“I love you.” (nope)
“You look beautiful.” (nope)
“Let’s go shopping!” (depends how you say it, but still, no)
“How’s your mother?” (no, this will just make her suspicious of you)
Those are all nice to say, and many women want to hear them from their partner; they like to feel cherished. But none of those by themselves will necessarily have her soften all warm-putty-like into your hairy masculine arms.
The three sexiest words I’m referring to speak to primal forces within both men and women. An archetypal trip wire, these eight letters strung together can trigger a man’s spine to straighten and make a woman swoon.
I wish I could say I figured this one out by myself, but a lady friend had to point this out. Once she did, I looked back to my own intimate relationships and saw overwhelming evidence for her case everywhere.
We were having coffee when she started telling me about her new boyfriend. He was refined and kind, loving and intelligent. He was a creative artist, and an accomplished one at that. She felt him a good man and she was happy. Then she told me about the first morning they woke up together, and that’s when she really lit up during our conversation.
She has a dog. Normally the dog gets her up early to go pee outside when she’s still in comatose denial of an outside world. On this particular morning, when the dog woke her up as usual, her new beau opened his eyes, looked at her and with nary a hesitation, issued the most magical three-word spell she could recall ever hearing from a man. She said these words slid from his masculine mouth smooth as a river stone and strong as steel (that’s my interpretation of what she said). She swooned. She relaxed. Under his sudden spell she felt herself completely protected and cherished by this man’s love.
“I got this.”
That’s what he said.
“I’m going to take on this uncomfortable mission-oriented task because that’s how I can best offer my masculine gift right now while honoring your delicious gift of feminine energy to my life. I will demonstrate my deep commitment to your care by ensuring you can stay warm under the covers and linger in this moment of blissful embodied reverie.”
But first he said it. And then he actually did it.
She was so impressed you’d think he bought her the Eiffel Tower. All he did was walk her dog.
We live in an age when women are empowered to care for themselves like never before.
I grew up mostly thinking women were supposed to “I got this” for themselves. My two moms held strong while my two dads struggled to just hold on. It was my two moms whose strength and character were always saying, “I got this,” while my dads were unconsciously saying, “thank God you got this!”
I’ve always had so many messages coming at me that women are my equals in every way. That’s a good thing from a certain perspective. Women are equal to men, in terms of inherent human worth and value. They should have every legal right that any man has.
However, my understanding of sex equality completely overlooked certain ways my more feminine female partners and I were genuinely different. We yearned differently, meaning we experienced the world in rather different ways, even wanting different things from each other. For example, just holding a woman and making love with her is often a different experience for me than it is for my partners.
I don’t embrace a woman to feel safe in her arms. When I embrace her I feel strong in my body, masterful even, as though I’m living my purpose by wrapping her up safe and protected within my steady arms. My female partners, in contrast, have often expressed that’s what they love most about being in my embrace: the experience of feeling safe, physically and emotionally, that they can relax in knowing they’re protected in that one moment from the tiresome chaos of the world. It’s as if we both journeyed from very different worlds to secretly rendezvous in this one moment of exquisite embrace.
Failing too often to account for such differences, I have struggled in most of my intimate relationships with women. Clearly a contributing factor has been my inability to step up in all kinds of situations and say to my partners—often even to myself—“I got this.”
Before I wade too deep into controversial waters, let me clarify that what I’m exploring is less about man-woman and more about masculine-feminine. Any foray into masculine-feminine dynamics risks offending those who hear those terms being used synonymously. I don’t mean to do that. What I’m pointing at holds for all couples—hetero, gay, or otherwise—in which one partner carries more masculine energy and the other carries more feminine. Sometimes those energies can switch back and forth between partners. I invite you to see through to the deeper rhythms I’m exploring, beyond the details of who has what body parts.
I simply want to convey that when I look back through my life, I see far too often that I left my feminine partners to fend for themselves in ways large and small. From making them decide where we should eat to running away when they were stressed emotionally and I hadn’t the capacity to love them through it, I failed too often to step up and say, “I got this.”
Which just means I consistently failed to convey, “Baby, I invite you to relax and trust that all will be well because I have the strength, the discipline, the fortitude and the vision—and at the very least the unwavering perseverance—to hold us through this moment of discomfort and steward us safely to new ground where we will experience a brighter moment of ease together.”
Ok, so that’s a bit poetic when we’re talking about walking the dog or deciding where to eat. And sometimes our partners will genuinely want to bear their own burdens, or bear them equally alongside us, or even bear ours for us. I’m painting in broad strokes here.
There’s something deeply compelling about the idea of being with a woman who can fully take care of herself, and who enjoys allowing me take care of her anyway.
I invite you to say to yourself a few times: “I got this.”
How does that feel in your body?
Do you feel your chest rise a bit, your breathing deepen, your backbone straighten? Do you come alive and start looking around the room for some challenge to take on?
Or do you prefer imagining someone say it to you? Does the thought of your partner whispering it to you all sexy-like make your body soften and your heartbeat quicken? Does it set your yearning alight?
Truth is, I’ve always wanted a woman who can take care of herself. Which seems healthy to me, actually. Any mature adult should be able to take care of themselves in the modern world. I don’t want a partner who expects me to run around all day telling her “I got this” so she can stay in bed all day. That would just be exhausting for me and eventually frustrating for her. I’m not Superman. She’s not helpless.
Still, there’s something deeply compelling about the idea of being with a woman who can fully take care of herself, and who enjoys allowing me to take care of her anyway.
“I got this.”
Bryan Reeves is the author of the book Tell the Truth, Let the Peace Fall Where it May.