I have always known I was different. Different than my friends. Different than my family. I simply proceeded through life being malleable and blending in.
As a child, I could not define “different.” The best way to describe it is I “got” other people and felt others did not quite “get” me. With two older brothers and a younger sister, I was always surrounded by family. I got them. Not so sure they got me.
I was fortunate to grow up in a time before the internet and cell phones. Playing outside all day with the neighborhood kids was an everyday occurrence. We rode bikes, fell in creeks, rolled around in dirt, tossed the football and explored what outside had to offer. A typical boy.
With the growth of my company, social media is a necessity. While I used to be an avid Facebooker and Tweeter, I have found myself less and less active. My reasoning is a separate blog post within itself. Let’s just say I put everything into two categories: 1) Those things that make me feel better. 2) Those that don’t. Personally, Facebook has started to fall in that second category.
Some post their political rants, their drama and everything else that comes to their minds. In no way am I judging, each person has every right to do so. It just does not make me feel good. However, one reoccurring topic has really hit a nerve. This is the notion of a “real man.”
A “real man” shoots a gun. A “real man” will never walk away from a woman if he cares for her. A “real man” drinks beer and fishes. Really???
I don’t hunt nor do I own a gun. Most of my guy friends do. Many of my female friends own a gun. I have walked away from some amazing women BECAUSE I cared for them. I knew we weren’t meant to be together. I’m more of a wine guy…Tempranillo or Viognier, if you’re curious.
Perhaps, I’m not a real man. In fact, if I wrote down some of my characteristics and likes, you might think I was gay. Let’s go through just a few:
Chick Flicks: I have seen Hitch and Serendipity more times than I can count. Whenever flipping through the channels and The Notebook is on, I get sucked in. And, yes, the end gets me every time…even though I know what is coming. I like Hallmark Channel. Not something I watch daily, but I definitely will watch one of those cheesy movies during a lazy weekend afternoon.
Grooming: Facials, massages, manicures, body scrubs and pedicures are all something I have done in my life. For years, a pedicure has been on my calendar every 4-6 weeks. I never think twice about sitting in that massage chair while my feet and legs are massaged with lavender-laden oil.
Cooking: Being in the kitchen is like yoga for me. Whether it’s following a recipe or coming up with my own concoction, I am happiest prepping vegetables or “manning” a pot. I even love the grocery shopping. I have been known to spend an excessive amount of time walking up and down each aisle checking out the various products on the shelves.
Shopping: It is not uncommon to find me as a +1 with a female friend or my sister when they are buying clothes. Whether it’s a raised eyebrow or a head shake, the women in my life appreciate my candor. Of course, I have seen many a man in the “guy seating area” of an Ann Taylor looking at their watches, rolling their eyes and holding purses.
Cardio Classes: I’ve been at the same gym for over ten years. Most of that time, I spend in, what is referred to as, the Group Fitness area. This is where the cardio classes take place. On any given week, averaging about five classes, I’ll do a step class, Body Attack (like Insanity on crack), Body Combat (cardio kick boxing) and Body Flow (a combo of yoga, Thai Chi and Pilates). More often than not, I am the only guy in class.
Conversation: While I somewhat understand them, I’m pretty sure discussing cars and motors is like a slow death for me. Rarely do I get into conversations that involve religion or politics. My topic of choice…interpersonal communication. I love three-hour dinners or coffee discussing relationships and what makes people tick.
Career: I run a company based around creating romance…and marriage proposals…and love.
Several months ago, the hottest news in the country was that a top NFL pick announced he is gay. Michael Sam, an All-American from Missouri, could become the first openly gay player in the NFL.
Looking at Sam, he is jacked. He looks like a real man at 6’2” and 255 pounds. He was one of the top pass rushers in all of college football. His family, his teammates and his coaches all accept him. To them, it is a non-issue. I’m guessing when and if he gets to the NFL, once he proves himself at the next level and on the field, this story too shall pass. Hopefully, his candor will open doors for everyone to just be who they are…and whatever that is…it’s ok…and enough.
Compared to Sam, I am much smaller in stature…5’10” and 172. He’s a soon-to-be-professional athlete and I help guys plan marriage proposals. Which one of us is a real man? He’s gay and I’m straight.
Perhaps, I’m a dichotomy. One side of the coin, there is the “me” listed above. On the other side, I am attracted to women. I love the way women smell…and their soft skin…the way she’ll shrug one shoulder and give me a sheepish look when trying to get her way…and flip her hair when she flirts…and boobs. I love the curves of a woman!
So, which one of us is a real man? Perhaps this falls into the category of “perfection” and “labels” and “expectations.” If we take “real” and “man” out of the equation and replace it with “my ideal partner”…we could all be less disappointed and more satisfied.
For example, you could say my ideal partner will:
Call and ask me out on a date.
Surprise me by making plans and all he tells me is what time to be ready and what to wear.
Appreciate the small things.
Be a gentleman and pull out my chair…and open my door.
Love me unconditionally for exactly who I am.
Or whatever “it” is that you are looking for.
Like most things, being specific and having clarity would help in picking the right partner. Focusing on qualities you’d like in a mate rather than a label, the more likely this person will show up in your life.
You would never buy a new car without knowing your budget, what color you wanted and the different options you preferred. Why would a partner be any different?
We are all who we are. It is inconceivable to attempt to conform ourselves into someone’s irrational ideal…or worse…to try to mold someone else into a phrase for which we have no definition. It’s like sitting down at a restaurant, ordering a cheeseburger and being pissed when a salad is served.
My guess is that a “real man” or “real woman” in the end will be a flawed, imperfect human. Me. You. And, personally, I’m super excited to meet her.
I’ll work harder on being more of a dude. Yes, I could lift more weights. Yes, I could be more assertive when it comes to asking women out. Yes, I could read Field & Stream. In fact, I’ll bring the latest issue with me this weekend as I’ll have time while waiting for the paraffin wax to harden during my pedicure.