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Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Act Like A Man

Act Like A Man People talk about getting in touch with their inner child, but what about releasing your inner man? Take your cue from male behavior and put yourself first... for a change. Trust us, you'll love it!

It was at my niece's birthday party that I discovered how useful it is to "play it like a man". We watching the happily screaming kids, and their party food was laid out for them, while we adults were due to eat our "grown-up" meal a couple of hours later. I was starving. I could have eaten a whole child, with or without sauce. What to do? Sneak away to the cafe and order a quick sandwich? Carry on starving stoically? See if anyone else was hungry too, take orders from them and nip down to the nearest hawker stall?

In a guy's shoes
"What would a guy do?" I asked myself. I knew the answer: forget the rest of them, forget etiquette. I'd been up since the crack of dawn on a Sunday morning to help my sister prepare this party, skipped breakfast and missed lunch. So I simply walked to a nearby cafe, ordered a sandwich, came back and ate it. No explanation. No "Oh I'm so sorry to eat in front of you all, it's just that..." Didn't bother with any of it. It wasn't a crime. Why should I explain? All I did was put my needs first. Further, I didn't explain myself nor hope that everyone still loved me despite my refusal to self-sacrifice, to think of others, to empathize, assume some of them might be hungry too. And this is how women are conditioned to act. Even if we're the main earners in our families, most of us are either expected to, or take on, an additional caring role. We may do the same job as men now, but we've kept the essentially "female" roles too. Don't you ever find it truly exhausting?

If we're to occupy the same place as men in the workplace, or at least strive to, shouldn't we also have some of their privileges? The best one being the right, occasionally, to put yourself first? To think of your own needs and not bother charging around, trying to please others all the time? Of course this can sound dangerously self-centered. But there's a Chinese proverb too, isn't there? If I am not for me, who will be? Men find this much easier to adhere to, I think, than women. We're taught to please, and we're afraid to court disapproval; terrified of being too selfish. It makes some kind of sense too because we do bear children - so perhaps some of this need to nurture others is innate. But most of us are way off bearing children, so there's no need to constantly put others first in the way that we'll have no choice but to do once we have given birth. Why not take advantage of our childfree state while we can? Why not take a cue from men?

Feel guilty? Naah!
"It's like asking a man if he feels guilty for eating too much chocolate or drinking too many beers on a night out," says my friend Lil. "They look at your like you're crazy or something. What? Me, a man feel guilty? What on earth for?" In fact, time spent in male company can be quite a tonic after too many girlie nights moaning about the size of your thighs (yawn) the number of calories consumed (even bigger yawn) and whether he loves you or not (zzzzzz). Lil again: "Men just don't angst like this. They are far more straightforward in their dealings with their bellies and their wallets. "Okay, maybe they worry a bit about someone they really like and whether she likes them too, and should they make a move now or leave it because she might think they're a bit too keen... That sort of thing. But they wouldn't dream of beating themselves up the way we women do for eating too much or drinking too much."

Men put themselves first because they're allowed to. Not all men are raised by male-worshipping mothers who teach them to expect the best because they deserve it. But many are. And if you have brothers, you'll know how infuriating it can be that you can do three hours of household chores a day that don't even get noticed, but he only has to offer to wash up once in a blue moon to be showered with gratitude. It's like the story of the brother and sister, both busy executives who have moved away from home. The woman visits her parents every weekend, carries out chores for them, bring gifts, is in every way the dutiful daughter? The man comes home for the odd holiday, doesn't do a chore, doesn't offer any financial help and forgets to bring a gift. His mother is always overjoyed to see him but thinks her daughter an ungrateful, selfish child who only visits once a week. No wonder man rarely feel guilt and find it easy to put themselves first. They've been trained to be No. 1 in their world from day one.

