November 1, 2019

13 ways Men can Show Up for Women & create Healthy, Lasting Relationships.

*Editor’s Note: Elephant Journal articles represent the personal views of the authors, and cannot possibly reflect Elephant Journal as a whole. Disagree with an Op-Ed or opinion? We’re happy to share your experience here.


We all know that a sound relationship, marriage, or union is made up of a variety of characteristics.

The ability to listen properly, to think of her before us, and self-development all have their link in the overall chain of a solid partnership with another human.

What men might not realize is that the same combination of healthy relationship characteristics are the same things that create the foundation of enhanced intimacy, both in the bedroom and out.

“Hence to fight and conquer in all your battles is not supreme excellence; supreme excellence consists in breaking the enemy’s resistance without fighting.” ~ Sun Tzu

Sun Tzu’s quote is not entirely comparable to our success in a relationship since she isn’t our enemy and a healthy relationship is not a battle, but there is strategy, preparation, and process to understanding her needs and making life more harmonious for the both of you.

Living with someone is an art that should be handled like that of shaping glass. We need to carefully sculpt our union with the bedrock of solid character traits, melt away our insecurities of what a man is, and express ourselves with effective communication so that we, and the union, solidify as a beautiful, elegant, and fragile piece of art.

1. Keep Everything Clean—Even if She Doesn’t

Clean your room, wash the dishes, pick up your socks—even if your woman doesn’t do the same for herself. There’s nothing worse than one slob, let alone two. A man should be a concrete frame of cleanliness and never slip in discipline, even when she doesn’t hold the same standard. She might relax her standards as soon as the relationship becomes familiar, because that’s what she is supposed to do. A man keeps his standards high for the both of them, remains the example, and keeps his place as “the catch.”

2. Learn How to Cook

Many of the world’s best cooks are men. Cooking is a trade that can nourish a woman’s soul, and more men need to know how to cook. Being the man who cooks not only can turn a woman on, but it gives her a chance to be served and nurtured instead of her doing that for once. Attracting and keeping a woman’s eye requires men to step it up and do more than an average Joe.

3. Speak, Inform, Communicate, and Ask

Make sure to involve her in the discussion, in the aspects of how you feel, and what the hell is going on in your head. You aren’t wearing a sign saying how you feel, so you need to pretend she has a blindfold on and you are leading her across a room. Be specific, explain yourself, and don’t get mad when she doesn’t return the same specificity—just know that she heard you. Men will want to go over specific details and keep the discussion from being as abstract as possible, but forcing a woman into that kind of situation when she isn’t ready turns her off and makes her feel cornered.

4. Listen Without the Intent to Reply

True listening is a real skill, and that isn’t taught as well as it should be. The deepest aspect of real listening is not having the next sentence in your head ready to go when there is a pause. Sometimes she is going to stop talking, but that doesn’t mean you start. Just listen.

5. Compliment Daily

This one is pretty simple but often fades when a relationship has lasted long enough. We tend to assume they know what they look like, how they feel about themselves, and no one needs to mention the obvious. Wrong. Tell her she’s gorgeous, stunning, and breathtaking every chance you get. She may know already, but being silent about her beauty tells her that you may not be interested anymore. She’s always comparing herself to the competition, so make sure she is number one in your eyes.

6. Treat the Relationship like Glass

Relationships should be kept fragile, like glass. Remember how everything was in the first few years? Before kids? Before that promotion? Remember when it was all rocky, still figuring yourselves out, and having sex twice a day? Don’t lose that to familiarity. Don’t make the relationship like cement. Make it like glass, and you will hold it with more care, admiration, and respect.

7. Cut Your Hair

In other words, stop looking like you are still in college. The unkempt beards; the long, stringy hair; the sh*tty, baggy clothing choices—stop it. Unless your woman has a preference for your new wild beard or hair, you should make sure to not lose your habits of self-care. A soldier keeps shaving during war to stay mentally sharp, just like he cleans his gun to avoid misfires.

Loss of self-care, the little things that make you an adult, is the loss of the war. If she married someone who was clean-shaven and ended up years later with a long-haired, out-of-style Joe Schmoe, then you are asking for resistance.

Side note: Often beards are a culture and tradition of location. If your locale has bearded men as the norm, then it will work and be a tradition in your relationship’s favor. But, on the contrary, if you stand out as a clean-cut individual amidst the bearded ones we see everywhere, it may be in your favor as well.

Don’t get me wrong; I am good with beards. But, most men grow stubble because they don’t feel like shaving. Want to grow an actual beard? Keep it clean, trimmed, and washed. A good beard can make a man’s man look, but something a few days old can just as easily break it.

8. Be Active Enough to Become and Stay Muscular

This is easiest said as “Lift weights.” I’m not really concerned whether you like the activity or not, you will like the results…and so will she. Staying in the shape that a man is built for is going to impact your relationship in a major way. I always see relationship-worn couples that are out of shape. This goes for both people in the relationship, but the article is for men. Get in shape, stay in shape, and look like you could defend your tribe if you had to. One of the best ways to have masculinity is to look the part.

