Years ago when I was in high school my mother wanted to have the windows in our family home replaced. So my father called a guy—a sales rep for a big window company—who showed up to our house with all the bells and whistles. Ready to make a sale, he convened with my parents around the dining room table to talk business. Predictably, not long into this salesman’s spiel, my mother began to feel uncomfortable and she said so. She challenged a few of his statements and asked for further information, and that’s when things took an ugly turn.
Mr. Sales Rep turned to my father, and with a wink said, “You need to get the little woman in line.”
Now, my father is a stand up guy. And I mean that in every sense of the phrase. So where Mr. Sales Rep expected a hearty laugh and a dialogue that would carry on over my mother—between the two men in the room—my father had other ideas. Instead, he promptly kicked that sales rep out of our home. I watched silently on the stairs in the foyer, peering from between the banisters. I never forgot that moment and the immense sense of pride I got from witnessing it.
Being a stand up guy means that a man is the exact opposite of gutless. He is not selfish. Because this man—this stand up guy—will honor, respect and protect the ones who matter to him most, even if he needs to lose face, or alpha points, in the process. My mother, brother, sister and I have always come first for my father—above his own mother, father and brothers, above the people he's worked with, and without a doubt above some jerky salesman. He’s never been afraid to show that.
As most self-respecting women grow older and begin the search for our own partners in life to be husbands, fathers, protectors and providers, we look for a stand up guy. We look for a partner, not an owner. We look for someone who will balance protection with respect—and what I mean by that is someone who will protect us in a way that upholds the equal partnership, just the way my father did with the window sales rep. And this is not something we should compromise on. A man who won’t stand up for his woman when she’s right, and who won’t put her at the top of his list is not a man who is deserving of her respect, time, effort and the big one: love.
So to all men who have been taught that game-playing and inflating your own ego in order to appear to be something you're not will get you the key to a woman’s heart? You’ve been taught wrong. This kind of behavior may get you the key to the hearts of some women, but never the heart of a quality woman. Because what a quality woman wants is a stand up guy.
And to all women who have been taught to be afraid of rocking the boat—that setting any kind of requirements for the sort of behavior you will and will not accept from a man will lose you the key to his heart? You’ve been taught wrong, too. Because if a man is worth his salt, he’ll rise to meet your requirements. And when he does? As long as you're being a stand up gal, that’s a relationship worth hanging onto for a lifetime.