Dear Neil: Women claim to want a man who is open-hearted and comfortable with intimacy—a man who can show his more vulnerable emotions. But when I have offered my heart and vulnerability to a woman, I have most frequently been judged, rejected or dumped. In my most recent relationship, I not only gave her my heart, but I did so soon after we met. I also bought her jewelry and other gifts, took her on expensive holidays, was emotionally expressive, offered her a commitment and fell head-over-heels in love with her. Why would a woman say that she values those things more than anything else, and then reject a man who offers them to her?
Disillusioned in Connecticut
Dear Disillusioned: Some women are emotionally secure and self-confident enough in themselves where they would love to have an open-hearted man who shows his vulnerability.
But not most. There is an important distinction in how men and women approach mate selection, says Warren Farrell, the author of “Why Men Are the Way They Are” in a recent phone interview. He says that most men choose women based on physical attraction and sexual desirability. The majority of women out there, on the other hand, are attracted to a strong provider/protector who will take care of her. She wants a strong man with good earning potential she can respect. It would be nice to also have an emotionally engaged and devoted man, but that’s not a requirement for a large number of women. Provider and protector are.
A cardinal sin for a man is to come across as emotionally needy around a woman, Farrell continues, because in her eyes he’ll look weak. Like a boy, not a man. And as unfair as it may sound to you, you falling for a woman quickly and so completely may have looked like weakness or neediness to her, rather than as strong and heartful.
In truth, usually it takes a strong man to show the softer side of himself. So we’re not talking about truth. We’re talking about her perception of the truth.
But many women don’t see that such a man is strong, continues Farrell. So it is more accurate to say that most women choose a man because of his façade of strength. The man who offers her the illusion or façade of strength (powerful, affluent, undemanding and often emotionally not in touch with his feelings) may very well appeal to her more than you do.
Also, many women don’t want what comes too easily, similar to many men. She may have felt like you gave away the farm too quickly, so to speak. That you were too easy. Women who seek out “challenges” are more prone to view things this way. A challenge, incidentally, is an emotionally unavailable or hard to win man.
Finally, the woman you describe simply may not have felt worthy of such attention, love and devotion being lavished on her. It’s entirely possible that she has rejected every man who has fallen head-over-heels for her. She just may not feel that she deserves such unconditional acceptance, approval and love, and doesn’t feel that she can reciprocate or live up to the expectations such devotion implies.
So what can you do? Be heartful and giving with women, but if you give her your heart and she feels you’re giving up yourself or being weak, she’s more likely to reject you, says Ferrell. You must, therefore, keep your boundaries and let a woman know what you want and need, rather than just communicating that you’ll do anything for her.