Q: Hi Meredith,
I've been dating a great guy for a few years. He's smart, has a good job, is handsome, etc. People who know him think he's a "good catch."
We've begun to talk about marriage but one thing bothers me: I worry that he's not "manly" enough.
What I mean is that often times I feel like I'm the one in the relationship who does the things a guy should do. I hate to sound stereotypical, but let me give you a few examples:
Recently, we were at the movies. The theater was packed. The person sitting next to us kept interrupting and making noise throughout the movie. After not getting the body language cues I was sending, I asked the woman to be quiet.
During the recent snow storm, our neighbor, an elderly person, was outside shoveling snow. My boyfriend said he was sick and went to bed. I went out and helped instead.
I got a flat tire. We called AAA and waited. In the meantime, an old man had stopped to help. He insisted on helping us change the tire. My boyfriend stood by and watched. When I asked him about it later, his response was: "He didn't have to do it."
He can't fix anything in the condo and thinks nothing of calling the repairman to close a stuck window or change a light bulb that broke in the socket. I feel like it's a waste of money.
I know I must sound like some woman out of the 50s, but what I want to know is that my potential husband would protect me from a pack of wild dogs (or zombies) and not run in the opposite direction. Is this a deal-breaker? Am I being over-analytical? Over-critical?
– Overreacting in New England?
A: I know at least a few hot, masculine guys who look even hotter and manlier when they admit that they don't know how to fix a broken light bulb in a socket and call a repair person to get it done right. You know what's not hot? Getting electrocuted.
It's not about whether your boyfriend is masculine; it's about whether he's thoughtful and chivalrous. Who cares if he can change a flat tire if he asks you whether you're warm enough while you wait for the tow truck?
If he's too sick to shovel, fine. But when you returned from shoveling, did he thank you? Did he offer to make you some soup? Was he nice?
Ask yourself whether he's compassionate and thoughtful. That's all that matters. You have every right to expect empathy, but no one in their right mind would fight off zombies. Better to be with the guy who gives you a big romantic kiss and then takes you into the zombie-proof hideaway that he paid a real handyman (or handywoman) to build.
If he lacks compassion, you have something to worry about.
Readers? Is this about masculinity or compassion? Are her expectations fair? Zombies? Thoughts? Discuss.
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Meredith Goldstein is a Boston Globe columnist who follows relationship trends and entertainment. She offers daily advice on Love Letters — and welcomes your comments. Meredith is also the author of "The Singles," a novel about complicated relationships. Follow Meredith at www.meredithgoldstein.netand on Twitter. Love Letters can be found in the print edition of The Boston Globe every Saturday in the G section.