We all have that one actor, that one singer or dancer who's always been the pinnacle of manhood for us (men, if you're reading, replace all the male pronouns with female pronouns and go from there). As young girls, they start off as princes in far away places and evolve into preteen boy band members with cracking voices. But once we become women and are allowed to form our own ideals of what a man is and not be so put upon by tradition, fairytales and hormones, what defines a man?
Personally, I've always liked Michael Ealy. At first it was a looks thing only; his eyes are phenomenal, legendary even, and he has a beautiful smile with dimples in both cheeks deep enough to make a girl swoon. His voice is velvety and refined in a way but he still has a bit of a Northern accent to my Southern ears. Simply put, he is a gorgeous man.
As I grew older and would see him in interviews I noted a seriousness about him that no one else seemed to have. He always was a bit stand-offish, but straight-forward when asked about his work. He dodged the personal questions with dignity and diplomacy and didn't seem too fazed by all the attention he would receive for his looks, but would seem genuinely humble for the thanks and accolades he got from his work; that seriousness, that quiet intelligence he had about himself always stuck with me.
Recently I saw an interview with him and not much has changed. I suppose what I like is that he reminds me of myself, or rather who I usually am. I always feel a little different from the folks who I'm sometimes forced to hang with; I don't laugh at the jokes, we rarely like the same music and books are like a non-existent subject a lot of the times. I end up getting picked on or called snobby but the fact is, I'm just not on that level, and haven't been for a minute.
The interview above sort of embodies that. That guy who's sort of more conscious of not just himself but his community and society as a whole and, with that knowledge or consciousness, is put a little off to the side by the jokers and pop culture junkies. And I love that. That's different and exciting and I would love to have a conversation with someone like that, and that's where dudes miss me every time; if I don't want to (or can't stand to) have a conversation with you, then I'm already a lost battle for you.
Which is why I hadn't dated someone before now (not that I didn't want to or push myself to). I think I knew that none of the dudes I was dealing with at that time were serious. They didn't believe in anything, didn't want anything for themselves and couldn't hold a decent conversation about anything (other than themselves) to interest me for more than 3 minutes tops. They were checking for me because I was that girl, that serious girl walking and reading and getting her job done and not checking for them, I was the challenge, but once they realized they would have to bring something of themselves to me to prove their worth, they split.
And it's not like it's some exhaustive list of things I need from a man before he's considered; most likely after one good fifteen minute conversation I can tell what a guy is about and if he's not intelligent, if he's not driven, and if he is not kind then it's not going anywhere. I'm not saying he's got to be the smartest, I'm not saying he's got to have a business model attached to a resume and 401K package, I'm saying we have to be on the same level or at least on similar planes of being to benefit each other.
But seriously, what makes a man? To me a man is one who supports and provides what he can for his woman and his family; doesn't have to be money (I can make my own money) but something that benefits his unit. A man is intelligent and confident, kind and genuine and always striving to learn more about himself and life. A man is one who can accept his short-comings and work around them. A man is one who respects not only his life but the lives of others. A man simply is, and you can usually take note of them the moment they step into your vicinity. Some are born, some are made, and some will never be, but the ones who are are in short supply but high demand.
How can you recognize a man? Not by what he says but his actions and the people he hangs around. Everybody knows birds of feathers flock together and if he is hanging with thugs and dealers, even if he isn't one, the company he keeps will eventually bring him down. You recognize a man by who he shows himself to be; all men are honest and just, until they aren't, but a man of consistent character is easy to recognize and appreciate.
A lot of women have the misconception that men want these model types and porn stars (which is partly society's fault and our own, but that's another blog for another time). And they do, but not to build anything with or grow with. What men want, what real men want, is a woman who is his equal in every way she can be. What men want is a woman who commands respect without hollering about how independent and strong she is. A man wants in a woman what a woman wants in a man (except less hairy, more curves and a few other details here and there).
I'm not saying this as a guide of how-to. What I'm saying is you define what a man is for yourself and instead of searching for and hunting him down like a buck in the woods, elevate yourself to be the person who deserves that kind of man. Trust me, at that point, they'll come to you.