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Not So Much A Knight, in The Not So Shining Armor

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Not So Much A Knight, in The Not So Shining Armor

How a REAL man treats a woman:
He never tries to change her, he loves her for who she is
He doesn’t need words to understand her
He never gets threatened by her success, he encourages her dreams
He protects her emotionally and physically
He never disrespects her
And a REAL woman never ‘settles’ for less

Sounds like you have read this before, right? Well, it is an excerpt from the multitude of posts around how a man treats his partner. As women finally get to celebrate their individuality and progress, the role of the men in their lives is evolving. He is no longer a stereotypical bread winner, he is a true partner who embraces her complexities, who stands by her dreams, who loves her enough to both give her space and protect her.

As a young woman, I completely subscribe to above and I’m glad that gender roles are changing (finally!). But just as we get bombarded with such content I cannot help but wonder, are we creating just another version of the age old  ‘knight in shining armor’, shoes too big for a mere mortal to fill?

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The “Real Man”: Big Expectation, Bigger Heartbreak

As young girls we have grown up dreaming about a partner who is romantic like Brad Pitt and protective like our fathers. As grown women we dream about a partner who has all the 10 qualities that the post on the ‘real man’ has listed, and then some. Even before we enter into a relationship we have an image of the man we want. Imagine the rude shock when he doesn’t understand why she is angry even after three days of silent treatment (he is supposed to ‘get’ her if he really loves her).

Imagine the pain when he only gives an exasperated sigh when she cries instead of swooping her into his arms and apologizing profusely (he is supposed to never hurt her if he really loves her). The sheer horror when he seems threatened when she starts earning more than him, what happened to celebrating her dreams and standing by her? The let downs seem to be endless – he screams at her, he is not always dependable and sometimes he doesn’t seem to care about anything – are our men just not good enough?

I would like to offer an alternate (and probably controversial) explanation.

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The Truth About The REAL ‘Real Man’

He is Human. He is sloppy sometimes, jealous sometimes, angry sometimes, callous sometimes, and confused about what the hell you want most of the time. The ‘real man’ is not a dreamy cross between the heart stopping Brad Pitt and the dependable dad, it is this guy who is blankly staring at you without any comprehension despite three days of silent treatment. So should we do him a favor? Should we just tell him what’s up and move on (of course after sufficiently fighting it out!)

The fact that a man is not able to understand his partner sometimes  may not mean he doesn’t love her, it probably just means that he is neither a mind reader nor her identical twin. The fact that he is initially threatened when she earns more doesn’t necessarily make him a swine worth dumping. Maybe, just maybe, he is struggling to get past his own early conditioning of traditional gender roles, of course, stereotypes are nonsense, but maybe he is in the process of evolving, just as she is.

Let’s Stop Kidding Ourselves, This is The Real Deal

So the guy WILL scream at you, as much as you scream at him (or a little less if you are lucky or a little more if you are not so lucky), he will not always be able to protect you (especially when the beers have been one too many, in fact, you may find yourself struggling to drag the big fellow and drive him home!). He will be disrespectful and unsupportive on multiple occasions, just as you are. This is not because he is an anti woman chauvinist, it’s because, well, that’s how most people are irrespective of their genders.

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They have their highs and lows, virtues and vices. There is no clear good or bad, black or white, and your guy is just another piece of (hopefully) lovable grey. To be honest, thank God for that, had he been sheer perfection romancing you like Brad Pitt, you would eventually get quite fed up and yearn for…well..something more real!

So this is my humble submission – there is no knight in shining armor, and if you are honest with yourself, you don’t want one either (because you sure as hell are no damsel in distress!). We are surrounded by real men who are inconsistent just as humans are, and they are surrounded by us women, who are also inconsistent just as humans are.

So next time he turns away when you are sobbing, go right ahead, and have a fight, but pray don’t dwell on the ‘real man’ article you read last week, because that ladies is as imaginary as it gets!

