Karen and I have four daughters between the ages of 20 and 25. They are entering the stage of looking more intentionally for a life partner. Serious business. I’m not always invited to the conversation and I’m cool with that – they need their space. At some point when they make their final decision, they all know the guy has to come seeking my permission/blessing. We’re playing for keeps here.
My daughters have a multitude of friends in the same boat as them. And we’ve got hundreds of young, single women on the World Race, some of whom feel like spiritual daughters to me by the time they finish. I look at them with great pride and want nothing more than to see them matched up with a man who will see them as the prize they are. Mostly I wonder if I have anything of value to say to them about this issue of “finding the right guy.”
However, as a guy, I do have a few words that might help them better understand where guys are coming from. So I decided to write this letter:
By now I trust you’ve figured out that guys are pretty uncomplicated. The picture above says it all. We basically want food and we want to not embarrass ourselves too badly as we try to manage our libido. If one of us tells you he loves you, basically what he means is, “I think you can help me meet these two needs of mine.”
Yes, we periodically get our act together and put on a good show, but I estimate that 95% of all guys in their 20’s, if they were being gut-level honest with you, would admit that this is true. It doesn’t mean that we can’t eventually be trained to be different, but that is how we start out.
Therefore, NEVER trust a guy’s motivations when he says he loves you. Your job is not to get him to say “I love you” – hey, we’re taught to say that as a part of the mating dance humans do! Even birds do better than that
! Your job is to figure out, “Does this guy, who looks hot on the outside, but on the inside understands as much about me as my pet hamster, have the capacity to make a concerted multi-year effort to try and learn about me? Will he always be one step up from a Neanderthal?” Because it truly will take many years before he begins to stop looking at you through the lens of his two basic needs.
I’m sorry to have to break the news to you in this way. God set it up this way so that we would be perpetually motivated to try and please you women.
However, this fact of life is what makes the job of trying to find the right guy so difficult. You can’t trust what your guy says because he has no track record of understanding a woman, let alone putting that woman’s needs first. Whatever he says, he only ultimately wants to meet his two needs. I personally know there are some wonderful Spirit-filled guys out there, but there are few exceptions to this rule. I’m always skeptical when a woman tells me she’s found one.
And complicating your task, you may well feel as though you don’t even
understand or trust yourself too well.
So, I hear some of you asking, “How can I
figure out the fit with any guy I like?” No easy answers. I’m just trying to help you get closer to reality. Let me offer you a tool in hopes that it will help. What I suggest is that you apply Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs (MHN) to your situation.
MHN states that people are motivated to meet needs. Once you meet the basic physical needs, you can move on to higher level needs like belonging and self-esteem. As I made clear, most guys live in the basement of this diagram. And the trade that they propose to you when they say “I love you,” is this: You meet my physical needs, and I will meet yours (i.e. provide for and protect you).”
If this is enough for you, then God bless you, go for it. But for most women it is not enough. They want the higher needs too: They want to belong to a tribe and they want to feel good about their contribution in life. Can your man commit to subordinating his needs long enough to listen to your heart? For example, if you have a heart for orphans, will he set aside his comfort or aspirations to listen to what your heart is saying? If you have a heart for adventure, will he regularly encourage you to go on adventures, or will he, having satisfied his own two needs, leave you frustrated?
Then there is the need for self-actualization. Let me tell you, the men who will actually take the risks necessary to support your dreams are rare indeed. They may want to help you, but chances are, they are uninitiated and never learned how to take a proper risk. A few guys love their women to that degree and I bless them. They are a credit to the species.
I guess the bottom line of what I’m say is this: Don’t settle. You are worth it. Your dreams are worth it. And somewhere out there, for many of you, God has a guy who, with a little work, is worth it.