Has your girlfriend or partner ever asked you to do something that, if you’re being brutally honest, you just didn’t want to do? It may not feel great to admit this. I mean you love this person. You want to be helpful to them and you know that they mean well and look to you for support. It’s just sometimes, you really would rather be doing almost anything else!
Picture this: your wife or girlfriend texts you about her “really long day.” She then asks that on your way home you pick up dinner and draw a bath for her – a routine you know from other “really long days.” “A bath” doesn’t mean just running some hot water. She likes the salt, special oils, and fancy bubble bath at a specific temperature. Ugh. You really don’t want to. You’ve also had a long day. You have a lot of work to catch up on and the last thing you want to do is draw hera bath. Why doesn’t someone run me a bath? All you want to do right now is go home, get out of this horrible stuffy suit, throw your feet up, maybe grab an iced cold beer, turn on the game or Netflix, and not be bothered by anyone. But alas, you love her, so you muster up the strength to put on a happy face and do it anyway. At the end of the day, it’s a shame that such a small request adds a heaping pile of resentment on to the already overgrown pile over her seemingly harmless “womanly” requests.
Have you been there? Have no shame! A lot of men I know have. My ex-partners openly admitted to these exact sentiments. It’s the age-old conflict between wanting to be a good partner and not giving a s***! They simply do not understand why all these little womanly details are so “important,” and why she gets so upset when you forget.
I ask you this, do you want your woman to long for you? To adore you? To forever be faithfully devoted to you? If you answered yes, then pay careful attention.
Ever notice on airplanes the script reads, “Put on your own mask before helping someone else with theirs”? That’s the annoying, but ever so important, ‘take care of yourself first’ directive. You see, when all is said and done, what we women want most is a happy, healthy, honest, loving relationship. No woman wants a man who is secretly resentful, frustrated, and feeling as though his needs are not being met. The truth is people can feel when you’re doing things out of obligation because you really don’t want to. Even if it’s only a subtle resistance. There’s a sense of a negative residue in the exchange which does not feel good to be on the receiving end of. But it’s more than that too.
Women in our culture are expected to take care of themselves. Think of the standard things men complain about. They say, “She spends too much time and money getting her hair and nails done, being on the phone with her female friends, wanting her feet massaged, going to the spa, etc.” Conversely, she complains that you drink too much, watch to much TV, avoid household chores, and don’t spend enough time with her. What we don’t realize is so much of this age old “man/woman” conundrum is driven by how we’ve been taught to think about gender and what these things “mean” about who we are.
In order to understand what women really want, you must understand the truth about gender. As with many things, there’s a spectrum of gender expression in all of us. Conditioning may tell us otherwise, but in all of us, there are both “masculine” and “feminine” qualities. It’s important to note masculine does not mean “MAN” and feminine does not mean “WOMAN.” We all exhibit a spectrum of both masculine and feminine qualities and the ultimate evolution of ourselves is the union, the coming together and embracing of them both. For example, take someone like Hillary Clinton. Obviously, she is gender identified as a “woman,” but she displays a lot of “masculine” type qualities. Conversely, a gender identified man like famous Rolling Stones front man Mick Jagger embodies traits that are more stereotypically female. Simply put, masculine qualities are made up of the parts of us that takes action! The parts of us that get sh*t done. Our need to DO something, to take action towards the advancing of a specific goal, to have clear and direct parameters, and to work from concrete instructions. This is the take-action quality in us all!
Have ever heard yourself asking, “Why can’t you just tell me what you really want so we can avoid all the unnecessary guess work? So I can show up and just get it done it?” That’s your masculine speaking. The feminine, in contrast, is the creator, the idea generator, the vision. This side needs time, attention, care, and warmth. It’s the expressive part of you that’s more creative, abstract, and intuitive.
Both have important roles and functions, and we can tap into each of those parts of ourselves at anytime, depending on the task or outcome desired. For example, I tap into my feminine when I am in a creative process. I slow down, I listen to my body and surroundings, I exhibit a lot of self-care, and I might ask for help with the concrete details of whatever needs to be “handled” so I can continue to focus on the creative process. In sex, this looks like the masculine “handling” a woman’s body while she emanates and turns on for the experience. Sex can often fall flat if there’s not a union or dance happening between the masculine and feminine, and partners can swap roles and be more of one way or another in any given experience. What women are after is balance! The balance of the masculine and feminine in you! Something none of us is taught but that there is evidence of all around us.
