People talk about what women want all the time. We men need all the help we can get. Because I don’t know about you, but I’ve taken a good, long look at myself in the mirror. Several times. And every time, I think, “Man, I need some help.” But you know, I’ve been talking to some women lately. And I get the sense that they need help, too. What do men want? Ladies, I got you. It’s pretty simple — but it’s not what you think.
As a straight man, I feel qualified to comment on this. I know men. I know what they want. Because I know what I want. And no, it’s not sex. That’s nice, but it’s not the ultimate thing. I’m talking about what men ultimately want. The thing that keeps them going like nothing else. The macro source of fulfillment. Obviously, this is a generalization. But you’d be surprised how widely it applies. And once you understand it, most of the things we do just make sense.
To set this up, a heartwarming story: About three weeks ago, one girl changed my life. I was cleaning up my browser tabs one morning before work, when I saw a curious thumbnail on YouTube. A girl in a red sweater, looking anxious. Alright, what’s this about? A few seconds into the video, I realized it was one of the small YouTubers I follow — a teenager from Siberia. The video was about her fear for her future. Turns out Russia isn’t the best place to grow up if you’re a young person with big dreams. And I could relate to that. Malaysia is a pretty dead country for young people, too. So her video spoke to me.
And it spoke to me enough that I made a promise to myself. “Some day, I’m going to help this girl, whatever it takes.” And that made me feel warm and fuzzy inside. For a few hours. But then, I got uncomfortable. Because I realized I was fully capable of helping her there and then. In that very instant. Waiting and doing nothing while I could do something was strangling my conscience. So I texted her on Instagram that very day. That was three weeks ago. And now, I’ve just become one of her early patrons. She’s grateful, obviously. But I’m even more so. Because now, my story is that I’m helping her write hers.
Why do I mention this? Because after this incident, I finally realized what makes me happier than anything in the world. What I truly want more than anything else, as a man: Responsibility. You see, it’s not just about me, anymore. I’m not just fighting for me, anymore. I’ve got someone’s back, now. I have the ability to impact the life of someone else, now. And it feels weird. Scary, at first. But once you get used to it, it just feels overwhelmingly right.
I truly feel like there’s nothing else I should be doing instead of this. People talk about “finding your calling” a lot. Well, I think I may have stumbled upon mine: Helping people write their stories. What a glorious undertaking. And ladies, that’s all men want, deep down. To know that they’re making a difference. To know that they’re part of something they believe in. That’s what makes us happy.
That’s why we get weird with control, sometimes. That’s why we get cranky when you infringe on our domain, sometimes. We like being in charge of things — in fact, we need to be. But not in a dominating way. We just need something to care about. Something we can pay attention to and work on. Something we can take charge of and deliver on.
So when in doubt, give a man a job to do. And make it something hard, while you’re at it. Something he can put his mind to and be proud of. Call me naive, but I really believe this. All it takes is a load to carry, a reason to carry it, and some work. That makes a man happy like nothing else.