For years now, pop culture analysts and relationship experts have been crowing about the “beta male” syndrome. As women have been getting more successful on their own, it’s created a bit of a financial power shift in relationships- women with PhDs are with men who wait tables and are in a band, low level IT guys who do comedy at night, writers who work at Starbucks, etc. Maybe the guys play video games. Maybe they don’t dress in suits every day. Maybe they’re portrayed in movies like Knocked Up by Seth Rogan.
The thought has been that women can’t have both success and a successful partner at the same time, and there’s been lots of tongue clucking over that. Women are said to be “dating down” with someone less because they’re too focused on their careers to find a “good man”.
But fuck that.
In this brilliant Psychology Today article written by Marcia Reynolds, she proposes the incredibly obvious and yet unmentioned idea that once you take away a need for financial support, perhaps what women want from men is emotional support. They don’t need someone to be daddy, they just need someone to be there for them and help out with day-to-day stuff, like a grownup. Like women have always done. But of course, this development is often seen as both a sign of men becoming pussies and women being too power-hungry and “modern” to be any fun. Society has painted these men into a corner, where they sit baking muffins and playing with Star Wars toys until their sexless power wives come home to pat them on the head. Marcia says:
These women want a man who will share the responsibilities at home and won’t get his ego tied up in a knot over it. They want a man who gives his partner space to go after the success she desires. When she comes home, he is her cheerleader and “knight” who loves her and doesn’t tell her he wants her to quit traveling or change her workload for him. This man shows emotional depth and strength.
I don’t know why I’ve never thought of things this way, but I haven’t. Of all the griping I have done about how emotional support is a real and tangible thing that is underappreciated, why on earth wasn’t I recognizing it as a trait that modern, secure men can provide?
Ladies, let’s start getting the same things out of relationships that men have always gotten- someone to be there, someone to love and adore them, and someone to maybe make dinner on occasion. Why should we need anything else? Great food for thought. Go read it now!
UPDATE: Full disclosure- guess who was with the low level IT guy who did comedy at night?