We were walking up to Nikki Beach for its Sunday brunch when my dad launched into a pep talk about things we should know about men. This was the first time in my entire life he’d brought it up.
On the top of his list was “Men need to feel needed.”
“Wanted is not enough?” I countered.
“No, needed,” he insisted.
“And if I don’t need a man?” Aliya chimed in.
“If you want one and you want to keep one, act like you need him.”
Reading this passage in Demetria Lucas’ A Belle in Brooklyn immediately reminded me of a conversation I had with MandyPants a couple months ago. We were taking a break from working and found ourselves in a conversation about my crazy dating life.
[Sidenote: MandyPants is one of those women I mentioned in this post. She’s happily married and now happily a new mom, so when I look to get advice about my dating life, I tend to look to people like her.]
Anyway, so we were talking about my dating life and how I was finding myself in an interesting pattern at the time. I’d meet a great guy – alpha male, ambitious, cute/sexy/fine, someone who makes me laugh and turn into a high school girl – but even though we’d have a connection, it wouldn’t go anywhere of significance.
Then I’d meet another guy – cute/sexy/fine as well, but not so much an alpha male and more along the lines of a guy who wanted to “settle down and live a good life with a wife and kids.” This guy usually wanted to marry me the day he met me, which of course freaked me out, and things wouldn’t go anywhere of significance.
Then I’d meet another alpha male guy and the pattern would start all over.
Usually in our conversations, MandyPants waits for me to get my rant out and then delivers some kind of wise words only a big sister can bestow. Today was no different. After listening to me go on and on about this pattern, she calmly said, “well you know the problem may be that even though you want the alpha male, you don’t fulfill a need for him, and he also probably thinks, more importantly, you don’t feel like you need him.”
I was floored with this suggestion. What do you mean, I don’t fulfill a need for him? I’m awesome!…. Right? And need him? I’m an independent woman (throw your hands up at me!), I don’t need him. (Oh, that was the point. Right.)
Well, she explained, what she’d found in her experiences was that the times when a guy really wanted a woman was when he felt like there was something in her that he needed and something about him that she needed. If that was the case, she continued, it might explain why I, as a reluctant but admitted alpha female, may be having problems with alpha males. The guy doesn’t see why either of us need the other person, because we both bring the same things to the table.
To wit, she offered the following suggestions:
I don’t drive him and push him, because he’s already driven and ambitious.
I don’t make him want to manage his time better (since I’m a planner), because he’s already a planner himself.
I don’t encourage him to reach for his goals, because he’s already up all night working just like I am.
I don’t make him want to chill out and slow down and smell the roses because I’m grinding just as much as he is.
And most importantly, he can’t do anything for me either, because the same things I don’t do for him… he doesn’t do for me. We’re both already doing those things on our own!
Wow. This was the first time anyone had ever broken it down like that before, you know? Here, I always thought that people wanted to date folks like them. I’m ambitious so I want to date someone who’s just as ambitious as me. I’m a part of #teamnosleep, so I want someone who is as well, or at least someone who understands why my friends and I don’t sleep (We’ll sleep when we win.).
But that was the problem, she noted. I was dating by what I wanted. She continued, saying that I wasn’t alone in this. Most women date by what we want. So, while I want someone who’s like me and brings the same things to the table, maybe that’s not really what I need.
“So I need the guy who wants to marry me as soon as he meets me and tries to settle/slow me down?” I countered, not with a very happy face I might add.
“No, but maybe you need a guy who can show you the benefits of taking a night off or who brings support of your vision to the table. Maybe it’s not necessarily that you’re both ambitious and both want to stay up all hours of the night to complete 7 different projects. That doesn’t mean he’s a lazy bum; it just means he will know exactly why you need him – and that’s important for a guy.”
“Okay, so for arguments sake, let’s say that’s the case – how do I make myself want what I need?”
“Now that, I don’t know. But when you do meet the person you’re supposed to be with, the way you’ll know is that both of your wants and needs will be met. You’ll both find a way to meet in between.”
Hmmmm… not necessarily an easy undertaking, if you ask me. Probably why I’m still single lol. Dating, yes. Happy, yes. But still single.
What do you all think? Do men and women date differently, by need and want respectively? And if that’s the case, how DO we meet in the middle?