The Death of Manhood

The Suicide by Edouard Manet

“The Suicide” by Edouard Manet (Image/Public domain)

I made fun of my gay friend in high school for the same reason I was afraid to tell my father about this blog.

It’s also the same reason I was a shitty husband, and the same reason millions of men—even ones who are pretty good guys—are shitty husbands.

Somewhere down deep, in places we don’t like to talk about, most men are afraid of losing their identity as men. They’re afraid of being rejected by their male peers. They’re afraid of not being respected or sexually desired by women. They’re afraid of disappointing their fathers, their coaches, their male mentors.

Men are so afraid of these things that we don’t seek help when we need it in matters big and small, for fear of projecting a lack of “manliness.” We sometimes won’t even admit there’s a problem.

I can handle it. I’m a man.

Men won’t admit that they are bad husbands and fathers, even with all the evidence in the world staring them in the face. Sad, angry, emotionally bent or broken wives. Jacked-up kids with daddy issues. Feelings of shame, dealt with in silence and pretend-stoicism. We grow our shame piles but hide them behind masks. Behind alcohol, and behind sex, and behind work, and behind escapist video games, and behind a whole bunch of pretending to be happy while feeling something else.

Our behavior drives our wives and girlfriends away. The ones we secretly want to rescue us. All we need them to do is tell us how great we are and want to enthusiastically take our pants off all the time. But they won’t. Because they don’t feel that way and because they’re twisted-up too. They’re just more honest about it.

So we feel even more shame.

You did this to me, bitch, thinks the broken, damaged man who feels like he gave up his old life for her.

I was happy. I felt good. People liked me. I had friends. My life was amazing.

And I gave up virtually all of it and promised you forever, and all you do is treat me like a failure every day. As if I’m a constant disappointment to you. As if you’re so perfect and amazing, and I’m the loser piece-of-shit. And now you want to pin our shitty marriage on ME?! Go to hell.

But he knows she’s a little bit right. The proof is in the shame. There’s no shame when we gave all we could.

The shame is proof we’re a little bit guilty.

I went to a small high school in a small Ohio town. We played football and called things “gay” when we meant “stupid,” and called each other “fags” as a slang bro-out locker room putdown.

So when one of the kids in our small class exhibited occasional voice-inflections and hand movements most of us guys made fun of him behind his back, because he was obviously gay, which is obviously the worst-possible thing to be because it meant you weren’t a real man like us!

By the time senior year rolled around, he had suffered silently and mostly alone for the lack of acceptance he felt from many of us. He was one of the student leaders on a retreat half of my class attended that year, and admitted during a prepared talk in front of everyone that he’d considered killing himself several times.

This guy who had NEVER—near as I could tell—mistreated me or anyone else, was so uncomfortable at school, that he thought being dead might be better than being around for what are often referred to as the best years of our lives.

You might say I almost killed a kid in my class. An awesome and kind one.

And it wasn’t because I disliked him. I was never mean to him in any obvious or direct way. It was because I wanted to be acknowledged by my friends as a “man” while we cracked private jokes more than I wanted to treat a good person with respect and dignity.

But at least I had my Man Card.

The potency of this male-identity thing is the primary reason wives can’t get their husbands to read relationship books, or my blog posts, or visit a therapist. This male-identity thing from which I also suffer. It makes me part of the problem.

In that vein, your broken marriage or divorce is kind of my fault, too.

Men Won’t Seek Help to Avoid the Appearance of Weakness

I imagine I love my country as much as any generally satisfied citizen living in a developed nation. I think the United States is an excellent place to live, and the day I believe there to be an obviously better choice is the day I’ll want to move elsewhere.

But many Americans suffer from something I’ll call America Is #1 You Foreign Losers!!! Syndrome. While I’m a proud American and will gladly defend my homeland verbally and otherwise when called for, I don’t think you can look around with intellectual honesty and say that all things American are somehow demonstrably better than things we observe elsewhere.

In fact, it’s nonsense. In 2016, we have data available to anyone with internet access which proves that other countries are better at [insert public policy of choice here]. Some places have more successful schools. More effective transportation. More thriving economies. And, it pains me to say, but maybe even people who, as a whole, are infinitely more pleasant to be around than, as a whole, a random same-sized sampling of people in the U.S.

My favorite recent example of America Is #1 You Foreign Losers!!! Syndrome is learning that U.S. students are just whatever at math performance, but lead the world in being confident about their math skills. In other words, American students think they’re awesome at math, but they’re actually a little bit shitty.

Sound familiar?

Men are confident in their abilities as husbands and fathers, or at the very least, demonstrate confidence by actually getting married, and actually fathering children. And it’s because they’re a lot like American math students. They’re not actually good, but they think they are, or at least are damn sure going to tell you they are. Like a man.

It starts to get ugly when wives who have detected the danger, try to get their husbands to give more to her and their marriage or family.

Oh, so now I’m not good enough for you, Miss Perfect? I gave up my fun life for this?

Men Are 300% More Likely Than Women to Kill Themselves

I kept this blog a secret from my parents and most people I know until about a month ago.

I kept it a secret from my mom because I didn’t want her to read my profanity or read her son write about sex, pornography and masturbation.

I kept it a secret from my dad because I didn’t want him to read about me crying about my divorce, or my newly discovered convictions about empathy, or the fact that I spend so much of my time writing about relationships. You know, “girl stuff.” You know, so he didn’t think his son was a candy-ass pussy.

For the record, both of my parents (they don’t live together) have been amazingly supportive and I’m a little bit embarrassed how afraid of telling them I was. Since I’m thirty-freaking-seven and stuff. But I still haven’t told anyone else. Maybe I’m afraid.

The fear is real. And it’s the same fear many men you know carry around behind their veils of stoic machismo.

Even though women are more likely than men to report suicidal thoughts and tendencies, men are statistically THREE TIMES MORE LIKELY TO KILL THEMSELVES.

This phenomenon, the Gender Paradox, is observed in every race, culture, religious affiliation and country in the world.

Why?

Because men don’t want to lose their Man Card. It’s something we joke about with friends, but when we REALLY feel like we lose it because our wives leave us, or hair loss, or erectile dysfunction, or a job loss, or we just slowly lose that Successful Man feeling we remember from our youth?

We’re afraid to seek help. Because that’s tantamount to admitting weakness or that we’re not man enough.

So, when shit really hits the fan? That noose or gun trigger after a bender starts looking like a viable escape plan for broken men.

The really scary part is how most of these feelings are self-inflicted. It’s no different than how most men and women accidentally destroy their relationships through a series of incorrect assumptions about how their partner thinks and feels due to an absence of effective communication habits and skills.

Men are worried about what other people think of them. But it’s not actually rooted in fact. It’s rooted in assumption. We GUESS what other people think about us, and then react emotionally to whatever we guess that is. And because we tend to be afraid of negative things more than feel pleasure or excitement over positive things, we usually make things worse in our own minds.

A person may have not thought about you AT ALL. But you are afraid because they were in the area when you did or said something which embarrassed you that they now think you’re a huge loser, and that will somehow matter five minutes from now.

From “Why Men Kill Themselves in Such High Numbers” in Pacific Standard:

“Even in the developed world, where gender equality is not as bad as in developing countries, most men still see themselves as being responsible for providing and protecting their family. Of course, some women are social perfectionists too. But men’s social perfectionism is much more harmful.

‘A man who can’t provide for the family is somehow not a man anymore,’ said Roy Baumeister, a psychology professor at Florida State University. ‘A woman is a woman no matter what, but manhood can be lost.’”

Men need help in the mental and emotional health space as much as anyone needs help with anything.

But we refuse, because we don’t believe we need it, or simply won’t admit it.

Why, men?

To appear strong?

To be fake-strong?

Not unlike the weak-boundary daters who care more about the people they meet liking them than they do about whether a healthy and successful relationship is actually possible, men often choose the appearance of strength or the appearance of success over ACTUALLY pursuing strength and success.

It’s really hard to win, or even competently play, games in which we don’t know the rules.

In our own minds and bodies, men don’t know the rules.

So we accidentally destroy our marriages.

And we accidentally ruin relationships with friends and family.

If it makes us feel shame, or feels like something in which we can’t succeed, we turn around and walk the other way, but we make sure it looks like something manlier than fear.

We never just say: “For the same reason I don’t know how to design rocket engines and navigation computers for space shuttles, I also don’t know all there is to know about how to feel great about my life and have successful relationships with my wife and kids and friends and self.

We choose the bottle or a gun or a pill or a mask, instead of what we should do.

Learn the rules of the game so we can have fun and play competently.

Then, just like back in the day: Practice makes perfect.

Then?

We win.

