So I’m sick. A cold. Bad, obnoxious, noisy, icky cough. Not a big deal. We women blow through these things. But I ache, and I want to lay down. Puts me at a romantic disadvantage, I think. Don’t look great. Feel sloggy, so I must look sloggy to my husband.
All of a sudden, he looks even cuter.
Can’t do anything for anyone – don’t want to, anyway. Even so, I try to do myself out of my malaise. I write. I organize. I clean the kitchen. And just to make myself feel better, I have the urge to take care of my husband, who also has a cold. Or maybe my urge is not to make myself feel better, but to make myself feel more indispensable. If I don’t look good, I pretty sure better do good.
Suddenly, I realize all my activity is annoying. Sit down, I can hear him say, though he’s not actually saying it. If I got him dinner and massaged his head and brought him tea, he’d gladly take it. He’d take whatever I’d give. Take it all.
But he wouldn’t like me better.
In fact, he really doesn’t like it at all. Oh, he likes the good stuff, alright, but it doesn’t make him reach for me, or pet my hair, or try to have sex with me in the hallway even though neither of us can stand up for more than a minute. What inspires him to do that is the sight of me asleep in the bed at four in the afternoon because I feel lousy and I’m taking care of myself. He’s inspired when I take care of myself.
What he can’t stand is that air of — I’m going to impress you all by getting all my work done and pretending I’m not exhausted, even though I let a complaint and an Oooooo I feel lousy slip out every once in awhile. He thinks, when I do that: Is she so much better than me? — and turns away. So much for romance.
This is an extreme case, but it works the same if we’ve just had a bad day at the office, or our fellow hasn’t called, or we just feel somehow that giving to someone and nurturing someone is the way to his heart. It isn’t.
Have you ever noticed that on your worst days – bad hair, a cold, a huge pimple – you seem to be a man magnet? Every woman I talk to has noticed this (when she’s allowed herself to notice). It’s not because you look bad. It’s because you seem approachable. You seem vulnerable. Open. You seem, for a change in most men’s experience, to be a woman who might allow herself to be taken care of, by him. Instead of what he’s used to – a woman who’d be willing to take care of him.
Giving is what men are supposed to do. Women are supposed to receive the love, affection and gifts that men give, and then give love and affection back to them. Though many of us have caught onto this, it’s challenging to stop doing what we’ve always done, what we’ve been told is the way to do things, and to fly in the face of the fallout we fear. So I’m going to tackle one little issue – Nurturing.
Nurturing is masculine. If you want to get what he wants to give, stop nurturing your man.
Radical as this sounds, try it. Stop doing. Stop giving. Stop massaging a man’s feelings. Stop helping your date do the relationship thing and let him flounder until he figures it out. He will.
This whole concept of nurturing is a dilemma for most of us. We think of mothering, nurturing, caring for our young as a feminine aspect of ourselves.
Nurturing and caring for others may be a female trait – motherhood is female – but it’s still about action! Nurturing is about doing. Giving. Your energy goes out of you and toward or into someone else. When you give, you are acting from a masculine energy place.
We are so accustomed to the idea of nurturing being feminine, we get confused. We think being loving to our men is nurturing them. Massaging their bodies, minds and spirits. There is nothing wrong with the idea of nurturing – it’s the form our nurturing takes that causes so much difficulty. We are all composed of masculine and feminine (yin and yang) energies. We move through them fluidly at our best, and are stuck in one or the other at our worst.
Too often, many of us find ourselves stuck at one extreme or the other. We either give too much all the time and then find ourselves resentful all the time, or we go the other way and make ourselves emotionally unavailable to our dates, our husbands, our boyfriends, and every man we meet.
Too often, our nurturing energies are perceived by men as mothering. Our actions seem intrusive. We seem to be judging them and finding them coming up short – otherwise why would they need taking care of? On the other hand, they love attention. Don’t we all?
To strike some sort of balance when we are all so mightily out of balance, I’m asking you to pull back to zero.
To at least imagine pulling back to zero. The baby steps you actually take may seem huge. When you stop doing for your man what he doesn’t need you to do, yet has grown accustomed to you doing and may resent you not doing (even though he’ll certainly find himself relieved that you’ve stopped doing them), things may get messy before they get better. But they will get better.
This is all about Overfunctioning. What does Overfunctioning and Overnurturing look like in YOUR love life?
Let me know! Love, Rori