Definition of a good man.

This is my definition of what makes a man a good man. 


I have no bloody clue.

Now that we’ve got that out of the way….

It occurs to me that for all my talk of good men out here, I’ve never actually described them, have I?  Then again, one could argue that my tragic comedy of (and I say this in jest) love life is perhaps proof that I don’t know what a good man is, no?  If I did, I suspect I would have found one by now, and therefore would not be sitting here talking to complete strangers.  That said, I have never let my ignorance come in the way of a good story, and I’m sure as hell not going to let it stop me now.  Incidentally, I’ve written about good men before (Man!  Oh man…), quite well I thought, but I’m delusional so perhaps it bears repeating. 

When I was a young and innocent lass in college, a good man was a man who was:
     a. Honest (lying to me was not an option.  Unfortunately, as it turns out, it was...)
     b. Faithful (cheating was not an option, ever, until he did, and then I did, and then it all went downhill from there)
     c. Hot (because what girl wants to be with a boy who looks like the back of a bus?)
     d. Generous (especially with his money, no?)
     e. Kind and caring (because I was a sensitive wanna-be artist, with trust issues)
     f. Intelligent (a brilliant student like me could only date another brilliant student, standards and what not)
Mind you, the list is in order of priorities.  What?  I was young and foolish, for a 19 year old that’s quite deep, no?  Perhaps not.  I had a couple of boyfriends and a few pathetic crushes, I got my heart (pseudo) broken and my ass bitch slapped for good measure, and I grew up.

Fast forward to my late 20’s and a good man was a man who was:
     a. Kind (because the last guy I dated was a cruel bastard)
     b. Intelligent (I finally realised I really like to have good conversations)
     c. Ambitious and adventurous (I thought I was going to see the world)
     d. Independent (read rebellious, or slightly anarchist)
     e. Generous (with his time, and money, see a.)
     f. Mature (because I was tired of dealing with ‘these boys’)
You can imagine my surprise when the good man I ended up with was 3 years younger than me; smart as hell, but completely averse to reading anything that didn’t have (a picture of) naked women in it; broke as fuck; and slightly sadistic for good measure.  Oh yes, he was also a bit (very) conservative.  Strange thing is, when it was good, it was ridiculously good, so good I think we were doomed to fail, and fail we did, ridiculously well, but that story has already been told.

Fast forward to my early 30’s, fresh from the debacle that was that guy, and the list was revised accordingly, now a good man was one who was:
     a. Employed (he had an income and could support himself, and was willing to support me, if need be)
     b. Sexy (because I realised that sex was a very good thing to have, often, and well)
     c. A.O.B. (any other bastard, other than the ex)
So that didn’t go very well, no doubt because the list was disturbingly light on substance, no?  I fell for men who, while nice to look at and well endowed (pocket-wise, and other), were boring as hell, and narcissist drama queens to boot.  Yes, there was more to the men than these three attributes, but I wasn’t around long enough to see it, I was the woman on the rebound, looking to hide my past with cosmetic men, only it doesn’t matter how much crap you plaster on top of them, eventually the cracks always come through to the surface, no?

The point to all this?  I think the definition of ‘a good man’ is highly subjective, because it’s based on your own definition of good at that particular point, it all comes down to who you are and where you are (in your life).  When we’re looking for partners, we tend to look for mirror images of ourselves, people who share our views and complement our varied choices in life, however fucked up those choices may be. 

Which brings us to me, today, older and wiser; old enough to know not to judge a man by his cover, because covers can be, and often are, faked, and wise enough to know that I’m actually quite clueless (see earlier posts for sad confirmation of said fact).  What makes a good man?  Turns out it’s the stuff that makes up his character.
     a. Honesty, to himself.
If there’s one thing I’ve learnt it’s this, when you stop bullshitting yourself, you will not tolerate it from others.  Honesty to self, then to others.  Put differently, if the man is deluded enough to think he’s the best thing since sliced bread, yaani he can’t see straight, then it is highly unlikely he will be able, or willing, to be straight with me.
     b. Respect.
Self respect is key, respect for others is mandatory.  I refuse to expound further, some things cannot be up for discussion, either you get it, or you don’t.
     c. Compassion
Kindness, empathy, altruism, the ability to put yourself in someone else’s shoes, to genuinely care for someone other than yourself, that’s the textbook definition of ‘being good’, no?  Its practically impossible to pull off constantly (unless you’re Jesus or such like), and extremely rare to find, but this is the one instance where you do get points for effort, no?
     d. Intelligence
Its not just about book smarts, its about the ability to reason, to question, to seek out learning, to hunger for more than what you know.  The thing about a great intellect is that they’re humble enough to realise that for everything they know, they still don’t know everything, and they never will, and therefore they keep learning.

That’s it, my (current) definition of a good man.  I know, there’s nothing on the list about how the man looks or such like nonsense, is there?  Its as much a surprise to me as it is to you (you disbelieving buggers, don’t think I can’t see you frowning at your screens right now…).  All this time I’ve been looking for abstract concepts and unknown quantities, when all along I’ve been missing the point.  The reason the list is only about character?  Its simple, in my mind being a good man, or a good woman for that matter, it has nothing to do with the ‘what’ and everything to do with the ‘who’.  As one Mr Matlack says in his article What the heck is a “good” man anyhow?’, ‘good’ is aspirational, its what we try to be, fail most times, but still we try.  We (knowingly or unknowingly) demand these characteristics from the other halves we seek.  Now I’m not saying I’m all these things, far from it, hell, the one compassionate bone in my body has only just been located, its still proving notoriously hard to reach.  I’m not a good woman, is all I’m saying, not entirely at least, but I try to be, fail most times, but still…

When it comes down to it, the definition is simply an expression of who you think you are and therefore who you think you deserve.  The question I need you to ask yourselves is not who do you deserve, but who are you trying to be?  That’s the answer you’re looking for when you ask, what makes your good man/woman? 

Turns out that this question vexes men even more than it does women.  Read The Good Men Project for a male perspective, or Madame Noir for a woman’s point of view (the comments on this one will get you thinking).