More On Why Men Won’t Seek Help

From PsychCentral: Real Men Don’t Get Help

From Everyday Health: Why Depression is Underreported in Men

From HealthDay News: Many Men With Mental Health Issues Don’t Seek Help

…..

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137 thoughts on “The Death of Manhood

  1. Oh, how wonderful Matt! You’ve nailed it again and done it so well, I want to cry. It’s a work of art! You have also given a voice to what ails many women, a deep love for men and grief, frustration, over our own inability to reach them.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Magpie says:

    This is good. Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Tam says:

    Gets it said Matt. The underlying theme that comes through is not being perceived as weak – I recall that being a major part of Brene Brown’s work, she spoke of in her TED talks on vulnerability and shame. One of the reasons I rate her work so much is her pulling back the curtain on this, and showing that vulnerability is not weakness, but rather the birthplace of creativity and courage, which you’ve just demonstrated so well.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Matt says:

      It was readers of this blog that first introduced me to Brene Brown’s work. I’m really impressed with what little I’ve read or seen from her, so far. She’s excellent with this under-the-surface human stuff.

      Thanks for the note!

      Like

  4. zombiedrew2 says:

    Talked to a buddy about this stuff recently, and I think the concept of being “a man” does all sorts of damage to men. And also results in us being a lot more lonely then women are.

    Not sure if you’ve seen this video on masculinity, but if not check out https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hc45-ptHMxo. Pretty powerful stuff.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Shannon says:

    I just read a Carolyn Hax column called “Quest for Equal Responsibility from Fiance May be Relationship’s Undoing”. People TORE into the woman who wrote the inquiry. She did not come off very well,, but nobody, including Carolyn, even questioned the role of the fiance, who would agree to do things then not do them. At least the woman was asking for help and revealing some not so pretty sides of her personality, so she was trying. I would like to know your thoughts.

    Today I mentioned that one of the two bouquets of flowers Husband bought was old and already falling apart. The look on his face! I immediately added that the store really needs to check the freshness of their stock, and then asked if he felt that I was complaining about him. He did feel that and was beginning the dig-into-the-formidable-fortress-of-defensiveness, that which battalions of women armed with love and kindness cannot breach. Thanks, Matt.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Matt says:

      I really appreciate you pointing me in the direction of the Carolyn Hax Q&A.
      I’m not a very Black-and-White guy. My thoughts and feelings tend to reside in the Gray.
      This reader is exercising self-awareness. She understands that something is bothering her in her relationship, and she’s exploring it. She’s talking about it. She’s doing what so few people do PRIOR to marriage, as they should.
      Most other people would simply get married and start the “Something is wrong but we can’t figure out what”
      divorce process as soon as the honeymoon phase was over.
      I like that she recognized it and asked the question.
      But, philosophically? I agree with Carolyn. I AM that guy.
      That’s what I always said to my wife when she wanted to turn Saturday morning into a chore festival. “We work all week so we have the financial resources to have fun and do fun things and relax, and you want to wake up on Saturday and work MORE!? I don’t value work more than I value fun.”
      And it’s true. Call it laziness if you want. But sometimes I don’t do things “I should” because I’d rather do something “I want.”
      Life is too short to spend even MORE of it doing shit I don’t want to do.
      Carolyn suggested this woman’s male fiancé might have a healthier sense of work-life balance than his Type A fiancée.
      Instead of choosing gratitude for the balance he brings and feeling good about all of the positive contributions he makes to her life, she’s focusing exclusively on the division of labor. On chores.
      In a marriage, there are chores. Finances. Cleaning. Lawn maintenance. Fixing broken things. Groceries. Children. And a million other things.
      It requires appropriate expectations, communication, partnership, sacrifice, etc. While I tend to identify with the husband who might not care as much about some of these chores as his wife does when I look at the specific tasks, I now understand how profoundly damaging DEVALUING the work can be on a partner’s self-esteem and the marriage.
      It’s a silent killer.
      This young couple in the Hax column might not know enough to ask the best question: “Should we REALLY get married?”
      Because that’s the idea I’ve been stuck on most lately.
      The idea that (removing “Love is a Choice” from the conversation for a second) compatibility is maybe extremely important, and maybe MOST people (in a law of averages kind of way) shouldn’t marry the people they marry.
      Thanks for the thought-provoking read.
      Here’s the link to the Hax column, if anyone cares:
      http://www.freep.com/story/life/advice/2016/04/01/carolyn-hax-marriage-unequals/82224288/

      Like

  6. Travis B. says:

    Just yesterday, I shit you not, I told my wife I struggle with the idea of writing my own blog because I fear the “girly” lines of inquiry which would fuel my interest in hosting such an endeavor, along with the vulnerability I would need to demonstrate in the interest of honest, truthful discourse, would open me up to the exact sort of “you’re so gay/you’re such a candy-ass pussy” feedback from my friends and family of which you speak before I could (hopefully) find a like-minded outside readership. The Man Card exists indeed, and it may surprise women and alpha-males alike to discover that those of us who don’t know a carburetor from a starter, or a line drive from a line of scrimmage, clutch our Man Cards with the same white-knuckled grasp as our crush-a-beer-can-on-their-foreheads peers. Very timely article, Matt. Kudos!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Donkey says:

      Travis B, further down you wrote (and I replied): “Matt speaks a fair amount of truth here, but I daresay he may be coming down a little too harshly on men in this regard for my own personal tastes, and Matthias Johnson is flirting with something that feels truthful when he says, “Men don’t want to be called women, because they’re not women””.

      It seems like what you’re saying here though is more in agreement with Matt’s post (and my own thoughts). So I’m just confused as to what you really believe. Do you believe the “you’re so gay/you’re such a candy-ass pussy” feedback from my friends and family ” is really truly just a way for your male friends to deflect from a deeply felt sense of being less-than-women like you described furhter down? And is your fear of those reactions really just a fear of not wanting your sense of being less-than-women poked at? Or is it, like I believe and how I understand what you’re writing here, that what’s associated with women is downgraded and shamed and since you want to be accepted by your peers AND feel up to par by the man-standard you’ve internalized?

      Or is it both? I’m just confused as to what you really believe. And if it’s both, roughly the respective proportions of the two viewpoints. :)

      Like

      • Travis B. says:

        I’m not 100% sure I understand the clarification you’re seeking. I’m saying that I do believe “you’re so gay/you’re such a candy-ass pussy”, on the surface, is a very sexist statement. But I also believe that all “isms” are driven on a deeper, maybe even subconscious, level by fear. Now if we look at me not as the person hurling the insult, but as the man receiving the insult, where it holds power over me is not because I perceive women as lesser beings (I hope my thoughts below have reinforced that I believe very much the opposite and am convinced that the bulk of men deep, deep down inside believe the same), but because I am receiving a message that I am not being what I am expected to be, I’m not holding up my end of the societal bargain so to speak, which puts me in the position of being a kind of freakish nomad without a tribe. I am a heterosexual male, but if I do not operate in lock-step with the expectations of my fellow heterosexual males to be considered worthy of, and welcome in, their tribe, then to whose tribe do I belong? Perhaps I will be accepted by the female tribe, or the homosexual tribe, but I will never be OF them. I am a man, yet I am judged not to be true to the definition of maleness. That is the insult. Not that I’m literally a girl, or that I should hate anything associated with femininity about me because, as a man, I have an intrinsic disgust of, and hatred for, women.

        Like

    • anitvan says:

      You should blog. I would read it

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Lunar says:

    “Loneliness creates a deep psychological wound, one that distorts our perceptions and scrambles our thinking. It makes us believe that those around us care much less than they actually do.It makes us really afraid to reach out, because why set yourself up for rejection and heartache when your heart is already aching more than you can stand?” – Why We All Need To Practice Emotional First Aid – Guy Winch (A Ted Talk)

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Matt,
    I want to say this article is really good. I too have a blog that only two people know about. My husband and my best friend. I do my blogging without my name or photo attached for privacy of those I love….I just don’t want everyone I know or see on the streets to read about my life and have it change their views of me, have them pity me. Granted I’m no where near the blogger you are, the fear of not being accepted for something I am proud of would just suck.
    I think it was very courageous to tell your parents about your blog. It is hard to put ourselves out there…and the reality is that it’s even harder still for men. For women whose husbands struggle with the inability to reach out it makes us want to reach out more until we become smothering. It is never intentional and always from a place of love; still it causes a wedge of distain between them.
    I hope one day that you can be so proud of and see your blog for the manliness that us gals – and guys that do read it – see it as. You have a an amazing gift. Though it was given by losing something precious, you have turned your sorrow and loss into an opportunity for others to find help and healing.
    Blog on sir, blog on.

