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Is He Your Knight in Shining Armor?

By Karen Card

Most men want to be the “Knight in Shining Armor.” When the Knight arrives to save the “Damsel in Distress,” he expects that he will have to work hard. To win the affection of the Damsel, the Knight knows he must be brave, work hard and slay the dragon. He is willing to put forth this effort because he knows the Damsel will be grateful when he completes his job and she will appreciate all his efforts. He wants to be her hero.

What if the Knight shows up to slay the dragon and the Damsel tells him, “No, do not use your sword. I think it will work better if you poison the dragon. Or, maybe you should find him a new home in another city. Oh, never mind, just let me do it.” Does the Knight still feel like her hero? Does he feel that he has “come to her rescue,” or does he feel like the hired help?

If a woman tells a man how to complete a task (slay the dragon), he loses the opportunity to be her hero. If he cannot be her hero and earn her appreciation, he loses his motivation to complete the task. He may even avoid future opportunities to do things for her, because he feels that he cannot be her hero if he cannot slay the dragon on his own.

Most women think they are being helpful when they offer advice to men on a better way to do their tasks. Because a woman feels cared for when a man offers to help her, she thinks she is returning the favor when she offers to help him. Unfortunately, it does not work that way.

Men and women have different needs, and while most women like lots of input on their tasks, men have a need to figure things out on their own. Unsolicited advice from a woman feels bad to a man. He interprets her attempts to help the same as if she said, “It is obvious to me that you are not smart enough or capable of doing this on your own, therefore I must help you.”  While the woman is thinking that she is showing him how much she cares about him by helping him, he is thinking that she is insulting him.

Advice for Men: When she offers you unsolicited advice, tell her that you understand she is just trying to help you because she cares about you. Then explain to her that men really do prefer to figure things out on their own, and the best thing she can do for you is to let you do it on your own. If she persists (because women always want to help), you may also want to mention that if she wants you to do things for her in the future, she needs to let you do the task on your own.

Advice for Women: If you want him to be your Knight in Shining Armor and your hero, you need to let him figure it out on his own. He might not slay the dragon or complete the task in the same way you would, but it will get done. If you bite your tongue and let him complete the task on his own, and then appreciate him for it, he will be motivated to do more for you in the future and become your Knight in Shining Armor.

The way we complete tasks or slay dragons, is just one of the many differences between men and women. Understanding these differences allows men and women to make minor behavior changes to support each other, rather than inadvertently hurting each other. With knowledge of the differences of the opposite sex and some clear communication, men and women can have the happy, healthy relationship they desire.

Read other articles and learn more about Karen Card.

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