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

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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The Gentle Art of Saying No

The Gentle Art of Saying No

No!

It’s a simple fact that you can never be productive if you take on too many commitments — you simply spread yourself too thin and will not be able to get anything done, at least not well or on time.

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But requests for your time are coming in all the time — through phone, email, IM or in person. To stay productive, and minimize stress, you have to learn the Gentle Art of Saying No — an art that many people have problems with.

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What’s so hard about saying no? Well, to start with, it can hurt, anger or disappoint the person you’re saying “no” to, and that’s not usually a fun task. Second, if you hope to work with that person in the future, you’ll want to continue to have a good relationship with that person, and saying “no” in the wrong way can jeopardize that.

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But it doesn’t have to be difficult or hard on your relationship. Here are the Top 10 tips for learning the Gentle Art of Saying No:

  1. Value your time. Know your commitments, and how valuable your precious time is. Then, when someone asks you to dedicate some of your time to a new commitment, you’ll know that you simply cannot do it. And tell them that: “I just can’t right now … my plate is overloaded as it is.”
  2. Know your priorities. Even if you do have some extra time (which for many of us is rare), is this new commitment really the way you want to spend that time? For myself, I know that more commitments means less time with my wife and kids, who are more important to me than anything.
  3. Practice saying no. Practice makes perfect. Saying “no” as often as you can is a great way to get better at it and more comfortable with saying the word. And sometimes, repeating the word is the only way to get a message through to extremely persistent people. When they keep insisting, just keep saying no. Eventually, they’ll get the message.
  4. Don’t apologize. A common way to start out is “I’m sorry but …” as people think that it sounds more polite. While politeness is important, apologizing just makes it sound weaker. You need to be firm, and unapologetic about guarding your time.
  5. Stop being nice. Again, it’s important to be polite, but being nice by saying yes all the time only hurts you. When you make it easy for people to grab your time (or money), they will continue to do it. But if you erect a wall, they will look for easier targets. Show them that your time is well guarded by being firm and turning down as many requests (that are not on your top priority list) as possible.
  6. Say no to your boss. Sometimes we feel that we have to say yes to our boss — they’re our boss, right? And if we say “no” then we look like we can’t handle the work — at least, that’s the common reasoning. But in fact, it’s the opposite — explain to your boss that by taking on too many commitments, you are weakening your productivity and jeopardizing your existing commitments. If your boss insists that you take on the project, go over your project or task list and ask him/her to re-prioritize, explaining that there’s only so much you can take on at one time.
  7. Pre-empting. It’s often much easier to pre-empt requests than to say “no” to them after the request has been made. If you know that requests are likely to be made, perhaps in a meeting, just say to everyone as soon as you come into the meeting, “Look guys, just to let you know, my week is booked full with some urgent projects and I won’t be able to take on any new requests.”
  8. Get back to you. Instead of providing an answer then and there, it’s often better to tell the person you’ll give their request some thought and get back to them. This will allow you to give it some consideration, and check your commitments and priorities. Then, if you can’t take on the request, simply tell them: “After giving this some thought, and checking my commitments, I won’t be able to accommodate the request at this time.” At least you gave it some consideration.
  9. Maybe later. If this is an option that you’d like to keep open, instead of just shutting the door on the person, it’s often better to just say, “This sounds like an interesting opportunity, but I just don’t have the time at the moment. Perhaps you could check back with me in [give a time frame].” Next time, when they check back with you, you might have some free time on your hands.
  10. It’s not you, it’s me. This classic dating rejection can work in other situations. Don’t be insincere about it, though. Often the person or project is a good one, but it’s just not right for you, at least not at this time. Simply say so — you can compliment the idea, the project, the person, the organization … but say that it’s not the right fit, or it’s not what you’re looking for at this time. Only say this if it’s true — people can sense insincerity.

Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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