Male Emotionality…

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I think we live in an odd time where there is pressure for men to become more ‘emotional,’ (a word which doesn’t really accurately inform the idea), yet men are never trained to be emotional. So all of a sudden they enter true or late adulthood and they experience pressure to convey years of deep emotional experience, trauma, or unique damage, and don’t know how to communicate it. Unlike girls, boys are not largely encouraged to entertain, process, or speak about their emotional responses. Young girls are encouraged to relate their feelings but boys are not encouraged in a similar manner.

We often talk about how boys are slower to mature than girls but we never discuss why. So much of our modern ideas around maturity center around emotionality yet we rarely discuss the operative parenting patterns that shape it. There is 100% value to the ability to compartmentalize. It’s proven that men largely have a greater ability to compartmentalize in moments when it’s necessary. As a man who served in the military I can attest that this is a quality which lends definite benefit. However, there is no weakness in being able to do the opposite as well. There is no weakness in expanding one’s arsenal. Since when does being able to do more versus less make you weaker instead of stronger?

We men need to understand that there is great strength and practicality in being vastly emotional creatures. On some level we all appreciate a man who can chain his strength and be restrained. We appreciate a man who can be sensitive despite his strong inclination to be a protector and fighter. We appreciate a man who can walk the line and provide both because it’s hard.

But it’s incredibly hard to play catch up. It’s incredibly difficult to be a man in every other area as a 30 year-old person but be in emotional infancy because you were never trained or given the opportunity to explore your own emotions. Yet that’s exactly what so many men are. Emotional infants.

And it’s not just because of the way we raise our boys into adolescents and then into men. It’s also because we oversimplify men in our culture. We give women credit for being complex creatures but write off men as being simple. All sex, food, and ego, and nothing else. Men possess many of the same complexities but we’re taught it’s a lie. We’re brought up to toughen up and mask pain. That’s what we do. It’s what both genders seem to expect without even realizing it. We use sex, food, ego, bravado, substance, etc. to mask pain. Processing pain in a healthy way isn’t a skill many men have learned.

So ladies, in sum, I would urge you to consider that your man is carrying an iceberg of pain, concern, feelings of responsibility, despair, sadness, etc. below the surface that he was not taught how to process, or even that it’s okay. Men, I would urge you to explore the practicality of deeply vulnerable responses and how to cultivate this wonderfully familial skill. And parents, I would advise you to consider the impact of your expectation on the emotional maturity of your children.


Roman Newell

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  1. Wow! That opened my eyes! There’s a lot in this that I either denied or just plain ignored. Guess that would explain somethings. Very information. As always, you writing has me questioning things. Thank you!

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