Why don’t we believe that men know their own minds? When they say things like, I don’t think I’m the right man for you or I’m not good enough for you, we usually argue with them.
We seek to put a salve on their egoic wounds and build up their confidence. We argue with them when we should accept what they are telling us and show them the door.
When we ignore these statements from men, we do them and ourselves a disservice. Firstly, our refusal to believe his words dismisses his knowledge of who he is and where he is at in life. This is kind of condescending when you think about it.
Women often step into a more encouraging and dare I say it, mothering role at this point in the conversation. We seek to build him up and focus on his potential much as we would do with a child. But he’s not a child. He’s a man. And you actually want to be in a relationship with a man who will meet you as an equal…don’t you?
Not valuing his words and listening to them leaves the door open to being screwed over. If you convince him to stay in the relationship at this point, he’s given you fair warning about what may be ahead. He might simply spend more time with you until he meets the right woman or he might try to be good enough for you (and succeed in this quest, or not). Either way, it’s not a solid foundation for your relationship.
I’m not saying he can’t become the right man for you. Maybe he can. But that’s something he will need to work on, grow into and choose for himself. Propping him up during this period is unhelpful and emasculating.
When he says he’s not the right one or he’s not good enough, believe him and let him go. If the situation changes, he will be back. If he doesn’t return, he’s done you a favour and helped you move towards the right man who is still out there, looking for you.
Lucretia Ackfield is a modern explorer of love and a passionate advocate for establishing equality through love for the self and others. She helps women all over the world to fall in love with themselves so they can find the deep and powerful love they deserve. Her first book, The Men I’ve Almost Dated, covers all the antics of a single life from online dating to lackluster sexual adventures and dysfunctional relationships. Now available in eBook and PDF >> Get your copy.
A heavy sadness has been growing in my heart for some days now. It arrived when I opened Laura Bates’ Men Who Hate Women and read about the vicious and violent threats she has received from men throughout her career, simply for voicing her opinions.
My heart grew heavier still as I watched Promising Young Woman at the cinema last night.
A book and a film both released in the past 12 months. Both cover the abuse of women. Both shining a blinding spotlight on what women know to be true – we are not safe.
The fact I need to put a trigger warning at the start of this post demonstrates just how unsafe we are – almost every woman I know has experienced some kind of abuse at the hands of man. And when many of us write about women standing up for themselves, we also include the words – if it’s safe for you to do so. We write this because for many women, it’s not safe to speak up.
I had to put Laura’s book down after reading the first 20 pages. I will pick it up again but I need to steel myself to proceed (and I haven’t even got to the really confronting parts yet).
However, I did watch the entirety of Promising Young Woman and I would describe it as brilliantly written, incredibly confronting and disturbingly accurate. It shows what women know to be true and also how men and some women dismiss, cover it up and justify it to themselves.
The film centres on Cassie, a young woman who dropped out of medical school to care for her best friend, Nina. Nina was raped while drunk during college and her rapist got away with it.
Cassie is on a mission to seek retribution.
Promising Young Woman could only have been written and directed by a woman. Its realness is unavoidable. I also feel it should be compulsory viewing for every girl, woman, boy and man over the age of 16.
The frequent refrain of “but I’m a nice guy” provided many teachable moments. Male characters knowingly took advantage of a woman who was drunk yet, when caught out, excused themselves with “but I’m a nice guy” and somehow reasoned away their culpability. Men and women dismissed rape as no big deal with comments about how the victim was drunk and asking for it.
Does any of this sound familiar to you?
It reminded me of when I was at my post-formal party. It was the end of high school and my whole year went to a school mates’ property to get drunk and celebrate. I was a fairly naïve 17-year-old but even so, for some reason, I asked a trusted male friend if he would look out for me. I knew he would be sober but I wouldn’t be. Later that night, I remember one of the guys from my year (a seemingly nice guy) with his hands all over my breasts and the rest of my body. If it wasn’t for intervention of my sober male friend, things could have got out of hand very quickly.
