“Well, I got a woman way over town that’s good to me, oh yeah. Say I got a woman way over town, good to me, oh yeah.” ~ Ray Charles
Wasn’t brother Ray a lucky dog to have met a woman that was good to him? Of course he’d sing about it! But she’s not going be good to him for long if he’s not good to her. Same for you and me. We’ve got to be good to our women, treat them right.
But do we know how?
I’m going to get in the ring with a rampaging bull risking everything and tell you what I think about how to treat our woman. In over my head? As my young niece often used to say, “Duh, Uncle Robbie” accompanied by a look of pure astonishment at how stupid one man could be.
Anyone who knows me will testify under oath that I’m not an expert in how to treat women—then again, I don’t believe any such expert exists (outside of mental institutions).
Without the benefit of expert opinion, I’m going to look back over years of knowing and loving and being loved by women, of breaking some hearts and having mine broken, of being wildly kind and understanding and thoughtless and mean, of deceiving and being deceived and I’m going to share with you what I’ve learned about how to treat a woman—in broad brushstrokes. After all, this is an article, not a book!
And maybe this will be a conversation starter in places where there have been none.
Confession: after I wrote the first draft of this article I wanted to fact check my opinions, so I sent out an email to 21 women friends, all of them smart and sassy, accomplished, sexy, strong, powerful, creative, big-hearted and pretty damned fearless. I refer to them respectfully as my advisers and teasingly as my ball breakers. I asked,
“In terms of how you want a man to treat you what are the top two attitudes or behaviors that your man must be able to demonstrate or he’s yesterday’s toast.”
One response came back like a bullet from the other side of the Pacific, “Only two? You obviously don’t know anything at all about women if I can only pick two!” (Oy vey, non rompere i coglioni—don’t break my balls).
This was my favorite response, “Well you have a lot of the qualities I like in a man.” (I spell ego: R-O-B-E-R-T.)
Cross my heart, my original article included 94% of the responses made by this stellar group of superstar women. I decided to edit my original article to include some of their brilliance, in instances where they said what I wanted to say but better. I promised them anonymity but they know who they are. Thank you all and forgive me for the sins I’m sure I have committed in this article!
Dear readers, please be kind to me as I embark on this sincerely Quixotic effort to offer up some words on how to treat a woman, knowing that each woman as well as each man retains something that is unique. It’s also true that each relationship is in some ways unique, just as various considerations like nationality, race, religion and belief systems further dent gender-specific generalizations.
Inasmuch as I’ve known lots of woman who come from many places on the cultural map of differences, I think some things cut across all differences. I’ll stick to what I think is true—how to treat a woman, all women, no matter what, no matter where. And, I can’t help but write from my point of view as a heterosexual male, give or take a rogue youthful experience or two. Or three. Whatever.
How to treat a woman, keep in mind this metaphor—climbing a mountain with no summit.
We climb, but we never summit. Same with treating a woman right–we practice it, though we never master it. But we practice every day with our whole heart. As on a mountain if we lose our focus and resolve, if we take one thoughtless step, we risk disaster.
Learning how to treat a woman is a lifelong path of growth and learning.
Tests are sprung with surprising irregularity and grades come straight from the opening voice-over of the television show Whose Line is it Anyway? Everything is made up and the points don’t matter. We might get an A today and an F for the same response the next day. Like the weather in the Swiss Alps things change by the minute.
It’s the nature of climbing in the Alps—if you don’t appreciate sudden climatic changes, move to San Diego and live alone.
Let’s begin with this—we have to like women.
Really like them, all of them, all of their goodness and weirdness and quirks and moods. We have to like hanging out with them, playing with them, learning from them, being driven crazy by them. I don’t mean like them for what they can do for us or give us. I mean we have to like women like a connoisseur of wine likes wine or a biker his custom chopper.
I like women.
My best friends have always been women. Most of my friends are women. Some women even call me up to go shopping with them. I like hanging out with women.