    Like

    • Lisa says:

      I want to echo bitsfromheavens words.

      It is so courageous of you to come forward and use your writing gifts to help others learn to be better people and have better marriages. It is the manliest of things to risk yourself to help others! To be willing to make yourself vulnerable to help and strengthen others, that’s a true definition of what a real man does.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Lisa says:

    Really thought provoking post! I’ve been thinking about the “man card” issues a lot lately and I have a question for all you card carrying members out there.

    I agree with you Matt that it is very hard for many men to seek help and appear “weak”. I wonder if a lot of it is most especially in areas that our society codes as “feminine” or “gay”. It’s a lot harder to go to a therapist because our society codes talking about feelings as “feminine” and many therapists are now women. Relationships and their books are “feminine.” Using certain mannerisms or wearing certain clothes are coded “gay” and must be avoided. I know many men who have no problem seeking career advice from a “career counselor” or go to seek help at Home Depot to learn better lawn care techniques. Or seek help in improving sporting skills with not a lot of shame. The commonality is these things are coded “masculine” in our culture.

    The suicide gender difference even shows a cultural divide. Here is a study that shows Chinese suicides are more commonly young women because suicide there is viewed as for the “powerless”. Men don’t commit suicide as often in China because it’s not coded “masculine”.

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/m/pubmed/18954189/?i=3&from=/9560163/related

    Obviously, it’s a very complicated subject and I am sympathetic to the powerful shame many men feel.

    Like

    • bygeorgeithinkyou'vegotit says:

      Interesting Lisa… Thanks for the link!

      Like

    • Lisa says:

      I was reading about recently but it is true that in men are far more likely to die from suicide but the reasons for that have to with the methods chosen.
      Women are more far more likely to attempt suicide but their preferred “feminine” method is poisoning which results in fewer deaths. Men are more likely to choose “masculine” methods likes guns or hanging which are far more likely to result in death.

      Here’s an excerpt from The Guardian.

      “So if women are more likely to suffer from psychological problems, to experience suicidal thoughts and attempt suicide, how do we explain why men are more likely to die by suicide?

      It’s principally a question of method. Women who attempt suicide tend to use nonviolent means, such as overdosing. Men often use firearms or hanging, which are more likely to result in death.

      In the UK, for instance, 58% of male suicides involved hanging, strangulation or suffocation. For females, the figure was 36%. Poisoning (which includes overdoses) was used by 43% of female suicides, compared with 20% of males. A similar pattern has been identified in the US, where 56% of male suicides involved firearms, with poisoning the most common method for females (37.4%).”

      Like

      • Travis says:

        So, even in death, women want to keep the house tidy and we men expect our women to clean up our messes.

        Sorry, the only thing I love more than my wife and kids is grossly inappropriate humor, LOL.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Travis says:

        “A similar pattern has been identified in the US, where 56% of male suicides involved firearms, with poisoning the most common method for females (37.4%).”

        So, even in death, women want to keep the house tidy while we men expect our women to clean up our messes.

        Sorry, but the only thing I love more than my wife and kids is grossly inappropriate humor, LOL.

        Like

      • bygeorgeithinkyou'vegotit says:

        Suicide is a very touchy topic for me as my brother took his life (asphyxiation). I often wondered how come he chose his method. The statistics here are interesting and make some sense to me.

        Like

      • lisa says:

        Bygeorge,

        I’m so sorry for the loss of your brother. I can’t imagine how horrible that must be to go through.

        Like

      • Fromscratchmom says:

        Travis, it really is a subject that’s just begging for some relief from the terrible tension of it isn’t it?!

        But seriously I’ve often wondered about that aspect in the unfortunately close to me stories I’ve known of guys using firearms. From my pointofview it’s hard to imagine being willing to inflict that grisly scene on ones family even thou I totally empathize with suicidal thoughts and have faced them many times.

        Like

      • Travis says:

        Holy shit, I just realized that I said “the only thing I love more than my wife and kids is grossly inappropriate humor”! I meant to say “the only thing I love more than grossly inappropriate humor is my wife and kids”. How shameful! I assure anyone who cares that was not a Freudian slip but simple carelessness, undoubtedly fueled by insufficient sleep! Yikes!

        Like

      • wandathefish says:

        One aspect of the difference in methods though is that it’s possible that a percentage of poison suicide attempts are actually cries for help; they are intended to fail or else the person is leaving the outcome to chance in a way that someone choosing a more violent method is not.

        Like

      • wandathefish says:

        I find your grossly inappropriate humour hilarious in this instance Travis!

        And by the way I finally got round to responding to you on the topic from way back (where we were both featured in the main post). It was just to say here (as you may not revisit the original bit) that I hear you and thanks for the clarification as to what you meant that I misunderstood.

        But then there was also another comment further down where you misunderstood me again! Round and round we go! I think that issue might resurface though so I’ll address it when it comes up again – perhaps on this post…

        Like

    • Lisa says:

      Travis and Fromscratch,

      Suicide is so tragic but I understand the need for dark humor. The article I quoted also said that men are more likely to have been drinking alcohol so that might make them more impulsive or think less clearly about family members finding their bodies.

      There was other information about women partially choosing their methods so they don’t look bad when dead. Even when women do shoot themselves they’re far less likely to shoot themselves in the head than men.

      Like

    • wandathefish says:

      I didn’t know that about China! How interesting!

      Like

  10. becko42 says:

    Brilliant. You articulate so well. I expressed some similar thoughts (even though im a woman) on my blog, if you get the time to take a look ‘An Accidental Social Commentary’.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Carolyn says:

    You are opening minds with your original and fresh voice.
    The Man Card analogy is spot-on-descriptive; you could do even more with it. My husband clung to his for dear life, inflicting much damage, but I don’t think it reflects his true nature.

    Like

  12. Sasha says:

    Good one. I was very hesitant, even embarrassed, to tell my parents and siblings I wanted to go to graduate school for psychology and become a therapist because…I’d been “the messed-up one” in my family!

    But guess what? All that messed-upness has been incredibly valuable for my work, not to mention my self (I’ve been a therapist for quite a while and not-so-screwed-up for a little bit longer). As awful as divorce or other traumatic or difficult things are, you could never write a post with such insight, honesty and empathy without that experience. It changes you, forever, and sometimes in an unexpectedly positive way. Which, if we can find our courage, we share with others.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. bygeorgeithinkyou'vegotit says:

    I think it’s very important to bring up here that “girls” also are brought up with these concepts of being so many different things that really are not real. Not being able to be themselves (their sweet or kind selves) like the poor “gay guy” Matt and his friend made fun of in high school. Girls are quite horrible to each other in school too! AND interchangeable within both sexes. It’s always existed for as long as I’ve existed anyway.

    Kids are all terrified through middle school/high school I think. Boys and girls alike. Especially now with social media.

    As a parent of two teens I am desperately struggling with the pressures they feel by their peers. I think I am generally “ok” at communicating with them but I really would like to know what they are going through “as a fly on the wall” so that I could discuss things with better insight. Social media has AMPED the cruelty. I can’t believe the shit that girls AND boys post. The “images” they feel they MUST keep up with in order to feel accepted in society.

    Like

    • Lisa says:

      Bygeorge,

      I agree that there is a “woman card” as well as a “man card”. And sadly, pressure for both shows up early. The “woman card” is about looking young, beautiful, and sexy. (And later about being able to have children and how good you are as a mother). Although I like a lot of stuff he has written, I disagree with Roy Baumeister’s quote that you can’t lose your woman card. Just one small example, single women with no children over 50. They’re treated as invisible or people feel sorry for them. Why? No “woman card.” Really all you have to do to figure out what the cards are is look at dating site criteria. Man card, successful bonus for tall. Woman card, beauty, bonus for sweet. After marriage, the cards change but they’re still there. They’re hanging over our heads from birth to death.

      Bygeorge, Its scary having teenagers now. The pressure to look sexy on social media starts very early and don’t get me started on the requests for nude pictures common in middle school now. It’s rough out there.

      Like

      • bygeorgeithinkyou'vegotit says:

        I agree Lisa… It’s challenging through life. Society has “generalized” what we “should” be and we have forgotten or suppressed who we really are as individuals. It’s quite tragic.

        Thank you for your kind words about the loss of my brother. Loosing him (5 years ago) has also opened new “purpose” for me. It helped me leave my destructive marriage (June 2015) It has opened my eyes to the suffering and needs of those whom need it most.

        It’s been a hard journey, but nevertheless, an awakening toward my own awareness.

        Like

  14. I’d add something to this, I really think our modern definitions of masculinity are part of the problem. There’s a lot of absent fathers, huge cultural shifts in recent history, so what we perceive today as “masculinity” is really just a kind of sad distortion.

