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In Defense of Men Who Care Their Way

December 5th, 2012 Leave a comment Go to comments

When I write posts like the one I published on Monday, the chorus of responses are immediate.

Women love it.

I speak to all the wonderful things women have done for me, and how I may not have always deserved such gestures or how I’m dumbstruck by love given to me regardless of our relationship status. The women reach out and say, “Thank you for writing this, I needed to hear it.” They also say, “I hope more guys read what you wrote.” Posts like “The Maddening, Frustrating Love of A Woman” get passed around by women with proclamations like, “FINALLY!” attached to them.

I’m not expecting a similar response today, and it certainly won’t be because this one isn’t as spot-on as the other.

As flawed as I am, as flawed as most men are, women are too. Every single woman I mentioned in the last post has something wrong with them. There is some reason we’re not together, and that’s not entirely my fault. My mother remains the greatest woman in the world, but in the battle of right and wrong, she too does not have a perfect record.

There are two perceptions I am trying to avoid when I write posts like the previous one:

1) The idea that I’m putting women up on a pedestal.
2) The idea that men don’t deserve the good treatement they get.

If a woman wants to do nice things for a man, she has to understand some men are going to accept them. If he’s decent, he will find a way to reciprocate, but it’s on the woman to understand what that reciprocity looks like. More importantly, it is on the woman to understand his reciprocity may not always look the way she wants it to.

One commenter wrote on the last post:

“It sounds like you are comfortable misreading the signs and reaping the rewards. It is like when men pretend a woman does not want to be in relationship when she is playing the role of gf but w/o the title.”

She couldn’t be more wrong. In general, I don’t write things I’m comfortable about. The very reason I’m writing about certain topics is to soothe the discomfort, but I digress…

I don’t misread signs. I see these acts of kindness for what they are, and I try to find ways to do the same. But the post I wrote wasn’t about what I do in return or to deserve the love I get, which is not to say I don’t do a thing. None of those women I mentioned are fools in love, doing things for a man who is undeserving of them. And if they ever felt that way, it’s not because I didn’t give anything back, but maybe because I didn’t give back what they wanted.

Perhaps the word “love” was too strong or too one-dimensional. When we use it, there are a heap of expectations to come with it. Perhaps a better and more appropriate word I should have used in this post is “care.” I think most men who read this post, could better relate to that.

Men don’t need to be in a relationship with a woman to care about her. They don’t need a title or a relationship status to be there for her when she needs someone. When women are hesitant to ask a man for something other than sex simply because all they’ve been doing is having sex and that’s not her boyfriend, well, that’s her fault for underestimating him as a person and his capacity to care.

When it comes to showing that he cares, pick up on his style, because it’s different with each man.

One night, late night, I called up a woman who was once more than a friend, or depending on how one looks at it, less than a friend. She was definitely a friend with benefits and of course I was calling to reap some of those benefits. When she picked up the phone, I could tell she was crying. I asked her what was wrong. She just received word one of her parents was diagnosed with cancer. I asked her if she wanted to be alone or did she want me to come over because at that point, my original intent wasn’t important. I was just sleeping with her, but in that moment, if she needed me to sleep next to her and hold her, to comfort her I would do that. Ten minutes after hanging up with her, I was at her place, and listened to her talk until we fell asleep.

Plans, much like people, can change.

But acts like these don’t deserve any type of applause because there are many men out there who would do the same; probably more than we think. I am pretty sure, if I didn’t call that girl that night at that time, she would not have called me, and that’s okay. But closed mouths don’t get fed, so if she says nothing to a man simply because he isn’t a boyfriend or they aren’t exclusive, don’t blame him for the stomach pangs.

As the commenter also pointed out, a lot of women are guilty of playing the role of girlfriend without the title. Then, when a man walks away after she gave him so much, she gets upset because he never even bothered to make things official. That doesn’t describe every situation, but I’ve heard it from others and seen it enough with my own eyes to know plenty of people can relate.

For the women to whom that applies, understand if a man walked away after you had given so much, it’s probably because he needed something more. What that more is, is a feeling. And if he happens to have such a feeling with you, also understand, the feeling can go just like it came.

