There were a lot of stumbling blocks to my partner and I getting together – for starters we had never met when we started to talk online. Then there was the fact that we lived on the other side of the world from one another. Yet here we are, just 12 months later living together, developing and supporting each other while sharing our lives. It’s definitely love, because when I look into his eyes it is like the universe shines back at me.
Before this relationship I had a few boxes my hypothetical future bloke needed to tick. So much so that if I tried online dating and filled in my criteria I ended up with 0 results! So when our relationship kicked off with a few chance online encounters it was odd to feel it developing without my ‘future partner shopping list’ to hand. But true love is better than any ticked-box I could have imagined.
What is a ‘real man’? Is he Barbie’s Ken, Price Charming or Colin Firth? Given the common popular narrative I grew up reading and watching on TV, it’s no surprise I had a recipe list of what I needed in a partner. There were looks, height, status, wealth, practical, handy, house-trained, with common interests; that list was long. At no time growing up did anyone stop to teach me how you can tell if it’s true – it’s a consistent feeling, not a box to be ticked.
When it comes down to it, a true man will be true to himself – committed to knowing himself, the great, the good and the emotional worms under rocks he hasn’t turned before. He is able to deeply appreciate his own beautiful qualities, and fess up to his ‘work in progress’ areas. This enables an open and transparent dialog which grows a true relationship. Why then do we have such a poor portrayal of real men in common popular narrative?
Where are the men in fairy stories acting true to their heart; showing tenderness and care in each movement they make. Well beyond just chivalry and show, a true man wounds easily If you are rough or demanding. (Feeling someone you love in pain as a result of one’s own irresponsible choices is a strong lesson I have learnt, that’s for sure).
This ‘real man’ sets the standards high, and consistently nudges me towards meeting them, both in the quality of how we live together and keep a home but even more so in the tender love we show to one another every day. A tenderness he is teaching me, because if I am honest it just wasn’t how I expressed before.
It’s his dedication to the little loving routines, like the gentle wind down to sleep which involves softly lit rooms, closing the blinds to keep the warmth in, and those bed sheets folded just to the right angle such that surrender to sleep is imminent and unavoidable.
When he cooks (which is most nights) it’s a celebration of what we lived that day – there is alchemy in the avocado, the table is set, not just for special occasions but for every night, because dinner together is always a special occasion.
But the most gorgeous quality of a true man is the endless time for hugs and cuddles – his stillness is like a shrug that wraps itself around you and says ‘go on, melt that day away, I have got this’.
1 year on and this relationship has transformed me. I have such a deep love and respect for my partner it is hard to express it – just the thought of him fills my heart with a delicious glow.
Each day when he leaves for work I know that by evening – just like the stars – he will shine just as brightly and welcome me just as warmly.
Through knowing that warmth I have started to see it in each man in my life – my beautiful father, my friends and work colleagues. Each man has this tenderness at his core, and should be free to live it, without fear of box-ticking, agenda-driving others.
When it comes to a modern day ‘real man’ Andrea Leonhardi called it when she sang
“It’s the same delicateness in every chest of a man… It’s the same delicious love in everyone”