    Being a man used to speak more to honor, integrity, responsibility, but today it is much more aggressive, withdrawn, walled off. We have these extremes today, action adventure movies with guys running on broken legs and the wannabee thugs in their baggy pants acting all tough on the street corner. Then there are the buffoons in sit coms and romantic comedies that also make you want to scream. None of those caricatures really teach anyone about masculinity or how one comes to defines themselves.

    Liked by 1 person

    • bygeorgeithinkyou'vegotit says:

      Yes! Exactly! It’s very sad…

      I do think it’s the same for girls as well.

      They are bombarded with

      Sexy, Stupid, Artificial

      Thigh gaps or on the other spectrum, now Kardashian asses…

      Extreme diets, competitive sports with training expected DAILY to succeed!

      Pageants etc…

      It’s NUTS!

      All of which NO one REALLY cares about! It’s all a facade of what they all THINK people want.

      Because that is what’s in media!

      Liked by 1 person

  15. Deanna says:

    You said “Learn the rules of the game so we can have fun and play competently.” And I’ll ask how? Where? From whom? Cause it’s easy to point out the problem but pointless without also providing direction to a solution.

    Like

    • bygeorgeithinkyou'vegotit says:

      The solution lies within discussion. Within truth. With Kindness. With Empathy. Open communication with others who want the same results.

      Like in this blog!

      Like

      • Deanna says:

        I still don’t buy that most guys Matt’s trying to reach will hear anything via any of those “girly” avenues. Look at the comments…”we” get it and agree yet “we” are the ones frustrated with “them”.

        Like

      • bygeorgeithinkyou'vegotit says:

        That is an excellent point because the majority of the readers or comments are women. Most men do NOT want to talk about this stuff.

        Like

  16. bygeorgeithinkyou'vegotit says:

    OR MAYBE… more men ARE reading this stuff than we think but not commenting? There are a lot of women out there who are desperately trying to encourage their spouses to read it.

    Like

    • Deanna says:

      …all the more reason to answer the questions I posed.

      Like

      • Lisa says:

        Deanna,

        All excellent questions. There are lots of resources and answers in both Matt’s posts and comments but since I haven’t mentioned Gottman in 24 hours here is the link to his blog based on his scientific findings of what successful relationships look like.

        https://www.gottman.com/blog/

        Liked by 1 person

      • Travis B. says:

        Well, to speak to the question at hand, I think you have to put Matt’s statement back in the context of the greater article. Perhaps it becomes clearer if you’ll allow me to make a very minor, but perhaps helpful, editorial tweak to Matt’s sentence construction:

        “We never just say: ‘For the same reason I don’t know how to design rocket engines and navigation computers for space shuttles, I also don’t know all there is to know about how to feel great about my life and have successful relationships with my wife and kids and friends and self.’

        We choose the bottle or a gun or a pill or a mask, instead of what we should do, WHICH IS learn the rules of the game so we can have fun and play competently.”

        In other words, this entire article’s theme is built upon men’s unwillingness/inability to seek help, their self-inflicted duty of shouldering all the work of figuring out adult life with precious little training or outside input. As has been pointed out, women are accultured differently in this respect. Women’s social networks tend to be broader and, even when not, they certainly traffic in richer, deeper, more emotionally vulnerable conversations than men’s social networks. Women also reach out to relationship-based articles, books and informational programming in exponentially greater numbers than men. Quite simply, the “teachers” are of much better quality at women’s School of Adult Life and the students do a shitload more homework on the subjects which matter. Over at the men’s School of Life, there have been a lot of budget cuts, we tend to be left with a bunch of who-gives-a-shit substitute teachers, and it’s gym class all damn day long. Matt is entreating men to “learn the rules of the game” by “doing the homework” of learning about, and talking about relationships, with as much energy as we devote to sports, beer, sci-fi/horror/action cinema, comic books, video games, lawn and car care, and ogling “hot chicks”–in being able to admit that there are many things we don’t know, things that we’re not even in a particularly strong position to make sense of, and that we need help from someone–men, women, people smarter than us, people with more practice than us–and that asking for such help does not make us weak, but simply “arms” us with more “ammunition” to kick Adult’s Life’s ass and take names.

        I do want to take a moment to tip my hat to you for taking note of my chief frustration with the community here at MBTTTR–namely that what I’ve often referred to as “Matt’s target audience” (i.e. married males who see themselves reflected somewhere along the spectrum of Matt’s marital experience) shows up here in precious few numbers (and if they’re showing up in substantially larger numbers than the comments would seem to indicate, as “lurkers”, then they’re merely tipping their toes into the waters of relationship homework, when there’s a lot more that stands to be gained by fully diving in), while the vast majority of the discussion (as with anywhere where relationships and feelings are the core subject) is being eagerly initiated and propagated by women. I have further concern that it appears that, rather than using this blog as an opportunity to understand the general (and, yes, sometimes stereotypical) male mindset and thereby gain some empathy (though not necessarily sympathy) for our unique struggles in the marital process, as well as some vital insights that can help her make productive shifts in how she approaches solution-building with her husband, all too often certain female readers want to use it as a way to further judge or blame men (which I can’t say is unfair, necessarily, but I can say it’s mighty unproductive), or as grounds to fight for some kind of twisted equality (I’m often bemused and a little saddened to see how many times women here are hell-bent on making an argument along the lines of, “Well, sure maybe genes/upbringing/culture screwed men up, but genes/upbringing/culture screwed us up, too, so that’s no excuse!”; okay, so now that you’ve proven you can piss as far as the big boys, what now? Your marriage is still broken, right? Want to fix it now, or do you just want to win the pissing contest?), but I digress.

        The most critical point is that Matt is lamenting that men collectively need to work through a paradigm shift to open themselves up to being more proactive and contributory regarding matters of heart without fear of reprisal or being labeled something other than a “real” man, and the fact that you’re stating that the comments section is bereft of meaningful numbers of male participants reinforces that very need for his message. Will it reach any of them? Hard to say. It’s certainly a fair question. Even after the watershed moment of the dishes article going viral, it still seems like the male contribution to the discussion here is less than 5%. I suspect a lot of the time, Matt probably feels like, despite all his dedicated efforts here, he’s just talking to a wall, and I really feel for him. But I also suspect that, on some level, Matt believes in that old song lyric about kicking at the darkness until it bleeds daylight. Or, to appropriate one of Matt’s go-to phrases, he still chooses hope.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Matt says:

          Ignoring for a minute how kick-ass some of these analogies are, I want to explain a couple things RE: Men who read this blog.

          I’ll begin by saying there are a few writers I hero-worship a little bit for various reasons:

          James Altucher, Mark Manson, Seth Godin, and Austin Kleon stand out. I suspect if I read more from Anne Lamott (about the writing process, specifically), she might join those ranks. Brene Brown probably will, too, but I haven’t dove into her work yet.

          Despite my love and admiration for these writers, I have NEVER engaged in any blog comments with them, or spent time discussing a particular piece and exploring ideas with other readers.

          Maybe it’s because I’m busy. Maybe it’s because I’m ADHD. Maybe it’s because I’m a dude. I have no idea.

          But I’m PROOF that a person can be deeply affected by written work without showing up to say so in the comments of said work.

          To that end, INFINITELY more men (as a percentage) are reading this blog — or at least subscribed to it — than is reflected in the comments.

          My email inbox is much more reflective of the breakdown, where I suspect the average man is more comfortable reaching out. Privately and without subjecting himself to the judgment of anyone that’s not me… but since I’ve demonstrated through something they’ve read that they have felt or currently feel many of the things I have felt or currently feel, they know it’s safe to do so.

          More men are reading than are commenting. I don’t know why. I can’t worry about it.

          Here’s my overall take on my role in all of this…

          I work in internet marketing, as mentioned several times.

          I sell widgets. So I do everything I understand to be best practices to put good, honest, helpful information about widgets in front of potential customers.

          If I write an email with a 10%-off deal on a particular kind of widget, and it has a good subject line, I can count on 20-25% of people to open the email. I can count on about 4-5% to click on something in the email. And I can count on around 2% of people to buy something.

          I can count on that happening because we have mountains of data showing that the customers on our email send list behave that way.

          So, I write something designed to sell as many widgets as possible, knowing only one in five, or if I do a great job, one in four will ever even LOOK at it.

          The expectation is that I will “succeed” in selling a widget (my primary goal) just 2% of the time.

          The cynical way to look at that would be that I have a 98% failure rate.

          The appropriate way to look at it is that human behavior typically works this way, and I need mentally operate from that framework.