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Featured photo credit: De Telegraaf via telegraaf.nl

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Last Updated on November 18, 2020

15 Tips to Restart the Exercise Habit (and How to Keep It)

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15 Tips to Restart the Exercise Habit (and How to Keep It)

It’s okay, you can finally admit it. It’s been two months since you’ve seen the inside of the gym. Getting sick, family crisis, overtime at work and school papers that needed to get finished all kept you for exercising. Now, the question is: how do you start again?
Once you have an exercise habit, it becomes automatic. You just go to the gym, there is no force involved. But after a month, two months or possibly a year off, it can be hard to get started again. Here are some tips to climb back on that treadmill after you’ve fallen off.

  1. Don’t Break the Habit – The easiest way to keep things going is simply not to stop. Avoid long breaks in exercising or rebuilding the habit will take some effort. This may be advice a little too late for some people. But if you have an exercise habit going, don’t drop it at the first sign of trouble.
  2. Reward Showing Up – Woody Allen once said that, “Half of life is showing up.” I’d argue that 90% of making a habit is just making the effort to get there. You can worry about your weight, amount of laps you run or the amount you can bench press later.
  3. Commit for Thirty Days – Make a commitment to go every day (even just for 20 minutes) for one month. This will solidify the exercise habit. By making a commitment you also take pressure off yourself in the first weeks back of deciding whether to go.
  4. Make it Fun – If you don’t enjoy yourself at the gym, it is going to be hard to keep it a habit. There are thousands of ways you can move your body and exercise, so don’t give up if you’ve decided lifting weights or doing crunches isn’t for you. Many large fitness centers will offer a range of programs that can suit your tastes.
  5. Schedule During Quiet Hours – Don’t put exercise time in a place where it will easily be pushed aside by something more important. Right after work or first thing in the morning are often good places to put it. Lunch-hour workouts might be too easy to skip if work demands start mounting.
  6. Get a Buddy – Grab a friend to join you. Having a social aspect to exercising can boost your commitment to the exercise habit.
  7. X Your Calendar – One person I know has the habit of drawing a red “X” through any day on the calendar he goes to the gym. The benefit of this is it quickly shows how long it has been since you’ve gone to the gym. Keeping a steady amount of X’s on your calendar is an easy way to motivate yourself.
  8. Enjoyment Before Effort – After you finish any work out, ask yourself what parts you enjoyed and what parts you did not. As a rule, the enjoyable aspects of your workout will get done and the rest will be avoided. By focusing on how you can make workouts more enjoyable, you can make sure you want to keep going to the gym.
  9. Create a Ritual – Your workout routine should become so ingrained that it becomes a ritual. This means that the time of day, place or cue automatically starts you towards grabbing your bag and heading out. If your workout times are completely random, it will be harder to benefit from the momentum of a ritual.
  10. Stress Relief – What do you do when your stressed? Chances are it isn’t running. But exercise can be a great way to relieve stress, releasing endorphin which will improve your mood. The next time you feel stressed or tired, try doing an exercise you enjoy. When stress relief is linked to exercise, it is easy to regain the habit even after a leave of absence.
  11. Measure Fitness – Weight isn’t always the best number to track. Increase in muscle can offset decreases in fat so the scale doesn’t change even if your body is. But fitness improvements are a great way to stay motivated. Recording simple numbers such as the number of push-ups, sit-ups or speed you can run can help you see that the exercise is making you stronger and faster.
  12. Habits First, Equipment Later – Fancy equipment doesn’t create a habit for exercise. Despite this, some people still believe that buying a thousand dollar machine will make up for their inactivity. It won’t. Start building the exercise habit first, only afterwards should you worry about having a personal gym.
  13. Isolate Your Weakness – If falling off the exercise wagon is a common occurrence for you, find out why. Do you not enjoy exercising? Is it a lack of time? Is it feeling self-conscious at the gym? Is it a lack of fitness know-how? As soon as you can isolate your weakness, you can make steps to improve the situation.
  14. Start Small – Trying to run fifteen miles your first workout isn’t a good way to build a habit. Work below your capacity for the first few weeks to build the habit. Otherwise you might scare yourself off after a brutal workout.
  15. Go for Yourself, Not to Impress – Going to the gym with the only goal of looking great is like starting a business with only the goal to make money. The effort can’t justify the results. But if you go to the gym to push yourself, gain energy and have a good time, then you can keep going even when results are slow.

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