7 things you should know about the men in your life
Note: This is an essay by Josh Becker
There are the things that society teaches us to believe about people.
And then… there are the actual truths!
Unfortunately, it’s super hard to know which is the truth versus which isn’t.
The problem of course grows in size when we come to the table with preconceived notions about what a man is supposed to behave like – before even getting to know that particular, very individualistic man.
Even worse, a majority of men grow up believing all the lies they were told as boys.
As boys they were told they can’t cry.
And as boys they were told they can’t like certain colors (hello pink!).
Plus as boys they were told they can’t ask for help.
And as boys they were told they shouldn’t act too happy.
The list goes on….
Because many men grow up believing these lies, their actions reflect to the world that this is their truth.
Even better, you can see the man for who he is EVEN WHEN they can’t see themselves.
Let’s start by looking at…
(even when your man doesn’t know it yet!)
I think we all get a screwy definition of what vulnerable means. We somehow associate vulnerability with weakness.
Men are told they can’t look weak at any cost, so out goes any opportunity for vulnerability.
The problem with this is that vulnerability does not mean weakness. Vulnerability simply means that it’s possible (not even likely, just possible) that you can be injured emotionally or physically.
Now obviously we can all come up with ways in which the man in your life could possibly be injured emotionally or physically, right?
What he’s likely showing you are all the masks that cover up his inherent vulnerability. His strong appearance, over the top anger, discounting of feelings, drinking, sexual addiction, laissez faire attitude are just a few of the masks he wears to protect himself from expressing his vulnerability.
The problem is these are just band aids as he can never truly stop himself from being injured. In fact, almost everything he does to protect himself from being injured (vulnerable) is actually injuring him.
Even if he doesn’t act like it (because he’s wearing a mask) your words and actions do have a huge impact on him.
No, I don’t mean in the freaking-out, there’s-a-bear-about-to-eat-me kind of way. Rather, it’s a deep rooted current of fear that’s underneath everything he thinks and does.
When you can’t allow yourself the possibility of getting hurt then you’re spending your every waking minute protecting yourself.
How can you have your Armor on 24/7, protecting yourself without having fear drive that? You can’t.
Men are scared. We’re scared of being exposed that we’re not a “Real Man.” After all, the only message we received as a boy growing up was, “I don’t care what you do, just be a man.” We can’t order a “girly drink,” we have to like sports, we have to be violent, we can’t be sensitive, we can’t show emotions, we have to be loud and aggressive…
So many rules to follow all in the name of that fear that runs just underneath of our awareness. The tougher the man in your life acts, the more scared he truly is.
As little boys, men are taught to not ask for any help. After all, asking for help shows that you’re vulnerable and because we got the wrong definition of vulnerable we can’t let anyone see that we’re weak.
We’re all born into Community but there’s one difference between how boys and girls are raised. For the most part (yes, there are exceptions) girls are raised to embrace community, but boys don’t get that same message.
They’re taught that community is only acceptable when it’s an opportunity for competition. Sports teams are a great example of the type of community acceptable for boys to be a part of. On the other hand, getting emotional support from a group of guys isn’t even brought up as something that’s an option.
Male role models always figure things out on their own and rarely need help. Terminator, Rambo, Clint Eastwood, and many others figure it out on their own and rarely if ever need help. The problem is we are all born into Community.
We’re not born to do things on our own and the only thing that keeps us from living this life with others is shame. Shame says that you’re not a man if you ask for help. Regardless of how independent the man in your life wants you to think he is, he needs help even if he can’t ask for it.
The world is a scary place for boys. After all, what kind of safety exists in a world where you can’t ask for help, you can’t show your true feelings, and you have to perform to be validated? You learn from an early age that you can’t trust yourself, so how can you truly trust others?
Men have few places they can turn to know they are safe. If they expose too much, they may be shamed into thinking they are “less than.” And if they show too little they get very little attention from others. It’s a constant struggle of give and take – push and pull and at the end of the day every man wants the same thing. They want to lay down at night knowing they are loved and accepted for who they are – not for the role they’re forced to play.
Be ultra aware that the man in your life needs to know he’s safe with you.
There are few places a young man can turn to that are socially acceptable forms of relief. If a man has a bad day at the office his buddies tell him that he either needs a drink or that he needs to get laid. Sex for men are their go-to place for a quick pick-me-up when they’re feeling down. They receive attention, acceptance, affection, and appreciation all in one place.
Men struggle with having to prove their worth and value every day and we haven’t even talked about the normal issues at work, home, etc. They need to show they are strong and they can’t ask for help so where do they turn? It’s no wonder the average guy is talking about sex every 20 seconds. It’s also likely that the more it’s on his mind, the more he is struggling internally.
Sex is a key ingredient in any healthy romantic relationship and it’s a wonderful thing. Just be careful that you’re not enabling the man in your life to continue on with his internal struggle by caving in to the only form of relief he was given as a young boy.
Men love to fix things, don’t we? More than fixing things around the house (which I’m not very good at) most men love to fix you! Of course, you’re not broken and don’t need fixing, but this is about men not about you.
Another problem that comes up for men that are taught their worth and value is not found inside is that they need to always work for it.
“Fixing” you is a way for a man to show his value and worth in the relationship. If he can’t help you then what good is he? These are the thoughts that go on in the back of his mind. This is also the primary reason he’s not listening to you. He’s waiting for that perfect moment to jump in and fix you.
Want the man in your life to stop trying to fix you? The next time you have something with him to share ask him to just listen! Let him know how much it means to you to just have his attention. Let him know that makes such a huge difference for you and that there’s nothing more you would love than for him to just listen (without interruption).
Give him time though, this will take a lot of practice on his part! Just remind yourself when he does try and fix you that this has everything to do with him and nothing to do with you.
No, I don’t mean he literally has a little boy – although maybe he does! I’m talking about that inner child we all have. It’s that child that is still there in all of us waiting to get the love we never got earlier in life. Ever see the man in your life go from zero to pissed off in 2.3 seconds? Yup, that’s his little boy in there!
That little boy is just dying to receive attention, affection, appreciation, acceptance, and allowance from him and from you. And that little boy is dying to just be seen and heard. Plus this little boy is scared, he’s vulnerable, he needs help, and he doesn’t feel safe. And this little boy in him is probably very much like the little girl inside of you.
In whatever way feels natural for you and comfortable for him, let him know that the inner child in you sees the inner child in him. We’re all so much more connected than we think we are. There’s this constant need in the media to divide men and woman, boys and girls. The reality is we’re both trying our best to answer the question, “Who am I?” When we learn that the answers to that question is inside each of us the true journey begins.
This is an essay by Josh Becker