Confused by single women? You’re not alone. A relationship expert shares her tips for making the ladies swoon.
By Dr. Gilda Carle, Ph.D.
Some years ago, women made The Rules their bible. It was a guidebook on how to manipulate men into marriage. Men felt duped, confused and used — and the con game set male-female relationships back. Today men are still perplexed about how to relate to women, and women are similarly confused when it comes to dealing with men.
In her song “Where Have All the Cowboys Gone?” Paula Cole laments, “Where is my John Wayne? Where is my happy ending? Where have all the cowboys gone?” Most women fantasize about having an alpha dude — for protection, shelter and guidance. But there’s a drawback. In their attempt to provide the virility they think women want, tough guys have shelved their sensitivity — and have lost part of what it means to be alive.
This nonspoken agreement is ironic: After she snags her tough guy, the woman who thought she wanted Rambo decides he’s really Dumbo — too distant and unwieldy to love. So she replaces Marlboro Man with Marshmallow Man, whom she believes it is her mission to mold. See, somewhere in her upbringing, she deduced that she’s the Relationship Police, and no man is complete until she “fixes” him.
Unfortunately, her new and improved model soon loses his appeal because this guy has become a backbone-challenged jellyfish without spine or spurs. Now the woman complains he’s too soft! What a relationship mess! Who’s fooling whom? Hollywood cowboys on camera are as fictitious as Cinderella and that monarch with the shoe fetish. Although my book title warns women, “Don’t Bet on the Prince!” my message hits too many hollow earrings. Women insist they need a gaucho to rescue them (from what, even they don’t know!), and men unwittingly play into this fractured feminine assumption. That’s because men want to feel needed. (Of course, this proves that, despite what women think, men truly do want love and are often willing to twist themselves into pretzels to get it.) In the end, nobody ends up with what he/she thought he/she wanted, and both genders feel angry and alone. Yet sadly, they continue their feckless efforts to pursue new partners in the same vein. Nothing changes. As my Gilda-Gram advises, “What you struggle to get, you struggle to keep.” And subterfuge is an impossible base for lasting love.
But, ahhh, things may have begun to move onto healthier terrain.
Tony Soprano started it by committing to therapy. Now some alpha men have been embracing their taskmaster toughness, while also acknowledging their compassion. For the first time, half the subscribers to my Instant Advice service on my site are now men. They are honest, real and raw, unabashedly displaying relationship pain, yet craving answers on how to make their love lives work.
So here’s the skinny from a female relationship expert. Gals may be uncertain about what they want from you guys, but there are definite behaviors to which women do respond. Try these on for size and see if your Relate-ability Quotient doesn’t rise.
7 Rules for Relating to Women
You may not understand women (and many women admit they don’t understand themselves), but you can ask questions about a woman’s life and dole out honest compliments.
OUTCOME: Women’s egos are massaged when they feel noticed and desired. This is separate from trying to seduce them. Women want supportive love. If your woman doesn’t know how to give it, show her by example.
OUTCOME: Your behavior, not your words, is a woman’s greatest teacher on how to return the love YOU want. Inconvenience yourself unconditionally, and deliver niceties that are totally unexpected. Share your feelings — and your fears — with your special lady. As my Gilda-Gram says, “Self-disclosure is symmetrical.”
OUTCOME: Little by little, open up about your preferences and your goals. As you become more vulnerable, so will your honey. Openness and vulnerability bond a couple. Pursue activities that inspire you, whether or not she enjoys them.
OUTCOME: Your expressions of delight and joy become contagious. Your woman will want to share your optimism. She may choose to join you in hobbies she originally rejected, or she may just bask in your enthusiasm when you return from them to her. The less confused you are in understanding your woman, the less manipulated you will be by her.
OUTCOME: A man’s confusion makes a woman feel he’s weak, malleable and ripe for “fixing.” Demonstrate respect for your woman’s perspective, but remain committed to your own. She’ll show a new admiration for you. Don’t let a woman try to change anything about you with which you are content — unless you’re into dangerous or unhealthy acts. Display your strength by projecting who you are and let her know you’re happy as you are.
OUTCOME: When you trumpet your persona, your woman will avoid her urge to renovate. She’ll also get turned on! (It follows the tenets of adolescent psychology, in which kids may lobby their parents for more freedom, but their parents’ saying no is interpreted as love. Go figure!) Communicate your expectation of support, respect and friendship. These must be your standards and your boundaries.
OUTCOME: When you unwaveringly sustain your parameters, you announce your alpha strength. Ladies crave men who are persevering and resolute. They read these traits as sexy. The 1991 movie City Slickers depicted some big-city guys with midlife crises. To seek answers, they spent two weeks renewing themselves as cowboys out West. Through physical feats they never took on in the concrete jungle, the men discovered that strength does not negate sensitivity. In fact, they learned their masculinity was emboldened by their tenderness.
Honor your alpha, but maintain your truth. Steadfast, chivalrous men are very attractive — because a self-accepting guy knows he loses nothing by also being vulnerable. Plenty of women seek compassionate cowboys with spines AND spurs AND souls. Most of these men dwell far from home on the range!
Relationship expert Dr. Gilda Carle, Ph.D., has a private practice and is an associate professor at Mercy College in New York. Her best-selling books include 99 Prescriptions for Fidelity and How to Win When Your Mate Cheats. Please visit her website or send your relationship questions to her at DrGilda@DrGilda.com.