Misunderstood Men: The Conversation Nobody is Having

I’d like to start this off with a disclaimer. Of the 1,000 pieces of content (articles and videos) I’ve created over the past 4 years, 95% of them have been focused around women and how to help their dating challenges.

This one, is about men.

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So, I would ask you to refrain from commenting things like “but, what about women?” “But, women have these challenges…” and the like. This. One. Is. About. Men.

That being said, I’d like to begin, if it’s okay with you.

Social dynamics have shifted drastically over the past few decades, largely for the better. We have made amazing strides in terms of equality, acceptance (which is better than tolerance), technology, entrepreneurship, and general societal progress.

Though, one thing seems to be floundering: Our relationships.

People are becoming less and less satisfied, dating is becoming more and more challenging, and we seem to’ve lost what it takes to build real, lasting, deep connections with each other.

Most of the conversations being had about this topic – in my experience – are being had among women. I speak to women every single day about their frustrations, and they also speak to each other. They support each other. They listen to each other. They advise each other. They open up to each other.

But, the widely accepted opinion is that men do not do any of these things in their own circles. We think men simply bump into each other and grunt and chug their beer and beat their chests.

I’ve been told, directly, that men simply do not open up to each other about their relationship troubles. They talk about sex and cars and money and the pretty waitress who might’ve winked at them.

While this may be true in some circles, I have had a completely opposite experience lately. I’ve been fortunate enough to meet some incredible men that I’ve spent a lot of time with in Los Angeles lately and, while diverse in background, they all share one similar thing:

They are frustrated, confused, and misunderstood when it comes to relationships.

They are in touch with their emotions (but they’re not soft). They are caring and genuine (but not appreciated). They are unsure of how to navigate the new dating landscape that seems to push them away from their natural instincts and punish them for the crimes of others.

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Every single man I’ve ever spoken to, has been burned or heartbroken by a woman in some way in the past – as I have as well. I said in the beginning of this article that I don’t want comments about “well, women get heartbroken…” and this is exactly why. We need to acknowledge that men have feelings, too.

This is going to piss some of you off. Ready?

Men have always been the masculine energy in a relationship. This isn’t by choice or societal construct, it’s by biological instinct as the animals that we, as humans, are. This is not an opinion or a viewpoint, it’s a biological fact of the animal kingdom.

As men, we have instincts and emotions and feelings and approaches to situations that differ from women. It’s not better or worse, it’s just different. Masculine | Feminine. Both with their own strengths and weaknesses.

Lately, men are feeling as though they’re not able to be…well…men. They feel as though anything they do that falls into the realm of “traditional” is going to be seen as disrespectful or sexist towards women. (Let’s operate under the assumption that these men are not disrespectful or sexist).

So, then, they are essentially made to feel as though they cannot listen to their inner-most voice, and need to adjust how they approach relationships.

In doing so, they stumble, fall, fail, and become frustrated. Because they are having an internal struggle with themselves. How do I act? I want to be protective, but will that mean she feels inferior? Why must I always be the one to bend to avoid conflict? Why can’t I be accepted for who I am, too?

Men are starting to open up. I am having many real, deep, emotional conversations with guys about this. Now, think about how that sentence made you feel. Did you picture men crying into each other’s arms? Handing over their man-cards to each other while admitting to being fragile snowflakes and frolicking through fields?

If so – then that’s part of the problem.

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It’s part of the problem because men are made to feel that they can’t actually express their emotions without being judged by other men. We have to be manly and macho and show strength at all times.

Bullshit. Total, utter, absolute bullshit.

Do you want to know what real strength is? Real strength is being able to show all sides of yourself without fear of being judged – or without being deeply hurt if you are judged. Real strength is honesty. It’s exposure. It’s risk. It’s being genuine in a world that doesn’t always seem to appreciate it.

These men are lawyers, accountants, doctors, actors, musicians, janitors, baristas – but first and foremost, they are human beings. And, they are severely misunderstood by a world that groups people together based on the actions of the loudest, most brazen of their kind.

Men need to be men. They need to open the door, pull out the chair, protect you from a danger that may not even be there. They need to contribute, add value, and feel appreciated for doing so. They need to be needed – even though you don’t actually need them.

They need to be communicated with. To be loved, and listened to, and heard. They need to be able to express themselves both to each other, and to women, without being thought of as “less of a man.”

And right now, they feel like all of this is being taken away from them, because society has mistaken being equal, for being the same.

We can love, respect, care for, honor, value, and appreciate every single human being equally, as we should – but also still understand that we are all different. We experience the world in unique ways, particularly as men and women. If we try to make either of us be too much like the other, we will lose our identity and not only become confused about how we should approach each other, but also how we should approach ourselves.

