Imagine you’re in a relationship, and things are going great. But then, suddenly, the man in your life starts acting weird. He’s distant and moody – just not himself. So what could be the problem?
Let’s explore the three main reasons that men end up in the doghouse!
Reason #1: Society and emotions
Men are told not to have or express emotions, and if they do open up, other men will shame them. This is because society tells men that feelings are bad. While this perception is starting to change a little bit, it’s a belief that has been ingrained in the culture for decades, which means the change isn’t an easy one.
An example of this can be seen with NFL player Odell Beckham Jr., who was going through a difficult period. In one clip, he can be seen freaking out on the sidelines – throwing a fit, pouting, crying, and acting in an overall childish manner. However, we know that someone acting like a child does so because they’re in pain. Although his behavior was very erratic and unprofessional, it was telling of a bigger problem he was experiencing.
Hall-of-Famer, Ray Lewis, commented on the clip, saying that it was perfectly okay for Odell to lose his temper and get angry, but the tears were unacceptable. He chastised and belittled Odell Beckham Jr. for the tears but not for the anger. In fact, he celebrated the anger.
When we think about the term “toxic masculinity,” we often associate it with men’s treatment of women. However, the birthplace of this toxicity is how men treat other men. Tears and emotion are the essences of life; it’s human nature. As men are raised to believe that emotion is bad, they pass it on to other men, perpetuating the same incorrect ideals. It’s these men who are then treating women in a similarly hurtful way.
It is perfectly okay to experience and display emotion when we are going through traumatic and challenging periods in our life. However, the essential feeling for this – beyond anger and fits – is tears and sadness.
Reason #2: How men are raised.
Young boys are taught that they cannot express their thoughts or feelings, and they can’t ask for their needs or wants to be met. They are meant to be independent with no need for anyone else.
As boys grow up, they face difficulties when they try and stand up for their needs because it’s now ingrained in everyone’s mind that this is unacceptable. Society has skewed what personifies healthy male emotions.
Reason #3: Fear in men
Men fear that they will be rejected or reprimanded for sharing what they feel. This stems from personal experiences of speaking one’s mind in the past. As a result, men are often met with ridicule or have their thoughts and feelings dismissed. Therefore, men have to walk a fine line between being labeled ‘toxic’ or a ‘wimp,’ so it becomes easier and less dangerous to remain silent and avoid judgment altogether.
So, how do we heal this problem?
Men, ask yourselves this: has that old model of masculinity worked? Being forced to be the strong, independent man of the past means that you’re unable to open up and receive intimacy. When you’re unwilling to open up to a woman, they’re unlikely to feel a connection, which means time in the bedroom is often sacrificed. So, is that false version of ‘masculinity’ paying off?
If it’s not, and you’re ready to face the false narrative that labels you as a ‘wimp,’ you can start creating connection and intimacy, achieving a true vision of what a man is. A man can navigate both sides of the dynamic. He can be strong and ask for his needs and wants without being demanding or abusive. On the other hand, getting in touch emotionally from a place of inner security is incredibly attractive to women.
Ladies, if you’re trying to help your partner get in touch with his feelings, you can start with an exercise that asks him to share three feelings he’s experienced that day. The emotions don’t have to be detailed and profound, but they do have to be honest. For example, maybe he felt insecure because his boss asked him to take on a new project?
Although it may be demanding, ladies don’t give feedback. Don’t try to fix it. Your goal is to create a sense of safety for their vulnerability, and providing any feedback will hinder that progress. Just listen and thank them for sharing; ask them if there’s any more. Please give them the space and safety to start learning that healthy way of sharing themselves.
Women make sure you don’t get upset when they open up, even if it isn’t what you want to hear. As soon as you jump in and try to correct what he’s saying or punish him for what he’s saying, guess what’s going to happen? He’ll close right up again because you will have proven to him that when he opens up, he immediately gets an adverse reaction.
Reacting negatively includes chastising him for keeping his emotions bottled up or not letting you know how he felt earlier. That will just encourage him to withdraw and be more hesitant about sharing things in the future.
Instead of giving any feedback, turn everything you want to say into a question: For instance,
1-What do you think made you feel insecure?
2-Have you ever done anything like this before?
3-Why do you think your boss did that?
4-What did your coworkers say?
5-What do you think you’re going to do?
Remember, the goal is to get to know your partner and create a safe place that fosters your partner to feel empowered to act and open up to you again later on down the line.
Enjoy The Journey 🕺🏼
To learn more, watch the video here:
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