A while back, I was confronted with the question, “What does it mean to make a man work for your love?” There was a woman who felt like she had done all of the work in her past relationship and didn't receive the same in return as far as effort. They were in a long distance relationship, but she was always the one flying back and forth, cleaning his place and doing a multitude of other things without much in return.
Expect more from him and for yourself.
Hear me when I say this: Making a man work is not about controlling him or forcing him to be with you. That will never give you the results you desire. Instead, it's about us, as women, communicating clear and reasonable expectations from the beginning. It's about choosing and being with men who are ready and willing to put in the effort.
It all boils down to two words: man up. In other words, the man must have decided to make the conscious decision to put in the effort for the right woman at the right time. He is willing to go above and beyond to show how serious he is about the relationship. That is, not just any relationship, but a meaningful one built on love, trust, communication, compromise and mutual respect.
A lot of guys -- including my husband -- have told me they want a challenge when it comes to settling down and being truly committed. In other words, they like when a woman makes them work for it … and I'm not just talking about sex. Some of them don't mind working hard for the right person. However, we have to keep in mind not every man you run into will not always be ready to take this step.
When my husband and I started dating, there were ladies he was still talking to or involved with. Then, when he decided to take things to the next level, he knew I wasn't going to play “second fiddle.”
Eventually, I had to sit him down and tell him exactly what I needed from him. I wasn't nasty or rude about it, but I was firm and he knew I meant what I said. Shortly thereafter, he did what he needed to do to prove to me how serious he was about the relationship. That's when I learned how important it is to communicate your reasonable expectations toward the beginning.
I clearly communicated to him how I wasn't the least bit interested in playing games or dealing with nonsense. There was a time when manipulation and “pillow talk” were enough for me, but this time was different. I expected more from him and for myself.
Don't make it so easy for him.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with wanting to do things for our men and making them feel special, whether dating or married. However, when we're dating, some of us make it so easy for men that we make it harder for the women who refuse to settle for less than what they deserve. We give ourselves and require so little in return that some men are immediately turned off by those of us who aren't willing to compromise our reasonable standards.
I can admit I was guilty of not requiring more from certain men I used to date. In the past, I tried to do everything in my power to please and keep a man even when he wasn't putting in half the effort. I constantly sacrificed so much of myself but didn't expect, nor require, the same in return.
That's why I believe there are so many men today who will tell you, “I don't have to pursue a woman," or “I can do a whole lot less with someone else.”
While it is 2016 and it's not unusual or unreasonable for a woman to pursue a man, at times we give away or do too much too soon without any reciprocity. That's why I also say, "Don't be a wife to a boyfriend." Call me old fashioned, but I still believe anything worth having is worth fighting for -- including a good woman.
Make sure his actions match his words.
I used to go from relationship to relationship thinking I knew what I wanted, only to later realize I was trying to fill a void that could only be filled through deep reflection and self-awareness. So, I took some time for myself and realized I deserved more. So, not only was I focused on his actions, but the same was true for my own.
I used to tell myself, “I'm not putting up with this. I deserve better,” but then I would do exactly that: put up with the nonsense. I didn't require more and I didn't do anything differently. So, I made up in my mind that I would no longer accept the bare minimum. If he said he loved me, then I needed to see it in his actions. Gone were the days where I would accept repeated cheating, games or lies. Gone were the days when I would settle for mediocre just to say I had a man.
Over time, I learned comfort and convenience weren't substitutes for love. Sometimes, when you're so used to things being a certain way you assume that's how it's supposed to be. But just because we're used to a certain way doesn't mean we don't deserve better.
The first nine months of my relationship with my husband was long distance, and he told me he was going to make the effort to come and see me. I honestly didn't believe him at first, but throughout those nine months, he did exactly what he said he was going to do. He drove nine hours every month (and sometimes more) just to see me and spend time with me despite his graduate school classes, midterms and finals. He did something that I never really required before or even expected from other guys before him; he put in the effort.
He was the initiator more times than not, which ultimately showed me two things: a) he was into me and b) he was willing to put in the work. He showed me what it really felt like to be in love. Everyone is different, but for me this is what I wanted, what I deserved. Because his actions matched his words, it helped build my confidence in him and our relationship. Despite all of Eric's efforts, he never felt like I wasn't into him just because he had to work for my love. Both of us were willing to put in an effort, which made the difference.
At the end of the day, no one – male or female – should feel like they're doing all of the work. If the guy isn't willing to put in the work, then maybe he's not the guy for you. Sometimes, when people say "no" to you, they're saying no to themselves because they're not ready to step up to the next level of the relationship. That's okay, though, because sometimes you have to meet people where they are. And sometimes, you have to leave them there.