ChivalryI was raised, like a lot of girls who grew up in households headed by single mothers, to be independent. Self-sufficient. And not rely on a guy for a doggone thing, which was particularly easy to grasp since there wasn’t one around to depend on in the first place.

With no daddy to run to when my car made a weird noise or some knucklehead boy was bothering me in school, I learned pretty fast and early how to handle my business on my own. And I continued that do-it-yourselfness — which I picked up firsthand from my mama, who is the undisputed champion of the field — just fine, all the way through adulthood.  

Fast forward a few years when I’m a grown woman raising my child on my own and trying to do a little dating on the side when I meet a guy who insists on paying for my meals when we go out and changing my flat tire when I discover one is down for the count on my hot rod.

I informed him that I’m quite capable of doing those things myself. The more he tried to do, the more awkward it made me feel. I didn’t want to be indebted to some dude for his stabs at chivalry, for one. I’ll be darned if I’m going to have a whole heap of favors some guy did for me hanging over my head so that, if we argue or have a falling out, he can dust them off and show them to me as a reason to be grateful to him? No thanks.

And for two, I’m not the little lady who can’t do for self anyway, so it just didn’t make sense to have someone fussing over the same duties I’d always been doing on my own.
 
When I’m in my house at night and an 80-leg tarantula goes hot footin’ it across my floor, who has to throw a shoe at it and scream up the adrenaline to off it? When the toilet overflows or the kitchen sink clogs up, who has to break out the ol’ tools and plunger to fix it? That would be me. So it seemed kind of pointless to call on or allow someone to play the fabled “man role” when it wasn’t a full-time position — at the time anyway.

Then my best friend, who is ever the delicate flower awaiting a Popeye to her Olive Oyl, reminded me that a guy has to feel wanted and especially needed. He has to be able to exercise his natural, inborn inclination to be a protector and a provider and a caretaker, and when he’s not allowed to do that, he’ll move on to another place where his contributions will be appreciated. In other words, let a man be a man, she admonished.

A new habit takes about what? Twenty-one days to fully take root in our lives? That one is still having a little trouble getting off the tarmac in my world, but I’m trying to fall back a little more and let The Man take the lead on things I know I can do myself, but need to give over to the guy I say I want to share a lifelong commitment with.

I’ll ask him questions every once in a while that I already know the answer to just so he can explain it to me — not to dumb myself down, fellow womanists, but just to let him know that I value his opinion and expertise. And he has proven himself to be especially handy since I hate, hate, hate math and he just so happens to be an accountant. If I never have to heavy lift another tip calculation or tax return, this man thing might not be so bad.

Do you believe men should be given certain roles to make them feel wanted or needed?  
 


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