          I won’t “succeed” 100% of the time. I won’t even “succeed” 7% of the time, if we measure it in terms of widgets actually sold.

          But we keep sending, and staying in touch with people, and putting relevant content about widgets in front of them, so that one day, when they are ready to buy one, we’re their likely choice.

          I succeed when I see that 28% opened the email, and 8% clicked on something, and 3% of people bought something.

          If that happens, I KILLED it.

          That’s how a content marketer has to think.

          And THAT is how I apply my thoughts from a “helping people” standpoint to what I’m doing here.

          I do what I do. Some percentage of readers give a shit. A smaller percentage of readers will feel the content is relevant to them. And a miniscule percentage of people will take the next step of asking themselves good questions, and communicating with their partners, and really making an effort to get to know themselves and try to improve their lives.

          This is the truth of mathematics.

          Only a tiny percentage of people will care. Some percentage of them will be men. And a fraction of them will feel driven to grow.

          I can live with that.

          Like

      • Travis B. says:

        I’m glad to hear that my grasp of the numbers of men who show up here and get at least passive value from the discussion is much greater than I’d assumed, and it pleases me that you’re comfortable with the percentages, but I’m curious how you reconcile saying you can live with the fact you will motivate only a fraction of a fraction of your “target audience” with statements like this one that you recently made:

        “I mean, I understand why we have national conversations about gun violence and childhood obesity and how many threes Stephen Curry drained last night. I really do. I even understand why some people want to talk about Hollywood celebrities, or discuss something a coffee shop did that might have made them angry, sad, happy, or amused.

        But, I CANNOT figure out why these alarming [divorce] statistics aren’t sparking some kind of grand-scale concern or high-level conversations from a critical mass of people.

        We have a problem. A national and global problem. And not enough people are talking about it.

        I think it’s stupid, and it kind of pisses me off.”

        Are you content with only being a minuscule* force for making a difference, or does it frustrate you that your writings have not brought about a sea change in the national/global consciousness. Or do you, paradoxically, feel both?

        * Not–I repeat, not–to be interpreted as an unimportant one

        Like

        • Matt says:

          You asked: “Are you content with only being a minuscule* force for making a difference, or does it frustrate you that your writings have not brought about a sea change in the national/global consciousness. Or do you, paradoxically, feel both?”

          There are some amazingly brilliant and educated and experienced people out there doing this work. The people in these blog comments alone can probably collectively name 90 percent of all the really famous ones.

          There are probably several hundred more that few, if any, of us can name. PhDs and long-time therapists and who knows who else.

          I am just an asshole who got divorced, cried about it, drank vodka, talked to a phone therapist one time while drinking said vodka, then chose a free WordPress theme and started a blog where I mostly wrote about all the crying I was doing and whined about how unfair life is for a bit.

          But because the early days read more like a journal, I was documenting the experience of being a divorced single dad, and trying to be transparent about how I was feeling about it.

          That accidentally helped people who were sad about divorce. And it accidentally helped me begin to work through all these horribly foreign things I was experiencing — anxiety, grief, depression, low self-esteem, whatever. I wasn’t a silver-spoon kid, by any stretch, but in the context of emotional wellbeing? I had always had an awesome life. Great family. Great friends. Super-fun. No major trauma. Super-fortunate.

          So divorce sent me into a tailspin, as it was my first taste of darkness, and I wasn’t prepared to manage it.

          The lessons of that were profound. And then you have private conversation with friends, and learn things. You read lots of books in an effort to protect yourself from future devastation, and learn many more things.

          And then you start putting the puzzle together. When you learn many things, you have a lot of “Ah-ha!” moments. They’re the best.

          The ones where you discover an explanation for why you do things you do, why you feel things you feel, or why something might have happened in your past that sucked.

          It feels good to label it appropriately, because you feel like you can recognize and avoid it in the future. Confidence.

          Also, you realize that you’re a decent person and reasonably well educated. You went to college and everything.

          “WHY didn’t I know about this before now? This stuff matters more than damn near everything anyone ever told me about before relative to the wellbeing of me and the people I love.”

          And I just kept writing it all down, 1,000-2,000 words at a time.

          And now some people are paying attention, and I still don’t really understand how it even happened.

          There are a bunch of experts out there with real, verifiable, clinically based explanations for the human condition and why we suffer through some of the relationship hardships we do.

          I am NOT one of those people, though maybe someday I will know enough to be able to talk the talk a little.

          I’m just a regular guy with a desk job. Just a run-of-the-mill divorced dad with a handful of personal shortcomings.

          And the only thing that makes me different than 85-90 percent of the other guys out there, is that I’m willing to write it down.

          That’s it.

          I write shit down. My brain is not somehow valuable. My knowledge base isn’t anything they can’t surpass with dedicated public library reading in a few months.

          My value seems to be, I write things down in a relatable way to your run-of-the-mill guy who is OPEN to the idea that he can suck at marriage and relationships WITHOUT it reflecting poorly on his character.

          Because I’m not a guy wearing a coat with elbow patches, nor preaching from an exalted place of higher education, sometimes I’m able to introduce ideas to guys they could have read in a hundred books or other online articles, but they somehow read it from me because I’ll make sophomoric jokes and use profanity, or call someone a massive penis hole.

          People should be talking about healthy relationships and the hardships of divorce because divorce is a very harmful thing that happens at an ALARMINGLY HIGH RATE when you factor in that two sane adults WANT to do it voluntarily. It’s inexplicable that it’s not a prominent social conversation.

          I am a person who gets to participate in said conversation in a way that’s a little bit different than all the really educated people who are largely responsible for teaching me whatever I think I know about relationships.

          I don’t aspire, on a personal level, to be some kind of marriage savior. I’ve already had a hundred people tell me I helped save their marriage.

          Even if only 10 percent of them told me the truth, and even if only half of those can make it work, five families (maybe 10 kids?) get to stay together afterward.

          What’s more important than that?

          How could I ever do something more valuable in a Give Back to Life sort-of way than that?

          If people as amazingly successful as John Gottman, Brene Brown, Carol Zweck, Marshall Rosenberg, Gary Chapman, etc. can fly under the radar to the vast majority of people in relationships and marriages out there, how is it even borderline rational for me to concern myself with my impact?

          My favorite bands and musicians are often lesser-known artists. I’m very okay with being the writing equivalent.

          The sea change in the national/global consciousness NEEDS to happen someday.

          A microfraction of humanity will ever read something I write, and even when a lot do, they’ll never know or care who wrote it.

          Of the few who do care, I’m super-cool with the idea that maybe 2% will ever do anything about it.

          Over time, maybe the pie graph expands. So even if 2% never becomes 3%, the larger pie graph still adds to the Something Good Happened pile.

          I’m a little embarrassed at the moment that you thought I might have believed I’m relevant enough to affect a critical mass of humanity.

          No.

          I just think maybe my story can be the right story for the right guy at the right time once in a great while.

          Outside of being a dad, it’s the most meaningful thing I have ever done. And it’s an accidental byproduct of me trying to ask the right questions and figure out crap, so I can not mess up as much in the future, and protect myself from crippling emotional pain.

          A selfish mission that accidentally became unselfish. Such is love.

          We love ourselves so that we’re capable of loving others.

          Good shit.

          Like

      • Travis B. says:

        I greatly appreciate and respect your answer. It’s good to know how you feel about your work here, and glean greater insight into your intentions and hopes for MBTTTR. And you’re right–as the (para)phrase goes, he who saves even a single life (or, in this case, a marriage) saves the world entire.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Deanna says:

        When I come here I put myself in my husband’s shoes and every single time I leave with “So? So what. That was a bunch of talk but what action am I supposed to take?” I guess I’m the only person married to a man who probably would and could do whatever he had to do to get things on the road to begin to start to get them worked out. But no one is able to give him a roadmap. Not a single person can offer him clear cut, concise directions from Point A to Point B. Sure, they are more than willing to describe the scenery along the way, maybe even recommend pitstops they enjoyed during their own travels or can make mention of places to avoid but damn it what is the point of even reading, discussing if the end all be all is “shit, dude, I really couldn’t tell ya where Point B IS….I just meandered for a while till I got to a place that I’m pretty sure was it…At least for me.”

        No wonder he’s frustrated and given up. Lord knows I have no clue where the hell he needs to go to get there much less which exit to take to begin. I’m still looking for my car keys trying to navigate out of the driveway on my own journey.

