How to be the GOOD good man

Updated: Nov 10

Last time, we had the nerve, the nerve!, to say that the ways good men are bad are exactly the same as the ways bad men are bad. Take THAT you good men out there!!


But come on! This wasn’t a man-hating attempt at slapping men in the face. I don’t think that men suck. I’m married to a pretty good man, and have been for a very, very, very long time. If men sucked, I would have left my marriage a long, long, long time ago.


But cats throw up and dogs chew up the house. A good dog is bad in just the way a bad dog is bad. Bad dogs have additional ways of being bad, too.


The thing is, if you’re a guy you can run around desperately begging to be praised for your good intentions. It’s just that your good intentions—anyone’s good intentions—are utterly useless to prevent an in-trouble relationship from collapsing entirely.


Or you can do what Arnold did. Schwartzenegger, that is. What he did to become the greatest body builder of all time. He was working out at Gold’s Gym, and he’d see guys looking in the mirror, admiring what was best about their physiques—arms, shoulders, legs, whatever—and then they’d go and work on their best parts even more!! So you’d get a guy with ginormous arms and an undeveloped rest of his body. Pathetic.


Arnold, on the other hand, would look at his body and try to identify the least developed part of his body at the moment, and then he’d go work on that.


That’s what winners do. Ruthless self-scrutiny. Developing what most needs developing.


So take this list of the 10 ways good men are bad in the same way bad men are bad...


  1. Men don’t see women as people.

  2. Men don’t see women at all.

  3. Men don’t listen to women.

  4. Men don’t want to listen to women.

  5. Men aren’t interested in women’s feelings.

  6. Men think that women—as we fundamentally are—are annoying and fucked up.

  7. Men think that women somehow all need to be fixed.

  8. Men think that women are serving their highest purpose when they are serving men.

  9. Men think that women are good only when they are near perfect, young, and beautiful.

  10. Men think women are too much trouble.


...and ask yourself, “Which of these are most true of me?”


Better yet, ask your partner. She’s the world’s leading expert, based on how you treat her. If you’re shocked and astounded at her answers, ask for examples.


If you’re still floored, ask her what it would look like for you to be the opposite of the bad way. What does the good way look like for her?


For example, if she says, “You just don’t see me,” and even after some examples you’re still confused, ask what it would look like for you to be someone who did see her.


She might say, Well, you’d look before you’d talk. You think about my day, my life, my circumstances. You’d ask how I’m feeling or what I need. “Seeing me” doesn’t mean being a mind reader. It means thinking of me as a person to be seen.


In the words of one of my favorite quotes,

“Love is the extremely difficult realization that something other than oneself is real.”

(That’s Iris Murdoch, in an essay called “The Sublime and the Good.”) Understanding this, and putting that understanding into practice, is the secret to being the great guy your partner wants you to be.


Men are always looking for a way women “work.” Buy them flowers. Listen to them. Find their love language.


But women don’t “work” in any way. They’re just people who need to be seen as having their own selves and lives and needs. The woman in your life is the world’s leading expert on her unique take on these 10 deficits men have and on what she needs from you with respect to them.


Besides, actually talking about this with her is a super-good way to tackle a whole bunch of issues on this list right out of the gate.


NOTE: I hope it's understood that what we're saying here about men is a generality. A generality is something that's true in general. That's all too likely to be true. That's commonly true. It's not intended to say, in this case, that all men all exactly like this in exactly the same way. Some, of course, are better than others, some are worse. But I believe that most women will recognize most men in most items on the list of 10 traits above.

ALSO NOTE: The men in the pictures here are actors and entertainers who generally play good guys and who have reputations for being good guys in real life. That's all I can say about them. I'm not in the business of certifying people I don't know personally.

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