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Old 11-07-2015, 01:17 PM   #1
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Default Guarded Male Vulnerability

I've been kicking this stuff around in my head for a while and figured I'd try to put it to words here.

Do you ever notice a man who is clearly troubled, yet refuses to even acknowledge it? I was this way for a long time, I'd drown out my emotions in alcohol or marijuana rather than seeking any help. Anyway, I wanted to start a discussion as to why we men are so guarded with our emotions and so rarely seek help.

I'll start with myself. For me, it comes from my father. My mother always encouraged me to speak up but the message from my father was much more stern: don't complain, suck it up, deal with it yourself. One way he did it was ridiculing me if I came to him in pain. He wasn't being malicious, he thought he was toughening me up, but he would always laugh or make a joke if I came to him in physical pain. I guess in some ways it did toughen me up, but it's left me in an inadequate position when dealing with emotions.

I feel another big part of it is male competition. If we show weakness, we drop down in rank in the group. Nobody looks up to a vulnerable man who wants to speak openly about his emotions, or who shows weakness in the face of adversity. We idolize strong, stoic men, not men capable of expressing themselves and acknowledging their areas of weakness. I believe this promotes isolation among individuals who have emotional issues, we all think to ourselves that we're broken because other men don't behave like this, other men have their lives together so our suffering must be our own fault. This leads us to see the far higher rates of suicide in men than women because instead of being open with our emotions we store them and attack ourselves as broken rather than allowing ourselves to show our vulnerabilities to anyone else.

I also think men's competetive nature adds to this, especially when pursuing women. Women, just like men, like a man who is strong and seems like he understands the world and can navigate it with ease. A vulnerable and emotionally open man doesn't project strength and is almost always seen as weak in the eyes of women, so we hide our vulnerabilities, puff out our chests and pretend everything is just fine, when it rarely is. Some men score their points with women by denigrating other men who show their vulnerabilities, and while a woman may be sympathetic to the man expressing his weakness, they rarely consider him someone worth dating or marrying.

We are also in part controlled by our hormones, testosterone does make us more aggressive and less emotionally free than women. Where a woman might have a good cry and spend the night with a close friend, we may drink a half bottle of whiskey or put a hole in the wall to release physically what we can't release emotionally. I guess this falls back on the nature vs nurture debate but it's undeniable that we are less in touch with our emotions than our female counterparts.

Anyway, that was a bit of a ramble. I've just noticed so many men around me, myself included at times, who have no proper outlet for our mental issues. We fear ridicule from other men, rejection from women, and any sort of exploration of our emotions for ourselves because to acknowledge those emotions is to acknowledge weakness.

I know this doesn't apply to all men, but it certainly applies to most I've met. Does anyone else have any observations of men refusing to accept their vulnerabilities?
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Old 11-07-2015, 02:35 PM   #2
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Hello DeterminedSlacker: I've been watching the 6 part TV series: "The Brain with David Eagleman" on our local Public Broadcasting System station. Eagleman is a brain researcher. One of the points he has been making is that human beings are much more under the control of areas of the brain, to which we have no conscious access, than we typically believe to be the case. And, of course, as you point out, hormones also play an important role in how men conduct themselves as compared with women.

I don't have any particular observations to share. This has certainly been the case for me, especially when I was younger. However, getting older, plus having the mental health issues I've had, have forced me to be at least a bit more in touch with my emotions. However, I will also share that, it has been my experience, sharing my emotions doesn't seem to have gotten me anywhere. Basically no one else wants to know about it. And when I have shared some very deep difficult emotions, in the end, I just ended up feeling exposed & foolish. In retrospect, I wish I had kept it to myself...
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Old 11-07-2015, 03:25 PM   #3
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Default Re: Guarded Male Vulnerability

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However, I will also share that, it has been my experience, sharing my emotions doesn't seem to have gotten me anywhere. Basically no one else wants to know about it. And when I have shared some very deep difficult emotions, in the end, I just ended up feeling exposed & foolish. In retrospect, I wish I had kept it to myself...
Oh man, I know how that feels. When you finally work up the nerve to share your issues with someone else and the response you get is apathetic. I feel like men don't know how to comfort each other, and we dislike seeking comfort as well because it usually ends the way you described.
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Old 11-07-2015, 04:33 PM   #4
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Default Re: Guarded Male Vulnerability

Where I come from we never show our vulnerabilities. This is called 'grip'. This has made me that man I am today.
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Old 11-09-2015, 09:43 AM   #5
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For me it's always been about women. I personally could really care less about what other men thought, I don't worry about all that alpha male peeing higher on the tree nonsense. But my experience has been that women don't want anything to do with a man that was vulnerable. What's the first thing they always say they find attractive? Confidence. Vulnerability doesn't ever even make the top 100.

So for me it's always been and will always be because of the opposite sex.
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Old 11-09-2015, 10:47 AM   #6
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For me it's always been about women. I personally could really care less about what other men thought, I don't worry about all that alpha male peeing higher on the tree nonsense. But my experience has been that women don't want anything to do with a man that was vulnerable. What's the first thing they always say they find attractive? Confidence. Vulnerability doesn't ever even make the top 100.

So for me it's always been and will always be because of the opposite sex.
Confidence is often measured against the group though, women measure us against the other men around us rather than some unspoken scale. Similar to an attractive woman you may see walking down the street seems stunning until you see her next to a group of models where the competition may jade your original view of her. We may not be directly competing against men in our minds but I think the only way to establish that ideal of confidence is to judge it against the men around you. It takes a lot less confidence to stand out in a group of graphic designers than it does marines.
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Old 11-14-2015, 09:47 AM   #7
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However, I will also share that, it has been my experience, sharing my emotions doesn't seem to have gotten me anywhere. Basically no one else wants to know about it. And when I have shared some very deep difficult emotions, in the end, I just ended up feeling exposed & foolish. In retrospect, I wish I had kept it to myself...
That is so true! It's almost like the stuff they say is good to do, isn't really that good or acceptable in the real world. You're so right, nobody wants to hear it, sometimes it seems not even one's own therapist wants to hear it.

