Several people have passed along this hilarious GIF – but have also wondered why it strikes such a chord to see a little girl’s ugly tantrum and the caption “I need a man who loves me even when I act like this.” In fact, in a recent column, I explained to men (based on my For Men Only research) why this is a subconscious but very real hope of many women.
And several men have told me they are understandably alarmed by those expectations. I think it would be instructive for every woman to virtually listen in on my conversation with one man who was walking by when I had that GIF open on my laptop. Because his comments were very representative of what I’ve heard from many men. We women may hope and expect our men to love us even when we’re at our worst – but we also need to know that most men aren’t thinking about it like we are.
Me: (Showing him the GIF) “What do you think when you see this?”
Him: (Raising his eyebrows) “That girl is never going to get a husband. She is crazy. And someone would be crazy to expect that.”
Me: “What if she is already married? What if her thought is, ‘I need my man to love me even when I act like this’?”
Him: (Chuckling) “My wife does, that’s for sure. A lot of wives do that and we still love them. We just hang on and hope it doesn’t happen very often.”
Me: “Do guys realize that a woman is sometimes insecure about her husband’s love? So without realizing it, a woman may sort of test her husband because she subconsciously feels, ‘If he loves me when I’m like this, then that shows that he really does love me?’ In other words… would you ever see those times as an opportunity to show your wife just how much you love her?”
Him: (Looking completely puzzled) “No. We would never think that. Because you love the person you tolerate the BS and you just try to get through it. Just get through the chaos and the next episode is hopefully a long way away. [Pause.] But do women really think like that?”
Me: “Well, not consciously, at all. If it happens, it is subconscious. And it isn’t everyone. But lots of women secretly hope that when we’re really upset, our man will move forward and give us a hug anyway. If he will somehow show us love even when we’re at our worst, then it says we must be worth loving, you know?”
Him: (Looking indignant) “That makes no sense. If someone is acting like a spoiled child, it doesn’t matter whether it is your wife or anyone else: giving in to that is the worst thing you can do. You don’t want to encourage that person, because they’ll just do it more. No, no way. I do love my wife, so when those times happen I just try to get through it. But it would be wrong to encourage it by being particularly loving or sweet.”
Moral of this interview? Ladies, we can explain to our man what I did in that column: that we need the reassurance that comes when he is actively loving or sweet when we’re at our worst. We can hope he realizes, over time, that the more he does that, the less he will see the “worst!” But we also need to realize something, too: a man may have a very different view, and that is okay. Neither view is right or wrong. If we want a great relationship, we each have to learn each other. Which means we may need to see that, for our man, just “getting through it” is a key way of showing his love.
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Shaunti Feldhahn is the best-selling author of eye-opening, research-based books about men, women and relationships, including For Women Only, For Men Only, the groundbreaking The Good News About Marriage, and her newest book, Through A Man’s Eyes. A Harvard-trained social researcher and popular speaker, her ﬁndings are regularly featured in media as diverse as The Today Show, Focus on the Family, and the New York Times. Visit www.shaunti.com for more.