Real Men Give A Shit

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[social_warfare]

Caring about others is the ultimate showing of strength.

The days of unemotional coldness passing off as strength are over.

I am an American male, which means that growing up, much of what I was shown in the mainstream about masculinity was the lie that emotions and strength cannot coexist. We must choose one or the other.

We are supposed to be “strong” and “proud.” Oftentimes that is projected to us in TV shows and advertisements as being cold, or distant, or stoic. Showing emotions or expressing our feelings was (and still is) falsely considered a weakness.

To be strong, we must chug beer and watch football and make jokes around the locker room we wouldn’t want our wives or girlfriends or daughters hearing. But hey, we get to stay in the boys’ club this way. And for some reason the thought of losing our membership is more painful than the silent betrayal we show to the women we love when we engage in this behavior.

We even perpetuate the idea that picking on girls in elementary school is a sign that a boy likes them. Naturally, then, we grow into men who show affection to women through similar forms of expression.

Similarly, our girls grow up to believe that teasing or insults from men are positive signs of love and caring.

He must be interested if he picks on me.

I’ve never subscribed to this way of thinking. I was fortunate to be raised in a household where we talked about everything and I observed my father being loving and caring towards my mother. They remain that way to this day.

That always shaped my view of how relationships and love should be. Kind, compassionate, expressive.

I don’t have biological children, but my girlfriend has two daughters and we have spoken about an expansion in the future. This places me in a position to help shape their view of what a healthy relationship looks like and how men should treat the women in their lives.

By accepting this role, I accept the responsibility of showing them what healthy love is. These important years will help them understand what is and isn’t acceptable in a relationship, and the standards they set for their own futures.

The level of trust it takes to select a man for this position is not lost on me. There are multiple layers a man must be willing to undertake when a relationship involves children. One of which being a showing of love and support to all involved.

Patience. Gratitude. Understanding. Willingness to communicate. I see these qualities as a strength, because being compassionate or caring towards others sometimes requires putting their wants and needs above your own.

Someone who is insecure or unsure of themselves is incapable of doing just that — because they always need the reinforcement that they are special, or needed, or wanted. I wouldn’t have been suited for this role in my previous lives. I simply was not ready. Dare I say, I was not yet strong enough.

Similarly, I believe the expression of emotion is a sign of strength. Nobody is suggesting that you weep at the Hallmark commercial that plays during the Super Bowl, but in order to connect with our emotions we must be strong enough to face their unpredictability.

It does not matter how tough or masculine you want the world to believe you are, the truth is that you have fears, doubts, insecurities, and worries just like everyone else. Being able to acknowledge these feelings and react to them accordingly is the very basis of living a full life. This is how we learn what we need as individuals, and therefore go and find it.

If we avoid “our feelings,” we do nothing but rob ourselves of the full human experience. Perhaps we won’t feel the sorrow of loss — but the sorrow of loss is the result of a once thriving love that made life richer by experiencing it.

Perhaps we will avoid pain, but that pain may have been a necessary risk in order to achieve something great that will now never be created.

The willingness to risk being hurt or experiencing a failure is, in itself, a strength. Furthermore, actually going through these life events helps us to become even stronger in the long run.

Avoidance is the real weakness.

The concept of what it means to “be a man” is, and should be, evolving drastically. There is no one image or set of qualities or what a “real man” is, and attempting to form a mold only serves to alienate the majority who are different than the select few thinking they have the power to choose who gets into the club. A club that only serves to reinforce its old manners of thinking by not opening itself up to new possibilities or viewpoints. This, not coincidentally, also reflects weakness.

Being a “real man” is about showing compassion. It’s about caring for others, it’s about loving how and who you love. It’s about individuality, not conformity. It’s about embracing and accepting the full human experience in order to live the most deeply fulfilling and connected life possible.

This isn’t about having all of the answers. I make mistakes and say the wrong things and worry about my fitness for each new phase and role that I choose in this life. But, those are admissions I am willing to make as they coincide with my own personal life choices. We accept the risks and also rewards of any new step that we take which moves us (hopefully) forward.

Remaining stagnant, only caring about ourselves, and refusing to open up to those around us keeps us small and guarded. It shuts out those who may care about us and it truncates our own view of the world.

To live a full life, we must care. We must love. We must risk heartbreak. If we do not, we take the biggest risk of all: Robbing ourselves and those around us of the human connection that makes each day worth living.

We must give a shit.

_______________________________

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4 Comments

  1. hmickeyjd on September 24, 2020 at 12:07 am

    James:

    Here is the single biggest problem in trying to create and maintain a relationship: men have been vilified by the so-called “fair sex” just for being men for so long now, you can’t be shocked that many men are a little standoffish and dubious about meeting and approaching women. Think of it like this: If you’ve been arrested and thrown in jail for the last 20 years for a crime you didn’t commit, and every cop you’ve come in contact with in all that time treats you like a lower life form, then out of the blue some cop tells you that he believes you and wants to help you…how quick would you be to trust that cop? It’s the same thing with relating to women now. After being routinely mocked and ridiculed (at best) for showing interest in a woman, many men would now at least question the idea that someone might actually be interested in him. With the man-hating feminazis and #metoo hatemongers screaming from the rooftops about how despicable men are, why should any guy in his right mind now believe the myth of the NAWALT (Not All Women Are Like That) unicorn?

    • Karen A Kesler on September 24, 2020 at 7:24 am

      First of all dont put all women in the same category. We are not all alike. If you keep experiencing the same issues its because you keep selecting the same type of women. Find the one who is not your type and take a chance. It might change your mind. Goodluck and let us kniw your results.
      Sincerely,

      Karen K.

      • hmickeyjd on September 25, 2020 at 1:41 am

        Karen: You say don’t put all women in the same category. But it’s perfectly acceptable for women to say all men are trash, isn’t it???



  2. lonstermash on September 26, 2020 at 10:41 am

    Well I’m doing (and have been doing since I began dating 30 years ago) all the things you mentioned in your closing paragraphs and am still usually single (unless I meet women who end up wanting kids—which I do not want) and have almost no luck even picking up on women with my nice, sensitive guy persona. Unless I meet them on dating sites, I rarely get women to go out with me. The ones who like this kind of guy DO really like me, but, sadly, I still see the “bad boys” getting all the women that I can’t seem to get on a regular basis (ie the very good looking ones). And I hear the supposedly successful dating coaches telling men that they need to create “tension” with women, much the way we did as child (via boys teasing and picking on girls). I don’t do this or condone it, but I have a hard time not believing it works when I see it working with other men. 🙁

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