If men were truly friends with women, there would be an instantaneous, cataclysmic, global extinction of ignorance and an immediate dissolution of a perverted patriarchy that subjugates and abuses women in thousands of ways throughout the world.
Friendship is powerful mojo.
We should treat our woman so that she feels safe with us. She needs to feel that she can open herself to show us her innermost being and tell us her secrets and dreams and fears and hallucinations and visions and that we will never, ever hurt her for it.
We will never betray her. We will take what she offers and hold it as the treasure it is.
When I lived in Australia from 2005-2011, I taught authentic public speaking. In my public workshops, limited to 10 people, I often had 10 women participants. I spent two days as the only male with 10 women, asking them to become vulnerable, transparent, powerful and confident. Sometimes I had to get very stern and strict, pushing them a bit further than they at first wanted to go. Sometimes the room filled with unending tears and sometimes storms of laughter.
You’d think maybe this would be awkward for me and them. It never was. Not once. I think it’s because they felt safe, they trusted me even when they were exploring dangerous new territory of self-expression.
Which means, of course, as the sacred holders and care-takers of their vulnerability, we cannot ever bully, intimidate, shame, or humiliate our woman. This means we’ve got to develop our self-awareness, we’ve got to be mindful all the time. We cannot slip up here—we cannot in any way harm women, not physically, emotionally, psychologically, spiritually, sexually.
This is, as I see it, a deal-breaker.
We don’t really get a second chance here. If we scare or scar a woman through the misuse of our power or strength she ought to walk the fuck out the door and not look back. I know, shit happens. I don’t have a halo or wings on me. But we’ve got to get our shit together and never, ever abuse women. That’s just the way it is.
We have to be honorable men. As one of my advisers said,
“For me, the word honorable is a foundation that encapsulates how I want to be treated. I can evaluate a man’s character in a second by asking, is he an honorable man? How he treats me is as important as how he treats others. Let me be me. Don’t patronize me or put me down—an honorable man would respect me and speak the truth, not say what he thinks I want to hear or mock me cruelly to make himself feel superior. I can see right through that and all trust goes out the window for me. Be able to call me up on my stuff in a respectful, loving, strong way. Be strong, don’t pander to me like a fool. I respect a man who can handle me in my vulnerability and my wildness.”
Keywords: respect, appreciation, acknowledgment, support and encouragement.
Handle me in my vulnerability and wildness.
Women are sensitive creatures—they roll with tides, cycles and rhythms we men scarcely know anything about. In my experience, women also harbor a wildness that is frightening. Check out Mother Kali.
Can you imagine a first date with her? Women are sensitive creatures and they are ferocious, utterly wild and rampaging creatures. (I mean that in the nicest possible way!) We’ve got to not only understand this but encourage it, thrive in it, love it—even when we are scared shitless.
We do not want to calm them down or try to tame them, we want to become strong enough to stand in and withstand the aftershocks of their cosmic roars and appetites. We want to be strong and powerful too though we have to place our strength and power next to, not above those same qualities in our woman.
We cannot lie to or deceive our woman. Well, we can but I don’t recommend it. One adviser put it this way,
“A deal breaker is manipulation and dishonesty (lying to me or witnessing him lying to other people). I hate it when men lie to get what they want rather than just being an adult and putting their cards on the table.”
I’ve know this adviser for more than a decade—she is not a hater. So, if she hates being lied to we ought to take careful note.
Keywords: truth-telling, honesty, integrity and transparency.
Here’s what one adviser wrote,
“I think you can tell a lot about someone by how kind they are. Not just to you, but to others—the waiter, the receptionist etc. I think if one has a kind heart then they will also possess other qualities that would attract me as I don’t think you can be kind without compassion or empathy.”
We want to respect our woman.
An adviser wrote, “Respect, in every sense of the word, to all humans and animals alike. My man must respect me as an independent thinking and acting woman who is his equal but equally as important he must respect all others and give time and patience to who they are and or their opinions.”
