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

THE VULNERABILITY OF MEN: SWIMMING UPSTREAM TOWARD INTIMACY

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 Breaking the Cycle

In order for the generational cycle of traditional masculinity to be broken, several core changes must take place such as the education of men regarding the personal and universal detriments of this belief system, individual attitude change, confronting fear of emotions, and willingness to take risks that result from allowing certain emotions to surface. Having been educated on the negative effects of traditional masculinity, men can begin with the understanding of the physical and mental health consequences that are significantly related to stereotypical masculine beliefs. Men’s lack of help-seeking behaviors which are fueled by beliefs that they must avoid demonstrating vulnerability and help seeking contributes to the development of chronic illnesses, mental health problems, substance abuse, consistently higher suicide rates, and a lower life expectancy for men, as compared to women (Addis & Mahalik, 2003; Garfield et al., 2008; Mankowski & Maton, 2010).

Having discovered the benefits of a stable emotional connection, an attitude change on the individual level could also help men to break the cycle of thinking and behavior that are characteristic of traditional masculinity. Men must also empower other men to do the same. This attitude change begins with discouraging any judgment placed on men for enjoying or participating in traditionally “feminine” interests and activities. When a judgment is made on men by their fellow men in the form of bullying, criticism, discrimination, name-calling, homophobia, harassment, and other acts, men will take an even stronger hold onto traditional masculine beliefs in order to gain a sense of safety from marginalization.

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