What Makes a Strong Man?
Some may call me a professional dater and others could refer to me as “too picky”. Whatever the case, I have had enough relationships to know that I need a “strong man” for a significant other. As a business owner and woman who built her own house with pneumatic tools that are kept in her laundry room, I can be a hard act to follow, emasculating almost any male that dares to take the dating challenge.
My profession requires me to analyze data and respond appropriately. I have found that this skill bleeds into my personal life daily, as I size up each and every date, tearing apart their personality and determining what future debacles could possibly occur. Yes, I know. This is an excellent path towards sabotaging your love life – or is it? When you eliminate the learning curve in any venture, your path to success then moves along quickly. Should I continue to date the same type of men that I am unhappy with, or should I learn from my failures? In order to learn and move forward, I took the list of what I didn’t want in a man and tried to develop a list of what I do want. What do I really consider a “strong man”? Through many harsh experiences, I have formulated a list that only Thor could meet.
When I was only 36, my fiancé was diagnosed with terminal cancer. He was by far the sweetest man I have dated and the weakest. Suddenly, upon diagnosis, his family insisted on moving in with him, our engagement was broken, and he was pressured into living his last year as they saw fit. His last words to me were “My entire life was a waste. I tried to make everyone around me happy and I made NO ONE happy. Most of all, I didn’t make myself happy”. His family speculated on WHY he died so unhappily and I didn’t offer an answer. It was his fault and not theirs. Rule number one for strength in a man went into place on the list that had started formulating in my head.
1. A strong man must often make hard choices that could simultaneously support and disappoint those he loves. A strong man will not allow those around him to make those decisions for him in order to save himself the guilt of disappointing others.
I shared many lunches with a bright and lively friend, Diana, who once brought up the subject of lies of omission. “Do you consider it a lie if he does not tell you something he did that he knows he should not have done?” she asked. Seeing my confusion, she went on further. “If he comes home after a scheduled meeting and doesn’t tell you that the meeting was cancelled and he then made a decision to have dinner with an old girlfriend, is this a lie? I think it’s called a lie of omission”, she said. I then started realizing that people in general use lies of omission to cover many things. It was soon after this conversation that I discovered that my fiancé and boyfriend of two years had a wife that he had failed to mention and was not really spending his time working in Germany. Following my strong right cross, rule number two went into place for a strong man.
2. A strong man will look you in the eye and tell you things that he knows will cause a repercussion because he values your relationship and the respect that you have for him as a man you can trust.
I will never forget the day that my brother called me and told me that my father was in ICU because someone tried to murder him. “WHAT?” My dad was not a public figure or an extremely wealthy man, so I was baffled. As a poor single mom of two, I then drove seven hours and slept in our family home, but not before spending a long time in the back room staring at the twenty foot wide pool of blood. I never forgot this moment because I knew as I stood there that my dad would not survive. Later, I was told that the car was stolen with the keys to the house on it. My family was in shock and common sense was not part of the equation. My father died a month later and I ran out of the funeral because I was extremely stressed. In a flood of tears, I later asked my boyfriend “Why didn’t you come with me?” “You didn’t ask”, he said. It was through that experience that rule number three was created.
3. A strong man will not have to be asked to take care of his partner, even if she is a strong person. He will assess each situation and respond appropriately unless asked not to.
My second marriage could only be considered a success because my beautiful son was born. I attribute my greatest success in life to my two children even though their childhoods were riddled with pain and disappointment. My son came to me one Wed afternoon and stated, “Mom, I am not going to my dad’s this weekend if he calls. I asked him to come get me last week and he lied to me. He was not working and I could tell he was drunk.” That following Saturday, his dad did call and my son politely, but firmly stood his ground. He waved me out of his room as he spoke to his dad in a serious tone. Later that evening, my ex-husband ended his life with a deer rifle and so began the pain and regret of a 16 year old boy who then grew up very fast. Any parent knows how painful it is to watch your children suffer. It was then that rule number 4 was formed.
4. A strong man will put his own pain behind him to love and protect his children, family, or those who love him and need him.
Through the many years of dating experiences, I have run across many co-dependent men with addictions that are either physical or emotional. As a strong independent woman, I am a magnet for these types of men. Without even realizing how they are sabotaging their well-being, they pick up harmful addictions to soothe the pain of being alone or bitter. One former boyfriend used his children as comfort and cried when they had to visit their mom. He then decided she was an unfit mother and took measures to get her out of their lives because he did not want to share them. He was successful even though she was a lovely and kind person, too weak to fight back. Another common addiction I have seen is pet abuse. After going through the meat grinder with an ex-girlfriend, “Mr. X” decided that people could not be trusted and he began sleeping with two large dogs. He also dipped and drank excessively. While out on a date with me, he admitted guilt over leaving the dogs with his mother for the evening. Even though the dogs cried when we tried to get them OUT of the bedroom, I soon realized by the anxiety on his face that HE was addicted to the dogs and not the other way around. The co-dependency that he created with his dogs was unfair to his pets as well. Another item was then added to the list of strong men characteristics.
5. A strong man does not use people, substances, or unhealthy habits to soothe his pain. He does not give up when life experiences knock him down, but works toward restoring his faith and moving forward through healthy avenues.
It may be obvious why I need a strong man. I have grown tired of taking the role of the responsible, strong savior of myself AND those around me. The list for what I feel comprises a strong man is much longer than most readers care to pursue. I have shared the most impactful moments as a demonstration of how as we age, our life experiences make it harder to find a mate. At this point in my life, I am still speculating on whether I have grown wise or grown skeptical and critical. This analytical behavior combined with my fear of repeating my pain continues to be the death of me. We all have our weaknesses, but equally, we all have the list of deal breakers, a list that continues to grow as we attempt to find our “close to perfect” man.
© 2013 Simone Sander