A lot of men just take from a woman, and don’t give anything back (and just in case anyone forgot, I’m on record as saying a lot of men are scum), but I know a lot of women who have done the same. Some woman knows a guy who loves and appreciates her, but that’s not the man she wants and if he thinks her appreciation is in the form of settling down with him, she knows he’s wrong for that.

I’d like to believe most women know a guy who showed his appreciation for all that she gave, his way. I just hope she was able to see it and if she forgot, today’s post helps her remember.

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  • Tiersa McQueen

    I am a married woman. My husband shows me he cares about me by pausing his playstation to listen to me, agreeing to go to brunch with me one Sunday while his team is playing, or yelling at the obnoxious teenagers behind us in the movie theater who are kicking my chair and getting on my nerves. In my opinion, the example you described is how a friend shows he/she cares about their friend. You said you were “friends with benefits”. In my mind, she was reaping some of the benefits of your friendship. Maybe I’m wrong, but you seem like the type of guy who would have been there for her even if you weren’t sleeping with her. What I’m saying is, if you are there for a woman in her time of need it is obvious that you care about her. It’s not one of the ways that men show that they care that a woman may not pick up on, like giving her the last slice of pizza or letting her hold the remote. You were a good friend to her, and that is something that is universal.

    On another note, you make an excellent point about women not asking for the care they want and deserve. I won’t speak for all women, but for me it loses some of it’s appeal when I have to ask my husband to show me he cares (in the ways I want, not in “his way”). I want him to do it because he is inspired by his love and appreciation for me. I know it’s not a reasonable request as he can’t read my mind, but that is what I wish would happen. My mother taught me that it’s a man’s job to ask and it’s a woman’s job to answer. He asked me out on a date. He asked me to move in with him. He asked me to marry him. The only way I let him know that’s what I wanted was by giving him cues. How much would have sucked to have to tell him I wanted him to ask me to marry him? I mean I don’t expect him to know if I want a cushion cut or marquis diamond, but I’m pretty sure he can guess I want a ring. While I completely understand the point of being direct with men about our wants and needs, there is something inside of me that thinks men instinctively know a little of what women want and it is all to convenient for them to say we didn’t get it simply because we didn’t ask.

  • KitKatCuty84

    “When women are hesitant to ask a man for something other than sex simply because all they’ve been doing is having sex and that’s not her boyfriend, well, that’s her fault for underestimating him as a person and his capacity to care.”

    I see what you mean by this, but conversely, why would a woman think to ask a man for things he’s never demonstrated an interest in providing. He said when they started things it was just casual and she’s supposed to think he might be the person to call when times are tough? In my experience, precisely the reason those such relationships are called casual is that they don’t want to know about the more complex and intimate dealings of your life. Maybe some FB would’ve been there for me if I’d asked, but why not just call a REAL friend? And I DO agree that “friends with benefits” are often less than friends, which is another reason why you don’t expect “love” or “care” from them.

    If a woman would like to try to accept the way a man decides to reciprocate to her, whether it’s the way she wants or not, that is her decision. But I believe a recent post at SBM was smart in advising that you set up boundaries to your giving and intimacy with people, so that when they or their feelings come as fast as they arrived, you don’t feel depleted. Too many times of giving too much to men who don’t give anything back or don’t give back something you can accept can leave you empty. Try to hold on to you. That’s me $0.02.

  • Crystal Freedom Baskin

    Thank you for this post. I feel to many women aren’t honest with themselves and at a time that included me. I have given my all to a man that wasn’t my man. I have to agree just because I played the role doesn’t mean he cared like I did. So instead of being mad, today I pray for the men in my past and thank God for the experience because I know it has helped me to become the woman I am today.

  • Miss White

    I’m not in the business of telling a writer what to write but i can question it. This seemed like a thinly veiled cop out to Monday’s post. Somebody musta told u that u put women on too high of a pedestal…or something. I could be reading way too much into it but I’m just saying.

    I love the way u write but after a while I was like okaaaay???? Who are u explaining ur self to? Ur self? Still wondering…

    That quiet or predictable enough?

  • AJ

    I just discovered this blog and I LOVE it. Have read all the way back to July. So good.