Maybe We Need to Ease Up on Our Men.

Via on Jun 29, 2011


This isn’t about the men who hurt on purpose, men who rape, or men who abandon their families.

This is about the average Joe, the guy who loved his mama, tries his best and is still mystified by those of us that are female.

I hear women question openly: What’s wrong with men? Why can’t they shoot straight? Why can’t they communicate?

We complain that men are shut down in one breath, and complain they’re too emotional in the next. The truth is, our men are striving for a balance in a world where the rules of masculinity keep changing.

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. Both men and women have been wounded deeply. Men still struggle to make sense of women, while women experience men as closed off and shut down. The reality is, a man’s heart is as vulnerable as a woman’s, but the rules for men are laid out differently from the very beginning.

Here’s a great example of the difference:

While walking my dog, I met a boy in his young 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, then 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 women, men are wounded early. The difference? Men are often forced to “buck up” and stuff their emotions rather than express them. Think about it: peers usually ostracize a crying boy over the age of 7.

Often juggling his ever-changing role with mom, he naturally starts to bond with dad and old rules such as “buck up, boys don’t cry and get over it” from prior generations are passed on once again. As years go by, a young boy’s heart becomes more and more protected with each new wound, no real outlet for emotions available. On the other hand, a great many 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 if necessary.

Men aren’t naturally encouraged to release their pain and express hurt, so to survive, they add armor to their hearts and stand guarded against further pain.

While we find comfort in our female friendships, many men say their only source of physical comfort is sex. I often wonder: Do men reach across the bed for sex when sometimes they’re just seeking solace?

The women I know all agree that witnessing an empowered man opening his heart, despite his wounding, and putting it all out there in a vulnerable way–that 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 previously wounded by an aggressive man and have her approached by a man openly asking for what he wants and she may run. Makes you realize that the next woman he approaches may experience him as a man who dances around what he really wants—now afraid to ask openly. What a conundrum eh? Women are wounded and afraid to trust. Men are wounded and afraid to open.

So what can we do?

  • We, as women, can be patient when men talk with us, give them time and space to express themselves and understand that they don’t communicate like our female friends.
  • 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. It’s not that they don’t want to share with us, it’s that often when they try to, we jump in and interrupt the flow.
  • 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.
  • We can have patience.
  • We can understand that a closed down reaction during a fight is most likely embarrassment and pain as our men realize they’ve disappointed us. We can take a step back and not take the lack of immediate communication as anger and instead, take a time out.
  • Most importantly we can remember that our man is not going to be like our female friends. Changing men is not the goal. Even if we successfully changed them, chances are we wouldn’t be attracted to them anymore.

By learning to decipher what appears to be shut down and angry behavior as deep wounding, we can find the patience needed to speak a different language with the men we love. Treating our men as we do our female friends is like walking into a French pastry shop, ordering something in Cantonese, and getting angry when we’re not understood.

The men we love aren’t that difficult, they just require a different language.


Via Daily Transformations


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Ed: Bryonie Wise

About Tamara Star

Tamara Star believes happiness is not an end destination, but instead the ability to see the ordinary through eyes of wonder. Want her free tips and tricks for health, happiness and love? Click here. Receive her free 3 video series for clearing the slate for more love & happiness. Click here. She's an international best-selling author and the creator of the original 40-day Personal reboot program for women--a 6 week virtual deep dive into clearing the slate on what's blocking you. Registration is open NOW here. Tamara's global reach inspires women around the world through her programs, newsletters, and teachings. She's been featured on SiriusXM radio, Good Morning America, former Oprah producer LeGrande Green's GetBOLD radio, Dr. Brenda Wade's GoodLove Radio, Daybreak USA and News Australia. Connect with Tamara on her websiteFacebook or Twitter. Tamara's work had been translated into 6 languages and featured on The Huffington Post, MindBodyGreen, Positively Positive, Yahoo News, The Australia, The Good Men Project, and Yoga Anonymous.



51 Responses to “Maybe We Need to Ease Up on Our Men.”

  1. Julian Walker yogijulian says:

    dead on tamara – what an insightful article!

  2. Ben Ralston Ben_Ralston says:

    Lovely piece Tamara. Yes, it's not easy being a man. But hang on, it's not easy being a woman is it?!

  3. Tanya Lee Markul tanya lee markul says:

    Thanks Tamara! Really insightful. I really think you are spot on with your point – women have trouble trusting and men have trouble opening up.

    Posting to Elephant Yoga on Facebook and Twitter.

    Tanya Lee Markul, Assoc. Yoga Editor
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  4. Atalwin says:

    Hi Tamara, I liked your post. Funny coincidence to read about a lone wolf, I just posted… and earlier I wrote "12 Things Every Guy Should Master to Become a Real Man" for EJ. We seem to be on same wavelength. :-)

    I would like to share a personal experience:

    Women don't want a man that is in touch with his feelings. It ruins the whole paradigm. An empowered man is often way too confrontational. Before you know it he enters the "exclusively female" realm of feelings and discovers that the women who spend a lot of time complaining about men are actually not in touch with their own feelings. It spoils the game of self-pity and takes away the illusion of emotional superiority.

