the one who always has a condom in his wallet, who always has his phone on silent because he knows it will be going off all the time, and he has no clue how to really treat a woman. This guy has either never had a girlfriend or he has cheated on every one he's had.
Stereotypically, no matter which type of man they are, men are not as vocal with their thoughts and feelings, they have a hard time deciding between food and sex (see Joey on the popular T.V. show Friends), they tend to be more laid back than most of their women counterparts, and probably most notably they don’t like to talk about anything or commit to one person as often or as quickly as females will.
When I entered my current relationship, I was full of those stereotypes of what makes up the “typical” man. Now, the only reason I had these stereotypes in my head at all was because my own real experiences with men backed up almost every one of those stereotypes, and I fought it for a long time until I realized that fact. It’s a wonder to me why men get angry that women do end up lopping them into these stereotypical tendencies as men- Well it’s because your brethren have proven them time and time again. We have seen our best friends, sisters, mothers, and cousins struggle with these typical male behaviors and of course that works to shape what we know of as “man.”
As I move along in this current relationship, this man is making all of these outstanding stereotypes crumble at my feet. I have to assume men like him were the ones getting annoyed at the whole stereotype thing we women do, since he does not fit into them at all. It’s a constant surprise when he does something or says something that you would not expect a man to do or say- and that sounds like an incredibly sexist way of thinking on my part, but again, this is based off my real experiences with men. Apparently, those men whose actions, words, and thoughts do back up these stereotypes are coincidentally probably not very good people to be around. I am incredibly thankful of the fact that my man is nothing like any other man I have had my eye on or been in any sort of relationship with. After all, it didn't work out with those guys for a reason (and damn good reasons at that).
Staying Calm: Hulk, Angry!
At one time in my life, I had a co-worker tell me something like this "You are a great worker. You are smart and you pick up on things really fast. I think when it comes to things going wrong or the way people talk to you, you take it personally." She was referring to my attitude which of course meant, "Hey, you're cool but you should get a hold of that anger problem you have, sweetie. It just wears you down and takes a toll on all of us." I don't recall anyone ever saying something like that to me, but it makes perfect sense to me, so I ran with it and I try to work on being less angry. From time to time, however, I slip into a rage like The Hulk or James Woods' Hades in Disney's 1997 Hercules. Oops.
The most common example I can think of when it comes to being calmer is my road rage issue. I have terrible road rage because I think people are just horrible drivers here in Michigan and it gets worse the closer you get to Ohio! The more time I spend with this man, however, the more I realize it’s not worth it to get so worked up over not only other drivers, but to get worked up over anything I can’t change or handle with a calmer sense. Road rage is not the only anger issue he helps me with, his presence just seems to melt away any anger or frustration I may have going on in my head that day. I think it has a lot to do with the aura, yes aura, that he has, usually very calm, easy-going, and just plain sweet. The closest image I can come up with to this feeling has to be Hulk’s reaction when Betty is around him. He speaks to my soul and it listens intently…
The feels: They're Everywhere and I can't Stop Them!
This section ties in deeply with the whole section about how my man shreds those gender stereotypes- He is not afraid of the things he is feeling and he is not afraid to let me know what they are. He was the first to say "I love you" and no, it hadn't been that long into our relationship when he did so. Did it scare me? No, I had been feeling the same way about him for about a month before he even thought of uttering those words to me. Even though I felt that way, I never said anything until he said something. In the past, I was not afraid to say those words to a man (I thought) I was in love with- but when it came to my man now, I couldn't bare to say them, to feel those feelings, to admit their presence, only to have him deny that he felt the same about me. Even the first few times I told him "I love you" I was hesitant because I was unsure if he really felt that way about me and I did not want to get my hopes up or lead myself on so to speak. Since being with him and experiencing the emotions, love, compassion, energy, and straight up fireworks between us, I am no longer afraid to tell him "I love you."
Now, you may be thinking, "Well yeah, that comes with falling in love with someone. You get used to it." I just want to say, no you don't just "get used" to saying I love you to someone whom you truly do love. Every time you utter those words, they should have so much meaning behind them you feel like you either have to shout them as loudly as you can, or you feel like you have to whisper so you don't die from excitement. At least that is what I feel when I tell my man I love him.