Too much empathy
Why should we women act that way sometimes, too? One gift we females tend to have over the boys is empathy. We can feel our way into someone else's soul. We've frequently been taught to think of others first, to imagine how they feel, so why not turn these lessons to our advantage for a change? Let's say they're looking for volunteers at work, to put in a few extra hours on the weekend because there's a big audit due and it'll really help the company. You're planning to move. This is a going-nowhere company and you've already had offers. There is nothing to gain from working over. It might make you feel good to do a good deed but this is work we're talking about. The cut-throat world of commerce, not a friend or family member who needs you. As a woman, the appeal would undoubtedly be directed straight at your heart. It's hard to refuse. Why not duck and let that arrow miss your heart and hit your head instead? Look at it with cold logic. What's in it for you?

"It sounds so selfish to put yourself like this but it's what men do, isn't it?" says Janice, a fellow friend. "And it doesn't seem to fo their careers any harm." Janice is tired of watching the men skive as much as they can at work, ducking the difficult tasks, while taking praise for ideas not their own. "Women will work far harder than they need and waste much time trying to please people - instead of just getting on with the job," adds Janice.

Feminizing men
Men are frequently exhorted to act more like women. We're told that the world of work is becoming more feminized, what with the "knowledge-based" industries like IT booming. Men must get in touch with their softer sides if they're to succeed, goes the mantra. Otherwise, they'll be left behind. Hello? I haven't noticed the world suddenly becoming woman-shaped and orientated, have you? Yes, men could use a few softer skills, the so-called feminine traits. But why should they? If they've nothing to gain from it, believe me, they won't bother. They'll still prefer beer-and-leer nights to sweet talk'n'empathy. They won't become more like us unless they perceive a reason to. And the only time they might be is when they want to get close to a woman. Then they cheerfully admit they'll "play the game" as Thomas candidly told me one night.

"Look, all men know the score: you have to do the touchy feely stuff, and I don't mean physically, unfortunately. Girls like talking and they like you to listen. But to be honest, this is going somewhere really special. I only pretend to be a sweet sensitive guy. I'm there for what I can get, I see no reason why women shouldn't act the same sometimes?" Some men claim we do just that. We pretend to care because we want the diamonds and furs some guys will shower on us. But that's not taking it like a man. Taking it like a man, rather than a gold-digging hussy is being straight, up-front and honest. "I wish women would be more like men," adds Thomas. "It'd sure make life easier if a girl would tell you straight-up whether she was interested or not. Or even when doing something simple, like trying to choose a film to watch together. I hate it when girls say, 'I don't mind. You choose.' You should mind. You should have an opinion. And chances are, you do. Why not come out and say it?"

Say it like a man
Being a man does not mean stomping over everyone else. It just means using your feminine nous to know there are times when saying straight out what you think or want, is far better than namy-pambying around. So the next time your boss calls you for an appraisal ask yourself, "How would a man handle this?" If you're asked to do more than your share at work or at home, think: "Would they ask this if I were a man?" Getting in touch with the inner male warrior inside us all is an excellent way to refuse to be treated like second-class citizens just because we happened to be born with a different set of chromosomes to the guys. Men aren't perfect but nor are they the enemy. We can learn from their straight-talking ways. So if you're ever in a bit of a fix and can't think of a way to deal with it, take a breath and think "man". It might just give you the answer your crave.

How To Do It Like A Man
You're asked to work late with no notice, and you have plans for that night.
A woman's way:
Reluctantly agree and cancel your carefully laid plans. Moan ceaselessly or mutter under your breath about "inconsiderate people".

A man's way: Say you have plans for that night so no, just can't do it. No more explanation offered. No great, crowd-moving speeches. Just a simple statement of fact: "Sorry, I can't. I have plans."

Your mother asks you to clean the house for the fifth time this week. You think that you're already doing more than your share.
A woman's way:
Complain, have a go at the homework, say it's not fair, and why doesn't everyone else do their share, look how much I've already done.

A man's way: Point out you've done plenty already and refuse. No more explanation. To the point. And repeat it, if necessarily, to show you mean it.

You need to take a faulty item back to the store. You know that you have rights but you're not in the mood for any kind of fight.
A woman's way:
You stutter and practically apologize to the sales person or manager because they sold you something that doesn't work.

