I hear these questions in every circle and I’m betting you do too:
What’s wrong with men?
Why can’t they shoot straight?
Why can’t they communicate?
Communication issues between the sexes are as alive and well right now as they were in the 1950′s. We complain that our men are shut down in one breath, and complain they’re are too emotional in the next.
I live in Boulder, Colorado, where a man is as likely to have a yoga mat in the back of his truck as his mountain bike. While yoga may open their hips and allow their minds to clear, there are still many guarded and wounded hearts in those classes.
Most men I know have been wounded deeply and are struggling to make sense of the female species.
Here’s a great example of the male mystery: While walking my dog, I met a boy in his teens on a skateboard. His eyes were clear as they met mine and we engaged in a friendly chat. He was open and unguarded until my dog approached, sharing with me that he once had a dog that looked like mine and was forced to give her away.
In that moment, his face clouded, his eyes dimmed and the pain he carried was noticeable. His body language changed and his friendliness ceased.
My mouth hung open as he walked away without saying goodbye, and I realized I had just witnessed a clue as to why many men seem shut down.
Like many of us, men are wounded early.
Men are often forced to “buck up” and stuff their emotions rather than expressing them. Think about it: peers usually ostracize a crying boy over the age of 11.
Often juggling his ever-changing role with mom, he naturally starts to bond with dad and old rules from prior generations are passed on yet again. As years go by, his sweet and tender heart is protected with each new wound; no outlet for emotions available.
Most women regardless of their dysfunctional childhood, grow up and find comfort through female friendships; it’s considered normal to cry and vent, express emotion, and fall apart when needed.
Men aren’t naturally encouraged to release their pain and express their hurt, so to survive, they add armor to their hearts and stand guarded against pain.
While we find comfort in our female friendships, a man’s only source of physical comfort is usually sex. Hmmm…kind of makes you think doesn’t it? Does this mean we should hug and hold our new male friends often, thus delaying the pressure to have sex too soon?
Do men reach across the bed for sex when what they’re really seeking is comfort?
What most men can’t explain, is that their ambiguous actions are merely there to protect a tender heart from rejection.
Women agree that witnessing an empowered man opening his heart, despite his wounding, and putting it all out there in a vulnerable way – is sexy.
Sexy, but not easy..
Most men have been shamed in the past for asking for what they want. They’ve been shamed for wanting sex, shamed for feeling attraction and shamed for their vulnerability.
It’s an uneasy playing field out there, actually a mine field when you think about it.
Take a woman wounded by an aggressive man and have her approached by a man openly asking for what he wants and she may cower and run. Makes you realize that the next woman he approaches may experience him as a man that dances around what he wants and is now afraid to ask openly. What a conundrum eh?
Women are wounded and afraid to trust. Men are wounded and afraid to open.
There is no safety net when it comes to changing paradigms.
So what can we do?
- We can keep our mouths closed a little longer when they talk to us.
Bantering with girlfriends and talking over one another is common behavior when we gather together; but a man’s sharing is a different process. Men don’t jump from subject to subject, their brains are wired differently.
It’s not that they don’t want to share with us, it’s that they don’t know how, and often when they try to, we jump in and interrupt their flow.
- We can have patience. Realizing that a closed down reaction during a fight is most likely embarrassment and pain as our men realize they’ve disappointed us.
- We can count to 10 in our heads when they stop talking and give them a chance to speak again because 9 out of 10 times, they will.
- Most importantly we can remember that our man is not going to be like our female friends.
Even if we successfully change them, chances are we won’t be attracted to them anymore.
By learning to decipher what appears to be shut down and angry behavior as deep wounding; we find the patience needed to speak a different language with our men.
Treating our men as we do our female friends is like walking into a French pastry shop to order something in Cantonese and getting angry when we’re not understood.
Men aren’t that difficult, they just requires a different language.
freedigitalphotos.net dancer by Graur Codrin, armor from Salvatore Vuono, wolf by Evgeni Dinev, yoga man from OmLight Photography, man from www.123rf.com