Interestingly, back then, it didn’t register as an invasion of my physical space or assault. I don’t think I mentioned it to anyone and I certainly didn’t confront the perpetrator when I was sober at school the next day. Instead, I felt like it was just one of those things that could happen and you lived with it – having a guy put his hands all over you, intimately, when you were drunk was something that could happen and you lived with it. There was also an underlying theme that, somehow, you should feel good if a guy noticed you in that way – like you should be grateful for their attention.
No one had ever talked to me about how vulnerable women can be in those situations, what could happen and what my rights were to protect my own body. Clearly I knew enough to ask a friend to look out of me but that wasn’t from any direct conversation. I guess it was a more innate understanding of what kind of world I lived in as a young woman. It was just what we lived with.
But I’m sick of living with it and I’m tired of hearing people say that a woman asked for trouble because of what she was wearing or because she drank too much. Equally, I know that just because some guy shows you attention doesn’t mean you should be grateful for it. I’m also so sick of perpetrators getting away with their crimes because everyone thinks they are “nice guys” and “women often lie about these things”.
Women don’t often lie about these things. Why would we when, by making a formal police report, we open ourselves up to condemnation for being a slut and somehow asking for it? Or worse, victims are dismissed by police because a perpetrator “comes across as decent guy” when interviewed. Yes, it happens. Still.
There’s no doubt Promising Young Woman rips the scab off and exposes the darkness beneath. It’s a darkness we all know is there. Some of us try to ignore it, some of us feel powerless to stop it, many of us have been victims of it. But. We. All. Know. It. Is. There.
So please, take your brother, husband, boyfriend, father and male friends to see this film. Have the difficult conversations that arise afterwards. And for God’s sakes, all you men out there who sincerely want to help women: start listening to the experiences of the women you are supposed to care about, believe them and step up. Because women are still being raped and assaulted by “nice guys” and we need your help to stop it.
And as for you “nice guy” perpetrators out there. I hope you meet a woman like Cassie very soon.
In loving and intimate relationships, there are always things you need to negotiate on – where to eat dinner, who is preparing dinner, where to go on holidays, what colour you should paint the walls, how much money you save together for your agreed goals, and so on. These types of negotiations happen in healthy relationships.
Unfortunately, some men believe their female partners should also negotiate with them about other topics like:
What you wear
What you eat
What you post on social media (when he and/or your children aren’t in the pics)
What you wear when you post on social media
What you weigh
The size of your breasts (implants anyone?)
Which other men you can talk to
How much make-up you do or don’t wear.
These topics are NOT negotiation points and if you’re with a man (a term I am using very loosely in this instance) who insists on you negotiating about these, LEAVE.
You may think this advice is rather melodramatic but is it, really? Because I have to tell you, when you agree to negotiate about how you show up in the world, you are on a slippery slope to nowhere good. Your autonomy is not up for negotiation.
And quite frankly, I don’t give a damn about his feelings about this and neither should you. I would also wonder who taught him it was okay to tell you what you can and cannot do with your body. That sounds like a bad case of entitlement and he should get some therapy to resolve that issue while you move onto a man who has a healthy sense of self and respects you as the amazing goddess you are.
The right man will love you as you are and will not seek to control you. He will respect your autonomy and respect you as an individual who chooses her own path. Just like he chooses his.
Lucretia is an author, psychic and intuitive mentor who helps women live their purpose. Need some practical and honest advice about feelings, life or relationships? Visit DearLucretia.com to ask your question. Answers are FREE and your name will always be changed if your question is published.
I’ve been thinking about this quote all day. It’s from Sex and the City – the iconic series about women, sex and friendship that many of us loved during the 90s. The quote is from Samantha Jones when she realises she has sacrificed her goals and independence for the man she loves. She has upended her life to help him follow his dream so he can be a success. With her talent and skills, she has taken him from unknown to superstar. But one day, she realises she can’t do it anymore. Although she loves him, she loves herself more.
Somewhere along the way, she willingly chose to lose herself in help him create his dreams. So she leaves and returns to the life that fills her up rather than living a life that ensures his needs are met, rather than her own.
