Wednesday, 16 April 2014

7 Men we all have to learn from in our 20's

Cinderella found her prince at the ball. Sleeping Beauty waited to be woken. Rapunzel waited for a man to free her. In the fairytales, the princesses do their fair share of waiting for one man. While we experience more than one male presence in our lives, our refusal to do the waiting is evident. We won't be rescued, and we won't swoon at first impressions across a dimly lit ballroom. We will learn from the men that flit away like hummingbirds, and equally from the men who remain constant.

Obviously, men are tricky. They eventually transition from cocky boys to even cockier men, but there are the other men in your life who play their part too. There are the rage inducing family members, who will have your best interests are heart no matter how they seem to approach it. There are your friends. There are the great loves of your life. There are the tragic romances, which left us picking ourselves up from the bathroom floor. Granted, sometimes we were picking ourselves up due to one too many swigs of tequila, but it was all in the name of self improvement.

Your Dad

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The least awkward one on the list. Your Dad will teach you a lot in your twenties, even more than during your more impressionable teenage years. This is because this time around, you'll actually listen to him and even seek out his advice from time to time. If you are lucky, your father will teach you how to be compassionate, generous and how to deal with life's trickier and more grown-up problems. These will mainly include:

  • Sending you some money to pay your phone bill. See- generous.
  • Giving you solid advice on your latest issue with your electric bill.
  • Dish out some hard reality checks when you need them.
  • The importance of listening: We all know "dad stories" but how would we feel if no one listened to ours? Pay attention.
  • Making you watch obscure movies that you would never look twice at, so you can learn something from it.
  • Reminding you to check your tyres.
  • He'll help you move out when no one else will (because you've moved so many times), and you'll realise parental duties go far beyond the obvious.

Your best friend

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One of the only reliable and honest relationships that will remain the same throughout your twenties. Unlike girlfriends, men don't get huffy or insecure if you don't call them back and they accept that sometimes you'll go a while without talking. They'll teach you that men and women can be friends, and that sometimes a little honest man advice is healthy- no matter how brutal it can be. They'll be your partner in crime and dish the dirt when you ask for it. They'll also make you realise that wanting to punch your friends in the face is normal, too. Not that I punch people- I am a lady after all.

Your housemate

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Most of us will encounter a male roommate at some point in our lives, possibly several in university. There will always be one who doesn't argue as much, or doesn't leave as many dishes around. This one will be the guy who makes living with men a little less terrifying.

He'll also be one of the only men (besides family) who will see you without your eyebrows drawn on and several layers of drugstore foundation. This man will experience your most unattractive and unappealing moments such as falling out of a taxi and he'll be a gentleman about it until the next day.

This one sees you at your worst, and he lives with you so he sees the sides that are sometimes best left hidden. He accepts the women in his life as they are, and makes time for your pity parties. You learn to be comfortable with sharing your living space with the opposite gender.

Your mistake

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I grimaced by typing that word. Mistake. Even now it lingers like a sour taste in my mouth. We all have one, and while we all had reasons for this humiliating hiccup we still can't manage to justify it. For some of us it was naivety, while for others it was part of a bigger journey. This man made us break up with our bad self, and we learnt that sometimes a good man isn't such a bad idea after all. The lapse in judgement taught us everything that we don't want from a man.

In our early twenties, the toxic appeal of the bad boy is like romantic napalm. Unavoidable, suffocating and leaves you with nothing but excruciating burns. You need to grow a new, thicker skin to recover. The sooner you admit it, the easier your life will be. Deploy all weapons and defend your honour. As much as you cringe at the memory of this man, you needed the experience. So thanks, I guess.

Your long term lesson

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This will be one that might not have necessarily been a mistake, but he would have taught you a good few things along the way. This man would waltz in and out of your life at a moment's notice. You were both too alike, and the consequence was that you were brutally competitive. About everything. You wanted the same things in life, so it was like you had a point to prove.You played games to test the boundaries, and you competed to see who could play the game without losing it altogether. You'd often feel like a convenience, and told yourself you were using him as much as he was using you.

Eventually, you learnt that timing was the problem. He would have made a great guy someday, but that day was a long way off. This one taught you you could be amicable with him as well as your past, and that no matter how well you fit together on paper that compatibility is no match for timing. He's a great guy, but he isn't the right guy.

The one that never was

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The one we know all too well. It was up and down, twisted inside out and it spun around in circles with falsities in the name of attention. In retrospect, he was the ultimate faux pas for us all. This man could have been your best friend, he could have been an ex or he could be something else altogether. This was the one who you dropped everything for, and ran back to time and time again when you suffered yet another romantic blunder. You never really knew what it was, just that you forgave each other time and time again. You may think "what if" from time to time, but this one was never a man. Just a boy who toyed with you to pass the time. Next.

Your committed relationship

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After all the disasters I encountered in the first few years of my twenties, I had a list of all the attributes that I eagerly tried to pick out in a possible boyfriend. When someone who matters comes along, your checklists and pedantic criteria will dissolve into dust. Your committed man will be a gentleman, but he won't let you walk all over him. He'll give as good as he gets, and he'll make you crazy. At the same time, you're so over all the drama you've already experienced that you appreciate his clean and honest approach to your relationship. When I met my boyfriend, I literally had no idea where we would be today. Sometimes I want to punch him in the face for leaving the bin in the flat for a week, but there's no one else I'd want to come home to.

While you're both too young to talk about forever, you'll know it feels right to grow together. You'll fight, but it won't be the end of the world. He'll support your future, while nurturing his own. He'll be the calm at the end of the storm.
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You'll learn a little of everything from each one, but you'll learn the most from yourself. You found yourself scolded, but you cooled your wounds and stitched yourself back together. You rely on yourself more than anyone else, and you know there are no broken promises or unfulfilled expectations in your relationship with yourself.

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The thing you don't realise is that you taught them the most about themselves too. You have your own place on their list. It takes more than him to destroy me, and her, or you. Whenever "that guy" inflicts critical damage, you know you can fix it better than anyone else. Practice makes perfect.

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