How to "Man Up" and Sweep Her Off Her Feet
Are "real men" in short supply? Has our current culture become "feminized?"
The statistics point to some disturbing trends.
For instance, in 1981, suicide in men was 1.9 times higher than in women. By 2012, the male suicide rate had increased to about 4 times greater than in women. Explanations for the gender gap in suicide rates vary, but one thing is clear: becoming and being a man is fraught with difficulty.
My friend Dr. Phil Zimbardo says, we are experiencing a "demise of guys." In his TED Talk by the same name, he tells us that boys are 30% more likely to drop out of school than girls are. They are also less likely to obtain a college degree. Boys comprise two thirds of the special education students, and they are diagnosed with ADHD five times as often as girls. As if that wasn’t enough, males are now increasingly becoming addicted to online video gaming and pornography.
Why are boys and men doing so poorly?
Our entire culture sends cues to males about how they should act and what they are expected to do in order to be considered "a man." Could some of those messages be damaging?
For instance, most of our popular movies present a picture of masculinity which is defined by violence. Yes, our modern day hero may have reflective moments, express doubts and sadness and even shed a tear or two, but what "redeems" him as the hero in the end is that despite his frailties he rises to the occasion by expressing his "courage" through acts of "valor" which are almost always defined by risk taking, enduring pain, and exacting revenge on those who would violate our shared values. The violence is for a good cause, but still the message remains that to be a "real man" you need to sublimate most of your feelings to your righteous rage.
The gender programming which says men should not display "too much" emotion can even lead to a condition called Alexithymia. This is defined as "a personality construct characterized by the sub-clinical inability to identify and describe emotions in the self."
Unfortunately, it seems a lot of men have trouble identifying their feelings. While most men can tell you what they believe or how they would "fix the problem," they can be hard pressed to locate their emotions.
Yet his feelings are exactly what those closest to a man want most.
I know. I see it all the time with the couples I work with. She wants him to listen to her feelings. He wants to solve the problem. Meanwhile, when she asks what he is feeling, he hasn't a clue or cannot find the words to express his emotions. And so the gender gap in most relationships widens, creating frustration on both sides.
But it doesn't have to be this way. When a man realizes that the woman he loves wants what lives in his heart more than she wants a hero, he gets the permission he needs to be human after all. And when men allow themselves to feel all their feelings and learn how to share those feelings, the women in their lives can ironically enough come to see their man as a hero.
Experiencing and sharing our true feelings requires more courage than just about anything else. So if you really want to "man up" and "sweep her off her feet," learn how to express your emotions in a healthy, loving way.
Veronica Monet, ACS, CAM, of Nevada City is a Relationship Coach and Founder of The Shame Free Zone. Veronica has been on CNN, Fox and The New York Times. Learn more about Veronica at www.TheShameFreeZone, or see page 26.
copyright March 2015