What do men really want?
I’m not talking about sex or relationships or anything like that. What do men fundamentally want?
What do men need?
Men want to be understood. Just a little. Just a little bit more...
Everyone wants to be understood, of course, but vulnerable men are quick to be dismissed AND are themselves quick to dismiss their own feelings of vulnerability.
We need to find common emotional ground in life so it's no longer "men this" and "women this." It's just human.
Ultimately I suppose what I'm about to reflect on is called "toxic masculinity" but I'm not one for labels so let's just take a step back and consider what it is to "be a man."
Powerful. Confident. Strong. Tough. Words associated with masculinity...
From a young age men are told to be those things no matter what - even if they need to "suck it up" and perform. That is what masculinity can become. It’s a performance.
Men need to be those things or at minimum act that way... even if it's not real.
When men aren't that way, they get bullied. Literally.
So it’s no wonder that men are very quickly socialized to act this role. ... and that leads men to develop certain habits and mindsets in life.
Men are hesitant to ask for feedback. Men don't admit they're insecure or unsure. Men don’t like to admit they don't have a plan or an answer because that's not part of the role.
Every once in a while a guy will lay out his actual insecurities, thinking it's safe, and then their partner will either lose attraction to them or use it as a weapon. Is it 100% of the time? No, but it happens often enough that we men it and we learn it's better to just be quiet. (source: reddit)
Men are told to be the rock. Men tell themselves to be the rock. No matter what. No matter if they need to pretend to be that way. That conditioning and acting has a long lasting impact. It leads to permanent pressure to ignore true feelings in favor of playing a role and in favor of convincing yourself you are a certain way.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s great to be masculine. It comes with tremendous privilege. It’s nice to be tough and loud and aggressive. I think those are great traits.
But we have to understand the balance that brings about.
Men don’t feel the same kind of judgment free ability to be honest with others. Men don’t feel at ease being sensitive and saying they don’t have the answers.
Many of us don’t feel safe letting you know we’re vulnerable because we’ve been mocked over our vulnerabilities and abandoned when we weren't the rock in a relationship. (source: reddit)
The additional reality of life is men face something a lot of women never face in the volume that men do.
It's a broad statement, but I've found men are rejected a lot more than women.
Men are expected to try and fail with women. It's a right of passage. Men are expected to be rejected, shoulder that rejection and just walk it off and be none the less for it.
"You're not a true man unless you can be rejected and be totally fine with it."
But rejection adds up! Women know this too, of course, but there is a certain pressure and expectation on men that rejection is something they should embrace as part of their identity. It’s kinda a crazy expectation.
Men need to "man up," make the first move and go for it. Men need to "be good" with women. And when they’re rejected… they need to just move on with no hesitation and no lingering insecurity.
This isn't a sob story about men. It's just a level setting that in the same way women have pressure and insecurities that only they can understand, men have their own as well. All humans suffer from insecurity.
All humans deal with body image issues, lack of self worth and struggles with emotional issues. All humans.
We’re quick to forget that men can’t just snap their fingers and not have those things impact them.
Men want to be understood... a little bit more.
- Sometimes a guy just wants a hug… but he’s hesitant because that would seem creepy.
- Sometimes a guy wants to really open up… but he’s hesitant because it's a fine line and he might seem soft or too sensitive.
- Sometimes a guy is told “you can be vulnerable with me”... but when he finally is, it’s thrown back in his face and he’s told he’s weak.
Let's find common emotional understanding for everyone. Maybe when men give themselves that understanding… they’ll realize they’re not alone, that their friends are feeling the same way and there's nothing wrong with talking about it openly.
Maybe that understanding will encourage men to challenge the role they've been told to play. Maybe that understanding will encourage men to stop acting and to inspire their friends to be real and honest. Maybe that will encourage accountability, too? That's accountability to put an end to abuse, violence, inequality, etc.
Maybe that understanding can open room for dialogue, patience and communication that comes from openness. Let's go. * listen to this full episode here.