I once read somewhere that Aquariuses believe true love is friendship and in reality, this is the real foundation of genuine, lasting love. A lot of my friends think horoscopes are mumbo jumbo, but I like the idea of using planetary alignment to create generalizations about human beings. I am an Aquarius, and I am filled with a lot of love, especially for my friends and family. I have a lot of wonderful, supportive girlfriends. Friends that have been there for me, are my shoulders to cry on, support me under every circumstance and listen for hours and hours to all of my stories. We are vulnerable with each other, love each other and believe in each other. I'm lucky to have a lot of beautiful, strong women in my life.
It's important to surround yourself with like-minded individuals who align with your values. It is important for women to build each other up and stick together. While this is all true, I also want to talk about the very special men in my life who have helped me be the best version of myself, who have shaped me, help me grow and are the loves of my life. I have opened up the top sport bars in New York, so I know a lot of men. Many would call me a "guy's girl." I tend to be the only woman surrounded by a lot of "big brothers" who look out for me. I have never had a weird, awkward situation with these men; while I may argue with them, there is never disrespect, ill words or misinterpretations. We talk through issues, listen to each other and help each other with relationships, work, life and love.
I've started to look at how much time and energy I expend towards different people in my life. I look at how these specific men treat me. They respect me, love me, protect me and do not baby me. They help me grow, do not stifle me and are not intimidated by me in a work place or see me as someone they can stomp all over. None of these men have hit on me and they are open about their relationships, as am I. I am changing the When Harry Met Sally rule: Men and women can be friends. We can learn a few things about each other if we respect our differences.
These men in my life have called me out when they have seen me fall for men that do not respect me, adore me, love me and treat me as they know I should be treated. I have also been very lucky to work with men that not only respect me, but support me in accomplishing my dreams. I have already raved about the President of Paige, Matt Shendell, in a previous article, but I want to touch upon how lucky I feel to have a colleague/boss such as Brian Mazza in my life. Brian is like a big brother to me, but has always treated me like an equal. He has helped me be a strong, smart woman at work. He never forced me to be a man in the workplace, he taught me that every player needs to be coached differently and that I can have strength and power without aggressiveness and anger. Naturally, he has become this support for me outside the workplace for me as well, helping to guide me towards directions that he feels are positive for me. All of my friends (men as well as women) support me, bring out the best in me, love me truly and do not speak down to me or bring me down, but help me see the best in me.
These friendships have allowed me see what I deserve from every relationship I put energy into. I will not accept behavior that is anything less than respect, love and support, because that is what I give to the world, and I deserve just that in return. I recently decided to ask a lot of my guy friends how they saw me if they were single men meeting me for the first time. They all said, "focused, really driven and you have your professional life together." Some said, "sometimes it seems like you have so much going on in your life, you wouldn't have time for me," others said "be more present, it's about asking people about them, not thinking 11 steps ahead and talking about business the whole time."
All in all, some of the most important advice I received was during a four-hour dinner where I asked the same question. I was told, "whatever you do, do not think for one second that being a confident, business-oriented and connected woman is masculine -- it's sexy and feminine. Be yourself, because any man that can't handle it isn't a man, and you are just filtering out the boys." As the presidential election has been on everyone's mind, I must mention that it was interesting for Obama to start his speech with, "I'm a lucky man," referring to the strong, powerful Michelle. All politics aside, it was refreshing to see a man who stood by his woman the same way she stood by him; they are partners looking at the world together, bringing each other up.
I definitely know a lot of boys, and think there are a lot of boys running around with their egos bruised throwing rocks on a playground, but it's time to grow up into a 21st century man; a man who's confident enough to not be intimidated by the strong, powerful women in his life. A man who supports, learns from and teaches the women in his life, and I want to thank all those men that have done just that for me.
Follow Amanda Slavin on Twitter: www.twitter.com/ajslavin