Brenda loved being with Kirk.
He took charge. He arranged amazing dates, ordered her foods she’d never imagined trying, and gave her the courage to leave her comfort zone and follow his lead.
She told me she’d never been with anyone so masculine. She was enjoying the experience of sitting back, relaxing, and letting Kirk make all the decisions. It made her feel incredibly feminine.
But something about what Brenda was telling me didn’t sound right…
And a few months later, I’d learned what it was.
When I ran into Brenda next, she looked different. She’d lost weight, her hair was several shades lighter, and I’d never seen her in the kind of clothes she was wearing. She seemed tired and stressed.
She told me that her relationship with Kirk was going well, but I could tell she was troubled. She called for a phone-consult later, and we talked about it.
That night, I learned that Brenda was starting to have doubts about her boyfriend. Kirk enjoyed going out and being seen, and he wanted Brenda at his side. When he started suggesting that she dress up in nicer clothes and do something different with her hair, she was flattered he took an interest. She loved looking nice for him.
It wasn’t that Kirk was being controlling, she told me. Quite the opposite. He helped her break out of her shell. She felt bolder, more daring.
But as time went on, Brenda wanted to introduce him to her life, interests, and friends. That’s where it all went wrong.
Kirk didn’t do well when he wasn’t in charge. He didn’t have a good time with her friends. When she arranged a date, he sabotaged it by picking a fight so they’d go home early.
“Maybe I should let him be the man, rather than trying to take over,” Brenda told me. “I know that’s what makes him happy.”
I didn’t think so. What Brenda needed was to stand up for herself!
But I could understand why Brenda couldn’t see what was going on in their relationship. Dominant, charismatic men like Kirk are compelling. They’re so confident that you don’t question their decisions or opinions. You feel safe around a masculine man, because you know he’s going to look after you.
The problem is that masculinity can be easily confused with machismo, narcissism, or outdated gender roles.
He may seem so masculine because he feels that men should be in charge. He may seem so confident because he genuinely believes he’s special compared to everyone else.
So how can you spot a man whose masculinity won’t be threatened by a strong woman?
You look for evidence of his feminine side.
Men who make amazing husbands and fathers have a well-developed feminine side to complement their masculinity.
They know how to nurture. They can follow as well as lead. They’re flexible enough to take on different roles based on what’s needed at the time. They don’t have to be “The Man” all the time.
They’re neither uber-masculine nor particularly feminine. What they are is balanced.
It’s a trait called psychological androgyny…
And it’s a winner for women as well as men.
Cultivating both your masculine and feminine sides makes you psychologically healthier and happier.
But how can that be? Our culture teaches us that men should be masculine and women should be feminine—when it comes to romance, at least.
Think about your own experience.
Do you really want a guy who’s so manly he’s practically a caveman, whose idea of conversation is grunting while flexing his muscles?
Or do you want a guy who can listen, empathize, and care for you? A guy whose eyes get moist while watching The Notebook? (“Just allergies,” he explains.)
You want a guy who’s balanced, who can stand up and be the man when the situation calls for it, but also let down his guard and be vulnerable and tender.
These days, men want balanced women, too. They want partners who shoulder their share of the load. They don’t want to be saddled with a girlfriend who leaves all the responsibility for making decisions to them.
A man who’s well-balanced wants a partner who’s also well-balanced.
Brenda enjoyed playing the role of a feminine ingénue with Kirk, but it wasn’t who she was. Brenda is a strong woman with a lot to offer. She needs a boyfriend who can expand her world but also learn from her.
Luckily, Brenda figured out what she wanted. A man who
accepted her influence and suggestions as easily as she accepted his. And from
what I knew about Brenda, it was only a matter of time before she found exactly
what she was looking for!