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

THE VULNERABILITY OF MEN: SWIMMING UPSTREAM TOWARD INTIMACY

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Men often see the errors in the way they were raised, and they want to “do better,” but  their values, albeit unhealthy and misguided, are so deeply ingrained that they may opt to forgo expressions of love and emotion. They resort to emotional coldness and “discipline” instead, especially when raising children becomes challenging or stressful. This scenario presents one of the critical roots of shame and guilt experienced by men as they want to be good fathers, but  their traditional masculine values dictate other ways of living, behaving, and interacting with their families.

Men Hope Women Can Be a Catalyst for Them to Change

From an early age, men were made to abide by the unwritten rule that they cannot place any kind of emotional reliance on other men. For example, when a young boy stumbles while running and scratches his hands, he would most likely turn towards his mother for emotional comfort if he has been raised within a traditional masculine belief system. He knows that his father’s response would be to discourage him from crying, followed by an explanation of why he must be “tough,” independent, and self-reliant; that is, “boys don’t cry” (Patrick & Beckenbach, 2009). While women may also hold and display traditional masculine beliefs and often raise their sons with the corresponding ideals; it is more likely that mothers will be more nurturing, caring, responsive, and emotionally expressive towards their sons. Even women who display traditional masculine beliefs feel that within their belief system, they are “allowed” to be caring and nurturing and provide support to their sons to a certain extent.

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