The Metrosexual Male vs. The Cowboy - What Do Women Want?

He always looks perfectly put together. He can be in a t-shirt and jeans or heading out to a black-tie event. His hair never has a bad day. His nails are clean and buffed. His clothes are perfectly pressed and exquisitely coordinated. He smells like flowers and spice. Is he gay? No, he's the new metrosexual man.

As many of you know by now, the term "metrosexual" was coined by a journalist (and gay man) named Mark Simpson, to describe a new kind of urban male who is straight, but in touch with his feminine side and not afraid to show it. Essentially, metrosexuals are guys who take on behaviors and show an interest in things that have traditionally belonged in the female domain.

You may have a metrosexual brother, male friend or boyfriend (ex). These are the guys you can shop till you drop with. They can discuss fashion, will notice your great new shoes, buy their grooming products from the same places you do and have no qualms about having a manicure, pedicure or facial. You can actually TALK to these guys about something other than sports, cars and other traditionally male interests. These are the guys you can take to the opera, symphony and ballet. The perfect man, right? Depends on whom you talk to.

Let's step back a minute and look at the where and how of the existence of the metrosexual man. Simply put, he is a by-product of feminism and the changing roles and related expectations of women. As women have moved into (previously) male dominated environments and roles, it has caused a shift in the male-female balance. Women are now active participants in industry, politics and the professions- to name a few. However, as they have left their old jobs as homemakers and full-time domestic caregivers, they left a lot of empty space to be filled. Childcare providers and the domestic cleaning industry could provide some of this. The problem was all the "other" stuff women had always done.

Men were therefore called upon to contribute more to the raising of children, housework, cooking, shopping, etc. Their sons were being exposed a new role model, a dad who took on jobs and chores that had traditionally belonged to mom. Young boys themselves were also being tapped to do housework and help with siblings, exposing them to a new way of being a male in our society. Women had become more independent and financially and professionally successful. Men had become more domestic and had to soften their style as they moved into more traditionally feminine roles.

A new social order had evolved that worked for everyone, right? Not necessarily. We never take on something new without giving something up. So, what has been discarded? Clearly defined social roles and the expectations that come with them- for starters. Suddenly there was a new blueprint for how men and women should relate- especially in the world of dating. However, it was unclear and depending upon whom you asked, you would get a different answer. Usher in the confusion and frustration surrounding dating in the new millennium.

Women ask questions such as:

* who asks who out
* who calls who
* who pays
* who makes decisions about where to go, etc.
* What are the expectations at the end of the date
* how soon should we become intimate

Women comment on:

* his lack of initiative in calling or asking her out
* his expectation that they will go dutch
* how he never offers to pick her up
* his overall lack of assertiveness
* his saying he will call, but not following through
* his too polished style which lacks a certain spark of masculinity
* his taking longer to get ready than she does
* his crudeness or over aggressive style
* his expectation that they will have sex

Men ask questions such as:

* what do women want
* why should a guy have to ask a girl out
* why should the guy always pay
* why do women say they want sensitivity, etc., but see guys like that as wimps
* why do women give out such mixed signals in general
* why do women seem to reject nice guys and go for jerks
* why can't a woman be the aggressor

Men comment on:

* women acting spoiled
* women wanting their independence, etc. but not wanting equal responsibility and weight
* women expecting a lot from men, but offering little in return
* women not knowing what they want
* women playing games
* women's attraction to "bad boys"

Both women and men verbalize that they are ok with the current roles that have evolved for them in our society, yet I hear both talk wistfully about how it was in previous generations. Back then; everyone KNEW what was expected from him or her. Life was predictable. Dating was much simpler and "safer". Men were men and women were raised to be wives and homemakers. We have gained something and we have lost something. One thing for sure, we can never have it both ways.

What's the answer? It is never simple. However, it does involve better communication in general between men and women. Singles need to clarify for themselves (first), what kind of partner they seek and what their expectations from a relationship really are. Once a person is clear about what they must have and what they can't live with, they need to go out and HONESTLY seek that. Knowing what you want is good. If you turn off someone by your frankness, he/she was not the someone for you.

So, begin with a self-assessment. Then go out and pursue interests and environments, which maximize your chances of meeting compatible singles. And remember, there is no perfect person. He may be overly fussy with his hair, take longer in the bathroom than most women, be less ambitious in his work life than you are and put your cooking to shame. However, if he's sensitive to YOUR needs, easy to talk to and fun to be with, great with kids and very supportive of your goals, he may be the guy of your dreams.

Toni Coleman, MSW is a licensed psychotherapist and relationship coach with over 20 years of experience. As a recognized expert, Toni has been quoted in many local and national publications including: The Chicago Tribune and The Orlando Sentinel newspapers and Family Circle, Woman's Day, and Star magazines. She has been featured on ABC News; Discovery Health Channel and AOL Online. As a weekly contributing commentator on the KTRS Radio Morning Show, (St. Louis, MO), Toni offers dating tips and relationship advice in response to listener feedback. Toni founded Consum-mate.com in 2002 to offer singles the knowledge and tools they need to find and sustain healthy, lasting love relationships. She is a member of The International Coach Federation, and The International Association Of Coaches.

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