a man’s gotta be able to drive

…and by that, I don’t mean a car, necessarily, although it certainly helps in these parts. I mean he has to be able to grab hold of an opportunity and take forward action — not this lateral, side-stepping nonsense.

So, recently, when the magnum asked me when he could see me again, I replied to his text with “not sure. what do you have in mind?”

He replied:  “wine. dinner. beer.”

Me:  “ok. ask me on a date, then.”

Him:  “ok.”

Days later, I had heard nothing and I thought to myself:

  1. This doesn’t feel good to me. I want to be wanted, at least a little…pursued, if you will.
  2. I don’t like the way we communicate. Not once has a text or conversation between us stimulated my biggest erogenous zone, my mind.
  3. We’re in different places. I’m feeling myself again, enjoying my single life and thinking about being in an actual relationship with someone who’s also looking for a committed, life-long conspirator. The heart wants.
  4. It’s a terrible sign when a man doesn’t take the lead. Just think about being stuck in a relationship with someone who constantly leaves all the relationship-related work to you… Ugh! That was my first marriage! (My wasband actually said — without a moment’s hesitation — to a marriage counselor — when asked who was in charge of our relationship that it was me. Not us, as should be assumed in any relationship involving two or more people, but me, the person he expected would always take care of everything.)

A little more context:  the last time we’d seen each other, I mentioned that my ex and I were switching weekends so that my upcoming weekend was free — and, based on what he’d told me before, our child-free weekends were synched up. So he’d already had an open door to ask me out…if he’d wanted to. Over it.

So, if you’re reading this and you’re a guy, here’s your take-away:  a woman wants to be valued, asked out, planned for, picked up (if you know each other well enough for her to be comfortable with that), taken someplace special / thoughtful — where you have, of course, made reservations.

It sounds something like this:

“Hi, this is Chuck. I’d really like to take you to dinner Saturday night. Can I pick you up at seven?”

And your love interest, who will be exceedingly more intrigued by this powerful approach than the lame “when can I see you?”, responds positively and then you come back with: “Great, I’ve made reservations at [restaurant] at 8, and I’ll be wearing jeans and a sport coat, no tie.”

You’ve now told your date that you value her (or him) enough to plan ahead, pick her up and give her an idea of what to wear. Kudos. Great job! A winning approach.

It’s entirely true that I may not be representative of all women and not all women may be turned off by a lack of good communication. Some women even like to take the lead. To each her own…

And my own is not to waste more time where I don’t feel cherished.

more on that life changing book

I’ve read several books on relationships in the past couple of years. While many have purported to give relationship advice, most have not been “how to” manuals. Many have mentioned masculine and feminine energy, but few have truly explained what that means.

So when a girlfriend lent me a “life changing” book on relationships, I didn’t really know what to expect. In fact, I don’t think I even looked at the cover or title; I just started reading. And, while clearly old school in a lot of ways, Dr. Patrician Allen’s and Sandra Harmon’s “Getting to ‘I Do:’  The Secret to Doing Relationships Right!” has some really solid advice (even if the title makes me cringe…a lot).

See…the thing is…I’ve never had any genuinely healthy models. By the time I was interested in relationships with boys, my mother had moved out. I had no positive relationship models at home and, as a tomboy, I wasn’t modeling my behavior after the girly girls. As an intelligent, early 90s feminist co-ed, I couldn’t abide the thought of “submitting” to a man.

As I’ve grown older, my perspective on what or how I may or may not be willing to compromise to enjoy the rewards of a healthy relationship has softened. I know with confidence that I prefer to be the feminine energy in a relationship. The problem? I didn’t know how, exactly, to do that, and I found few men who were capable of matching my intellect and strength, and who could confidently take on the role of masculine leadership. Those who were interested were always older and, often, married.

When I finally found a man I thought could love and cherish me, he lost his job (and his masculinity) and ended up staying home with our children. The role reversal wasn’t natural for us and, when we went to counseling, I was told bits of advice like, “Don’t put him in a corner” and “Don’t emasculate him.” Obviously, I would never try to do either of those things, but I didn’t even understand what these well-meaning therapists meant, much less what I might be doing to contribute to our problems.

This book has, in many ways, enlightened me.

While “getting to ‘I do'” is not a near-term objective, I’ve learned a lot about compromise — the way a woman may have to compromise to be with a strong man in a successful relationship — and about communicating in a successful relationship. Something about the way this particular book is written has helped me grasp these concepts in a more concrete way than many other articles or books on relationship advice I’ve read.

In sum, Getting offered useful tools and scripts for some potentially challenging relationship moments. I can see it being a manual of sorts for a young woman who is single, navigating a young relationship or in an early marriage. Even though the information seems a little less relevant to folks in my own situation — approaching middle age, not planning on “starting” a family, probably more desirous of sex than men my own age — I may buy a copy to keep on my own bedside table. At the very least, I’ll have some good advice to one day share with my daughter.


As in the popular sitcom, Will & Grace, I spent much of my college years and twenties in social circles that included gay men, several of whom are still my friends. I love hanging with this group of friends because they’re fun, successful, love to do the kinds of things I like to do (go dancing, stroll through art museums, have an occasional cocktail, watch romantic movies), etc. I had my “Will,” and we could talk about anything. Nothing is taboo between a straight woman and a gay man.

I also learned a critical life skill from my gay male friends. Every time they greeted me or another female friend among the group, they did so with amazing energy:  “Gorgeous!,” my Will would call me, arms outstretched. And then he would add a comment about something I was wearing or my hair or choose something else positive to say.

There were times when I suspected a superficiality in this — it was a cultural norm, as is asking someone how they’re doing and not waiting for an answer — yet it never got old and it never failed to make me feel good about myself.

I came to see these behaviors as a powerful opportunity, a great way to make others feel good. I try to use these opportunities regularly — in business, in can be a great way to disarm someone otherwise intimidating or difficult and, especially in parenting, I’ve learned that it’s one of the great tools I can use to reinforce my children’s self-esteem, while noticing and encouraging positive behaviors. I also realized that it really wasn’t superficial at all. The positive things I find to say are very genuine, perhaps because I prefer to see the good in others.

It seems that few straight men have caught on to these behaviors. Perhaps it comes less naturally to heterosexual males. So guys, here’s a big opportunity for the new year:

  • Smile
  • Greet a woman by calling her a really nice name — e.g. Gorgeous, Beautiful, Pretty Girl…
  • Notice the positive and comment on it
  • Recognize the beauty in everyone

Trust me, it will work wonders!