“My man must respect me or he’s yesterday’s toast. Last week’s toast. And by respect I mean that he must listen when I speak, placing value on what I have to say and contribute. Our views may differ but if he respects me then he will take the time to consider what I’ve said before coming to his own conclusion. When we are together in a group of people, he will show me respect by never demeaning me, criticizing me or belittling me or what I say in front of others. He will respect the work I do—he may not understand it but he will respect that it is what I choose to do. And he will not always try to fix things for me but will respect my need to sometimes fix things for myself. He will value me as an individual.”
I found it interesting that every one of my advisers who mentioned kindness as well as respect also wanted their man to show respect and kindness to others and to all living things. Women watch us. We can’t fool them. They’re wired into the NSA—they monitor all our actions and communications not just the ones with them. They see things. They feel things. They know things.
We can see by now how one quality weaves itself into others, each illuminating the next, each expanding the ways in which we need to learn to treat women: honor, respect, kindness, compassion, empathy, honesty. We are building something here; we are building trust.
We have to be trustworthy.
We have to be a rope that will not break no matter how high they climb or what the weather is like. We have to manage our energy so that we don’t have intemperate outbursts of impatience or anger. I know—sometimes we’ve got so much going on we just burst or explode.
Don’t do it.
I’m not saying that we should suppress our feelings and emotions or bottle up our stress and anxiety but we do need to learn how to manage those and express them in a way that does not threaten the trust we are cultivating. One adviser said,
“He should be even-tempered so I don’t have to be afraid of sudden, unexpected blow-ups. I want to feel safe and secure to voice any concerns without fear of his anger.”
We need to soften our hard edges. I’m not suggesting we give up any of our manly-man, bad-boy thing. But soften some. We need to be vulnerable too. We need to show women that there are open avenues into our heart and soul. Softening our hard edges means women can find their way to our inside self. You know what that’s all about, right?
We cannot have an intimate connection with our woman if we maintain an impenetrable exterior. Without intimate connection the game is over. In order to be intimate with our woman we first have to be intimate with ourselves. We have to know ourselves deeply and honestly. We can’t be afraid of who we are, what we feel or what we want.
We have to have confidence in our strengths and weaknesses.
If we’re afraid of ourselves we’ll hide who we are from our woman. They’ll feel alone and abandoned because our authentic self will be invisible. Being open also allows us to receive their love, their affection and their offerings to us.
Softening our hard edges and being open to receive allows our woman to feel the satisfaction of giving.
Have you ever had a gift you’ve given with love discarded with no appreciation or acknowledgment? It’s a buzz kill.
Keywords: self-knowing, honesty, vulnerability, openness, intimacy and transparency.
Here’s something on a lighter note—good hygiene.
When you’re done laughing I’ll continue. Women do not like dirty men. That’s why Ray Charle’s woman was still way over town because she wasn’t yet sure of his hygiene. I’m not referring to dirty old men (I might qualify) I’m referring to men who do not maintain good personal hygiene. Fine, so you go to Burning Man. Okay, a two-week camping trip. Football in the mud. Whatever. But, in general, keep yourself clean. Good grooming, my brothers. Clean and fresh, body and soul and clothes. Speaking of clothes, take care of your own stuff.
No woman other than your mother is your mother. If you’re reading this article chances are even your mother has stopped picking up your socks and doing your laundry. Don’t expect a woman to be your maid service. We need to take care of our own stuff. And, from time to time, hers.
Show our love.
Making love and showing love are not necessarily the same. I think showing love is a very good way to treat our woman. That means we have to pay attention to her, learn what she likes and what she needs. This is a full time gig by the way.
We have to stay constant, though in our commitment to show love in a way that is meaningful to her. A bouquet of flowers only on Valentine’s Day will not do. Showing love is like improv theater—how we do it has to be original and authentic and connected to what the woman you love needs and wants then and there.