A man's way: You point out that the goods are faulty, have your receipt to hand and demand a full refund. You refuse to leave the shop till you have it. Employ the stuck CD method where you keep saying what you want over and over again, until you get it.

Your love partner seems to be cooling towards you. You want to know where you stand but all attempts to sort this prove futile. He simply says, "Everything's fine."
A woman's way:
You assume it's all your fault. You must have done something wrong. You jump through fire-rimmed hoops, do whatever it takes, to try and please this person and win back the affection you know they once felt for you.

A man's way: You produce the evidence. You point out this person has been "out" several times recently when you called and appears to show little interest. You want to know, one way or another, is this still a going concern or not? (If the answer is not, you walk away head held high, then bawl your eyes out when no-one else can see.)

A friend owes you money. You're flat broke and need it back. Your friend shows no signs of repaying, despite frequent hints, but clearly could afford to repay.
A woman's way:
You go on and on about how broke you are. You ask ever-so-nicely if they could repay the loan and then meekly accept it when they say that they can't... yet, somehow, have funds for a $800 new dress.

A man's way: You say you want the money back and you want it now. You add the threat that if they don't repay, you go to their parents or employers for that sum. And you never call this person a friend again.

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Wednesday, April 15, 2009

#20: 5 Ways To Make A Man Commit

5 Ways To Make A Man Commit How come all your friends seem to be meeting Mr. Forever and you're stuck with Mr. Maybe? Could be you're breaking one of these five relationship sins.

"It's not you. It's me."
"I've met someone else."
"It's getting too serious."
"I don't love you anymore."

Those are the top excuses he'll give for leaving, as sung by that commitment-phobic bastard formerly known as The One. It was hearing those painful phrases over and over that made me curious as to why some men cannot commit and others don't. For most of us, it's the same old story. You meet, you date, you introduce him to your parents. In the beginning he goes out of his way to make you like him - he laughs at your jokes and "blames the dog" for you. For 18 months it isn't exactly Brad and Jennifer but it's not Tommy and Pammy, either. Then, one fateful day, a friend gets engaged and you decide it's time for "the talk". Will he commit or won't he? Well, go back to the list of excuses above and circle the pathetic reasons he gave. It hurts, of course, because you couldn't understand why. You know plenty of women in long-lasting, loving relationships, so what's their secret? Why won't it happen for you? Chances are, if you've been breaking even one of the five relationship rules listed here, you'll have found your answer.

The 1st commandment:

Thou shalt retain thy independence

Men love independence women - the type of girl who can fend for herself, spend nights alone or with friends (without him), and not have to rely on him for everything. He wants to know that, if he ever did have to leave (heaven forbid), you'd be able to get along without him. After all, one of the first things that turned his head in your direction was that wily mind of your own. Remember when your opinion was your own, and his opinion was his? He doesn't want to make love to, or live with a carbon copy of himself. Especially if you were two different peas in very different pods in the beginning. Oh, and there's something else. Does he manage your bank account, decide where you go on weekends and what videos you watch? If you leave everything up to him, he'll get bored of being your personal assistance and move on. As a 25-year-old man who wishes to remain anonymous puts it: "I want someone who can keep me on my toes. Which means she'd have her bags packed and be out the door within half an hour if I started expecting that everything would go my way or if I took too much for granted."

Spontaneity is a huge plus in any relationship. Keeping your relationship new and fresh will keep him coming back for more. Don't be at his beck-and-call. If he rings you on a Friday night and you've already arranged cocktails with the girls, keep your plans. You can always spend the rest of the weekend in his arms. Sure, a guy needs to know you're into him, for the relationship to work but if he thinks he's the only person in your address book, he'll start to wonder why. Think about the couples that you love and endure. The most stand-out thing about any good relationship is that both people in them have strong identities of their own. Men want a girlfriend who won't lose her sense of self, her ambitions, her desires and her values simply because she fell in love. She won't be dominated, controlled or relegated to second place to keep someone else happy. And she knows that giving up her identity is the quickest way to make her man lose interest!

