I often enjoy sitting out on our deck on chilly nights. There’s just something really serene about it. Very peaceful and quiet. I was doing just that one night, dressed in heavy clothing and drinking a hot beverage, when I suddenly thought about my father (R.I.P).
I remembered one day when I was very young we went outside one freezing cold day with snow and sleet on the ground. We went out there to take a picture; wearing nothing but a t-shirt. My dad was also holding an ice cold beer. The whole display was to prove how masculine and manly we were because we were outside in this freezing weather wearing t-shirts and still “not cold” (I was freezing, lol). You see my father felt it wasn’t very manly to be cold (or at least to admit that you were). It was a thing, even amongst he and his friends.
To this day I still don’t like saying “I’m cold”. If my wife asks me if I’m cold I almost always hesitate just a second before I answer, and when I do it’s usually more along the lines of “nah’, I’m ok”. I actually feel more comfortable saying “it’s cold in here” than “I’m cold”.
Sounds crazy-almost silly- if you’re a woman reading this. But I promise every man can relate on some level, even if it isn’t this. Because as silly as it often seems to women, every man has a list of things it just doesn’t feel very masculine to say or do.
When it comes to feelings almost all men have been taught from birth that certain emotions and feelings are not really considered masculine and shouldn’t be openly expressed. And since our manhood and is absolutely everything to us, we protect it at all cost; even if it means doing or saying things that don’t make a lot of sense sometimes.
There are only two emotions that society has deemed completely appropriate and “masculine” for a man to openly express at any time; Happiness and Anger. And even happiness has a limit that can be seen as a bit feminine if crossed. Men have fought, gone to jail, killed and even died to avoid feeling or appearing anything less than manly or masculine. To protect his manhood.
Oh sure, he’ll be criticized for it, but he’ll be criticized as a man. A man will never be accused of being soft, less masculine or effeminate for getting angry, even losing his temper. And for most men that’s a fair trade off. Because we’d rather feel or be called ANYTHING than that. And no punishment or pain is greater than the pain of feeling like you “weren’t a man” in a given situation.
So anger, for most men, has become our go-to emotion for every negative emotion we’re feeling. But the truth is, in his relationship when a man is expressing anger he is usually feeling some form of hurt, embarrassment or that he’s uncomfortable expressing as a man. You see we’ve been taught all our lives that expressing our feelings is not manly. We’re not even supposed to HAVE them, let alone express them. We’re only comfortable expressing feelings of disrespect because respect is a manly trait. So we’ll tell you when we feel disrespected but we’ll tell you in anger, so it’s respected (catch that).
Sadly, the women we love have bought into this to the point that they believe it too. Many women see men who openly express these emotions as weak or less masculine. That’s why you see contradicting phrases like “I want a man who’s sensitive” and “I don’t want no sensitive-ass man”.
So just like I’m still uncomfortable saying something as simple as “I’m cold”, most men are very uncomfortable saying things like “you hurt my feelings” because it makes us feel less masculine. Think about it: if a woman is said to be “all in her feelings” it’s perfectly normal. Most women would have no problem describing their own emotional state that way, because for women it’s “normal”. But if you ever hear a woman use that phrase describing a man’s emotional state it’s probably because at that moment she sees his behaviour as “not manly” or “masculine” enough.
So even though we’re just as human as women and we feel everything women feel, most men DON’T feel it’s ok to openly express those feelings. So we’ve been conditioned to automatically react with the go-to “manly emotion”, anger.
Make no mistake though; if a man loves you and he’s lashing out in anger towards you, there’s usually some hurt behind it. Nobody can hurt a man like the woman he loves. And there is NO DEEPER HURT than when a woman emasculates her man. Seriously ladies. Don’t do it, even in a joking way. Remember what I said earlier; everything we are is tied to our manhood. It is sacred.
So we have all these emotions and feelings but it’s not socially acceptable to express them. And we certainly don’t have the luxury of crying. And both society and the women we love have taught us that anger the only acceptable emotional display for a man, no matter what he’s really feeling.