I was dating a lovely yoga teacher a few years back. We had gone to a late movie not far from her apartment near Dolores Park, San Francisco. As we were walking back to her place she stopped in front of a women’s clothing boutique. She was admiring a blouse in the display window.
I noticed that.
We went back to her place for some fooling around after which I went back to my place in Mill Valley. A few days later I went in to stay a few days with her. I stopped by the women’s clothing boutique, bought the blouse and brought it with me all wrapped up. I gave it to her. She asked, “What’s this for?” I said, “It’s for you!”
She opened it. She kept looking at the blouse in the box and then to me. She couldn’t say anything. She said “No one has ever done anything like this before.” She loved the blouse, but she loved that I noticed, that I cared, that I did something for no reason but to show my love. Believe it or not we can do something to show love every day.
Keywords: affection, playfulness, attentiveness and caring.
Hmm. Sex. Love-making. Fucking. Amazon.com has 215,223 books listed under the search word sex. I’ve just decided that this topic is beyond the scope of my article, except to say, we do not own our woman and she doesn’t owe us anything. She isn’t an object—we shouldn’t treat her like one. If we want a one-way relationship where we get what we want when we want it we probably should stick to drive-thru fast food joints or cable TV.
We do need to study the landscape of her body and the caverns of her subterranean worlds of emotions and mind and spirit in order to become adept at pleasing and pleasuring her—at multiple levels. As in all devotional activities, when we learn to please and pleasure our woman we will receive a blessing greater than our own pleasure. I promise.
We want to be fantastic listeners!
This is one hugely important way to express our friendship, respect, love, care and interest. We need to be listeners of what our woman says and how she says it. Of what she doesn’t say. Of what her body says and doesn’t say. We need to listen to understand, to appreciate and to empathize. One adviser said,
“Listen to her and make her feel heard.”
We need to understand that our woman may use language differently than we do and use speaking for different purposes. I’ve noticed that women often use speaking as a means to build connections to friendship, empathy and rapport. Men often speak to solve problems or provide information. We need to learn how to listen to a language we may not, as yet, fully understand.
Keywords: communication, patience, attentiveness, respect, curiosity.
Oh my, women like to laugh and so do I. Laughing comes from a sense of humor. Maybe this is more innate to some than others, I don’t know. I do know that having a sense of humor and being able to laugh and evoke laughter is a great gift to our woman.
A few years ago I met a woman who intrigued me. I invited her over for dinner (yes, cooking skills are a plus). She was straightforward from the beginning saying she was engaged. Well, come over for dinner anyway. Let’s be friends. We hung out most of the night and in subsequent days. We liked each other. I was very mindful of the fact that she was engaged to a fellow who lived in Alaska, so I kept my jets turned off. We laughed a lot.
One day, she told me she was going away for two weeks to visit her fiancée and plan their wedding. When she returned she came over to announce,
“I’ve ended my relationship with him. I didn’t recognize the fact that he and I don’t laugh together. After hanging out with you and laughing so much the idea of being in a laugh-less marriage was terrifying.”
Keywords: playfulness, light-hearted, childlike, innocent.
Change will happen.
Change happens for all sorts of reasons, mainly because it’s the nature of existence. We have to learn to handle changes in our woman with grace. We want to be able to support, even encourage her changes, growth and explorations. Yes, this could be scary, but if we put our big boy pants on, we’ll figure it out.
Our woman is not a scrap book picture, an image frozen in time and place. She’s a creative, volcanic force. She’s got tectonic plates in her soul—they can shift suddenly and send seismic waves right over and through the status quo. Change, growth and expansion do not have to threaten our relationship, they can make it more life-like and thrilling.
If I don’t stop here, I’ll end up writing a book. This is enough for now, though by no means is it the whole story. I don’t know the whole story. We have to write it each day.
Love elephant and want to go steady?
Editor: Ashleigh Hitchcock