I have a secret game I like to play on social occasions. When I meet other men for the first time, I try to guess how long it will take for them to ask me what I do for a living. Unfortunately, it’s a very short game because in most circumstances, ‘What do you do?’ is the second question asked, right after my name. Why is that?
For men, what we do defines us. Rightly or wrongly, most guys source their core identity from their vocation. If you ever wondered why some companies have inflated sounding titles for relatively mundane roles, the answer is probably something to do with the men who have to inhabit them. No guy wants to introduce himself to other guys at a party as a Janitor, so he will opt to salvage some pride in being a Hygiene Technician. If that feels a little pretentious, he will say who he works for and let inference answer a question he rather wouldn’t. At heart this is all about what affects men most deeply – respect. While women thrive on intimacy and love, men crave the affirmation of others to know that they are okay.
That means that while a guy is capable of appreciating shows of affection, he is not going to be quite as swept off his feet by them as perhaps a woman would be. Otherwise, florists would sell a lot more man-bouquets. Instead of emotional strokes, men will look for expressions of respect. This is why we like to play Knight in Shining Armor. Changing tires, opening jars and programming video recorders is our specialty because when we do something for someone else, lurking under the surface is the desire to know that we are helpful, useful people to have around. We want someone to respect our technical prowess, our physical strength and our impeccable timing. Whatever skill set we are employing, there is an underlying hope that it will be respected.
For a woman, that doesn’t make a lot of sense, but try to remember it is men we are talking about, so what makes sense is secondary to what actually matters. If you want your man, or any man, to understand how you feel about him, start with respect. Telling him that he completes you is lovely, but it will probably leave him fumbling for an adequate response. Guys don’t handle that currency well. But if you wonder out loud about whether his boss realizes what an asset he is to their company, your man will probably blush and mumble something in the region of faux humility. Because he just heard you say that you respect him, and that is just about as good as it gets for us.
The only word of caution is that respect, like love, must be genuine. Just as any hollow expression of affection is meaningless, cheap compliments will be worthless. No guy wants to be patronized. That doesn’t mean he isn’t going to be a little excited that you noticed his back swing, or feel pleased with himself when you appreciate that he knows how to order wine. Little things matter to both sexes. Just make sure that they are honest expressions of worth.
So don’t just shower the guy in your life with sweet sentiment. Ask for his business card. Or get him to demonstrate something manly. Let him teach you to check the oil, or explain the last referee’s decision. It sounds almost trivial, but in your rapt attention he will hear those three magical words we all long for: I respect you.
I agree Dan, but I’m going to take it just a step further. To show a man you respect him you need to make him feel important and appreciate him. You have to understand not all men can be CEOs of fortune 500 companies, winners of the noble peace prize, or presidents of a country. That doesn’t mean he doesn’t want to be important his life, and while most of the world will never notice him, he needs you to recognize that he is important to you.
He also needs you to appreciate him for who he is, the things he does for you and for just being the man in your life. Most of a man’s life is spent unnoticed and unappreciated, struggling to make things work. You are the only person where he will ever feel important and appreciated. That is what will make him feel loved and it will make you special in his eyes. It may seem simple but it is necessary for a man to feel loved.
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