I have the privilege of knowing quite a few brilliant people. Through conversations with them, I am able to express some of my most complicated and important thoughts. Last month I was speaking with Linda. She has a Ph.D. in Leadership and Organization and is an educator and life and executive coach. And she has an enormous amount of experience as a professional, especially at a high level.
On this particular day, she and I were talking about relationships. She asked me what I wanted from a woman. After I answered, she thought the conversation was worthy of sharing with others who struggle with making relationships work. Part of the conversation went like this:
Ted: In an intimate relationship, a woman should just give a man what he wants. If she gives him what he wants, the relationship will most likely work.
Linda: What about the woman? What about the man giving her what she wants? Sometimes it is difficult to communicate what a woman wants from a man without him feeling she wants to be in control of the relationship, because there is no “one size fits” all.
Ted: The same applies. The man should just give her what she wants. That works if people tell one another what they want up front. That means you talk about what you expect and want from a relationship. If a woman tells me what she wants up front, I can let her know if I can give it to her. If I can’t, I’d rather say that up front, instead of her getting upset because she is not getting what she needs. If she lets me know, I can say no, I can’t give you that. Or I can say I’m not willing to give you that. If I can give it to her, I’ll know what I’m getting myself into, instead of her being resentful because she believes she is fulfilling my needs and hers are not being met.
Linda: Well of course, that’s good communication.
Ted: Yes, it is. Except, a lot of women have a belief that a man is supposed to magically know what she wants. She equates his caring for knowing what she wants without her ever having to tell him anything. I’ve heard women say that it’s a man’s job to know and she should not have to tell him. If he doesn’t know, she may believe he is not really into her. Or he’s not paying attention to her. That’s not a relationship. That’s a babysitting job.
At the same time, I’ve also seen women say they only want sex from a man. After they get to know the guy, they like him. Then they claim the rules have changed because feelings are involved. That can be messy.
It’s better if you don’t judge the person as only being worthy of sex. When you do that, you present yourself as shallow. Later when you change your mind, the person may still see you as shallow. Presenting yourself as shallow is a way of selling yourself short. In addition, it also shows you have poor judgment. People with poor judgment are not always suitable mates.
While I understand most people don’t know what they want, it’s more powerful to say that up front. Instead, I’ve seen women not know what they want. Yet, they pretend they do. That can be draining because she is playing trial and error while walking in the dark. If you tell me you don’t know what you want, I may still be interested in you. I will know to be patient. If you think about it, it’s fair to say most people have some idea about what they want. They may be afraid to ask for it because they don’t believe they will get it.
Linda: Then what do you want from a woman, Ted? Because every woman can be different depending on so many things, variables,… you name it and it could be the same person with a different story.
Ted: In the simplest way to express what I want, I would say three words – love, affection and acknowledgement.
By acknowledgement, I am saying I want to be acknowledged first as a human being. One way to acknowledge me as a human is to honor me for having an intelligent contribution. That requires having conversations with me. Talk to me about who you are and what you want from life. Also, it requires listening. That means you listen to what I have to say without interrupting me because you believe what you have to say is more important than what I’m saying.
Furthermore, it requires acknowledgement of my ambitions. If you don’t understand them, do not dismiss them. Ask questions.
In addition, whether it’s career, personal or a hobby, do not rely on outsiders to advise you on my intentions. Come to me and talk it through. If you don’t like what I say, tell me why. Before you become upset, listen to where I’m coming from. Just because you don’t like or understand does not justify being angry or dismissive. Learn to acknowledge my intelligence and understand how I think. An outsider cannot help you with that. Going to someone else, instead of talking it through with me, is a way of not acknowledging me.
After I explained more about acknowledgement, I went on to discuss what I meant by love and affection. Needless to say, she found the conversation quite insightful.