    An empowered man or woman is sexy but intimidating too. Just saying.

  5. frank hark says:

    Great post and an important topic. thanks.

  6. Melissa says:

    Thanks, Tamara. This is so true. And so worth it in the end. A little (or a lot, I suppose) of pain is worth the joy we can find on the other side if we are true to ourselves.

  7. Zee says:

    It's not just straight men…gay men do this too.

  8. erica says:

    Yes! I'm so glad to see this article. I always point out, when the "men are so…" comments start to come up in conversation, that we women are as much a cause of that mentality as the men are. Both sides have to be willing to play the game for the roles to stay in place. Hopefully as the power dynamic begins to even out, the focus can shift to healing wounds and letting everyone live and be their true Selves.

  9. Suzanne Jones sue says:

    loved this article. you hit it dead on :)

  10. Awesome article. Thank you!

  11. Odds says:

    Leaving the mental and emotional health aside for the moment, my experience is that the kind of guys who open up easily, who express emotions freely, have a much harder time attracting women. Women want a man who is a mystery, who has a tough exterior and a core of vulnerability that women can only see rarely, and with great effort.

    Opening up and letting it all out kills your sex life.

    Bringing emotional well-being back into it, it falls to each man to decide what would be better for him long-term – emotional expression or sex and intimacy.

  12. Tamara says:

    Thank you so much Bob!

  13. Just posted to "Popular Lately" on the Elephant Yoga homepage.

    Bob W. Yoga Editor
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  14. Tamara says:

    So Joe, are you in a successful longterm relationship? I'm curious. True point on dads these days, sadly true. Thanks for reading and for commenting! :-)

  15. Bill says:

    Having been in a 26 year relationship I have no clue on dating anymore. The basic layout looks the same but there has been a shift, as I see it men are portrayed in the media as a somewhat buffoonish bumbler that can't get anything right., television ads seem to be the worst. As for yogi tobye its up to each of us to use that gut instinct once in awhile to actually tell us if the conditions were/are right.
    Women often say they want that empowered enlightened guy, but do they really? You know that sensitive dude that will hold you when you cry kinda person. But do women want a guy who will cry in return? will they hold him through a cathartic time? My wife Anne is such a woman and its privilege to know and be with her…
    As for me at the age of 50 I wouldnt care to be dating in this atmosphere. Life is now settled since all 4 boys/men are grown and persuing the world. Each one of the aforementioned young men all know that I love em, the reason you ask? Because in our telephone calls I tell each of them and have done so all their lives. We also taught them responsibility for themselves and what they say or do.
    So Love will be the deciding factor in a much better start to life….

  16. […] Maybe We Need to Ease Up on Our Men. […]

  17. As much as I enjoyed reading this, by the second paragraph i found myself thinking 'this article was obviously written by a woman'. My experience (which, to a certain extent supports the thesis of the article) is that if a man attempted to write about the emotional challenges women face he would be labelled patronising.

    Of course, to misquote Osho 'you hurt the world as much when you take offense as when you give it' and it's clear that the author's intention is to open the door to a discussion about how to support more authentic communication between the sexes …. something that begins by inviting genuine discourse and asking quality questions rather than presuming that we have the answers.

    There is no question that we live in a world that, generally, does not support 'not knowing' – the kind of stumbling through our humanity that arises from the willingness to be naked in each other's presence. I have no idea how to support that, other than to keep casting myself into the abyss.

    I honestly don't understand the archetypal woman, but I find that simply listening with an awareness of my own internal dialogue supports me in knowing, very specifically, the very specific woman I am in communication with.

    Accepting that I'm likely to get hurt is just part of the territory of being human. It has absolutely nothing to do with my gender.

  18. […] Maybe We Need to Ease Up on Our Men. […]

  19. catnipkiss says:

    I'm as confused as any about the male/female thing. However, in my last relationship I was very open for 5 years and he remained guarded. I finally broke it off and it was only after I'd moved – sincerely- on that he seemed interested again! Huh? Nice post, thanks!

  20. […] a bad day, or someone was unkind or unfair to them. Shocking! I know! There’s often, of course, a breakdown in communication on both sides as to how we show or mask our pain, but the pain still exists. And pain is something that, universally, people feel to the same […]

  21. filmy says:

    Aw, this was a really nice post. In idea I wish to put in writing like this moreover – taking time and actual effort to make an excellent article… however what can I say… I procrastinate alot and under no circumstances seem to get one thing done.

  22. Andy says:

    This is a timely article.. My partner became someone I didn't know and, after a series of increasingly crazy and dishonouring behaviour, just walked away from us. No rhyme no reason.

    She's just had a song written to her on the guitar but she'll never hear it. No one will.

    There seems to be a sense of entitlement from women when it comes to a man 'sharing' his feelings.
    I'm empowered, and emotionally aware but sorry, i've been around, so you have to earn it.
    And with each experience the bar gets higher.