        Like

      • Travis B. says:

        It takes a long, rocky road for the majority of men to get there, but in my opinion, if you take all the expert speeches off the table, all the books, all the articles, all the instructional videos, all the blogs, and all the confessionals off the table, it’s as simple as men embracing these things as Inarguable and Unimpeachable Truth:

        * What your wife says matters to her is based on her perception of the world, and her perception is her Truth
        * What matters to her should matter to you because she matters to you; furthermore, what matters to her should matter more than how you feel about it because she should matter more to you than yourself
        * If you give fully of yourself in this way to your wife, chances are extremely favorable that she will return the favor to you; therefore, you do not need to worry about protecting your needs. If you protect and validate her needs, she will take up the mantle of protecting and validating yours

        Specific action steps will vary (in some cases, profoundly) from individual couple to individual couple, but comprehension of this base truism should be all the “light bulb” moment necessary for a man to effect positive movement and change. Once your husband processes this truism, his path out of darkness will start to become self-evident. If not, then I honestly wouldn’t know where to begin with him. It’s up to him to choose whether he’ll simply listen to the truism or fully accept it as the marital saving grace it is. If he’s brave enough and vulnerable enough to do the latter, let him marinate in that realization for a few days. The action steps, whatever they need to look like for both of you, will likely follow in a much more natural due course thereafter.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Lisa says:

        Deanna,

        What Travis said is gold! If he can do it based on reading that great. Most people need more detail to be convinced. If you and your husband really are looking fior a roadmap, buy this book. It expands on what Travis said and gives you the roadmap you say you can’t find. I beg you to buy it for your husband. If he is willing, your whole situation can change. But you can’t say no one gave you a direction on how to fix things.

        http://www.amazon.com/The-Mans-Guide-Women-Scientifically/dp/1623361842

        Like

      • Deanna says:

        All of this is moot in re: my marriage since we’re knee-deep in divorce minutia. BUT if I pretend that there’s a chance here and I take what you said, run it through the “Wife-to-Husband-Linguistic-Conversionator” I come away with this translation:

        1. If she says it’s true, it’s true
        2. If she says “it’ matters; I should agree – regardless of how I feel
        3. If I submit to numbers 1 & 2 life will be peachy

        Wow. If that is how he gets from Point A to Point B then I can totally understand why we detoured and are currently parked in front of the courthouse – again.

        And to be quite honest, if being a wife means having a husband that just defers to me and caters to my every whim – I have no desire or need to be married. I want to do life WITH someone; I want to talk tandem. I don’t want to give a life-long piggy back ride. No wonder I’m so freaking tired…

        Like

      • Deanna says:

        …walk tandem. I’m pretty much all talked out. And because I’m thinking of it and too lazy to put it in the appropriate area – not all of us would pick the taller guy if given two similar ones to choose from. The height thing makes no sense to me. Personally, I want the one who allows me the best opportunity to fulfill my role as a woman – meaning, that I don’t have to be the one to make all the decisions or the one who has to shoulder the heaviest loads (mentally, physically, emotionally, financially). I don’t think I’m alone when I say that I want a man who IS a man because it will allow me to be a woman – in all the ways I’m supposed to be a woman. If my husband does a better job of being a woman than I do? Well, there’s just no good that’s going to come from that – and none of that has anything to do with how tall someone is.

        Like

      • Deanna says:

        Lisa, While I hear what you’re saying and I do, honestly appreciate the response and book recommendation what you just did is my exact issue with the comments section on this blog. If my husband came here looking for answers to how he could help himself fix the issues in our marriage and failed to get clear instructions from the post itself and scrolled through the comments for additional information how do you think he’d feel reading what you just wrote to me? And if the point of all of this is for a man to do the dirty work himself (because quite frankly the last thing most of our husbands want to do is be spoon-fed self help b.s. from their wives) then why, prey tell, is it my job to buy the book for my husband? It’s contradictory, it’s condescending and it’s just not helpful. It’s so much easier to let divorce happen.

        Like

      • Travis B. says:

        “[If] I take what you said, run it through the “Wife-to-Husband-Linguistic-Conversionator” I come away with this translation:

        1. If she says it’s true, it’s true
        2. If she says “it’ matters; I should agree – regardless of how I feel
        3. If I submit to numbers 1 & 2 life will be peachy

        If being a wife means having a husband that just defers to me and caters to my every whim – I have no desire or need to be married. I want to do life WITH someone; I want to talk tandem. I don’t want to give a life-long piggy back ride. No wonder I’m so freaking tired…”

        It’s not quite as simplistic as that, but it’s not too far off the mark, either. The defining element that I didn’t directly address is with boundaries. Each party in a relationship is warranted, dare I say best served, in establishing clear boundaries for certain behaviors he or she is not willing to tolerate. Deal-breakers, I call them. For me, personally, I only have one. I will not tolerate infidelity. Everything else I’m prepared to stand by my vows and work through, but that one’s a one-and-done for me. Other people, both husbands and wives, may have additional or different deal-breakers than mine, but for a relationship to weather the fact that its composed of human beings prone to the occasional royal fuck up, hopefully each couple’s list is only two or three items long. But those two or three things are absolutely critical for the opposite party to understand and respect without error or exception, so it’s not as simple as your husband being encouraged to “defer to you” in all things and “cater to your every whim”.

        On the other hand, for all the twenty billion things that aren’t dealbreakers, yes, I stand by my statement. If my wife conveys that something is important to her, then why wouldn’t or shouldn’t I cater to that? Is it not my privilege and responsibility as a husband to do whatever I can to bring peace, joy and fulfillment to my wife as she journeys through life in a world that, overall, gives no more shits about her than it does any of the rest of us? What is there that could be important to my wife, vital enough for her to bring it to my attention multiple times, that remains less so than my own ego needs? And, for the sake of argument, if it involves a belief or behavior that I have a strong oppositional belief about, and feel is just as important as she does, then at least conveying to her that I recognize the value of her perspective, that I recognize that her perspective on the issue is important to her, that I recognize that she is more important to me than any matter she and I have to work through, then as far as I’m concerned, assuming she affords me the same respect in return, that’s the very definition of an equilateral, “walking in tandem” relationship.

        Like

      • Lisa says:

        Deanna,

        I don’t understand your situation then. I read your initial posts as your husband was willing to learn and change but just couldn’t find a good roadmap to tell him what to do. The Gottman book is a very user friendly shortish you book. If someone truly is looking for a roadmap and can’t find one this book will make a difference.

        Your later posts said you are in the process of divorcing so it seems maybe too late for your husband to be willing to learn and want a roadmap? Maybe your first post was historical? Not sure what your husband would think of my comment. It was based on the first post to a man who was frustrated at wanting a roadmap but not being able to find one. It is genuinely a good book for men and women to read because it expresses what you were saying in a later post about wanting someone to walk in tandem with you. Sometimes, men need it translated a little bit to hear it and this book translates in man friendly terms.

        I sincerely wish you the best.

        Like

      • Lisa says:

        Deanna,

        I forgot to answer this question from you:

        “because quite frankly the last thing most of our husbands want to do is be spoon-fed self help b.s. from their wives) then why, prey tell, is it my job to buy the book for my husband? It’s contradictory, it’s condescending and it’s just not helpful. It’s so much easier to let divorce happen.”

        I was only suggesting you buy the book because YOU were the one posting. I guess I could have said “recommend this book to your husband” but since your husband is presumably not reading the blog it seemed logical to give you the information to relay. You had expressed such dismay at reading the blog and not being able to find a roadmap for your husband and I was responding to that. It was not meant to be spoon fed to him by you. I just thought based on your post that you both were frustrated by a lack of information but based on your other posts that was incorrect.

        Anyway, I am truly sorry if my comments were frustrating to you. I really was trying to be helpful but I can see how they weren’t based on your response. I hope things go better for you soon.

        Like

      • Deanna says:

        Lisa – My original comment/question here were posed from an “every day guy’s point of view” like my husband IF he happened to stumble across the post – not get what he needed (because it’s not there, not in a way most dudes are going to recognize it) and took his chances on the comments. The comments are more of the same for whatever reason and so my overall sentiment was frustration – yes my own but also on behalf of all those men that Matt can SEE are reading but aren’t responding.

        Maybe what they are reading COULD be helpful if it was written different or from a different perspective or maybe if it didn’t seem like all the comments were just more ‘blah, blah, blah’ like he hears from his wife. If I were my husband, the last thing I’d want is to hang out in a forum where everyone was harping on me in the same fashion as my wife – regardless what the overarching message of the blogger’s posts was.

        I asked “okay, NOW WHAT?” and I’ve asked Matt that directly – we’ve had this conversation in the background so he knows it wasn’t me asking him – rather, I was asking the rest of you in the hopes that those anonymous guys lurking out there right now, frustrated because it’s just more of the same confusing crap that pushes them to hide behind their video games and work emails instead of doing something about the position they’ve just been notified they are in by wives halfway out the door.

