His heart is guarded and he has built walls around himself to keep others out. He deflects with humor and light words, he deflects by always being “okay”, he deflects by comically dunking on you—but one day his dams will break and his walls will crumble. You need to be patient for the day that this will happen. You need to be patient for the day that he will truly let you in, let you peek at his raw emotions, let you marvel at his strengths and weaknesses. Maybe it will not happen all at once, maybe it will happen as slowly as a river carves a canyon out of rock. You must be patient with him.
He needs kindness like we all need air to breathe. He might not always think so, but he needs kind words, encouraging messages, thoughtful gestures. He needs kindness, the world hasn’t shown him enough of it.
He pretends he doesn’t need these kind, gentle touches and kind, gentle words but he does. He is a desert parched for soft rainfall—give it to him. Be compassionate when he opens up about his mental health, his deepest fears, his family, and those who he loves. He is a man who loves deeply, and you must love deeply too. He is a man who cares deeply, and you must care deeply too.
He carries a lot of pain and a lot of tragedy—he has been dealt bad hand after bad hand. But he is trying. He is growing. He is making progress. Be understanding of his needs and his journey, be understanding of him.
He will try to shut down his feelings and shut out the world—it’s his tried and true way of survival. Don’t leave him just because he needs to do a hard reset on his emotions. Don’t leave him just because he seems like he’s okay. Don’t leave him just because he’s quiet when it rains. Don’t leave him just because he tries to push you away in his silence. Be resilient and never ending in your reassurance of him. Remind him quietly, or loudly, that he is yours and you’re not leaving.
You must continually be honest because he’s been lied to, too many times. You must be honest and forceful whenever he refuses to accept compliments, because his truth about himself is poisoned by the pain he’s carried around in his lifetime. You must be honest with what you’re feeling, he just wants to help you and he cannot read your mind. You must be honest in letting him in. You must trust him and be honest in return.
He has no tolerance for fake smiles, fake feelings, or fake people. He has no need or want for mistruths, half-spun lies, or false claims. He needs authenticity. He needs someone who is genuine. He needs someone who said what they said and did what they did...maybe someone with the ability to know if they were wrong but not lie about their missteps. He needs someone who will show him all of their highs and lows, someone who will be unafraid of who they are, someone who will proudly be who they are instead of who they think he wants.
He has been strong for everyone else for far too long. He needs someone to lean on, someone to support his aching arms, someone strong enough to share the weight he carries. He needs someone that will allow him to feel as deeply as he needs to, to be as weak as he needs to be. Be strong and be bold—for he is strong and bold, and needs the same to thrive.
He has a hunger for life, for laughter, for enjoyment, for smiling, for telling stories, for eating at his favorite Mexican places, for playing his favorite games. He has a bottomless hunger for affection, for great hamburgers, for passion, for art, for beautiful words, for learning new things, for dogs & cats, for white chocolate mochas, for jokes. You must be hungry enough to keep up with his appetite.
He has been hurt too many times and he needs shelter from the world. He still cares so readily, so openly, and still gets hurt time and time again. Be protective of his sweetness, his softness, of his gentle moments. Be protective of his weaknesses, his shortcomings, of his darkest moments. Keep them safe, hold them close to you and protect them. Keep him safe, hold him close to you and protect him.
Be ready. Of course be prepared, but also:
Be ready to laugh. He is the funniest man I know. He uses humor to show those around him that he cares. He uses humor to show those around him that he’s okay. He wields humor like a knight wields a sword to protect himself and others. Be ready to laugh, but be ready to see through his humor.
Be ready to adventure. He needs adventure. He needs little adventures throughout the days and months in trying new things and going new places. He needs big adventures to draw him out of his comfort zone, to take him to new cuisines and maybe new countries.
Be ready to love. You will fall in love with him and his ocher eyes and calloused hands and strong shoulders. You need to be ready, because whether that love happens all at once like summer storm-clouds pour rain on cornfields or whether it grows slowly from a seedling to a honeysuckle vine twining through your heart and squeezing it, you will fall in love with him and you must be ready.
Be ready to wake up early. He is a morning person and he wants someone to fix him/help him fix/help him pick breakfast. He is a morning person that wants to roll around in the sheets and play with your hair and skim his hand up and down your arm while you’re half awake. He is a morning person who wants to listen to music to start his day even though he almost never sings in the shower. He is a morning person by necessity who has come to love it by nature; try to get up and see sunrises with him, try to get up and share the breakfast table with him, try to get up and see him first thing in the morning with sleep in the corner of his eyes and a deep rumble in his chest.
Be ready to listen. He has so many stories in his mind, in his eyes, and on his tongue that need to be told. From the stories of his day, the jokes of his coworkers, the songs he loves, the recipes he watches, the feelings he shares, the games he loves, right down to the things he doesn’t say aloud...he needs someone ready to listen.
He needs commitment. He needs a white picket fence and a dog and two or three children. He needs someone to always hold his hand and stand by his side. He needs someone unafraid of his darkness. He needs someone steadfast, brave, loyal, etc. He needs someone to call his home. He needs someone who will look a storm in the eye, adjust her sails, and drop her anchors where she stands.
Actually, be better than good. Be better than great. He only deserves the best this world has to offer. Too often he is Atlas carrying his pain, others expectations, his past, his deep desires, and the world on his shoulders. He deserves the best to stand beside him and remind him he doesn’t have to be alone. He deserves the best of women to hold him through his lows and soar with him on his highs. Be yourself, but be the best version you can be. Because he deserves only the best this world can give him.