Be Her Peace
The internet is flooded with conversations about women being too independent these days that guys do not want to date, marry or honestly even “deal with them”. Some men have voiced they need a woman who gives them peace and lets them lead, and some women say they don’t think any men know how to treat independent women and would rather be on their own. Both men and women are not hearing what the other needs.
I have been thinking about this, because in many ways I fit the profile of these supposedly “difficult” women. I know that not every man is prepared for all that I bring to a relationship. I am not for the weak. It doesn't mean that no man is capable. But just as most things work between people in relationships, the missing piece is communicating what it actually is that women need to feel their peace also.
What allows a woman to exhale and lean out to make the space for a man to lead and feel his masculine energy is honored? It's not impossible to find the bridge and make these dynamics work, but like everything that you invest in, it requires effort and intentionality.
When I got married I was a 22 year old kid who, like most twenty-some kids, knew nothing about myself or relationships. I was naïve and didn’t know my own worth. My ex, who was 8 years my senior, never hesitated to tell me that if I had more confidence, I would be more attractive to him. That became another reason for his limited emotional investment in our relationship as husband and wife.
Fast forward seven years into our marriage, I had three children, a career as an educator, and stepped up and into the role of a wife and mother without blinking an eye. Each of these aspects helped me grow into knowing myself and what I was capable of. That all came with more confidence. While I thought my increased confidence would be more appealing to him, he now saw me as self centered and unattractive because knowing I had worth made me “full of myself”.
In the end, my lack of confidence allowed him to have power over me and when I finally grew into it, my found confidence was a threat to his "masculinity". This same pattern happens often with men and women. Confident women are a threat to the masculinity of men who are not healed and grown enough to be comfortable with a woman's power. They do not have the ability to see those characteristics as an asset not their competition. Many men think they want a strong woman and see them as attractive, but have no idea what to do or say to honor that woman’s confidence.
So what happens when you have a strong, independent woman who knows she brings high value to your life? They require care so that they can lean into their softness and make space for the man to take the lead. Men, this is what creates the conditions for a woman to let down her guard and give you the space to be a provider and hold a powerful role in her life. It comes down to three basic needs. Women need to feel safe, supported and seen.
Relationships require safety. Safety can be viewed in many ways, but when you are with an independent woman, she is watching for it in two distinct ways. Do I feel this man has my emotional and mental safety at the forefront of his thinking? Strong women know how to keep their guard up to get shit done and stay focused on the goals they are working towards. This may mean in the office with their children or just in interactions with friends and family. Emotional safety is the condition that allows a woman to let down the defensive guard protecting her heart and allow herself to be vulnerable and open. This creates a space for women to tell you their faults and missteps without feeling they will be judged or questioned. These women are often the support for many others to turn to for advice or coaching. They need safety with the men they are with to take off the superwoman cape and just be. Be emotionally naked, be fallible, and be reflective to admit their fears. A woman who feels emotionally threatened by the space a man takes and the way he wields his masculinity as a tool to control, will not relinquish their control. She is in constant fight mode waiting on the defensive to respond and react not be responsive and proactive.
Make it safe for her by listening and understanding what she shares. Ask her about her feelings and how her experiences are impacting her. Pay attention to the nuances of her tone and body language and recognize and acknowledge when you see her tense up or shut down. Her body and actions display that she is not feeling safe in that moment. Don’t get defensive and pull away, she needs your comfort and warmth not more frustration and judgment. Letting your ego dictate the way you react to her, will only strengthen the walls she has put up. Soften your tone and demeanor, and you will naturally see her relax and even possibly exhale.
When a woman feels safe emotionally and mentally, she shows up authentically without reservations. She smiles more and laughs often. She may become silly and playful. Her guard is down and she is welcoming your presence and masculine energy to take the lead because she trusts you will lead her with respect and consideration.
Many women are ambitious and driven while also carrying the responsibilities of the multiple roles they play in others’ lives. While men say they want a woman who has goals, they don’t always understand what supporting a woman with goals needs to feel like for her. A woman who has goals has already mapped out plans and ideas. She may have a big vision with some of the details and seems to have it all together, but everyone wants someone to lean on and lean into. Even with those plans and ideas, there could be something she didn’t see or an area you have better expertise in. If you want to provide that support, you must first create the dynamic for it.
Start with appreciation and recognition. Most women do not come to high positions and empowerment without challenges and obstacles. Acknowledge that she has worked hard and note the strength it took her to do that. Tell her what you appreciate about her ideas and projects with genuine feedback and specific compliments. When men lead with love and consideration, women are open to hearing feedback for growth. Finally, support her by pushing her when it gets tough and she reaches rough spots. Remind her of her ability to overcome challenges. Tell her what she has done in the past to move through obstacles. The support you give the woman in your life will be returned ten times to you because we are natural nurturers. It also lets her know you value her as a person and in your life.
When my children were born the first thing the nurses did was place their bodies on my skin. Immediately the crying stopped and I could feel their heartbeats in rhythm with mine. Skin to skin contact relieves stress and relaxes us. Physical touch is one of the most powerful tools of connection. That is because there is a psychological link to safety, trust and connection and the power of human touch.
The power is in the moment you choose to show it and how you take the step to connect physically with a woman. A guiding hand on the small of her back, makes a woman feel cared for. Holding her hand while you are sitting in the car, or offering your arm for her to link into while walking gives her security. A gentle hand on the back of her neck, rubbing her shoulders and rubbing her leg when she's sitting next to you, are all physical ways to show her she is seen and make her feel special. When a woman knows she is seen and valued, she doesn't have to prove her presence or worth to you. When she receives this kind of care and adoration, you will see her shift towards thinking and caring for you, because she is affirmed that you are doing the same for her.
Most of these things are universal needs. Men need safety, support, and affection in the same way. There are many women who recognize this and are willing to give it. The challenge is that often men are willing to accept those things, but don’t realize the importance and significance of returning them. Relationships require constant nurturing and attention to grow and sustain over time and through the
inevitable obstacles. If you have a woman you know is rare and gives you what you need, feed her soul and heart and care for her. In the end we are all looking for the same needs to be fulfilled, we may just need to adjust the methods and moments in which we take the steps to do it.