Life sure is funny.
Within the last two weeks I have had two wise women tell me that I need to learn to let a man be nice to me, that my personal growth this year needs to focus on learning to allow myself to be cared for. Now, some of you are reading this and feeling very confused, because you don’t do this. No, I’ve come to realize that there are people who just naturally expect others to appreciate them and think they’re amazing…. and then there are the rest of us. The first kind of person is a little bewildered and surprised when someone doesn’t see how wonderful they are; the second kind is a little bewildered and surprised when someone does.
This idea is slightly different from self-esteem or a sense of general self-worth. I know very well that I have value and I know of what I am capable and I know what makes me special. Sincerely, I do. I can write a killer resume – personal or professional. That’s not the issue. It’s when someone else knows it, too? Then I get thrown off-balance.
I’m not talking about my friends, here, of course. Male and female, they are unwavering in their support and friendship. But if the person in question is a man in whom I might be interested? Hmmm…. I turn into a dating dork. He pays me a compliment, and I stammer. He tries to be helpful or caring, and I’m lost.
I know that I want this. I know that I need this. I know that I deserve this. But I’m not sure that I know how to have this. So, I’m working on it.
Mr. Airplane is my current tutor in this regard, and he’s really, really good at being nice to me. My plan to simply window-shop on match.com is getting turned on its head. He is so fully present and kind that I am not sure what to do with him. He seems, quite simply, nice. And, when I say “nice,” I’m not talking about just being polite or having gentlemanly manners (although that is part of it). I’m talking about a person who shows compassion, empathy, sympathy, or concern for another person in a concrete way. Someone who takes an interest in another person and is active and engaged in that interest.
Now, “nice” for a lot of us is a dicey moniker. I am definitely of the class of women that does not like men who are “too nice.” Sorry guys, but there is such a thing. “Too nice” is usually a euphemism for needy or a doormat or a wimp or a big, fat red flag for a future passive-aggressive manipulator. It’s true. Fortunately, there are women out there who want all those types (okay, maybe not the future passive-aggressive manipulator…), but I’m simply not one of them. And this might be part of my trouble with “nice.” I want nice. I can appreciate nice. But if you venture into the land of “too nice,” whatever attraction I felt for you promptly dissipates. Poof!
Mr. Airplane, thus far, is not too nice. He is just plain nice.
Case in Point #1: I was sick in bed last week when our part of the state got pummeled with 20 inches of snow. I had a driveway that needed shoveling. I could barely get out of bed; never mind shoveling all that wet snow in the damp cold. He offered to drive in from two towns over to shovel my driveway. And he offered it in that protective, sexy man way – “Don’t be ridiculous. You shouldn’t be shoveling. Call a neighbor or a local kid or let me come over there and do it. You need to be in bed, resting and getting well.” Yessir.
Case in Point #2: He asked me out for Valentine’s Day. First of all, I can’t remember the last time I dated a man who didn’t have an extreme repulsion for the mere mention of Valentine’s Day. The idea of having to do something special seems to be too much pressure for a lot of guys, which is interesting since most women I know would appreciate just a little something – truly! – just as much as a grand gesture. We’re really not that hard to figure out. Second of all, he asked me out via a text that he worded to sound like a formal invitation. It tickled me. Definitely. A text sounding like an engraved invitation = respectful and romantic. An actual engraved invitation = creepy. It’s not that hard.
Case in Point #3: He is complimentary, without seeming like he’s auditioning for the role of Prince Charming. I got over my Casanova complex a couple of years ago. Mike taught me that if they say all the right things, something is surely very wrong. Mr. Airplane has made clear his interest, without gushing over me. He is consistent, but not constant. The difference is subtle, but damn it’s important.
Maybe the best part so far is that I’m honestly enjoying it. I don’t worry if I’ll hear from him. I don’t stress about what comes next. My mind isn’t full of “what if’s” or “maybe not’s.” I hardly know him yet, and I’ve learned the hard way that nearly every guy looks good during the first month. Any moment either of us might discover something about the other that we just can’t tolerate. But for right now, right in this moment, it’s lovely.
And the most ironic part? I bought James flight lessons for Christmas.
Like I said, life sure is funny.