Sunday, September 07, 2014

What is a real man, again.

Well, I have been divorced (or at least separated) for almost a decade now. Attempts at finding a meaningful adult relationship have been largely unsuccessful. Whilst I have not given up on it, it is at the very least on hold. Something I found a little useful lately was a reflection on what I didn't want in a man. Based loosely on the things I have encountered during and after my marriage;

(1) Irrational dictator (Simon: barking at me that "we are not doing this, we are not doing that" and then later (quite often) turning around and deciding to do it himself),
(2) Groundless opinions (Simon again: freely given baseless opinions on everything from Immigration to which colours go together),
(3) Passive aggression (Simon also: to accompany the above, shut down if people don't agree with you, and refuse to discuss - this includes big life decisions like buying a house, moving in together, having a baby),
(4) Outright bald aggression (Neil: If a person doesn't agree with you shut THEM down, physically if necessary)
(5) Unfaithfulness and the accompanied necessary lies and possible gaslighting (making me think it is all in my mind (Neil)),
(6) Meaningless posturing/assumptions about their role in my life - "I'm here to Protect and Provide!" whilst doing neither, and without being asked to anyway (Neil). "I can just see where this is going, you'll move in and get half of my assets" (John, and school dad)

(7) Distain and indifference (all of them ultimately),
(8) Objectification ie "I couldn't just sleep with anyone, I REALLY LIKE you" followed by a litany of my physical charms and nothing about me as a person (Seamus and Hamish (in actions if not in words)),
(9) Cherry picking - you would be perfect if it wasn't for your child (Seamus)
(10) Ineffectual posturing (Simon - earning a 5th of what I do then turning up at school in a business suit handing round his card, telling the teacher how to do her job...)

Then I got to thinking maybe many of these are the dark side  of what we consider attributes of a REAL MAN. We like our men to be strong, and admire us physically. We socialise them that way.  I may be in the minority of women really not liking to be objectified. Even more demanding, we want our men to bond with us for life, help us to raise our children, not look at other women..So if I was born a man, and couldn't rise to these expectations maybe I too would "fake it 'til I made it"


I see so many unhappily married parents of school aged kids.  The men who manage to be faithful to their wives, take an interest in their kids, bring home the bacon, and project an ideal of manhood are in the minority and their wives become tired, irritable, critical and unappreciative, and stop making an effort.

I set to wondering if maybe being faithful was, to men, the ultimate sacrifice they make for their women. It is not in their nature, they have to work at it every day relentlessly pushing down their urges and finding the best in themselves for the greater good of their families, and they actually want credit for this - from their wife and from society. It is analogous to women keeping young and beautiful - diet, exercise, a nip and a tuck, whatever it takes (subtext - to keep our man) it's not easy or natural for us we would rather eat donuts and wear a velour tracksuit. We actually want credit for that (from our husbands and from society). Both may be doomed to failure, but it doesn't stop us trying.

My mistake is that I have always wanted to get beyond this. I have wanted to be with someone who is actually my friend, is with me for who I am, rather than (as well as) my physical assets and has no trouble being faithful and keeping their end up financially, and tells the truth in small and large things and confronts problems head on.

There have been very few people with whom I have formed an easy, mutually rewarding, relationship of this kind. People who do all of the above and who make me laugh, give me just the right amount of space, compassionately observe my life, build me up where necessary, be honest about my flaws. Who treat me like a human as well as a body. People I really long to come home to... and in fact those people would be my mother and my son and a few close friends in my university days.

3 comments:

Jenny said...

Just found your blog & read it all today, accompanied by a large glass of red (or three). You have said what I have been feeling for some time, but far more eloquently than I could have ever said it.

I notice you aren't posting as much now, & am wondering if I've found you too late - but then my timing has always been appalling. I found the Plankton's blog shortly before her last post....

fiona buchannan said...

I'm here, just busy! thanks for stopping by I will try to post about once a month.

Anonymous said...

Just for the record, peering back from 2016 here, George was none of these things. Maybe that's why I fell for him. I'm sure there's some defining behavior - superficial charm or insincerity maybe Fi0na