        Maybe I’d have been smarter to disguise myself under a masculine moniker but I’m too transparent for that nonsense. But, it doesn’t mean there aren’t people (not just guys) who do need a more black & white, clear cut approach laid out for them to follow – even if it’s just the first two steps to take – following this thread.

        Like

      • Deanna says:

        Damn, I’m too quick to pull the trigger and there’s no way to edit – I meant to add that no man I’ve ever met would want to sift through these posts & subsequent comments to be told “oh, you want a roadmap – totally, go get this book” and I’ve met a lot of men. I mean, these are the same guys that can’t put the dish in the dishwasher right? I say that half jokingly but it’s a valid point to be made.

        Like

      • Lisa says:

        Deanna,

        You said
        “I meant to add that no man I’ve ever met would want to sift through these posts & subsequent comments to be told “oh, you want a roadmap – totally, go get this book” and I’ve met a lot of men. I mean, these are the same guys that can’t put the dish in the dishwasher right? I say that half jokingly but it’s a valid point to be made.”

        You know your husband best and I hope you find a resource like you are describing. I won’t recommend one :)

        I can tell you that my husband WOULD want a book recommendation if he had been looking for a roadmap on this blog or comments so not all men are the same in what would help them. I did not understand the context of the post correctly in the way your just explained it. I’m sorry that I added to your frustration.

        I hope you can what you need soon.

        Like

  17. The moment I show weakness, the moment I deviate from masculinity is the moment women start to dislike me.

    It’s not the rejection of my male peers that scare me – we’re all fucked up and know it. It’s the rejection of females. I’ve seen it time and time again. It’s not a ‘nice guys finish last’ but simply the resilient and strong guys who get the love. If you don’t have the strength, if you have problems of depression or anxiety kiss it goodbye. You’re not sexy.

    So yes, we men will keep killing ourselves. We have a choice. We don’t have to settle for a sexual orientation that only creates a need that can’t be satisfied.

    Suicide isn’t a bad thing. It’s a refusal to settle for a life we never asked for. If people can reject others sexually, it follows people can reject their own life.

    Like

    • Matt says:

      I want to make sure I’m understanding you before I settle on an opinion…

      Are you telling me that the bottom line in your life — the MOST-important thing, and the thing you use to measure your self-worth as a success or failure — is your perception of how many women like you or want to have sex with you?

      In your mind, that’s the end all, be all?

      And if women don’t like you as much as you think they should (and you’d never actually know, as a percentage, how many “should” or sometimes, whether they actually do — you’d just have to guess) then you think suicide is a sensible alternative?

      Did I accurately summarize your general stance on life, or am I misunderstanding you?

      Like

      • People clearly don’t want to live with sexual frustration. That’s why they chase after it, put effort into looking good and staying fit.

        So, it’s reasonable for a person to kill themselves over it. If they can’t satisfy the need, or don’t want to live with the need for sex, why must they push on? Their life is theirs.

        Isn’t it weird how people have a right to reject us, but we don’t have a right to reject our own lives?

        I don’t think women or men ‘should’ like or have sex with anyone. No one has a moral obligation to have sex.

        Keep in mind I don’t value life like other people. Life is this weird thing that was forced upon me and I never had a say. It’s a burden. Unless it’s worth it – the good stuff overpowers the bad – there is no reason to live it.

        Like

        • Matt says:

          Okay. I was misunderstanding you. And yes, on that we will agree: most people clearly don’t want to live with sexual frustration.

          I don’t think it’s “reasonable” to kill oneself over it, but I understand that you and I don’t necessarily weigh or value everything the same way.

          This is none of my business, so feel free to not answer it and tell me to piss off, but do you find that you always feel emotionally detached from others, even the people an outside observer might characterize as your friends?

          Are you generally unfazed by the deaths of people you know?

          I ask because (even though the word has been hijacked and thrown around as an insult), the things I’ve read and learned about sociopathic tendencies are fascinating.

          I am NOT calling you a sociopath, or asking whether you are one, and I certainly hope that doesn’t come off insulting.

          Learning empathy (which I spent 30 or more years not understanding or practicing to any significant degree) is something I perceive to be a huge breakthrough for me personally to be able to have “successful” relationships with women, family, friends, my son, my co-workers, etc. And I write about divorce a lot and I think the inability of couples to empathize with one another is at the very heart of why most people break up.

          But as I understand it, a person with sociopathic tendencies doesn’t have to fake stoicism at all. They actually ARE stoic, because they don’t really “feel” in the way people commonly experience it.

          And, ironically, in my attempt to empathize and understand where you’re coming from RE: “Keep in mind I don’t value life like other people. Life is this weird thing that was forced upon me and I never had a say. It’s a burden. Unless it’s worth it – the good stuff overpowers the bad – there is no reason to live it,” I was trying to figure out whether you, on a biological level, experience life fundamentally differently than I do.

          If life feels meaningless outside of hedonism — outside of your personal Good times vs. Bad times weigh scale — then I am capable of understanding how when there is more Bad than Good, the motivation to continue goes away.

          I won’t preach to you or act like I know anything, because I don’t KNOW a damn thing, but that final bit is largely a matter of faith.

          If when our final brain synapse stops firing, the lights shut off and the worms eat our bodies and nothing matters, then everything you’re saying makes sense to me.

          But if there’s more? If there’s a part of you that’s something more than just biological matter? Something of profound rarity and value (when you factor in how big this universe is, and just how few living things inhabit it…)?

          Maybe then you’d also agree there is a good reason to live it beyond how much fun we’re having, or how many girls want to unzip our pants.

          Thank you for writing back. There are several thousand comments on this blog, and I’ve never had an exchange like this one. I really appreciate you taking time to read this and talk about it even if you think there’s a lot of bullshit here.

          Like

          • I actually don’t believe in such nihilistic hedonism. Human beings are too intelligent for their own good. We need meanings. We need a grand purpose. Just because planet Earth looks small in one picture doesn’t make it meaningless. Just because something is temporary doesn’t mean it’s pointless.

            I just don’t think existence has value in and of itself. Living takes effort. I haven’t suffered from the need to be happy or the need for sex until I was born. So if someone is going to force into existence, it better be a good one. If I can’t manage to make it good or simply not interested it, I deserve the right to end it peacefully, cleanly and in a way that won’t leave the people around me traumatized.

            I know death is a harrowing experience, but I don’t think it trumps the right to die. There are plenty of women I’d love to have sex with, but I will only have sex with them if they want it, too. My sexual frustration is a terrible problem, but it puts no moral obligation on anyone to solve it. The same principle applies to suicide.

            I wouldn’t want any of my female friends to have sex with me against their will, just because the lack of sex is annoying. I wouldn’t want any of my friends to live against their will just because of my grief.

            People should support each other, but not in exchange for their rights.

            Like

            • Matt says:

              Yours is a viewpoint and philosophy I’ve never come across before. I poked around your blog a bit earlier and realized quickly that I’d mentally mislabled you with my internal-guess.

              You have an extraordinarily unique and interesting outlook (at least I perceive it to be so, but maybe a lot more people than I realize think and feel exactly as you do).

              Thank you for sharing here. I don’t know that I agree or even understand certain aspects of your beliefs, but I hope you’ll believe that I really appreciate you patiently and thoughtfully explaining them here.

              Like

              • In my experience, no, most people don’t have this outlook and can’t relate to me. I want to either grab life by its neck and live it to the fullest, or die by my own hand. Death or glory.

                I suggest reading in Ashspace.org (especially their archive of alt.suicide.bus.stop) for explanation of the pro-choice/suicidal mindset.

                Like

    • Lisa says:

      Hi Brain in a Jar,

      I hope you can find a good therapist to help you with your anxiety and depression. I can understand some of what it’s like and it sucks. It can and often does get better if you stay alive which is why suicide is not the answer to anything and causes so much pain to those that care about you. Please reach out and tell someone you are feeling hopeless.

      In terms of women, there are all kinds of women out there and I can tell you as someone who fell in love with a man with an anxiety disorder that it is absolutely wrong that women won’t love you if you have anxiety or depression. But you’ve got to get healthy first for yourself. Please don’t give up, try again and again until you get healthy.

      Best wishes!

      Like

    • anitvan says:

      Rejection hurts. My heart goes out to you and I hope one day you find healing.

      Like

  18. Donkey says:

    Thanks for this Matt, so much!

    I totally get that we as women/men/gender-fluid-people want to feel comfortable with our own gender identity, whatever that may be. So if a man as comfortableand happy being a man, that’s totally fine and healthy. Nothing wrong with that.

