In yesterday’s post, we talked about Beth’s letter. She was on the brink of separation, and wanted to know how to avoid emasculating behaviors around her husband. We talked about mothering, jealousy, criticism, competition and correcting.
Today, we’re going to talk about how to reverse the process and start doing things that make him want to stick around forever (assuming forever is what you’re shooting for, which sounds like an awful long time if you ask me, but I digress).
It turns out that it’s actually pretty simple: you just reverse the aforementioned emasculating behaviors, turning them into masculating behaviors. But just ’cause it’s simple doesn’t mean it’s easy, so roll those sleeves up, sister — there’s some work to do.
I call these gifts, because that’s what it feels we’re receiving when a woman does this kind of thing for us — yeah, it’s that awesome. And when you give these gifts, a man feels as if you love him just as he is, not as the version you were hoping to mold him into. And that is priceless and rare:
1) Give him his freedom. Freedom is a man’s most treasured possession. The more of it you give him, the more he will respect you and, paradoxically, the more he will want to run back to you. Even if you’re crazy about a guy, resist the temptation to spend every waking moment with him. As one wise person said it, give him the gift of missing you. He’ll just want to spend time with you that much more.
2) Give him your trust. The more you have faith in a man and allow him to take charge, the more he grows in the masculine. And if you’re the one making him feel ten feet tall, he’ll just seek out your company that much more.
3) Give him your word. Heard of the expression “behind every great man is a great woman”? This is your chance to be that woman. When you consistently do as you say you will, a man will have deeper and deeper trust in you. This will make him feel as if he has a partner who really has his back. As a result, he will be bolder, bigger and stronger in everything that he does and has you to thank for it.
4) Give him your praise. It may not seem so, but we guys are actually kind of fragile inside. And a lot of scientists are convinced that everything we do is to impress women, from building large monuments to launching wars. In fact, evolutionary psychologist Geoffrey Miller makes a convincing case that we evolved such outsize brains mostly to enable skills that would impress mates.
So give the poor fellow some acknowledgment to make him feel as if all the paintings he painted, the buildings he built, the poetry he scribbled and wealth he accumulated have been worthwhile. Praise him for the little things, for the attention he gives you, for his small victories. You will allow him to grow into the kind of man who is capable of even bigger victories – and of creating more monuments to you.
5) Give him your grace. Every boy slips every once in a while or does something naughty. We know you’re smart, so we know that you know when we slip. As long as the slipping is not a regular occurrence (see the section on Bad Boys), this is your opportunity to open your heart and offer the man redemption. A man will be eternally grateful for your giving him a second chance – and grow into a much bigger man as a result of your demonstration of faith.
Hi Dr. Ali,
Thanks for this excellent post. As a dating coach myself, I am in a position to help men reframe their breakup dramas so they can move on to date successfully. With the points in this piece as a backdrop, how do you recommend speaking respectfully to men regarding personal growth without having “correcting” or “criticism” energy?
Love your work and look forward to reading more!