And that’s exactly what’s happening.

So, guys, don’t be afraid to have open and honest conversations with other guys. Believe me, they are probably feeling the exact same things that you are.

Key word: Feeling.

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12 thoughts on “Misunderstood Men: The Conversation Nobody is Having

  1. Hi James,
    Lovely initiative. These words from the article will go into my diary, “they need to be communicated with. To be loved, and listened to, and heard. They need to be able to express themselves both to each other, and to women, without being thought of as “less of a man.””
    Expressing oneself to the one who matters can resolve so many relationship issues. And men do need to open up atleast to their best buddies.
    👏👏👏👏👏👏

  2. Wow, James, very well said!! I agree with everything you said, and I’m a woman. I’m 53, divorced, and have been burned by a bad marriage. That has not left me bitter though. I’ve been working on myself, waiting for that special someone to come into my life. All I want in a relationship is someone like you, James, caring, loving, intelligent, honest, trustworthy, loyal,
    and traditional. I love when a man opens a door for me, pulls the chair out for me, helps me take off my coat, and shares his feelings with me. I am more than happy to say yes when he asks me out, while I appreciate him and thank him for a nice dinner and fun conversation. I am grateful for these kind of men!! Traditional is always best!! Lots of love and thanks to you, James. You are very special!! 😊 xo

    • I agree with you Antoinette. I am 52 and waiting to meet a man like this also. I need a man in my life who could also be my best friend. A woman’s best friend most often has a sensitive, emotional side.

  3. BRAVO!! Passionate, courageous, raw, heart-felt, honest and real…and THIS is where the conversations need to begin. Men with men, men with women, women with women …about men. Brilliant tribute to being human, equal but not the same, and written with such compassion. The pendulum has swung too far in the opposite direction, in my humble opinion, and the modern ‘myth’ about neanderthal men is damaging to communication and meaningful relationships for all of us. Sure, there are narcissistic, unconscious people out there, on both sides. However, my personal experience with the men in my life is they are largely trying to get it right; for themselves, for their partners, for their kids. I am going to share this article James, and get a micro-conversation happening in my circles…and then watch the ripples make an impact…. THANK YOU for your eloquence and candour!!

  4. But how do these men feel about putting a ring on it? Before going to bed? You argue men can’t find kind, attentive women who value real men? A real man is someone who will not only protect and provide for a woman but also take responsibility for the future family he creates with her. Such women come at a price. We’re here. We’re waiting. All you have to do is take the initiative and ask us out on that first date. Men have to step up and if women want a real, lasting, deep connection, they need to allow the men to do the pursuing. This is the conversation nobody is having.

    • Don’t do this to men, please. Don’t again place all the responsibility for starting a relationship on us. You don’t know how many years were wasted and tears shed because of this antiquated cultural norm.
      I don’t enjoy the pursuit, never did. Does that mean i am not the man? I enjoyed getting to know a woman, learning about her dreams and needs. I did not enjoy the little games or tests that go hand in hand with the idea of a pursuit.

      • Things always get weird when a woman initiates something with a man. If anything… it should feel natural when a man asks a woman out. The games should be left out by both men and women. Also if it’s done right.. the “pursuit” should be fun and not so much of a chore. If it is.. then something definitely not being done right or there’s an issue with the attitude of said person.

      • I strongly disagree. My wife initiated with me, and i am grateful for it. We have now been married for more than ten years.
        Maybe my attitude was bad, but wouldn’t yours be? Saying was not a comfortable thing for me. Too much variability in results and ambiguity in responses. My dating experience can be summed up in the comment I got from One girl just before I met my wife. As we were pulling out from her apartment she stated “I am not really interested in you. U just came along for the free dinner.”

  5. It would be a delight to know a man who isn’t afraid to communicate and honestly. Who doesn’t put on a show, isn’t a yes man. Isn’t afraid to say, “I’m sorry. That’s not what I meant.” or whatever statement that shows responsibility for his own actions and thoughts. One who doesn’t have to make the woman responsible for everything.

  6. It’s wonderful to read this article. My boyfriend is very in touch with his emotions, sensitive and also very masculine. I love this about him. He has struggled to find other men to connect with in a deep way until recently and I see the difference it’s making to him. I rejoice for him – but also for the impact that has on me 🙂 I wish for more men in our culture to discover the power of learning to be vulnerable with each other. Why should that be different for men? It isn’t. I run a group for women around relationships and shall be sharing this post with them. Thanks for writing.

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