This question keeps surfacing from men to women in dating dynamics: What do you bring to the table?
It’s truly an annoying question, because men who ask that are also just trying to make a woman prove their worth to the man. So let’s flip that script. The truth is, I know exactly what I bring, but what it’s been met with is boys who have no clue about what to do with this full and abundant package that brings more than any of them have offered me. What I bring is a heavy and complex package that can only be offered to a MAN. I’m not easy but I am well worth the effort to attain, maintain and sustain for a MAN who is willing to put in the work.
I will be the first person to tell you I am not easy. I am not easy as a daughter because I questioned everything that my parents wanted me to internalize as their norms when my three siblings accepted or acquiesced to them. I am not easy as a friend, because I had expectations and a short patience for nonsense so walking away from friendships has always been quick and painless for me. I am not easy as a mother because I relentlessly try to foster and facilitate my children’s growth despite their pushback and distance. I prod my boys to be emotionally open and I guide my daughter to be bold and take up space. That same challenge of not being easy has plagued my romantic relationships as well.
For a long time I thought it was my fault that I was too much and needed to shrink myself for the people I chose to bring into my romantic realm. And I did. Countless times and with nothing to show for it. Now I know, I was the right package showing up at the wrong doors. My lack of ease in many things is coupled with my immense and expansive love and loyalty to those who prove they can handle me. Yet still, I have always been a heavy package to carry and the truth is there was no MAN strong enough to carry me.
That parcel has only become more complex and heavier with time. The weight of my package begins with the basics of where my life has landed today. I am 44 years old, I have four children and am now officially a divorcee. That list in itself is not for everyone. So when a twenty something guy walks into my world trying to be the MAN in it, it’s cute, but unsustainable.
This package requires a MAN that has very specific attributes. I don’t mean the typical dating checklist of external factors, but the things that demonstrate leadership and truthfully how an emperor would move through the world and alongside an empress. A heavy package requires strength to carry and hold steady. It means you need to not only know how to maintain the balance while carrying this but also move toward a common goal. It takes a real MAN to cultivate and hold on to the love of a powerful and complex woman.
Starting with the obvious. I am a mother. Already, I have canceled out the men who have never been parents or have no interest in children. Those four people range from 21,19.16 to 5. They are old, young and complicated pieces that frame my life and goals. They drive me, but they also test me. My love for them causes me immense joy and debilitating pain at times. The MAN in my life needs to see and support all that. A MAN will recognize that the weight of this responsibility is also the reason for my strength as a partner. I am an innate nurturer and love with a depth of seeing beyond your strengths to noticing how your challenges are also a dynamic aspect of who you are. Just as I have with my children. I am raising three men, so I know exactly what I expect to see from a MAN who can be in mine and their life eventually as a role model. A MAN’s actions and words will model for the first time in their lives what it looks like when their mother is adored, respected and valued by a MAN.
I left a marriage after seventeen years with four children in tow. Yes, one day I woke up and had enough. That means I am capable of walking away from anything when it no longer serves me in a positive way. In the case of that dynamic, it was 17 years too late, because it never served me, I was just too accommodating and too much of a savior to accept the reality. A MAN will not be fearful of that past, but rather see it as a way to demonstrate how he stands out from the boys of the past who gave up when it was difficult and willingly let me slip out of their hands through indifference. Although, it may seem on the surface I will walk away with ease, I would never abandon someone that genuinely held onto and valued me. Once that changes though, all bets are off. My complex package now has learned the power and necessity of boundaries. My well being and peace come before anyone else’s comfort and needs. A MAN will remember that when times get difficult and my faults come through. He will know I am imperfect but always willing and open to learning and growing to be better. Ideally with a MAN who is a partner by my side.
Then there are the complexities that come together in the way I move through the world. I am unpredictable. You may never know what I might do next, but you will always know how I will show up. So even in my risk taking and ability to just jump without looking, my personality and commitment don’t waver. I live life to the fullest, take advantage of opportunities and seek adventure to push myself outside my comfort zone. I comfortably and confidently do this alone but would also want a partner to experience life with on these detours. A MAN will encourage my exploration alone and find opportunities for us to have them together while also doing the same for his own growth and development
I am a hardworking, driven woman who makes shit happen. I may ask for help, but if it doesn't show up in time, life will keep moving forward and I will solve the problems myself. A MAN will offer help and follow through but also recognize my need to independently move at my own pace without having his ego bruised or feeling that I am not needy enough. A MAN doesn’t require a woman to need him, he appreciates a woman who wants him and is secure in herself and life to handle her business alone also. The benefit of a MAN will be that he will create the spaces where I won’t have to always be moving and driving the bus, I can allow for him to take control and lead and lean into his expertise and knowledge. A MAN knows leading a woman is not controlling her, but guiding her with care and appreciation for the assets she provides to inform the path.
I stand up for myself and have never asked the boys in my past relationships to defend me, but when they had the opportunities they didn’t. Either it was not wanting to rock the boat or shying away from claiming me in their lives. Those choices left me open to pain from others and them. A MAN protects the woman in his life. Physically, mentally and emotionally.
