A letter to women: what it means to trust
Men are wired to connect through sex. And then they are able to delve into emotional intimacy.
Women are wired to connect through emotional and mental interactions. And then open themselves up to the sexual connection.
A rather a twisted sense of humor Mother Nature has, don’t you think? From the start, right down to our wiring, she creates a beautiful chasm that takes dedication, observation and patience to cross if we are to build intimate, satisfying relationships with the opposite sex.
It’s a generalization, yes… let’s acknowledge that and move it out of the way. Not everyone is wired this way, not everyone is exactly the same… yes… but enough of us are for there to be books, movies, and a multi-billion dollar industry about how to cross this chasm. How do both parties get what they want?
A few weeks ago, I asked men to consider how they can provide women with the sense of safety they need in order to open themselves up to deeper intimacy with their partners. Women seek a closer relationship with men via conversation and time spent together. Women share stories to create connection through feelings and ideas. They share activities to build a bond of common interests. For a woman to be truly intimate with a man, she needs that safe space to open herself up – mentally, emotionally, and sexually.
But how can women create a place where men want to build a deeper sense of intimacy with them? An examination of our wiring suggests we should strip off the layers of our clothes along with the layers of our emotions. But somehow, that does not seem like the best possible answer…
But it’s close.
Let’s be real: once we’re past that first blush of the hot 20-something body we never fully appreciated when we had it, getting to the point of dropping our knickers takes an awful lot of courage. And trust. I mean, we’re older. We look in the mirror and see sun damaged skin and crow’s feet. We’ve had babies, accompanied by the requisite stretch marks and sagging mammaries. And glorious hormone spikes that bring on mood swings and added pounds we cannot seem to account for any other way. Nor can we seem to lose them, no matter how many crossfit classes we endure or miles we run. So with this perspective, how ready are we, truly, to strip our body and souls down bare and share with any man?
But we want it. We want to feel free, sexy and wholly ourselves with the men in our lives. But we don’t let ourselves. We fear the judgement. We fear rejection. We fear we aren’t enough – not pretty enough, not thin enough, not good enough.
But we want it. We want a man to hold space for us where we can be the everyday sane, psycho, super-goddess that we are. (Liz Phair knew what she was talking about).
But we don’t let them. We deny them the ability to hold that space for us by denying them the one thing they need from us to be able to do it: trust.
Trust is our first and most important step in crossing that deep and shining chasm. It’s a tricky chasm. Light reflects in our eyes, blinding us from seeing the next step. We can’t see just how deep it goes and we’re afraid. We might fall, we don’t know how far. We can’t tell if there is anything to grasp on to, to stop the falling or at least slow it down so we can navigate it. We don’t trust what we can’t see, what we can’t touch, so we don’t attempt to cross the chasm. We don’t trust that our partner will be there with that safe place to catch us.
When we withhold this trust from men, we’re making a couple of grand statements – grand, but not good. We are stating that we do not believe that men will be there for us. We are stating we do not believe they can love us. We are stating that we do not believe in them and their capacity to hold space for us. And even more destructive, we are stating that we do not believe in ourselves. We are stating that we do not trust our own intuition about the men we choose. We are stating we do not trust that we can be loved in our rawness, in our emotions.
We are stating that we are not lovable nor worthy of love, therefore we will not trust that someone else can be there to share it with us. Not really.
But without it, without the trust in ourselves that we are worth loving, without the trust in our intuition that we have selected men who can – and want to – do this for us, without trust… how do we ever cross the chasm?
We are meant to find a way across the chasm and to each other, to a deeper and more loving connection. And it’s up to us, to women, to own the first step because the men in our lives are responding to us. What they say, what they do, is in reaction to two things: they respond to the core of themselves that drives their integrity and honor, and they respond to a woman who has captured their imagination. And if men’s behavior is a response to how we value ourselves, what are we giving them to react to? Insecurity and fear? Or confidence and trust?
I am not talking about the superficial trust of calling when they say they will, remembering birthdays and taking out the trash every Tuesday night. You can have those expectations but those are not the root of trust. I mean the deeper trust in believing in who he is: that this is a man who is not just able, but who wants to see you at your most raw, your most vulnerable… your most beautiful. Trusting him means you understand that the choices he makes, the actions he takes and the ideas he’s putting forward are all about creating and providing for you.
When you trust yourself that you can and deserve love, and when you open that trust up to the man closest to you, you give him the greatest possible gift – the ability to be there for you. You redirect the glare of the chasm away from your eyes and instead on to the reflective threads that connect the two sides of the chasm, threads that create connection and intimacy. By trusting men and their desire to love and support us, and by trusting in our own everyday sane, psycho, super-goddess, we build the bridge with our partners, not in spite of them.
And what does the offering of this trust give the man in your life? So far, it sounds like it’s all about us. So it is. Because so are they. Your trust in him gives him the freedom to be him – to pursue his ambition, to build his castle, to provide financial and physical security, to express his ideas. Your trust is the basis for him to be the best version of him that he can be – one that can be open and vulnerable with you. Your trust gives him energy, reinforces his own sense of self-worth, and gives him a safe place to share in intimacy with you. And that best version of him wants to create that safe place for you to be your best version of you – the confident, authentic you who knows what she deserves and is both willing and ready to receive it. He wants to build those connections, to build that bridge across the chasm. But he can’t do it alone.
It’s scary. It’s risky. And it’s there. What will it take for you to trust yourself enough that you trust the man in your life?
Natalie Hahn is a principal at Dirty Girls Consulting, focused on helping men and women tackle the challenges of communication and life transitions. We explore breaking free of traditional standards, how we communicate between the sexes and redefine the “midlife crisis” to accomplish professional and personal goals, creating an authentic, fully loved life. Read more Dirty Girl Consulting blogs here.