    Ultimately, Tamara, it isn't what you want anyway. Seriously it isn't.
    To think so is to have watched too many hollywood rom-coms.
    It's what you think you want. But when you get it, everything changes and it kills the attraction. It may be deliciously sexy at the time, but after that, where do you go?
    To say a real man can be open with his woman is best countered with a wise women will understand he is better to be a mystery. The little girl only cheats herself by sneaking a peak at the presents before her birthday.

    About men and sex. We seek the freedom of nothingness that is found in all-consuming passionate primal sex.
    The mystery gets his fix of nothingness…

    Having come full circle (no pun), it would seem that not sharing is better for all involved. You get your mystery, I get my nothingness.

  23. Mr Tang says:

    I think that's a pretty good take on things..

    I think that you've got a good handle on the peer pressure from an early age thing about closing down emotions. Now it's still difficult to be an emotional man today. An emotional man's role in society is what exactly? Being gay? Being uptight? It's a difficult one. Perceptions are tough for men. So what's the alternative? Be tight lipped and perceived as what? Uptight? Insensitive? Unemotional?

    And you are right about changing a man. If a man resists a woman trying to shape him, then it causes friction and upset more often than not and when a man changes, he really does change, his friends and family don't recognise him and the woman loses interest…. More importantly, the man is lost and wounded from the manipulation he's endured during that 'relationship'. Where's his sense of self gone? Now that's when a woman doesn't just love and accept. When a woman does that, there's just that chance that the man will open up and be and find that best friend that keeps a relationship stable through life's ups and downs. Acceptance, mindfulness and trust are what's required.

    The challenge is that society has changed us all. The way we feel. The way we communicate. We all get triggered in so many different ways and mediums that being your true self is sometimes a challenge let alone holding down a meaningful, mindful, accepting relationship. Social media, smart phones, the immediacy of sms, email etc mean that we get so little time to smell the flowers during the way without having someone expecting a reaction from us for something almost immediately.

    I'm not convinced that men need to feel upset that they've disappointed a woman. Sometimes the expectation of the woman and where that comes from within her is the issue, not the man's behaviour. A man doesn't need to seek a woman's approval for his behaviour if he's being true to himself (provided that he's not being deceitful, hurtful or dishonest). Men are just human. We strive for personal betterment and stumble like women. We don't need to seek approval or have to make up for the fact that our significant other has expectations of us. There's a lot of dogma there.

    The mindful life is about acceptance and trust. Allowing someone, be they a man or a woman to express their true self without judgement is key and I think ultimately that's what you are getting at and if that's the case, I mostly agree.

  24. Lucy says:

    Fab post. I’m married to an introverted fantastic man. He closes himself off a lot. But we’ve always been respectful of each other’s space so I don’t push him. It just means I miss him terribly :(

  25. andrew says:

    While her intentions were good, the message and content feel very condescending: the message, Women are emotionally equipped for the world today, and men are struggling to figure out how to be in a new world. Actually, this is somewhat true. However, for men, its more black and white, because that's how we operate. For the "man's man" they operate in the clarity of their heavily masculine, shut off from feelings, and insensitive world, but they are mostly ingornant of their impact on the women in their lives. And they don't care. For men with feelings, who are emotionally equipped, we live in a complex world, one in which we are sensitive to our parntner and her feelings, to all the women in our lives, and to the boys we raise to be evolved men. These men are plentiful, but we aren't being given enough credit. That part of your article is true. Blessing to you and the ladies who are struggling to open your hearts to the new evolved men out here.

  26. Will Horst says:

    Thanks for this very insightful article. It relates closely to my own recent article on Elephant which you might enjoy entitled "On Being A Man In Prison" —

  27. Connor SG says:

    Great article. I think there’s much to be said about how boys learn to bottle up their feelings, and I fear it isn’t as simple as that their fathers once told them to buck up. I’d certainly argue it’s a societal expectation that men’s feelings be kept to themselves – after all, if we’re too busy displaying emotion, that’ll be less time spent providing for our women, for example.

    What I mean to say is we develop this… almost complex, i guess… not just from our fathers (in my experience fathers are usually the most open to their sons feelings) but from everything. I work in schools and one of the most common things I hear from little girls is “boys dont cry” and i never, ever, ever hear the boys say it.

  28. Dana says:

    Maybe when the entire freaking culture stops trying to regulate what weight I am, what color my hair is, what color my eyes are, how much body hair I have, how much sex I have, how much sex I want to have, whether I want a career, what career I want, whether I have children, how many children I have, how I feed whatever babies I have, how I raise whatever children I have, what clothes I wear, what shoes I wear, whether I wear makeup, how much makeup I wear, what physical exams I get, when I get any physical exams, whether I can use contraception, whether I can get an abortion, whether I can make choices about my pregnancies and births, what tone of voice I use when I talk, what words I use when I talk, whom I talk to, whether I walk alone at night, whether I can go to a bar alone or with my friends, whether it’s my fault that someone rapes me, whether I smile at strangers in public, what religion I am, what roles I can play in that religion, and EVERY FREAKING OTHER THING ABOUT MY LIFE, I might care whether some guy is butthurt that some woman somewhere thinks he is emotionally stunted. At least no one will ever dismiss him for getting angry or having an opinion.

    And don’t ever call yourselves feminists, you’re embarrassing.

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