“A Dad’s Letter to His Daughter on Dating Boys” originally appeared on The Good Men Project, and was reprinted with permission.
A letter purportedly written by a man to his son giving advice about how to behave well with his girlfriend (mostly in relation to sex) has been doing the social media rounds lately.
I thought I’d imagine writing to my daughter to give her some advice and insights on how to relate to boys.
Here are some things I wanted to share, drawing on my own experience of being one for more than 60 years, about how to get the best from your interactions with the male species.
Firstly our biggest “secret.” Boys and men are often not as emotionally strong as they seem. That confident exterior may just be a defense against vulnerability. Help him feel safe to express his feelings with you. Be patient if he’s not good at this … he’s probably doing his best, but hasn’t had much practice.
He won’t be able to read your mind and may not understand your “hints.” This does not necessarily mean he doesn’t care about you. Tell him clearly what you are feeling and needing. Then, if he’s not interested in that … dump him.
Only ever do what you’re completely comfortable doing, in or out of bed. If he wants you to act like a porn star, try to educate him about the difference between fantasy and reality. If he doesn’t seem to get that … dump him.
Show him what you like physically and emotionally, so that he can be the lover for you that you would like him to be, and that, probably, he would like to be. Affirmations will always be welcome by him in that area. But if he shows no interest in your needs … dump him.
Trust what he does, more than what he says. Men are trained to use words as tools to get results, more than as ways to express true feelings. And don’t be fooled by show-offs or discount the quieter boys — they may love you best and be the most fun to be with.
He will respond much better to you telling him what you need, than to you telling him what you want him to do or think is wrong with him.
Be proud of who you are and what you like (as long as it doesn’t hurt other people). You don’t need any other justification or approval from anyone. This way you can never be emotionally, or in any other way, blackmailed or pressured.
Most boys and men want to be kind to their partner, but may have been convinced by conventional male stereotypes that this is “unmanly.” His biggest fear will be of not being “man enough.” So reassure him regularly that you think sensitivity is strong … and sexy.
When he needs it, let him have some “man time” away from you, on his own or with his mates; don’t take it as a rejection. Let him come back to you of his own volition. And if, by any chance, he doesn’t … good riddance.
Give him time to figure out what it is that he is feeling so that he can tell you. If he feels rushed, or pushed, it will probably make him defensive, and you will maybe never find out what’s going on for him or let him feel safe enough to commit to loving you.
More from The Good Men Project:
- My boy was just like me
- Tough guys vs. real men: On-screen and at-home
- What you should know about boys who don’t like to wear pants