Warning: Don't swing between ice-princess and a roll of cling film just to keep him interested. No-one likes a game-player and if your man doesn't feel some genuine emotion in those come-here-go-away vibes, you'll be left waiting for the phone to ring for a very long time.

The 2nd commandment:

Thou shalt keep him guessing and guessing

Men get restless if you deal them the same cards day in, day out. If he can guess your response to any situation, you'll both sink into a rut any sane person would want to escape from. Think about it: how does your man react when he gets the same aftershave from grandma every Christmas? Sure, he might not ask to be written out of her will, but she's family - he doesn't have to put up with the "same old thing" from you. If your relationship is predictable, you can bet the outcome will be as well. If you are spontaneous and carefree, you'll both have a wonderful time. By proving you are an unpredictable, caring, beautiful person, you'll earn your boyfriend's love and respect. When it comes to our relationships with men, we often focus on our physical stimulation, expecting good sex to be enough to make our men love us forever.

But men can get sex anywhere; what they can't get is a woman who respects them enough to care about their happiness. The brain is the largest sex organ of all. We need to learn how to satisfy each other mentally; to arouse each other's curiosity to tap into our partner's sense of adventure. Of course, sex is important, too, but it's just as important to know how to blow his mind, as his.. well, you get the picture. A relationship needs change to keep it hot. Don't be afraid to try new things. You wouldn't want you guy to have the same silly beard and moustache for years, now, would you? Go to the football match with him, take him out to dinner once in a while. Surprise him, keep him guessing. Broaden your horizons and he'll be there with you for the entire journey.

Warning: Be interesting and surprising, not shocking and disturbing. Showing up at his workplace dressed as his favorite porn starlet may be taking things too far.

The 3rd commandment:

Thou shalt let him come to his own conclusions

You've been together for an all time personal record and you know him so well, you could easily speak on his behalf. In fact, you do. Someone asks if you've seen the latest movie. You say: "We loved that!" A friend sees you guy eyeing a pretty waitress: "Oh, he wouldn't do that. He doesn't find tall girls attractive." Someone asks what your boyfriend would think of you flirting with a male colleague. Your response: "Oh, he wouldn't mind." You've planned the future as one half of an "us" for a while now, and you think he feels the same - about everything. You assume his tastes are a perfect match for your own. You've instilled your man with a taste for culture ("We love going to the theatre!" and weaned him off the footy ("Oh, no, we'd hate to sit at home all day watching TV.") Then, out of the blue, the man who never found fault with your cooking/driving/taste in music, puts your mother to shame with his ability to pick you apart. Mr.-Agrees-With-Everything-You-Do is now Mr. Au Contraire. If, all of a sudden, he's become the personification of everything you hate in a man - a heavy-metal listening, women-hating, tracksuit-wearing, pub-after-work, fart-out-loud kind of guy - ask yourself why. How, in the space of mere months, could Mr. Perfect have turned into a disagreeable stick-in-the-mud?

Perhaps it's because you're taking credit for everything he does or says. Does this list of oft-said girlfriendisms sound familiar? "You should have seen how he dressed before he met me!"; "We both love anything with Gwyneth Paltrow in it..."; "Oh, I cut his hair for him.."; "He doesn't like going anywhere without me." If so, it's time to back off, baby. Give the guy a break. He's allowed to have his own tastes, interests and feelings. He's even allowed to flirt occasionally. If he's griping about the relationship, complaining about commitment and whining about his freedom, it's probably because he feels suffocated by you. And the only sure way to get him to come around is to give him some breathing space to be himself. Don't force the issue. Take a deep breath and step aside. If he sees that you are respectful of his boundaries, he'll loosen up and feel like he can agree with you on certain things again, while maintaining his own views on others. Which means, when he says, "I hate anchovies on pizza," you can say, "Oh, okay. we'll just get them on my half, then." And you'll both be happier for it.