9. Know Thyself

Be smart, study, research, and know more than the average guy. Don’t be a dull sack of hammers. Learn about yourself early on so that you can be of value to her, and so you don’t have to spend the valuable time needed in relationship-building and maintenance on yourself. Be solid and stable before the relationship begins, and you can avoid half-assing the union in order to go soul-searching.

10. Stop Using Porn

Porn and masturbation are different for men and women. A woman doesn’t need porn to masturbate (in most cases), and it helps her relieve stress, not to mention she knows how to arouse herself better than anyone else ever can.

Men have become conditioned to using porn in order to masturbate, and it is sucking the life juice out of their bodies and into a towel. Save your sexual energy for her, and you will be more present and attracted to her when you are both intimate.

I think men’s use of porn and masturbation is a silent killer of spouse attraction. Men are getting conditioned to think porn-styled sex is an everyday ritual, and the novelty of different women in one click is making other women in real life just as accessible and thought-provoking.

Side note: Video games are also on my don’t-do list, along with skateboarding. Those fun and carefree things in life should be put down once a man wants to take his masculinity to the next level.

11. Make Dinner Reservations 

This is so simple but often assumed it isn’t needed. Taking her out to dinner, dancing, or to the movies helps maintain that liveliness you both once had. Remember, just because you have been together for a long time doesn’t mean the traditions you started with have to end. The more we live with someone, and the longer, the more details we have to pay attention to. Oftentimes the death of a union is familiarity.

12. Show Affection

Constantly touch her hair, stroke her head, and massage that scalp of hers. Grab her, hold her, and give her a kiss whenever you can. Showing affection is a small detail that may seem like a mustard seed, but actually means the world. It means you’re looking, watching, and paying attention.

13. Create Distance, Retain Mystery

Being together constantly is great if the relationship is amazing, but that means some healthy distance is needed to keep that spark going. If you both work in the same space, then try to go to a coffee shop and work, maintain friendship meetups, and continue your sport or activity that makes you you. In other words, maintain your life if it is supporting who you are, especially if you were that person when you both met. There’s nothing more attractive than a man with a plan, a process, and a self-confidence that makes everyone else feel safer to be around.

Let me conclude by answering your concerns:

“She doesn’t need to go out to dinner. She likes staying home.” 

If you think going out to dinner is about food outside of the house, you would be wrong. You aren’t going out to dinner; you are making her feel special, cared about, and placed before anyone else for the night. Without the extra efforts for her, you both just become really good roommates.

“Everything on this list is about me, the guy…what about her responsibilities? We’re equal!” Or, “I’m in the relationship too, and as a woman, I can do all those things.”

You are both not equal, but yes, you can do all the same things. Equality implies that you both are made up of the same philosophies, ways of thinking, and habits. You aren’t. If you think that men and women think and act the same, you have either never lived with the opposite sex or are trying so hard to maintain an equality that you have completely lost the person you were meant to be.

This article is for men because men, as analytical thinkers and poor feelers (usually), need these techniques written out. Even if you want to be equal, even if you both share the same desire to be amazing individuals—which is ideal—eventually one of you will slip into a lower set of standards. I focus on the individual to self-improve so that if a relationship does come crashing down, one of you still holds frame as a solid structure.

At some point in a relationship, either the self-maintenance goes down, dreams and visions fade into stressful, mundane responsibilities, and the work/home life balance gets demolished, or you just become a different person because you met someone as you were still developing. The point is that these tools, if upheld by one of you, can drastically diminish the chances of your union going south.

A relationship is about work, hard-ass work, and I’m asking men to roll up their sleeves and be the bearer of the discipline. I’m not asking women to do that, because they can adapt to self-change quickly and all of a sudden perform these tasks when they need to. A man can be clunky, partially blind, and insensitive due to testosterone, so I want to focus on them first and foremost. I want to do what culture and tradition used to, what fathers used to say, and what wise men of the tribe used to teach.

“How can this explain sex? Nothing on this list is overtly sexual, or explains anything about what happens once your clothes are off.”

A woman doesn’t get aroused in the bedroom first—and if you thought porn-style sex is what does it for her, you would be wrong most of the time. A woman has sex with her entire body, mind, and spirit. She is the essence of creation, the fabric of the world’s form, and is part of the life process that breathes expression, art, and creativity itself. She is both fierce and fragile. Her mystery is the same mystery as each and every human’s mysterious existence here on Earth, but it can be known and understood. Once it is demystified, your relationship will be a divine expression of universal love.

If all of these bases are covered, then the bedroom, the sex and love, the intimacy, the attraction, and the arousal will all take care of itself.

Remember the words of Sun Tzu, “…supreme excellence consists in breaking the enemy’s resistance without fighting.”

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