my masculinity is mysterious to me.

As a man, I won’t pretend to know what women as an entire gender want in men as that assumption could only be crippling to the complexity of the sexes in the first place.  In fact, if someone ever tells you in simplistic fashion and with certainty “what women/men want” then I would venture to guess they are without a partner or perhaps the partner they have could benefit from a healthier dose of self-image.

We often view the world in terms of contrast and it can be a fun pastime to define that which is masculine and feminine in terms of opposing characteristics.  The ‘providing’ father versus the ‘nurturing’ mother’.  The boys in blue who smoke and chew, the girls in pink with accessories in sync.  Books are titled “His Needs, Her Needs” and “What Women Really Want”.  Married couples sit around the dinner table and laugh at each other’s quirks, perhaps a healthy coping mechanism for dealing with the mystery of gender (and marriage).

These fun exercises aside, an attempt to diagnose the whole needs or wants of the opposite sex can be risky or even perilous, not just because we investigate from the periphery but because oftentimes we can’t even speak to our own needs.  How am I to discern the needs and boundaries of femininity when my own masculinity would evolve to elude definition?  It’s not wrong to know what we want or need as men and women or at least acknowledge the presence of such things but discerning them never takes place in a vacuum.  Perhaps I am in a safer place to declare not what the opposite sex needs but rather who I am and to then let the opposite sex go with it.

I think this is healthier for a few reasons. Men, if you are always trying to figure out what a woman wants/needs then you will be tempted to provide an answer/solution/provision and thus possibly set up for failure.  Not because it’s a trap but because it’s impossible to explore an empty space and not want to fill it with something, a common masculine characteristic.  Sexual function and gender expression are uniquely and intricately connected, with vast implications but guys…stop trying to fill places that aren’t looking to be filled.  We don’t know every answer, we don’t have every solution and the satisfaction of feminine desires will never be met strictly in those terms.

So then I would first propose that celebrating the presence and mystery of gender differences will often fill the void in ways that we fail to imagine when simply isolating those differences in the first place.  A healthy respect of the opposite sex can ultimately flourish and defining needs won’t extend from a quagmire of contrast.  Is she different from you and is she expressing her needs in a way you don’t understand?  Absolutely but its okay because she is worth celebrating, not conquering.  Can’t wrap your mind around the way he thinks?  It’s okay because he’s still worth celebrating.

Knowing instead who we are and then what we need and want might be healthier still because it allows us to move beyond “needs that must be satisfied” to “needs that are satisfiable”.  This is a key difference because it moves us and our partners from a place of commodity to a place of companionship.  I can’t overemphasize this.  If all I ever do is view my partner in terms of their ability to satisfy my needs then I have handed them over to unrealistic expectations.

Gratification in relationships never comes just from what your partner has to offer but instead who your partner is.  What is feminine or masculine about you might compliment me, what is unique to your gender might magnify my own uniqueness but we are more than the sum of gender differences and subsequent contrasting needs.  Before you are a man or a woman, a boy or a girl, you are a person, the complexity of which is inestimable.

I don’t want to pretend to know what a woman wants because I don’t want to pretend to always know who I am.  My masculinity is mysterious to me and as soon as I feel like I fit some mold or even a stereotype, I find a difference.  I’m okay with this because I know I’m worth celebrating beyond my ability to meet a need.  Somehow this feels healthier.  Somehow this feels like needs will be met in ways that haven’t or couldn’t been met before.

I suppose I could have wrote here what my needs or wants are or even what I want in the opposite sex and we could compare notes but then again, we wouldn’t be celebrating each other very well at that point.  So I’ll let this rest and hope the thought remains with you that you indeed are worth celebrating.