Home Concepts Adult Development THE VULNERABILITY OF MEN: SWIMMING UPSTREAM TOWARD INTIMACY

THE VULNERABILITY OF MEN: SWIMMING UPSTREAM TOWARD INTIMACY

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Traditional masculinity is a social and cultural construct that dictates the way that men are expected to live, act, behave, and feel. This constraint is likely the catalyst for the issues that men experience in expressing emotion and demonstrating emotional needs. Masculinity determines that men should be emotionally and physically strong, stoic, in control of situations (including their emotions), independent, aggressive, and competitive, among numerous other characteristics and traits. Social messages on masculinity are transmitted to males starting at a very early age where a conditioning process ensues they are often inculcated by a male’s parents, teachers, other family members, and caregivers who socialized males to avoid crying, to engage in rough play, and to compete with other boys.

This socialization is in stark contrast to the manner in which young females are socialized. In societies that foster traditional masculinity, females are encouraged to express emotion, engage in caretaking activities, be a good friend to other females, be cooperative and verbally communicative, and show affection, among other traits. This is likely why females utilize verbal expressions (of emotion and otherwise) more readily than males do, allowing them a healthy outlet to express their feelings. Males and females do not differ in the feelings and emotions they experience as these are normal human tendencies; the difference lies in how boys and girls and men and women have been socialized and conditioned to express emotion.

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