Is he assertive enough for you?

In women’s dating stories of budding relationships gone awry, there are two common themes:

  1. The man was too aggressive too early.
  2. The man wasn’t assertive enough to say what he needed, or make requests for minor modifications of adaptable behaviors, so he went poof.

I think #1 is pretty self-explanatory — he got too physical or sexual too early and that turned off the woman.

So let’s explore #2. Of course, these issues can apply to both men and women, but we’re going to focus on the man’s behavior.

I’ve learned I need an assertive man for me to be happy. I have to be assertive in my business life and prefer to not have to take care of both of us in a relationship. In fact, there are times I relish having my guy take care of me. When he does this I let him know I really like it.

So when he doesn’t have the ability to step up, it stands out. Let me share an example.

On the way home from a concert with a man I’d dated for a month, he in his tux, I in evening attire, we weren’t ready to call it a night. I’m a sucker for views, so suggested we stop for a nightcap at the nearby hilltop hotel with a fantastic vantage point to watch the lights twinkling in the distance. We discovered the bar was in the basement, so no view. However, the restaurant had a fabulous view. At 10:00 it was nearly empty.

We asked the hostess for one of the several empty tables near the window for dessert and a drink. She pointed to tables with no view and said we could sit there. I politely said we were hoping for a nice view and could we have one of the window tables. She said she’d check.

She came back and said no, we couldn’t be seated there for just dessert. My date turned to leave. I nicely asked who she consulted and she said the waiter. I knew the waiter would not want to waste his energy on lower-tabbed dessert/drink customers, but would hold out for full-dinner ones, even though most people had dined by that hour.

I was not happy with this answer, so I calmly asked if she’d bring the manager over for us to consult with. She went to the manager, who said, “No problem” and we were promptly seated next to the window facing the great view.

Since I’d waited a few beats before speaking up to see if my date would take the lead, I asked if I’d stepped on his toes. He said, “Absolutely not. I would never have had the courage to ask for the window table in the first place. I would have settled on the first non-view ones she wanted to steer us to. I would have never asked to see the manager.”

I knew then that we were not long-term material.

Was what I did over the top? I don’t think so. I was polite and pleasant the whole time, but unwilling to let the hostess’s and waiter’s decisions stand without exploring all the options I could think of. Had the restaurant been full, I would have understood. But it was not. And the waiter would get some tip, which was better than having an empty table with no tip. So I saw it as a win/win solution. But my date’s mind didn’t think that way. Perhaps it wasn’t important to him, but since it was important to me, I’d expect some effort to then have it be important to him. Just as I would make something important that was important to him become important to me.

How important is assertiveness to you in a man you’re seeing? If he isn’t, do you mind taking the lead most of the time? If you’d like him to step up more often, how do you communicate this without him feeling like a wuss?

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2 responses to “Is he assertive enough for you?”

  1. Ally Avatar

    “Are you man enough to be my man?…”
    Hear, hear on 1 and 2. Definitely non-starters for me, as I’ve been on the receiving end of both. I don’t think there is a good way to tell someone you’d like them to be more assertive. Number 1 is much easier -‘ uh, no! Begone!”

  2. Sei Avatar

    I dislike confrontation of any sort so I find myself doubtful if I’d have stepped up as you did, DG. So, yeah, I think an assertive man is going to be a necessity for me. Not assertive to the point of obnoxiousness, mind you, but someone to step up when there is something one or the other of us would like that is not an unreasonable request.

    Scenario #1 is pretty much a ‘no brainer’. That would probably be the *only* time I really stood up for myself and what I wanted. An assertive man, who knows what he wants is one thing. An assertive man who wants only what he wants and is overly aggressive and shows no respect for me? He’s a goner.

    I guess, though, if and when I ever get lucky enough to find a date, I’ll find out how accurate I am in my self-assessment in both cases, huh?

    (DG, just wanted to say I’ve only recently started reading your “Adventures in Delicious Dating Over 40.” I am really enjoying your comments and the responses of your readers. Thank you!)