Warning: If you really let him be himself, you'll probably find the house infested with beer-guzzling mates on days football is on (a good time to hit the shops?). And you may have to feign amusement at the occasional fart joke.

The 4th commandment:

Thou shalt keep the faith

Here's a late-breaking news item: men want the same things women want from a relationship. They may act like they reside on the fourth rock from the sun, but if you believe you're the only one who wants love, peace and commitment, he'll think you're not interested in what he wants, thinks or feels. Don't subscribe to that "gender-specific traits" argument. If you go into a relationship believing men are programmed to cheat, you'll never trust him - and he'll know it. If you can't trust him, he'll wonder why you're with him in the first place, which will make him think you want to "change" him, a definite turn-off. Like us, guys want to be accepted for who they are.

Couples with successful relationships have managed to negotiate the minefield of infatuation, pursuit, seduction and conquest to finally establish a loyal, committed partnership. And the only way you can do that is via your parents' favorite word: compromise. It's all about appreciating each other as friends, as well as lovers, and respecting that you each have the right to be happy. Unfortunately, we don't always agree on what will be best for us as a couple, so you sometimes have to bite your tongue and let your man have his way, or vice versa, for the ultimate good of the relationship. Most "happy couples" find peace through trial-and-error, but you may be able to hurry things along if you stop seeing him as the enemy and appreciate that you might just have different ways of reaching the same end result. If you encourage each other with genuine love and support, it should be plain sailing.

Warning: To know what you both want, you need to talk. But be careful: you may hear a few nasty home truths. If you want "two kids, one of each" and he wants to remain rug-rat free forever, you'll have to admit he isn't the man of your dreams, after all.

The 5th commandment:

Thou shalt not expect too much of him

So he doesn't buy you flowers every day. He forgot to tell you he loves you this morning. He doesn't remember the anniversary of the day you first met. Lighten up: if you hadn't written down the exact time and date of your first kiss, you wouldn't remember, either. The old gender-difference argument actually does ring true once in a while, and that time is now. Women put great importance on what time of the day the sun first shone on the broad, naked shoulders of their sexy new beau - but men generally couldn't care less. The important thing to your guy is that you are with him at all. You know all those times when you asked your boyfriend, "Do you love me?" and he answered, "I'm here, aren't I?"... well, think about that for a minute. It may just be the simple, honest truth. Single male life is a beautiful thing, full of football, beer, buddies and casual dating. Why would he forego all of that if you meant nothing to him? Trust him, give him a chance to show his appreciation of you in his own way, and you might find you have nothing to complain about.

Warning: Don't give him too much rope, or he might hang himself. All that lack of caring may actually be just that - maybe he doesn't give two hoots if you stay or go. But, deep down, you'll know the answer to that yourself, anyway. Bottom line is, there's a difference between forgetting the occasional anniversary and not celebrating your birthday year after year. If he constantly makes you feel bad about yourself, leave.

The Wrong Reasons Men Stay

These two men will say with you no matter what, Unfortunately, you won't want them to.

The settle-for-second-best guy:
After spending several years at the international buffet of womanhood, some guys get heatburn and decide to stick with what they know best. Yes, now and then, men get tired of chasing - it's just too much hard work (so to speak) - and come to the conclusion that the girlfriend they're with now (you) is probably just as good as anyone they're likely to meet. Avoid these men at all costs. You don't want to spend the rest of your life with someone who sees you as anything less than the best. He'll say things like "I don't believe in love", only to reveal later, that he does - with another woman.

The if-I-wanted-to-work-I'd-be-doing-paid-overtime guy:
Some men think the right relationship is one that doesn't require any work. He wouldn't dream of buying a car, then not filling it with petrol, but this same guy will believe that it's possible to be the perfect couple without any effort. Which means he's quite content in the honeymoon phase of a relationship; but he's out the door the first time you disagree about whether tax is a good or bad thing. Don't fall for it. You've got better things to do than tip-toe around someone who'll ditch you the first time you put a foot wrong.

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