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  • Olive Persimmon

50 Shades of Gentle

It’s a tale as old as time, passed down from men to boys.

“Nice guys finish last.”

The popularity of “50 Shades of Grey” has complicated this issue even more. We’re sending a message to our men that all women like to be thrown against the wall. They are only turned on by Alpha Male, dominating love. I’ve asked my female friends about this topic. Many of them confirmed that they do, in fact, like being dominated. They prefer aggressive sex with “MANLY” men.

And that’s cool.

Some women don’t.

I don’t.

It’s perfectly ok either way. Whatever gets your jollies off. But we run into problems when we generalize.

Personally, I’m looking for a man who is gentle. A man who is emotionally intelligent and feels comfortable with vulnerability. I’m attracted to men who are thoughtful and kind. Men who push your hair away from your face slowly. Men who aren’t afraid to be silly in public. These kinds of men exist. I know because many of them are my friends. But our society continually tells them that these are not the kinds of men that women want.

One of my best male friends cried during “The Lion King.” He’ll kill me for writing this. Because somehow, that makes him less “manly.”

I’ve never seen an OkCupid profile that says, “Gentle guy who thinks flowers are beautiful. Journals every morning.” (Though in hindsight, few women’s profiles say these things either. This idea that we can’t be exactly who we are in dating, that we need to only present our most “acceptable” selves is a totally different can of worms). Now I’m not advocating that all women want overly-sensitive men either (Though that’s perfectly okay too if you are). However, it’s rarer to see men display their more sensitive sides. It’s almost as if one thing invalidates the other. Like a “real man” can’t bake and also play football.

I know plenty of men who are athletic, handsome, and strong. These men are also reflective and thoughtful. They talk about their emotions and read personal development books. But it’s very unlikely that they’ll openly talk about the latter on a first or second date.

I want our men to know that nice guys don’t finish last. And we should stop sending this message to our boys.

Many of my female friends are beautiful and accomplished women. They are total packages. They’re also married to nice guys. One of them is married to a history teacher. He orchestrated a surprise Eastern European serenade at their wedding with all of his best men. It was one of the most thoughtful things I had ever seen. Another one is married to man who loves yoga. They practice together.

Both of these couples are incredibly happy.

So, nice guys don’t finish last. And not all women want an Alpha male.

Find someone who appreciates you for you. Find a partner who fits what you want. Whether that’s sexy wall-flinging or gentle caressing…or both. Whether that’s stoic manliness or vulnerable conversations…or both.

But let’s stop sending the message that one size fits all.

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