It often feels to me like the whole world's media seems to hand out advice and self-help stuff, and the "cool" people never seem to follow this or need it. It feels like a trick to "occupy" people who don't "get it", so that the cool people can play.

I guess it's the same in all areas in life. I was a very gifted A-student at university and I would always listen to the "advice" people (even top professors) were giving in order to do well and score top marks, and I always remember thinking "I don't do any of that" or "Wow, that's the first time I've ever even heard of that study technique."

I learned long ago not to listen to the world without totally questioning everything, most of their "advice" is nonsense and is probably a money-making scheme of some kind.
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Old 11-23-2015, 09:26 AM   #8
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Confidence is often measured against the group though, women measure us against the other men around us rather than some unspoken scale. Similar to an attractive woman you may see walking down the street seems stunning until you see her next to a group of models where the competition may jade your original view of her. We may not be directly competing against men in our minds but I think the only way to establish that ideal of confidence is to judge it against the men around you. It takes a lot less confidence to stand out in a group of graphic designers than it does marines.
I think I see where you're coming from and would agree. I mean, at least for me I've never tried to act in a different manner depending on who I'm around as far as other men go, but I think you're right that women base it on a comparison more than some set "value".
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Old 11-23-2015, 09:02 PM   #9
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...I will also share that, it has been my experience, sharing my emotions doesn't seem to have gotten me anywhere. Basically no one else wants to know about it.
Mostly. Not always.
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Old 03-09-2020, 04:17 PM   #10
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Default Re: Guarded Male Vulnerability

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Originally Posted by DeterminedSlacker View Post
I've been kicking this stuff around in my head for a while and figured I'd try to put it to words here.

Do you ever notice a man who is clearly troubled, yet refuses to even acknowledge it? I was this way for a long time, I'd drown out my emotions in alcohol or marijuana rather than seeking any help. Anyway, I wanted to start a discussion as to why we men are so guarded with our emotions and so rarely seek help.

I'll start with myself. For me, it comes from my father. My mother always encouraged me to speak up but the message from my father was much more stern: don't complain, suck it up, deal with it yourself. One way he did it was ridiculing me if I came to him in pain. He wasn't being malicious, he thought he was toughening me up, but he would always laugh or make a joke if I came to him in physical pain. I guess in some ways it did toughen me up, but it's left me in an inadequate position when dealing with emotions.

I feel another big part of it is male competition. If we show weakness, we drop down in rank in the group. Nobody looks up to a vulnerable man who wants to speak openly about his emotions, or who shows weakness in the face of adversity. We idolize strong, stoic men, not men capable of expressing themselves and acknowledging their areas of weakness. I believe this promotes isolation among individuals who have emotional issues, we all think to ourselves that we're broken because other men don't behave like this, other men have their lives together so our suffering must be our own fault. This leads us to see the far higher rates of suicide in men than women because instead of being open with our emotions we store them and attack ourselves as broken rather than allowing ourselves to show our vulnerabilities to anyone else.

I also think men's competetive nature adds to this, especially when pursuing women. Women, just like men, like a man who is strong and seems like he understands the world and can navigate it with ease. A vulnerable and emotionally open man doesn't project strength and is almost always seen as weak in the eyes of women, so we hide our vulnerabilities, puff out our chests and pretend everything is just fine, when it rarely is. Some men score their points with women by denigrating other men who show their vulnerabilities, and while a woman may be sympathetic to the man expressing his weakness, they rarely consider him someone worth dating or marrying.

We are also in part controlled by our hormones, testosterone does make us more aggressive and less emotionally free than women. Where a woman might have a good cry and spend the night with a close friend, we may drink a half bottle of whiskey or put a hole in the wall to release physically what we can't release emotionally. I guess this falls back on the nature vs nurture debate but it's undeniable that we are less in touch with our emotions than our female counterparts.

Anyway, that was a bit of a ramble. I've just noticed so many men around me, myself included at times, who have no proper outlet for our mental issues. We fear ridicule from other men, rejection from women, and any sort of exploration of our emotions for ourselves because to acknowledge those emotions is to acknowledge weakness.

I know this doesn't apply to all men, but it certainly applies to most I've met. Does anyone else have any observations of men refusing to accept their vulnerabilities?
I use to be like that for a long time but ultimately i realized it wasn't benefiting me. I also watched Brene Browns Ted Talk about the power of vulnerability and It kind of hit me that i actually had an insecurity of being vulnerable. Acting like everything is always cool all the time and not expressing myself just continuously made things worse in my life.

After I just started fearlessly expressing myself it really made me think of all the ways i limited myself communicating with others all the times i said nothing when saying how i really felt could've made a difference, not only for myself but for others as well.

Btw, all the ways society tries to tell you what a man is is a bunch of BS, A man does what he wants, says what he says, feels how he feels not under any influence by others. there is no competition with anyone because that means you're trying to be like someone else and not own who you are.

Man or not, we are human and the human experience isn't something that can be crammed in a box or molded from a specific image. it's just an experience a lot of men have been forced to only see and be one way.

I've punched a lot of walls, i still struggle with substance abuse and i'm working on that and have been a pure savage. that's not manly its a crutch and immature way for not having or accepting other ways to cope.

Man, i gotta tell you, the sooner you let go of what people expect you to be the sooner you can be who you're actually meant to be.
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