Many years ago, while I was still married, my then-husband’s interests were increasingly divergent from my own. He wanted to stay home, watch the football several nights a week and renovate our house. Increasingly, I wanted to socialise, travel and expand my world. As time went by, and he refused to join me, I chose to go out without him. A female family member told me I should stay at home.
“Even though he won’t go out at all, I should stay home with him because that’s what he wants?” I asked her.
“Yes,” she said.
I left my marriage a year or two later. Clearly, I felt differently to her.
A lot of years have passed since then but I’ve noticed a pattern when it comes to women and the men they love.
I’ve heard women say things like, “Oh, he doesn’t like me to do things without him, so I don’t [insert her dream or passion here]” or, “I just know that he has all this potential so I’m going to help him [insert his dream].”
These are good women who love their men. But I wonder if they realise what they are doing to themselves and their relationships when they shelve their own dreams and desires so they can help their partners achieve theirs.
In partnerships, there are absolutely swings and roundabouts. As we progress through our lives, there will be times when one partner needs more support to help them achieve and reach for their goals. But too often it seems like the woman does a lot more heavy lifting in this department than the man. And we do it voluntarily because that’s what a good wife/girlfriend/partner does. Therein lies the challenge.
In this modern age, there is no reason for women to believe they must put their needs second to their male partner. There is no reason why men shouldn’t do 50 percent of the housework and child-rearing when their female partners also work full-time. But the statistics tell us that women are consistently taking the heavier load.
Mothers still frequently do more for their sons than their daughters. I’ve heard friends with sons and daughters talk about how much more difficult it is for boys than girls. Girls must fend for themselves more because they’re more capable while the mothers are just that bit more protective of their sons. The daughters see this behaviour and carry it forward into their intimate relationships later on.
Culturally, we’re still shown messages every day that women should make more allowances for their men. Female celebrities forgive their male partners for all sorts of indiscretions (including abuse) while their men and their careers still flourish. Just take a look at some of the sportsmen and musicians of the world for examples where women and the man’s adoring fans forgive all kinds of appalling behaviour. Mind you, a woman is unlikely to get away with similar antics without being called a myriad of names and probably losing her income.
The common theme parroted by women throughout all of these situations, is love. Too often it’s the narrative of unconditional love. “You must love unconditionally,” we’re told. But I think women have misinterpreted this message.
Telling a woman she should stay home all the time and shrink her world because that’s what her husband wants, is not love.
Prioritising his dreams and desires over yours, is not love.
Continuing to pick up more of the home and child-rearing tasks, is not love.
Ensuring sons are treated with more care than our daughters, is not love.
Making allowances for disrespectful and sometimes abusive behaviour, is not love.
We must love fiercely – we must set boundaries and say no, this is not okay. We must love ourselves fiercely and refuse to enable poor masculine behaviour. We must only only accept equality because that is what we deserve.
We must demand respect, not beg for it.
We must love fiercely with boundaries and accept nothing less.
If we learn to do this effectively, we will empower ourselves as women and also empower our men, instead of demeaning ourselves and emasculating them.
Love fiercely. And know you can love them but you need to love yourself more.
Unconditional love doesn’t mean giving away your power. We need to stop believing it does.
“She’s a cougar,” he said, smiling with amusement.
Davy* (not his real name) was dismissing the romantic interest of a woman at the speed dating event – she was an attractive 52-year-old.
“How old are you?” I asked. Davy looked like he might be quite close to 50 himself.
He looked surprised for a second then answered, “I’m 47.”
“But you’d go out with a woman five years younger than you, right?” I queried.
“Yeah, of course,” he said offhandedly before changing the subject.
Davy’s comments shouldn’t have surprised me but they did. I keep hoping that when it comes to gender politics, we will have evolved more. But too many men seem to be stuck in some weird dimension located around the 1950s where double-standards are still in residence and remain quite comfortable, thank you very much.
