“Isn’t he supposed to be…?” – here are 5 things about men I’m surprised women are surprised about.
One of my favourite things to do in my introspective downtime is to think about some of the consistent statements I encounter in my life. “All women are the same” – I hear this one all the time. I’ve always been more interested in the reasons why people say it more than what they’ve actually said – usually they mean the last 2 or 3 women I’ve encountered/dated/had to talk to have similar approaches to life and problems. “I’m not ready for a relationship” – the apparent catchphrase of modern dating, and the subject of one of my most popular blog posts of all time. Similarly, “Guarding your heart” is another one that comes up a lot that I took some time to write about.
And today, I’m going to cheat a bit and group a bunch of these together in a category that actually catches me off guard – the things about men I’m surprised women are surprised about.
I’m always interested when people are surprised. Usually it means their expectations have either not been met, or they have been exceeded. Ironically, I’ll then be surprised at someone’s surprise. Either talking about a situation, a movie, or an idea, here are some repeated things I’ve heard as statements about men that I’ve been surprised come off as a surprise.
“Wow, he’s not a cheater”
Starting pretty heavy here, huh?
I think this one of the first few statements in the realm of relationships that really took me back when it came to talking about men. In my late teens and the start of my 20s I remember having a number of female African friends who repeatedly made comments about the sort of man they were looking for. Number one on every list was that “he wasn’t a cheater”. My Australian friends didn’t set that as number one – they didn’t even mention it. It was assumed. I was so surprised to hear this so regularly that I had to ask why you would have to even specify that. For the group of people I had known, for a lot of them, all their earlier experiences of men in their lives – whether fathers, brothers, or exes – was that they were hardwired to cheat on you.
In trying to find some statistics around this, there are some studies which say 22% of men have affairs, ranging all the way up to 70% (some related links summed up here). Either way, it’s obvious that this expectation is birthed in a lot of past experience for a lot of women. Although to be fair… who are they cheating with? The stats would have to be the same, right?
With this one, the surprise has been unfortunate in that so many people have been cheated on or impacted by cheating, such to the point when they meet a man who actually follows through on his vows, it comes as an absolute shock.
“I didn’t know men valued those things about women”
I wrote a blog post a while ago about 7 underrated qualities in a woman. The response was pretty interesting. One of my favourite comments I heard on that one was when someone referred to the author as a “she”. That made me laugh, and I’m glad it came across in a way that it didn’t come across as chauvinistic to the point where they thought the author was female.
But even to this day, when female readers talk about that post with me in person or online, or on related topics, they’ll often start with “I can’t believe men actually think those things are important”.
Well, surprise, a lot of us do. And we talk about it. Sure, there are heaps of us who dog out women and make purely physical observations, but there’s also a lot of us who actually value a woman for who she is and not just for what she’s able to do.
“I didn’t think men got emotional”
I’ve heard this complaint about men a lot. You’re hanging out with him, or in a heated argument, or watching a TV show, and all of a sudden, the waterworks begins. It’s something many women aren’t expecting. Because men are tough, strong, emotionally stable, unfeeling, stern and unwavering, never showing a hint of emotion or feeling.
To this one I say… I guess that’s not always the case. Sensitivity is meant to be an attractive trait, but apparently not when a men is too sensitive and too vocal about what he’s feeling. This confusion is probably why a lot of men don’t like presenting their emotional side. Where’s the right balance? Not sure. He’s not sensitive enough when he’s quiet about it, and he’s too emotional and unattractive when he’s open about it. Guess it depends what relationship you have with them and what you’re expecting to receive from them.
I wrote a bit more about this topic here.
“Aren’t men supposed to be more sure?”
Traditional family values consider the man to be the head of the house. He’s the husband – the house band – the ones who helps hold it all together. He’s supposed to be able to be the leader in the relationship. He’s supposed to initiate everything, provide everything, and all round be the one directing the friendship, the courtship, the dating relationship, the marriage and the parenthood.
I guess that’s why it comes across as a surprise when a man says he’s actually not sure about something. Cause he’s supposed to know. I heard a female group once come to a consensus that men have to be more sure because (direct quote) “you can’t have two indecisive people in the relationship”. The conversation had been about how a strong men that they could depend on would be one who is able to be stable when they were a mess, and to make the hard decisions that would lead both people into the right place.
Spoilers – it’s not always true.
Men are people too. I think that’s one of my favourite statements in the realm of relationships. Women are people too. People are people. If it’s something that you get unsure about, then it’s probably something he gets unsure about, too.
I think as people we all need to do what we can to reach places of certainty in our decisions. Instead of making hesitant, temporary or fluctuating decisions, we all need to get better at actually locking things in, working out what we want, and being trustworthy.
Can people depend on you? What’s your word worth?
“I thought men got over things quicker than women”
I gotta say, this is probably the one I’ve heard the most as a surprise over the last few months. Very interesting. A few times during a few different movies where the guy was acting out of hurt for something a girl or family member had done to him, it was exclaimed “oh come on, he’s a man, he needs to get over things quicker than that”. Some very interesting conversations about relationships and who should ask out who first (are women allowed to do it or should it always be the man etc.) resulted in the statements that “men just need to deal with the rejection that’s going to come”, but that “women can’t handle it as well so they shouldn’t be expected to risk it”. Some friends had been hurt by some situations in the past that they were still struggling with even today, and the reaction after they had gone was these exact words above – “I thought men got over things quicker than women”.
There is some brilliant research into the area of men’s psychology. TD Jakes probably does one of the best summaries on how men respond to pain in his He-Motions message and book. There are some similar summaries in the waffles vs. spaghetti comparisons made by various authors – for women, it’s usually more spaghetti, because of the wider link between the left and right hemispheres of the brain, where for men, it’s more that they’ll put things into their square boxes, into their compartments.
However, the extent to which we feel pain is the same. Think of it this way – if it happened to you, how badly would it hurt you? That’s how badly it would hurt him, too. He just might deal with it in a different way. As discussed in He-Motions, we may retreat into our caves, bringing our toys with us. In other instances, we may be doing really well in every other area in our lives, but just stare at that compartment, that aspect of our lives, and wonder what the heck we’re going to do about it. Or, as Alcoholics Anonymous discuss (I love their work, they’re probably one of the most effective men’s ministries on earth) – we do something stupid or turn to a vice because we’re bored, lonely, angry, tired, or stressed.
I guess the best response I can give to this surprise is something I’ve already mentioned:
Men are people too.
People are people. We all have the capacity to have things that set us back more than we could ever expect. We all have the capacity to find the help we need, or to avoid it. We all have scars and stories that we may feel like we’ll carry with us everywhere we go. And we all have the opportunity to enter into grace, to set things right, to process things in a healthy way.
Or to have it rule and destroy us.
What will you do with the painful things in your life?
So there you go. Some things that I find myself being surprised about, that come across as surprises themselves. How about you? Are there any things about men you find yourself surprised about? Or that don’t come off as surprising at all?