Ever wonder why the front man always gets the girl? Or the “bad boy” is most sought after? What these men typically embody and radiate out with every fiber of their being is both their masculine and feminine qualities. What the “bad boy” and front man have in common is their expression of both masculine and feminine traits. They are tough, strong, executing their vision, for better or worse. They are also, however, always expressing intense emotion! They are the rebels! These men are emotional, moody even, and more openly vulnerable – traits we associate often with women. You see what we all need is both, and when we embody the balance of both we understand one another, have much more seamless understanding and communication.
In a relationship, it is true that women often do deeply crave the experience of having their feminine aspects supported by their male counterparts. This is so they can create and experience those parts of themselves that are feminine, while having a partner hold the flag of the masculine provider. Women have their partner’s support in the background so that they can further let go. The union of the two in a relationship leads to more intimacy with self and each other. When men are in balance themselves, they are happy to provide – to hold the space for her needs. A far more seemless and even natural exchange. In fact, so much of who we choose subconsciously to be in relationship with will be in search of this balance.
Because of societal conditioning, it’s difficult for ‘men’ to a) understand the feminine aspects of the women in their lives and b) to understand the feminine aspects within themselves. These are not mutually exclusive. When one gets more skilled in learning the qualities in themselves, they’re often much more in tune with the women in their life as a result. Men are unfortunately taught to “man up,” that “men don’t cry,” and that “men are the providers and keep everything together.” But that thinking often leads to a misunderstanding of a whole aspect of their innate human selves. Men do have emotions, men do feel vulnerable, and men are creative. They have sharp, deep intuition – and sometimes they do want a bath and a quiet night to themselves. It’s just not as socially accepted for them to explore those parts of themselves. Men can be feminine – it just isn’t how they’re usually identified.
Let’s go back to the original question, Why do I hate doing things for her? Well, because you’re resentful at the way she embodies and embraces her feminine side – because you don’t know or understand and are not comfortable with yours. Maybe read that again. What we resent / don’t like in others is often a reflection of where we’re ignoring, abandoning, or of what we’re not liking in ourselves.
The solution isn’t linear. In fact, it’s a complex discussion at the heart of a massive debate and uncomfortable conversation happening right now in our society. A conversation with complexities that are far too much to try to tackle in one blog post.
Below is a list of a few ways to get to know your more feminine qualities as a complement to the masculine you’ve traditionally been operating in.
1) Slow down and practice mindfulness
Be willing to be with yourself moment to moment. Sometimes pushing and forcing through something may not yield the best results. What if you tuned in and listened to your body or to the other person you’re in connection with? What do you hear? What do you need? The answer may not be hitting the gym and busting out 50 reps of arm lifts. Maybe you want a slow run, or a yoga class, or a stretching routine. Be willing to challenge your current routines and ways of doing things. Staying open to hearing the deeper thing your body and being are asking is one way to reconnect with your intuitive and feminine self.
2) Be willing to try new things and go outside your comfort zone
Drawing a bath was always a big request of mine to my ex-partner. There’s nothing quite as lovely as coming home from a long day and stepping into a hot bath with Epsom salt and essential oils. He never really understood why I liked them. Then one day, after a ton of yard work, he decided, “Why not?,” and he drew himself a bath. He loved it and was nervous, at first, to admit it to himself…and me. But eventually, he did admit baths had become his favorite thing and wondered what he had been doing all of his life! Soon enough, he was shopping for essential oils, and one night he came home with a canister to store the Epsom salts. I was very happy – and even happier that he was willing to embrace this gentler side of himself and nurture and care for those needs. Our connection grew and he no longer resented doing things like that for me when I wanted to nurture my feminine because he understood what it felt like when he took care of his own. We were able to communicate in a more mindful way. Be willing to try the things outside of your “gender norms” that you’ve always wanted to.
3) Notice your thinking and challenge your pride/shame and conditioning
So often, we don’t go after the things we want. Work on experimenting with this! Ask yourself, if you could do anything right now, what would it be? Often, we act in certain ways because we feel weird, worry about being judged or feeling shame. We don’t want to be rejected or not approved of. This stems from a lack of self-esteem, feeling deeply uncomfortable and being “not ok” with ourselves. It can be a debilitating way to live. See if you can be more aware of when you feel pride or shame. Ask yourself is there a part of you that is looking to be noticed, to be nourished. We can’t have respect for, or from, others until we have respect for ourselves. Work on being willing to look and venture into those parts and places that are keeping you captive. If you find yourself stuck or putting on the brakes because of what someone will think of you – what your partner will think of you – make note of that and see if you can lean in. Know this, what is most attractive to women (and men) is authenticity. We go crazy over those who are unafraid to follow their instincts, to be who they really are, to say and do what comes spontaneously! Anytime you put on a happy face for others, you do yourself a great injustice. The irony is that what we all crave most is the truth. Whatever that truth may be.