I have noticed that through most of my life, my closest friends were men. Even as a kid I always preferred to hang out with the boys, rather than with the girls. I always thought the girls were too high maintenance; drama seemed to follow them wherever they went. I didn’t have many friends in elementary school, just a few select BFF’s, because boys were supposed to be “yucky”. But as I entered junior high and high school, my sphere of influence expanded, and it expanded to include mainly boys. I wasn’t trying to be a boy. I wasn’t big into sports, loved make-up, clothes, and big hair. It’s just that boys made more sense to me. I always knew where I stood with my boy-friends; their friendships were more genuine, honest, transparent. If they had a problem with something I said or did, they just came out and said it. My girl-friends avoided confrontation and chose to talk shit about me behind my back, knowing that a mutual friend would relay the information, rather than dealing with me face to face. Girls seemed to need a mediator or moderator, depending on the issue at hand. I found my friendships with boys to be incredible refreshing, I was comfortable being one of the guys.
Now let’s fast forward 10-15 years. As I grew older, my ability to relate to men continued. I still had just a few select girl-friends, who actually also had more male friends than female friends, but my primary friends were men. I always have been “one of the guys”. Many of the men in my life had told me that I was not a “typical” woman. That they didn’t know another woman that understood men so well, while remaining all woman. It was at this point in my life, I began to wonder why this was the case. Why did I find it near intolerable to be around some women? Why did women irritate me so? Why do I get along so well with men? And finally; what is it about my behavior and understanding about men, afforded me the title of “not a typical woman” (which I took as a total compliment)?
It boils down to, Daddy! I was raised primarily by my father which was a total gift…in so many ways. My father raising me gave me the advantage of understanding how a man thinks, acts, and communicates at a very young age; a unique opportunity for a little girl, especially in the 70’s. There was no mom to translate my girly feelings to my dad, and for my dad there was no woman to soften for his male opinions to me. We had to sort things out….communicate across not only generations, but genders. Though there were times of frustration for both of us, but I’m pretty sure mostly for him, we worked it out and found our way into the light. My father has taught me priceless life lessons, which granted me an all access pass to the men I befriended. I don’t always think like a man, but I have a pretty clear idea of what men want. I felt akin to Dian Fossey, only instead of gorillas, it was men and I didn’t get taken out by poachers.
Lesson #1: Guys Need Space
This is a very important lesson! Guys need space in both the physical and mental sense. This section of your lesson is important if you cohabitate. Men require physical space that can be theirs and their alone. If a guy wants to put a life-size poster of LeBron James on the wall of his cave, he can. If your man wants to have a bookcase full of his 1970’s collection of Star Wars action figures, let him. Men deserve a place where they can sprawl all their stuff without fear of retribution or criticism. After all, it’s his house too! I understand that women want things to look “pretty” and the infamous wagon wheel coffee table may not match the motif of the living room. I guarantee this will be a non-issue if there is a space that he truly owns; a man cave! The other face of space is in the mental sense. The need for mental space is relevant whether you live together or not. This lesson has served me well in all of my male relationships! I remember when my dad would come home he would grunt hello and disappear for about 45 minutes or so. My dad had explained to me that he required (not wanted, required) this time to check out from his day. My dad later explained to me that at the end of his day, he was done talking, done problem solving… socially exhausted. Self-imposed isolation helped him to recharge. When my dad emerged from his solitude, he was relaxed and ready to be completely present to hear about me and my day. This evening ritual lasted throughout my years of living at home, so it became habit. When I later moved in with my husband, I continued this ritual out of habit. I would greet him with a hello or kiss when he came home, but immediately returned to my thing. I did not verbally bombard him as soon as he walked through the door; even when I was bulging at the seams to share the latest. This practice continues with my current boyfriend, a practice he very much appreciates. However, mental time doesn’t have to be solitude; it can be any form of detox. This can also be in the form of an activity; music, martial arts, working out, running, biking, etc.
Lesson #2: Ask for What You Want
Men are not mind readers. Your BFF from high school or college may be able to finish your sentence or predict what you want but, after 20 years of marriage, your husband will still be clueless. I think part of the reason is because you have explicitly told your BFF exactly you want but you would never dare to be so bold as to tell your husband! Be clear, about what you want or need. Don’t drop ridiculous hints. I have never understood this about women. For some reason a woman would rather complain about how thirsty she is, than come out and ask for a glass of water. Then this same woman will get mad if the man doesn’t get her a glass of water. What is this all about? I think this behavior is innate actually, because my stepdaughter does it constantly! If there is something you want, need, desire, prefer, or wish tell him! Be specific. No innuendo, no hints, no lame references. Say it loud, proud, and clearly and I guarantee he will not only know, but he will always remember.
Lesson #3: Sex is natural. Sex is Good.
Well, my dad didn’t add the good part…I did, but the message is the same. Sex is natural. Sexual desire is a basic human emotion. Sex is nothing to be ashamed of or cower from. When my dad had “the talk” with me, he didn’t make up cutesy words for the male and female anatomy. He never ignored or shied from the questions I asked. Finally, my dad discussed nearly all aspects of sex with me; diseases, birth control options, condoms, pregnancy facts, etc. His philosophy was that if I thought I was old enough to have sex, then I was old enough to have a frank conversation about it. I didn’t have to wait to hear it from some kid at school, who didn’t know what they hell they were talking about! He explained things in plain English and in a very age appropriate way. The talk wasn’t one talk; it was a series of talks that began before puberty, to early teens, and into my teens. All the dialogues were age appropriate and handled with respect and honesty. They were not preachy or condescending. His tact and attention to the topic of sex allowed me to grow up respecting myself and to have a very healthy attitude about sex. Of course my father didn’t want or need to know the details of my sex life (that would be gross) but we were always able to laugh at dirty jokes and discuss pop culture topics without the pretense of being asexual creatures! Being raised with the knowledge that sex is a natural part of life has encouraged me to be open- minded with my partners desires and empowers me to communicate openly with my partners about my likes and dislikes. I am not a prude. I am a lady but not a prude. Men, I think, have a better handle on this part of themselves. Maybe because society dubs that it’s more acceptable for men to be sexual creatures. Women are to be sexy, men are to be sexual. My attitude about sex hasn’t made me any more promiscuous than my more sexually conservative friends, I’m just more open to talk about it, own it, and I’m frightfully sure ,that my sexual experience was more fun! This lesson enabled me to better understand the natural part of sex, the physical part, rather than getting too tied up in the emotional. More like a man. I have heard from friends (male and female) that women have been known to use sex as a sort of bargaining tool. A device to manipulate a situation or coerce a desired response. I was actually surprised to hear this occurred in real life, I thought it was just media propaganda! I only had 2 things to say about the women who do that: 1) they must really not enjoy sex or 2) she’s trying to assert power/dominance and there are bigger issues at play than just sex. Either way…no bueno!