“Are you man enough to be my man?”

This can be a common thought for powerful, successful, midlife dating women. It was expressed by DG reader “Diamond” in a question to me:

I’ve been in business my whole life. A friend’s mother shared this advice just prior to my running off to meet what I thought was the man of my dreams in London. She gently said, in a loving mother’s voice, “Do you mind if I give you a piece of advice about your man in London? Please don’t treat him like a business!”

I have a hard time switching from client mode to date mode. I treat my date as I do my clients — I want to know up front, “What are your goals and objectives?” This is me, who are you? BAM! I’m sure I’m too direct for the first call. This doesn’t evolve over time — I want to know now so I don’t waste time.

OMG — I don’t know how to date! The last guy went packing after our initial call. Run Forrest! Run!

I even took a painting class to “get my girl on,” “open my heart,” take off my pants!

Getting a massage, I asked my body worker for insights. She quipped, “I wish you could see your back as I am seeing it now.” Where are the ceiling mirrors when you need them? “Your right side is highly defined and your left side is lower, softer and not as defined as the right. The right side represents your male side and the left your female side. You are spending too much time in the male energy area of your life.”

I asked, “Is there a book I can buy to be more like a girl?” So male of me.

Later that night, I shared with the elders who had become my temporary grandmothers what transpired during my massage and they, too, laughed. One wise soul responded, “Dear, you do not need a book to be more like a girl. Simply go to your heart more and less from your head.”

So, my questions:

  • How do you find a man more man than yourself?
  • Where are all the strong men that love strong women?
  • What does a strong woman do to leave the business side at home on a date?
  • How do you stay in a “skirt” when dating when all you do all day is wear “pants” at work?
  • How do you date when you have never dated because you have a belief that you only date someone if you are going to marry them?
  • How do you overcome the “I don’t want to waste my time” disease?

Diamond (and other strong women):

This is such a good inquiry. I, too, have struggled with this and am not sure I have answers, but perhaps some insights that will help you find your own answers.

Many of us midlife women have created great lives through our focus, power and assertiveness. This is effective in the male culture of work, dominated with war and sports metaphors. We’ve learned how to dress powerfully, not provocatively, speak clearly and directly, stand with poise and confidence. It is so part of who we are that we have forgotten there is another more feminine side.

The truly powerful, I believe, have learned how to adapt to each situation and behave in ways that make them successful. A general is gentle around children or the infirm, yet speaks assuredly to the troops. A CEO knows that behavior in the Boardroom is different than at the company picnic. So, too, we must relearn what it’s like to allow our femininity to come out and still be powerful.

I am not saying you need to dummy down who you are. I’m saying that there are men who will love you for your power and will also love you when you allow your vulnerabilities to surface.

I started my business at 24. I felt to be taken seriously I needed to look and behave man-like. I only wore man-tailored clothing, had a short, no-nonsense hair cut, light makeup and carried an all-business briefcase. I continued to do this long after my credibility had been established and the severity began to hinder my effectiveness, as the people I wanted to connect with were intimidated. With the help of a few image consultant friends who saw my image was not eliciting the response I wanted, they helped outfit me in more feminine, yet still powerful attire. I consciously softened my behavior to be more approachable, softer, more welcoming. I can now shift more readily from business mode to date mode, with not only my dress but my demeanor.

My suggestion is to be conscious of the behaviors that aren’t working in dating, and to choose new ones. How do you know which are more welcoming? Since there’s not a book on it 🙂 (at least not one we know about), my suggestion is to find women role models from whom to learn. They can be friends, colleagues, or even those in the media. Watch what they do and adapt it for yourself. In your example of drilling a potential suitor on the first encounter, think beforehand what questions you could ask that would be gentler, yet still elicit the information you desire.

Also, it helped me to read several of the “Mars/Venus” books to understand that men want to be needed, and feel good about being useful to a woman. It helped me not feel I had to insist on splitting the check, or reciprocate every kind action a date made. I choose to give to him in ways he would appreciate, even if it was a smile, a word of sincere thanks, or a hug. My feminist bent felt I had to match everything equally, tit for tat. I’ve learned I can be feminist and feminine at the same time.

yin yangIt’s the yin and the yang of relationships that make them work. If both of you are yang, why do you need the other? The secret, I believe is to be able to be yang when the other is in yin and vice versa. My ex was pretty yin. He embraced his feminine side, and while not effeminate, he was nurturing. When my yang started to diminish and I let my yin side out more, I believe that’s when our disconnect began. He didn’t know how to be more yang. I could have chosen to go back into predominately yang mode, but that was not satisfactory anymore.

What advice do others have for women like Diamond who have trouble getting their girl-sides on?

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4 responses to ““Are you man enough to be my man?””

