I am told often that I do not need a man, that everything can be done without them.

A man’s role has become obsolete.

Because there are some fundamental issues with that sentiment, I’d prefer to talk about some of the ways a man has shaped me into the woman I am today.

That man is Damien, my partner of over 8 years. This is my ode to a great man and his value in a woman’s life.

Probably the closest thing to a love letter I could ever muster.

Here are all the reasons he showed me who I am:

My Intelligence. Damien took a 20 year old girl and showed her she was intelligent, that she could run a business. He was 6 years older than me and he didn’t need to do that.

My value. Damien showed me how beautiful I was, not just in the way he looked at me but the way he was so proud to call me his girlfriend.

My awareness. Damien allowed me the space to question everything – monogamy, politics, life – everything. When 50:50 wasn’t working, we had the space to come up with a new system. Actually anything could be changed if I needed it.

My stability. Damien became the rock that was consistent. Whenever something went wrong, I could always hide out in his arms and everything would be ok.

My confidence. Damien is always supportive and as much as I like to think that I created the confidence myself, truth be told I get the most confidence from knowing that whatever happens, someone out there loves me. It gives me a springboard with which to not allow insecurity to overtake me.

My humour. Damien is always joking around. I learnt from Damien that fun doesn’t stop when you’re in a relationship. We laugh a lot together and often one-up each other on the most offensive joke.

My growth. He gave me space to grow into a different person without having to do it alone. He allowed me to change, even if it wasn’t in his best interest sometimes.

My femininity. Damien takes care of me sometimes and enjoys it. We make each other feel valued and I love that.

My relationships. He created a bridge for me to have a good relationship with my parents and see some unhealthy dynamics I was creating in my friendships.

My love. He showed me how to love and how to commit. I have always felt loved by him, regardless of whatever what going on. I have never had to worry about his commitment to us.

Whilst it’s true that I do not need Damien to function in society and it’s arguable that I might have gotten these things in other ways but the way I see it, it’s unlikely I would have been intelligent, confident and funny in the same way.

The best parts of me have been nurtured by this man.

And I’m so, so thankful for all of it.