Over the past year or so, I have watched:
Tony Robbins (a supposedly evolved thought leader) disparage the #metoo movement and use his physicality to push a woman back (into her box?) at an event in front of thousands of people
legislation be passed in some southern states in the United States to control women and their reproductive choices by preventing their access to abortion (even in the cases of rape and incest!). No surprises that the legislators have frequently been white men and religious doctrine has played an influencing role.
increasing commentary on social media about how abortion shouldn’t be permitted in Australia either – once again with a lot of men and religious rhetoric leading the discussion (men + religion often doesn’t always work out so great for women’s rights)
Assistant Commissioner Luke Cornelius (following the murder of yet another woman in Melbourne this week) state, “The key point, is this is about men’s behaviour, it’s not about women’s behaviour. Every time I hear about woman being attacked – for me as a man – it gives me some pause for reflection about what it is in our community that makes men think it’s okay to attack women, or take what they want from women”.
Some public commentators subsequently bleated the same old “but not all men” statement in response to Luke’s words instead of doing some of their own reflection and saying, “Well, yeah, I can see that men are doing this and I’m a man, so I guess I have a role to play. What action can I take?”
Tanya Plibersek pull out of the Labor leadership race stating she could “not reconcile” the “important responsibilities I have to my family with the additional responsibilities of the Labor leadership” (Sydney Morning Herald, May 26, 2019) clearly indicating that perhaps Australia’s parliament isn’t the most family friendly or supportive place for women
Australia’s prime minister give a speech on International Women’s Day saying “We don’t want to see women rise only on the basis of others doing worse.” In other words, women can’t rise if it means others [men] will be displaced. Despite the fact that many women haven’t risen because they haven’t received the same advantages as men.
Let’s just say, as a woman, a feminist and someone who supports equality, these events have been disappointing to say the least. We’re not in the 1950s anymore, so why does it feel like we’re still there?
I understand these are tricky times. Men don’t always know these days what their role is. Most want to do the right thing but there is, I’m afraid, a large degree of apathy when it comes to standing up and saying to other men, “Mate, that’s not how we do things anymore. Women deserve our respect. We don’t control them. And we don’t dismiss their opinions just because they don’t align with our beliefs about how things should (and have always) been.”
There also seems to be a degree of reticence by some men to genuinely reflect on their own behaviour and consider that their ‘normal’ treatment of women is no longer acceptable (not that it ever was). Instead of being calm and less emotional (as they often tell us women to be), some men jump to angry defensiveness at the very mention that they may have a role to play in addressing the issues women are experiencing at the hands of men. It’s much easier it seems to point back to women and somehow blame them for being the problem than take a look at their own behaviour.
Some don’t like the thought that they may not hold exclusive power for much longer and are using their influence to try to retain the status quo. I think this explains the swing to the right we are seeing in the US particularly, and also in other nations globally where governments are increasingly seeking to stifle women’s voices and rights.
For example, a woman’s right to decide if she is going to use her womb to procreate is one of the few things that men cannot directly control – it is one of the few things women have exclusive power over. Yet, we are seeing moves in some places to remove our rights to this body autonomy. If we ever needed a sign that some men were very fearful – then this is a big one. Let’s not delude ourselves. If those men were really concerned about unwanted pregnancies, they would be legislating to make it unlawful for men to have sex without birth control (vasectomy anyone?) or legally ensuring they had to be 100 percent involved post-birth (both financially and in person) and provide adequate flexibility in workplaces, etc. But of course, they’re not doing that. Forcing birth control on men (which would definitely prevent abortions because their would be no accidental pregnancies in the first place) is out of the question yet forcing women to procreate against their will is acceptable, apparently. Double standards anyone?
Women are standing up and demanding more. And I won’t lie, a lot of us are angry about the way things have been going. We’re angry because things aren’t changing and, in fact, sometimes it feels like we’re going backwards.
I believe that when we work together, women, men or however you identify, we can achieve great things. But at the moment, many men are sitting on the sidelines and allowing the status quo to be maintained through their silence.
You need to get into the game gentlemen. We need you there. We want you there. We want to hear you standing beside us saying things like:
“It’s not good enough. Women deserve to have autonomy over their bodies, just like I have over my body.”
“Mate, don’t speak about women disrespectfully. No means no and she doesn’t have to stroke your ego and worry you might become abusive just because she hurt your feelings by saying no.”
