By Serge Bielanko
Of all the types of guys you might ever end up with in this world, you could do a lot worse than the emotionally complex one. I mean, sure, it might be cool to hook up with a straight-shooting, "what-ya-see-is-what-ya-get" kind of fella, but in the end, well... what you see is what you get, you know?
I think love is often best served up with a heaping side of mystery. I ought to know; I've been serving it up that way for 43 years now. And even though I'm divorced from the woman of my dreams (and even though that might make you want to think twice about taking any kind of love advice from me!), I'm still fairly certain that one of the things that made my ex fall in love with me in the first place was that she needed a man in her life who had an emotional factory behind his eyes and heart. Because when grown men are busy churning out thoughts, ideas, and questions about the very life they are living, and how they feel about that life, then you can be sure of a few good things. Here's what I mean:
1. He's a listener.
If you ever meet a guy who can sit across from you at a dinner table or next to you in a bar and actually LISTEN to you speak, don't let him go. Emotionally complex guys have arrived at a place in their lives when they realize that the most important thing they can ever offer a potential partner is to just sit there and listen closely when someone very important is speaking to them.
Answers, solutions, advice: those things are all well and good but in the end, most wise and sensitive fellas know that merely listening to the woman across from them is the coolest quality any man can ever possess. It's also one of the rarest. So master it and you're way ahead of the game, boys.
2. He's hurt, been hurt, and owns it all.
Some people still think that it's better for men to have very little happening when it comes to feelings and emotions. I know that may seem unbelievable in the 21st century, but let's face it: there are a lot of humans walking around on this planet who are the intellectual equal of a low bank of yellow snow.
Men who feel things (and recognize that they feel things) instead of denying their own emotions are the kind of men who learn. And a learned man is a better man, trust me.
Men who move through life and own the things they've done wrong, as well as the things they've gotten right, are men with substance. Emotionally complex men actually learn from the ups and downs that life brings their way. All the loving and losing and hurting and trying again with hope in their hearts (and not just in their pants) actually means something.
Emotional men aren't wussies or lame; they're guys who understand that the very art of living is a precious and never-ending trip through a very rough but worthwhile wilderness. And those kind of men, as complex as they may become after decades of living through and pondering life's ups and downs, are the kind of men who you probably want to end up with.
3. He stands for something.
Some guys go through life with a wishy-washy philosophy. They don't get too worked up over matters of the heart. They just go with the flow. And that might be perfect in some relationships but I wouldn't want that for me. My most magnificent love affair was with an emotionally complex woman and so the fact that I was an emotionally complex man means that those two types really work together if they're smart. (I wasn't always. Ugh).
But emotionally complex men give a sh*t about stuff. They have strong attitudes and opinions about everything from politics and music and food to how important love and sex and respect and parenthood are to any good relationship.
Emotionally complex dudes don't sit around biting their tongues or twiddling their damn thumbs. They speak up and get involved. And best of all? They spend a hell of a lot of time actually thinking about the things that matter in their lives -- and especially in their relationships.
Because as soon as you stop thinking about your love affair and how you can work on it and make it better and sustain it with new breath and hot blood across years and decades, that's when you'll sit there on your couch and watch it die right before your eyes.
Emotionally complex men realize that the more they think and feel about the person they share their life with, the better they communicate with that person. And when communication lines are open and flowing, there's nothing better in this world. But you'll rarely get that from men who can't be bothered to get in touch with their emotions.
4. He's the best dad he can be.
Sure, being an emotionally complex man has it's downsides. There are times when great thinkers and feelers tend to think or feel too much; it's only natural. So it's no surprise when certain guys run into walls at times because they're confused by some cavalcade of musings swirling in their head or heart.
But check this out.
The upsides to loving a thinking, caring man far outweigh the small pains in the ass that usually waltz in the door alongside him. The kind of men I'm talking about make the very best dads in the galaxy. Why? It's simple. Men who allow their brains and conscience and hearts to lead them are men who learn patience. Because they have to. Because they make a lot of mistakes when they're young, jumping into things with fearlessness and insatiable desire.
Those kinds of things don't always work out. Situations unfold and unravel and before you know it, a 30-year-old emotionally complex man has learned hard-ass lessons about living and loving.
And that's exactly why he makes such a beautiful father. The emotionally complex man knows the true secret to embracing life is to wrap your arms tightly around the writhing, hissing poetry of the unknown. He understands that each and every day is built upon a foundation of mostly unexpected sucker-punches, with the occasional drop of joy dripped in for good measure.
They understand no child will ever be perfect (and who would want one that is anyway?) They know full well to expect that the youth of their children will hold amazing parallels to the youth they once lived through themselves. They know being a parent will be marked by sadness and fear and uncertainty as well as sublime happiness and eternal hope.
Think about that. How could a man who understands that concept, that very philosophy for living, not be the kind of man you'd want to raise a family with?
Emotionally complex men might need a really special emotionally complex person to love them to their fullest potential. But when it happens, and those two kinds collide and find a way to navigate the back alleys and rat trails of modern marriage, well, forget about it.
The love is real. The sex is insane. And the kids will be cooler than anyone else on the middle school bus.
I guarantee it.
This article originally appeared on YourTango.
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