Sex in a Relationship: The Serious Stuff
Side Note: if anyone reading this happens to be a relative of mine...it's natural and it's okay, you can skip this section! :)
SEX! What a dirty reputation this word had when I was growing up! We rarely ever spoke about it, I was taught that it was only acceptable within a marriage- following the Christian morals that are set upon us within the Bible-and I understood that and only that up until I hit an age where I realized that it was happening outside of marriages too. When I had that realization, it didn't really challenge the views I had on sex from growing up within the household I grew up in, it just acted as a new piece of information. At some point, I understood that sex was supposed to mean something, that it was meant to express the love you have for your husband or wife, and that it was beautiful- within a marriage. Of course you hit puberty and then your brain and body become awash with all the hormones and all the things that come with that- crushes, girl talk, cute boys, and the most horrible of all: The thought that you might not be attractive because boys don't give you the attention you grew up seeing in the movies, music videos (MTV!!), and celebrity news. Somehow, (cough-magazines-media-movies-cough-cough) sex appeal was suddenly equal to love. Now, how did that happen??
Now, none of this effected my views on sex as much as the sexual assault I suffered through at the age of 17, in the middle of my first relationship with my first crappy boyfriend (he was not the perpetrator). After something like this happens to a woman (I can't speak for men), one of two things begins to happen: 1) Sex still hold its meaning (see above description) or 2) Sex is something that just happens. For me, sex lost all of its meaning because I chose not to connect emotional feelings to an act that was forced upon me as a teen, and I held that position for years. After a while, I grieved for my previous views on sex and wanted desperately to get them back. I wanted sex to have meaning, I wanted it to be a personal showcase of the love between myself and my partner. There was only one problem: I had no idea how to get it back and I was lost and doomed like a blind woman trying to (successfully) fly a plane. I crashed and burned a few times, but then, once again, my man crushed this issue like it was nothing.
We, as a couple, chose to lay a foundation of friendship and getting to know each other before anything physical. We had said from the beginning, no bullshit, no fake crap, I'm in this with you 100%. He was intent on showing me he loved me first, I meant more than that, and he did not need the physical in order to get to that level of the relationship we were both striving for with each other, and that is all it took. Those words, "You are more to me than that" coupled with the action (or non-action) and, of course, HIM, was all it took for that meaning to come gallivanting back into my heart where it belonged and where I so desperately missed it for all those years. I don't know that he will ever truly understand what he gave me just in this, but oh my am I happy that it was able to happen. After a while I wasn't sure that it was possible for me to associate those feelings of love with sex ever again.
Understanding: You Can't Scare Me
Lastly, (but of course not the least!) this fine man of mine has shown me what it really means to be understanding. I can say anything to this man and he will not judge me, he will not persecute me, he will not lash out at me in anger. Every time I playfully (or seriously) warn him he might be deathly afraid of what I'm about to say or confess to him, he just looks at me with those steady blue eyes of his and says "I've seen it all, you can't scare me." And I fall in love with him again.
I can honestly say that this man has already taught me so much about myself and about him, I have no idea how he constantly keeps surprising me, but I hope he never stops. No matter how long this thing lasts (cough-how-you-doin-cough) I am so glad to have him in my life right now and am amazed, thankful, and hopeful of this, the best relationship of any kind I have ever had.
Standards: It's Worth it!
If someone has actual standards for the people they want to have and keep in their lives, it can be a little tricky finding those people and asking them to accept you in their lives while you do the same for them. You will find those who are completely unreal and are users. You will see relationships around you that you don't understand; Why are those two together? Why is he/she so mean? Why am I friends with this person? You will run into people who you thought were worth it, but they ended up being the opposite of what you thought. You will have a lot of trial and error, and your faith in humanity (or God) will be tested. BUT. When you find the people who are the kind you want in your life, when you see how good, how loving, how much joy comes from your relationship with them, IT. WILL. BE. WORTH. IT.