The Secret Lives of Boys – Part 4

I swear I intend to wrap up the series in this installment. Could I be wrong? Absolutely. Do I plan on it? Not so much.

And If you’ve missed the first installments, you can find them below:

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Obviously, throughout the course of my life, my perceptions of men have changed – from being woefully naive and sometimes outrageously unrealistic to having a better understanding of the expectations women put on men and just how unrealistic those expectations can be.

Looking back on my marriage, I can honestly say I didn’t have unrealistic expectations for my husband. Were there things I had to learn to let go of? Absolutely. Had I learned to let a lot of things go and let him be himself? Yes. It was a constant learning process, a continual give and take. Was I always successful? Of course not, but the point is, I was trying and giving it my best. But it becomes difficult when the world has expectations of what men should and shouldn’t be, and when your mate suddenly doesn’t meet those expectations… it becomes an awkward dance for the woman to “make” her mate more… “presentable”.

Let’s face it. Society expects men to be everything a woman needs wrapped up in a fashionably dressed package. They should be sensitive, but not too sensitive. Manly, but not brutish. Funny, but not overly sarcastic or off-color. Professional, but personable. Present and engaged, but not meddlesome. Able to lead, but not bossy or demanding. Responsible, but adventurous. Adventurous, but not unnecessary risk-takers. Helpful, courteous, kind and compassionate, but not so much so that you begin to confuse them with your closest girlfriend.

Are you picking up what I’m laying down? We want men to be everything, but not too much of something. It’s no wonder so many men are commitment phobic and wary of women. What the hell do we want from them, anyway?! (On the flip-side, of course, men’s expectations of women are oftentimes just as confusing and unrealistic, but that’s a whole ‘nother box of worms for another time.)

After the terrible, harrible, no good, very bad event, I began to build up more expectations, higher expectations, and unreasonable expectations for men in order to avoid being screwed over by anyone ever again. And these expectations were beginning to look a lot like the unreasonable expectations I had started out with in the first place. I was right back where I started from. Which was insane, because after my experiences with both my husband and my brother, I knew no guy was perfect, nor was it reasonable or fair to expect that of him. Furthermore, after seeing what some guys managed to morph into after nagged into submission by their significant others, I knew I didn’t want that. But… I didn’t want to get hurt again either. So, how was I going to find a perfect man that was still… a man?

I wasn’t. There is not such thing as a perfect man. There are good guys, honorable guys, and loyal guys, but there are no perfect men. Even the best, most gentlemanly and honorable guys are going to have a penchant for driving too fast, telling off-color jokes, taking risks, and occasionally behaving like adolescent hoodlums. Why? Because they’re men. They’re not women. They’re men. No matter how much we try to “polish them up” or make them more “presentable” to society, a man is a man is a man. What exactly is wrong with that?

Apparently there’s enough wrong with that that men feel the need to keep portions of their lives hidden from their female counterparts (much like my brother did) out of guilt and not “measuring up”. They’re not trying to be idiots, but they have to be men, and that means sometimes being stupid, blowing off steam, getting angry, telling dirty jokes, laughing at dirty jokes, driving too fast and sometimes taking some risks.

Please understand. This is not a free pass for men to engage in total asinine behavior. Men can still be responsible, loyal, faithful, kind and patient without giving up their manhood. But if a man is all of those things, is it really necessary to tame him to the point of demanding he give up his motorcycle, his affinity for cigars, and his appreciation for dirty jokes all in the name of making him more “polished”?

Ladies, we need to learn to pick our battles. We need to recognize that men are supposed to be a little wild and untamed; they’re supposed to be risk-takers; they’re supposed to be “men”. And if we’re not okay with that, then maybe we need to re-evaluate some of our expectations. I know once I did, I found myself appreciating men a whole lot more for who they are, not for what they had the potential to be.


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