The few times men have physically come at me, the boys I was with were either threatened themselves and showing cowardice by blaming me or they were nowhere to be seen. I fought my battles myself and defended my body and space on my own. I am perfectly capable to do so, but the comfort and safety in knowing I have a MAN in my life to turn to for that would change that need to be so strong all the time. Mentally, a MAN protects when he respects the value of your mind and the contribution you have to the relationship. He will know that my intellect adds to his knowledge as his will for me. Challenging me mentally is necessary, I require engagement and being pushed to grow with new ideas or perspectives. My world will be expanded by knowing this MAN and his will be with knowing me.
Emotional protection is the most difficult to find when it comes to boys. In their defense, they are not taught about this form for protection or the necessity of it in relationships. Emotions are a scary place for boys. Even my own children who have been explicitly guided in sharing and owning their emotions, still show up unable to express theirs for me. Society is stronger than a mother’s guidance in this respect. So, this quality in a MAN is one that I am open to fostering if someone is willing. I will meet a MAN halfway if he is brave enough to make the effort to be vulnerable and explore his emotions with honesty especially when those emotions help give me clarity and affirmation. Emotional vulnerability is key to creating safety and trust. A MAN knows an authentic and deep relationship requires emotional exposure and discomfort for the growth and the sustainability of the relationship with a complex and emotionally open woman. A MAN knows that her emotional safety is the security that grounds the relationship and allows her to fall into trust and expose her softer sides.
My wit will show up in the most unexpected moments. It’s a shield from pain, a detour from being too emotional or it’s just the way to make everyone around me comfortable and break the ice. It creates connection and builds trust and safety. I can make myself the core of the joke, or just notice the nuances of things around me that I find humor in. A MAN has thick enough skin to know this playful side and the wherewithal to recognize when it’s a defense mechanism that requires a safe place to relinquish control and bring down my walls.
My anger and pain meld together in a calm but piercing way. I no longer hold onto my thoughts. If I feel it and think about it, most likely you will know. Delivery is still with plenty of grace yet still raw with emotions. A MAN will handle my words knowing they come from real heartfelt places and require my strength to share. It takes a lot for a strong woman to be weak in front of others, A MAN will never exploit or disregard that by changing the subject or minimizing my thoughts.
I am honest. If I see something that is not right, I will say it. If I feel something is off, I will call attention to it. I am highly intuitive and very aware of shifts in others’ energy. You can’t pretend with me. Now, I preface that by saying, I just recently came to recognize this attribute, So, my past is peppered with moments where I allowed my affection and trust of others to be placated with simple dismissive responses rather than trusting that intuitive nature. In the end, I was always right and now the Marya that you get in this dating package knows what bullshit smells like without having to get so close that I step into it. Only a MAN can check his ego and knows that honesty with me is a better choice, and will sustain the weight of this package.
I love deeply and without conditions and needs. I find peace in giving love to others. It brightens my day to make someone I care for smile and feel seen. I show up without question, Support without judgment and follow through on my words. I can see and hone in on not only what makes him strong, but also your fears and vulnerability, in order to cultivate the safe space for his masculinity to be at ease and cared for. That kind of love can be frightening to a boy who is not strong enough to handle it and reciprocate the value of me in the love returned. A MAN will know how to read my body language and between my words to give me security and a safe space to release my need to do and instead just be. A MAN will recognize the value and rarity of this love and hold on with his heart and soul. A MAN will return the love by listening and moving in accordance with how I share my needs for reassurance and affection. A MAN will learn the languages I speak in love through watching me and learning my desires and requirements for trusting he is safe for me to wholeheartedly love without restriction or holding back. A MAN isn’t afraid of too much love from a dynamic and thoughtful woman.
I am social and interactive with everyone I meet regardless of gender. You have to be a strong MAN to handle that without jealousy and your ego taking over. If you truly know me you will. Know that if I care deeply for you, the only person that can change and sway those emotions is you. I am loyal to my heart and if my heart is safe with someone I will know the value and never risk it. If I have gained trust and feel secure I may look and notice what is out there, but I know the grass is always greener where it is watered and nurtured. A MAN will know the same and not need options to fulfill an egotistical need of validation when he knows I am his ride or die. A MAN is secure with himself and our dynamic to never need to question my loyalty or trust.
I am heavy, complicated and at times an unpredictable package, but I would also be a blessing in your life. Blessings are rare and valuable. They should be appreciated and accepted with open arms. Anything that is valuable requires work to hold onto and care to maintain. I am no different. So today, this package is being perfected and worked on alone. I am growing and building a world that makes me proud and cultivating my peace.
When the MAN who is the leader and bold enough to stand out from the rest comes forward, I will know because my heart, soul, mind and body will finally be in good hands with a MAN that knows its value and worth in his life. One day this package will land at the right door and find the home it’s meant to have with someone ready and excited to receive it.