In order to avoid making BIG, giant, gargantuan, humongous generalizations here, I will emphasize that I am only talking about ME and my experience and relationship history. Change the gender labels around as you wish, I’m just telling it from my own perspective. If this story helps others, I’m glad.
I’m smart, a deep thinker and have strong opinions that I am not afraid to say out loud. I’m not a jerk about it, I am a kind person, but, I know my own mind and am peacefully assertive. I see these as strengths. Not everyone else does.
There has been a particularly wide divide on this issue in my dating history. Men I’ve dated were either attracted to my strength or repelled by it, not a lot of middle ground there! Confusingly, I’ve also had the experience in one long-term relationship of the guy being initially appreciative, but over time became less enthused. I guess he thought I was difficult and challenging since I didn’t just lay down and go along with his version of things. He attempted to shame me and make me feel like I was just too…much. That was a heartbreaking and profoundly disorienting experience. And one I wasn’t willing to repeat.
So what did this strong, opinionated woman to do when searching for a partner? I was intentional about finding a strong man. What does a strong man mean to me? A strong man is one who is smart, kind and secure enough in himself to be with a strong woman. A woman who has her own thoughts, might question you or disagree at times. Not for the sake of argument (although that can be fun sometimes too), but because it is important to her. To me. I also admit when I am wrong, and I might tell you when I think you have it wrong, but you do those same things for me. Kindly. Like a helpful mirror for each other. So when I was dating, I tested my dates. Might say something a little provocative here, a little opinionated there, push back in conversation and see what the response was. Some were cowed and backed down (mommy issues?) and that wasn’t attractive. Some were exasperated and borderline angry (threatened, offended?) and that was unappealing. I needed a strong man who could keep up with me in a deep conversation and not be triggered by disagreement, but was also tender, openhearted and able to care for me when I need it and accept care from me when he needs it. Strong and soft, just like me. Sound like a unicorn? Maybe. But I managed to find him and so can you.