Do You Confuse Basic Male Traits as Bonuses?
“But he’s really respectful and he has good manners, and he’s a people person…” and yada, yada, yada, yada. This was where I had to stop my friend as she explained all the redeeming qualities the man she had recently taken back possessed. On the other side of that but was a laundry list of things that were disrespectful, like lying about not having a girlfriend when they first met, not being willing to help her out when she needed something, or saying he was going to do one thing and doing the exact opposite. There weren’t enough positive characteristics on the other side of that sentence to justify sticking around for someone just because he says please and thank you and I had to break the real issue down to my friend.
I told her that she was looking at baseline characteristics as bonuses. Being respectful, having good manners, knowing how to talk to people, having a job (maybe not in this economy, but still)—those are like wheels on a car—basic necessities. At a minimum, any man you deal with should have those qualities and those characteristics aren’t enough to sustain a relationship when everything else is downhill.
I wasn’t being judgmental when I gave my friend my honest opinion. I told her off top that I was coming from a place of understanding. I had, have, probably will have again in the future, a tendency to accept basic decent human being qualities as some type of plus when it comes to dating. I explained to her the problem is when you’ve had a few mishaps, okay make that losers, in your life, and you meet someone that’s any ounce of an improvement—a little more sociable, a little more apt to take you out, calls you just to say hey—you can get wrapped up in making him a “good guy” when that behavior doesn’t have a whole lot to do with his character. Anybody can take you out, but when a man tells you you’re exclusive and he takes you out one night and then takes out another woman the next, that quality doesn’t mean so much anymore. What I realized from my own experience was that I allowed myself to get caught up in the person I was dealing with being better than previous men in some regards without realizing that it still wasn’t the best I could do at the time. What we both needed to do was set standards for what we would expect as absolute minimums for a man and then work our way up from there before we got too caught up in a guy being so this and so that and so hard to let go of just because he holds the car door for you.
It can be easy to let sweet words and kind gestures blind your judgment but in the end you have to recognize those things are just that—words and gestures. What does the man’s true character and day-to-day behavior say about him and how he values you? Those are the places where bonuses can show up.
Have you ever had a problem overlooking serious problems in a relationship because the guy you were with was better than the last or seemingly “a good guy” in all other aspects except for some of the ways he treated you?
Brande Victorian is a blogger and culture writer in New York City. Follower her on Twitter at @be_vic.
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