  1. Steve Mertz Avatar

    Diamond…not to sound trite but it starts with a fabulous orgasm. Think back to a time when you shared this with a person that you cared about. Remember how you looked, acted and flirted before the experience? Make that picture very vivid in your memory banks and move forward. How about a full day at the spa being totally pampered, a new “dew”, new makeup or a fabulous perfume. When you go to Starbucks (or your equivalent) force yourself to smile at perfect male strangers and compliment them on one thing-continue this exercise throughout the day-Your groove will return!! PS If these ideas turn out to be the worst advice you’ve ever experienced-send your hate mail to the dating Goddess 🙂

  2. Scott Avatar

    I’m normally attracted to confident, strong women even though I’m pretty laid back and the least macho man around. I’ve noticed that in the beginning, strong women I’ve dated appreciate that I respect their opinions in general and their ideas of how they want to proceed in a relationship. I am ambitious (I’m going to law school at night) at work and other areas of my life, but I don’t like to compete when I come home, talk to my friends, or within my primary relationship.

    After a short time it seems that this non-competition becomes a negative. With my last girlfriend, it started slowly. At first, there was incredulity that sometimes I didn’t really care where we went to dinner, just as long as we were having dinner together. Soon however, we were fighting over small things. I think these fights may have happened to get me to “show more teeth” in the relationship. Eventually, she figured she could do better than me, and gave me one of those “I’ve decided…” talks.

    It’s a shame that a strong woman wants or needs a man (or woman) who’s an 11 on the masculine scale. I think that life is a continuum, and that people can compliment one another despite our traditional roles. My female friends all say that I would make the perfect partner, and that the right woman will come along. I’ve been told by some women I’ve dated that I need to be more aggressive. While I personally find that distasteful and strange, I’m afraid I’m going to have to go down that road sooner or later to attract and keep a woman to whom I am attracted.

  3. Sandy Dumont Avatar

    Diamond, as an image consultant with 30 years experience, I can tell you that the way you look and dress announces the outcome other people can expect from you. It also announces how you feel about yourself. When it comes to image, there are two levels: the results in the mirror. Do I look more attractive? Secondly, the psychological results. Do I look powerful and friendly; powerful and intimidating; or powerful and exciting, i.e., making such an immediate impact upon others that they want to now more about me.

    Nancy Etcoff, in her book “Survival of the Prettiest” explains that men choose mates the same way cavemen did. That is, with reproduction in mind for the survival of the race. It has nothing to do with Hollywood glamour. Women with healthy, lustrous hair, beautiful skin, a great smile (healthy teeth), an ample bosom and an hourglass figure are judged to be good candidates. Here is a link to an article I wrote about this theory. http://www.theimagearchitect.com/press_articles/TWjuly06.pdf

    Part of the “psychological” readout a person makes about you has to do with “line” from head to toe. The shape of your eyebrows can be threatening or friendly. The shape of your lips can be soft and friendly or cynical (think Joan Crawford lips). Straight lines are severe and “S” curves are friendly. What does this mean for you? Long, straight skirts are less friendly than pants or a skirt (a woman’s body makes a natural “S” curve which is “read” as friendly with pants and skirts). Mid-calf skirts can easily look both severe and matronly unless worn with boots in a stylized manner.

    Diamond, your decision to learn to dress in a feminine manner without giving up your
    power was a good step. You still remain true to yourself. Think about some of the personality tests we have taken – they often have you take the test with different hats on, and it is a good idea. Dressing to attract as well as remain powerful and dynamic looking is the preferred outcome. You make the conscious decision and do not compromise the True You.

    You cannot change another person, only yourself. However, when you change the way you look, other people treat you differently. Being in control of the impact you make or the impression you have upon others is a powerful asset.

  4. nysharon Avatar

    I understand your demise Diamond. What I think you are asking about is how NOT to handle relationships/dating like a business deal. How do I turn this off at the end of my work day? I am a probation officer and my “right side” is very developed since I supervise and interview adult men offenders for a living. I am always setting boundries, asking questions, presenting consequenses, and if anyone in any profession must be assertive and get answers it is me. I compete with men and female cooworkers, carry a gun, and train to think analytically. I too found myself wanting to cut to the chase, get down to the facts, and blah blah on a date (and asking background questions and family history:)). It is hard to turn off those hard driven mind sets at the days end when you are dating or in personal relationships (my ex use to complain). It is something that I had to work on over the years. Now when men meet me, they are shocked about what I do for a living (and intrigued:)) You must get in touch with your fun side, and go with the flow, becasue in relationship outside of work is about the interaction not the end result. I have a ritual of washing my hands at the end of my day and letting that persona, the stress of my dealings go down the water into the drain. Sometimes its opening my car window on the way home, picturing work going out the window. Remember that old Ally McBeal show when her theripist gave her a theme song? I also have separate work clothes and date clothes. However, I don’t think this is about how you dress, although changing your clothing will help your mind reset. What we are talking about is not having a means to an end like in our work, but in enjoying our journey and going with the flow. Your mindset on a date will be should be more about observing an individual than about interviewing him. You will get better, more acurate information that way since actions speak louder than words, but it does take more time and patience. “Don’t want to waste my time disease” is bad, since it keeps us impatient. In relationships, unlike work, the process is more inportant than the end result.