“When on their best behaviour – whether on a first date or on the showroom floor – both men and bookcases seem to have it all together…”
Only the other day one of my dear friends remarked with some surprise that her man just isn’t what she had expected.
Having once believed herself in possession of a truly impressive prize, her doubts have now taken hold. Rather than smugly sitting back like the first one in the door at the Ikea sale, she looked at me with furrowed brow and asked:
- Why doesn’t he understand that I need him to commit more?
- How can he think that I want to spend every weekend watching him surf?
- What does he mean by saying he needs more time by himself?
- Why does he always act so bored when around my friends?
Watching her chew over her frustration, I saw a picture very clearly in my mind’s eye. She was standing at the end of a factory assembly line and her partner was rolling towards her, all of his parts perfectly in place.
I don’t think she is a terribly high-maintenance woman. Rather, she is simply possessed by the delusion that men, like the gleaming pale pine bookcases at Ikea, come into your life fully assembled.
Three Steps to Getting the Most out of your Bookcase (I Mean ‘Man’)
Confronted by my friend’s relationship doubts, I offered her the following three tips to make the most of her pre-assembly partner:
1. Read the Instructions
Ignore the instructions at your peril – they are included for a reason!
The creators of the first Ikea bookcase knew they would have a riot on their hands if they sent gazillion bolts and bits of board out to unsuspecting women without offering some explanation as to their purpose.
The same applies for a new man. No, the creator of man wasn’t able to provide a one-size-fits-all instruction manual, but then men are gifted with a few attributes that give them an edge over the bookcase.
- Talk to him – Rather than firing questions at him like an Immigration Agent, get him to open up by talking about your own feelings. Just keep the screaming and sobbing to a minimum, or you will get the same response as if you were addressing the bookcase – dumb silence with the odd bit of creaking.
- Consult his friends – The best buddy has already cleared the trust hurdle and is no doubt wise to exactly what makes your man tick. Again, avoid the interrogation tactic, but if your intentions are obviously pure (and accompanied by a beer or two) you might uncover all sorts of interesting insights.
- Give his mum a ring – Bonding with his mum can be either very useful or very confusing. If her only insights into her son are kept in the glory box with his baby teeth, then move on, but if he has developed a mature relationship with his mum then take heart. You are not the first poor woman to try to sort out his screws!
2. Try it in a Variety of Places
Some bookcases simply do not suit a room. They are too large, too long or clash with your Laura Ashley prints. Take this designing tip and apply it to your man.
Take the time to consider if his lack of support is because he is under stress of his own. Perhaps he doesn’t shine in the company of your friends because he feels out of his depth. Maybe he thinks that you want to spend all weekend watching him engage in his favourite pursuit. (Okay, so that’s a stretch…)
Instead of throwing your hands up in disgust, look at ways you can change your shared environment, whether by taking a relaxing weekend away or changing the mix of people you socialise with. Take a step back and see if he looks better when his back isn’t to the door!
3. Don’t Overload It
Men, like bookcases, can only take so much. I personal have three (bookcases, not men) that huddle in my office like sway-backed mules, but common sense tells me that soon it will all become too much and they will drop their load on my unprotected head.
Try to apply the same philosophy to your man. If you want him to change – and who doesn’t want more, better, best! – then accept that it has to be a gradual process.