“We need more flexible work arrangements so parents can work and take care of their children, so I’m going to make that company policy.”
“Being violent towards women is never acceptable and if I know that you are intimidating or being violent towards a woman, I’m going to pull you into line, report you and let you know very clearly that it’s not acceptable behaviour.”
Good men, we need you to do this because a lot of your peers don’t seem to be listening. We need your help. If you want to know what your role is nowadays, this is a big part of it. This is how you help provide for the safety and rights of the women and society you care about – you make sure women have a non-negotiable, equal voice at the table.
This is how we work in partnership to create a better world.
If you’ve been single and searching for love for a while, I’m pretty sure someone ‘wise’ will have advised you verbally or in an article somewhere that, ‘When you learn how to love yourself, he will come.’
Now I want you to picture me doing some major eye-rolling until I make myself dizzy.
You see, while I know that most of the time this advice is well-intentioned (except when it’s patronisingly delivered by someone who also happens to be in a partnership – yes, occasionally people do this), the truth is this statement about loving yourself and then he’ll come, simply isn’t true.
There are loads and loads of women out there who do not love themselves and yet have managed to create partnerships with wonderful people who love them. Have you noticed that?
I also know lots of women out there who do love themselves; they’ve done a lot of work around self-love for years and years, and yet they’re still single.
Now, am I sounding the death knell for your search for the right man?
Am I saying that learning to love yourself is a thankless and pointless task?
What I am saying is this advice about first you need to love yourself before you get to have a partner who loves you back can be, well, kind of a mean thing to say to someone. It also sets up this idea that your goal or ‘prize’ in learning to love yourself is that you get the love of someone else.
And that’s really beside the point of the whole journey of self-exploration.
Trust me, I’m speaking about this from a position of some expertise and experience. I’ve been mostly single for the past 10 years and I have done HUGE amounts of work around self-love. As someone with heightened self-awareness and intuitive ability, the Universe has pushed me to go deep with this stuff time and time again. And it’s still an ongoing process.
Is it easier to create a stronger, healthier and more viable long-term love partnership with someone if you have strong self-love and everything that goes with that understanding of self? Yes, I really believe that to be true.
However, the right man still needs to be there in front of you, at the same stage as you, for that to even become an option. And maybe he’s not ready yet. Maybe you’ve still got things you have to do. Maybe it’s not time. Maybe you’ve done the work but he’s still around the corner paying some other karmic dues or embedding some other life lesson he needs to learn before he can progress.
These factors are real possibilities. You both need to be in ‘the same step’ in order for you to come together. Maybe he’s just not there yet.
So please stop buying into this theme that suggests it’s your fault that you’re still single because you haven’t done the work yet. After all, that’s what this kind of self-help is doing. Too often it suggests that you just need to work harder.
Well, I think that’s a rort because I know you’re working hard on yourself beautiful woman. You’re getting up every day and you’re doing your best. You’re looking at your ‘stuff’ and you’re beginning the journey of self-accountability and facing your life lessons because you know you have to in order for your soul to progress. And you do want to progress. I know that. But for someone to dangle this carrot of ‘self-love’ as being the answer for you to attract the ‘one’ is illusory and somewhat misleading.
We all need to learn how to love ourselves first; that much I believe to be true.
We all also desire the love of another, a partner to travel life’s journey with. I believe that to be true as well.
But I don’t necessarily believe that you must do the former in order to successfully attract the latter. Although it may be a helpful contributing factor, it is not the comprehensive answer.
So keep doing your best you fabulous, complex woman. Keep striving and learning. Know that whether you are with someone or alone, you still need to walk your path and nourish your self-love daily. But please don’t buy into the self-help rort that it’s your fault that you’re single because there’s nothing wrong with you.
It’s just not the right time yet.
Lucretia Ackfield is a writer and transformational teacher who has learnt the lessons of love and romance the hard way. You can read her voyeuristic, hilarious and sometimes mortifying stories of the single life in her memoir The Men I’ve Almost Dated. Or, if you’d like to work on developing your self-awareness and intuition, you can join her Facebook group Rock Your Inner Channel.