what men aren’t telling women

Cruising the web today and came across the following insightful essay on Zena’s site that she reposted from the July issue of O, the Oprah Magazine. The essay was written by Chris Abani – an award-winning author / poet from Nigeria.

It’s probably one of the more thoughtful, revealing and well-phrased ‘confessions’ about how men think and view themselves in the context of a relationship…which is why I thought I’d share it with you.

Ladies: take note. Gents: any comments?


That women are mysterious and unknowable is something every young man grows up believing. Men, on the other hand, never think of themselves as mysterious or confusing, and we are often at a loss as to why women want to figure us out. But since you asked:

When you say we don’t really talk to you or reveal ourselves to you, we wish you knew just how much we have had to suppress about our desires, pains, fears, and vulnerability over the years to conform to the script of masculinity that we are given. Sometimes we don’t open up because we are afraid of what we will find. We are also afraid that if you see who we really are, in all our flawed humanity (and not the flaws that annoy you, like being untidy or driving fast), you won’t like us.

chris_abani_hires.jpgMen do communicate, often very directly, but women sometimes cannot accept how simple what we have to say is. We seldom play games—we aren’t that sophisticated. If we don’t call you for a couple of days after a date, it is because either we are afraid you will think we are stalkers (and we will call on day three) or we aren’t into you. That’s all there is.

We are as nervous as you are about sex; I don’t care what you’ve heard. Your anatomy is a mystery that nobody bothers explaining to us. Even when we think we have mastered one woman’s body, every body is different. We feel inadequate if we can’t satisfy you in bed, and since no one has told us what to do with feelings of inadequacy, we project them onto you. Sad but true.

We are very insecure about how we look and what you really think about us, and we are excited when you do small, nice things for us like make coffee or come with us to the barber or just buy us a good book. We’ve been trained never to show this side to you, but it is there.

We are not subtle creatures. You might think that when you play with your hair in our presence, we know that means you like us. We don’t know for sure. Men who do are bad men (sorry, guys!). And anything you’ve been told about playing hard to get is wrong.

We crave cuddling and hand-holding, maybe even more than you do.

We are desperate to please you because we know you are far sexier and more beautiful than you will ever admit to yourself, and we’re confused (but extremely happy) as to why you like us.

Here’s the thing: You rescue us every day in small, quiet ways, so why not in this way? Let us into your mystery, tell us how you would like to be loved, show us how to see you, really see you.



kisha solomon

Kisha Solomon is an Atlanta-based writer, self-proclaimed bon vivant and occasional expat. The Good Life Cookbook is where she shares her latest savory adventures and collected lessons on food and life.

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