    But I’m so tired of the “man-card”-thinking. It’s so damaging to both men and women. It’s damaging to men, because everyhting that’s coded feminine for some effed up reason is now off limits so to speak. Including emotional intimacy with friends, taking responsibility for your mental and physical health, relationships skills and increasingly academic achievments on all levels. And of course, their marriages often go to shit, although they often don’t suffer the consequences until their wives leave them. And obviously, it’s so damaging for women who “have” to interact with and live with these damaged men.

    And it’s so damaging to women for another reason, and I would like some male input on this if anyone’s willing:

    Do y’all men think it’s nice for us women that being labeled as feminine, girly, a pussy a woman is pretty much the worst insult to a man? How do you think that makes us feel?! That such a sentral part of our very existence is somehow something despicable/weak/shameful? When you talk about feeling like a real man, losing your man card or whatever, don’t you see that the flip side of that means that everything about women is degraded, less-than, shameful? Do you think that’s great for OUR sense of self, to have heterosexual men going around being deathly afraid of having antyhing womanly/feminine associated with them, because that shame is almost/as bad as/worse than death?

    And yet women are told “ooh, we men love women, we think you’re great, we want to please you!” Yeah…. no. If you loved women, if you respected women, you wouldn’t feel like killing yoursel because someone said you throw “like a girl”, or that you’re a pussy (how the body part that delivers seven pounds babies is somehow associated with cowardice is beyond me, but whatever).

    I totally get that peer pressure kind of forces y’all into this kind of thinking and feeling. But owe up to it, dammit (like Matt is doing!)! You can’t both accurately claim to love and respect women, and still defend your man card with your life or something close to it. Nah ah.

    Like

    • Matt says:

      You bring up an awesome point, Donkey. Thank you. You wrote:

      “And it’s so damaging to women for another reason, and I would like some male input on this if anyone’s willing:
      Do y’all men think it’s nice for us women that being labeled as feminine, girly, a pussy a woman is pretty much the worst insult to a man? How do you think that makes us feel?! That such a sentral part of our very existence is somehow something despicable/weak/shameful? When you talk about feeling like a real man, losing your man card or whatever, don’t you see that the flip side of that means that everything about women is degraded, less-than, shameful? Do you think that’s great for OUR sense of self, to have heterosexual men going around being deathly afraid of having antyhing womanly/feminine associated with them, because that shame is almost/as bad as/worse than death?”

      I’ve said this out loud a bunch of times, and the guys always just stand there like apes not knowing how to respond. I’ve said this LONG before I was ever enlightened enough to write about some of the things I write about today.

      If a guy looks at another guy and says the equivalent of any of the following:

      “Stop whining like a girl.”

      “Need help cleaning the sand out of your vagina?”

      “Sorry, I didn’t know you sat down to pee.”

      … then he’s literally saying Being Like a Woman is Bad, Because Women are Less Than Men.

      And while I’m ABSOLUTELY guilty of some deep-seated accidental sexism and was for a long time oblivious to important concepts like emotional labor, I am never intentionally unfair.

      I do believe men and women are generally different. And I do believe those general differences position men and women to demonstrate proficiency at different things (but not the traditonal sexist crap, necessarily… all case-by-case), but there has never been, and will never be, any evidence that one gender is BETTER or MORE VALUABLE than the other when viewed on a macro- or even just “what’s the value of a person?” level.

      This is STILL happening in school, too, by the way.

      While I tout the advancements we have made societally in terms of racial equality and reducing (ignorant of its danger) tobacco use, I can’t argue that gender equality has kept pace.

      My second grader will never believe skin color equates to their value.

      He will never believe who other people love somehow makes them a better or worse person.

      He will (I’m only guessing) not grow up smoking with reckless abandon like me and some friends did.

      But he HAS bucked about doing “girl stuff.” I can’t remember the context.

      I only remember reminding him that one of the girls in his co-ed basketball league was a total badass with a much-better shot, and that several higher-ranking girls at his taekwondo studio would destroy him in a sparring match.

      If I can help it, my son won’t be poisoned with the ideas that are causing so many men to accidentally ruin their family lives today.

      Thanks for contributing, Donkey. I hadn’t seen your name for a while, and I was wondering whether I’d already bored you to death.

      Have a great day, please.

      Like

      • Lisa says:

        Yeah I totally agree it’s so ingrained that I still catch myself doing it. When I make a joke about my husband “crying like a little girl” on the roller coaster. When I joke about “manning up”. When my daughter comes home from Sunday school and says the boys were given Bible verses are being courageous and the girls were given verses about being loved and she says, girls can be courageous too! boys need to be loved too! Why did they give us different ones?

        It’s exhausting to be conscious of language but this stuff matters because it reveals the unconscious assumptions about gender that need to be challenged and changed as Donkey (hi donkey!) pointed out so well.

        Like

      • Donkey says:

        Ahh, thanks for thinking of me. You have not bored me to death, I am alive and reasonably alert. :)

        I’m VERY curious Matt, you wrote:
        “I’ve said this out loud a bunch of times, and the guys always just stand there like apes not knowing how to respond”. (Thank you so much for doing this by the way!)

        What do these guys eventually say?! Is it honestly the first time they’ve made that connection (“Being Like a Woman is Bad, Because Women are Less Than Men”), so they never realized they were having and acting out degrading attitudes regarding women? Or are they aware of their sexist attitudes and language, and the surprise has more to do with the validity of that sexisme being questioned by you (like, of course women are bad, what are you talking about)? Or something else?

        I have also very much been guilty of accidental sexism. We all have. And sometimes I’m aware and I still can’t stop the thoughts/feelings (which I think is very normal). And I think this definitely relates to women preferring taller men.

        Regarding your son, it’s great that he has you as an influence! And I also think that this stuff just gets absorbed by osmosis kind of. That’s why I get a bit tired of the good guy thing a lot of men tout: “oh, I’m a good guy, I would never set out to degrade/mistreat a woman, so you must be wrong in thinking that I’ve done so”. Well… hardly any man sits down and decides “I want to be a misogonyst”. It just get’s absorbed to some extent, like other social norms we’re surrounded by, and yes, then you DO become part of the problem, and doubly so if you’re not willing to see it even when it’s pointed out to you.

        Like

      • Donkey says:

        Hi Lisa! :)

        Liked by 1 person

    • Matthias Johnson says:

      I don’t think any man has killed himself because someone said he “throws like a girl” or he’s a ‘pussy’

      Men don’t want to be called women, because they’re not women. Actually thinking of it this way, there should be more empathy for transsexuals. It’s the equivalent of gender dysphoria, to a lesser degree. It’s not about one gender being less than the other, it’s about gender dimorphism in the brain. It’s the same reason women feel like “but does that make me lesse? I’m a woman! What about the fact I’m a woman” I think gender dysphoria is a human thing, most peoples gender dyshporia matches their body etc. All these symptoms we’re currently suffering from a species, between the genders, I’m beginning to believe are symptoms of having conciousness to such a high degree.

      Notice how much of these conversations are about our ‘sense of selves’

      Like

      • Donkey says:

        I was exaggerating. But not by much in some cases, as examplified by the story about Matt’s classmate. The need to feel part of the group is very strong in humans. I agree with your point about transsexuals, and I agree that part of not wanting to be called a woman/something associated with women (or a man if you’re a woman) is that that’s not the gender you identify with.

        But if you think it stops there, that there are no inherent women-are-less-than-attitudes involved when men insult eachother with all kinds of phrases like Matt mentioned in his reply to me, I will just have to disagree.

        I agree that women need to change their expectations of themselves, not just men. Actually, I mot not sure if you meant that women should change their expectations of men or women, but I would say both would be helpful.

        I would love to hear more about how you think men try expressing a sense of helplesness but are turned away (by both men and women I presume). Not that I don’t believe this happens, I do (it’s easy to be misunderstood when writing so I want to make it clear that I’m not being snarky), I would genuinely like a glimps into this part of the male experience.

        Have a nice day!

        Like

    • Travis B. says:

      Matt speaks a fair amount of truth here, but I daresay he may be coming down a little too harshly on men in this regard for my own personal tastes, and Matthias Johnson is flirting with something that feels truthful when he says, “Men don’t want to be called women, because they’re not women.”

      Firstly, this isn’t a one-way street of degradation. I have seen many women (my wife included) who are perhaps more interested in sports, or heavier sounding music, or what have you–the so-called “tomboys” and “tough chicks”–who grow up being called dudes/lesbians/dikes/chicks with dicks, et al. Oftentimes, these insults are hurled by males, but it’s not a tiny fraction that are thrown out by fellow females. Personally, I feel it goes beyond sexism or, more accurately, just like racism, or ageism, or pick-your-ism, it’s all routed in “fear of the other”. Fear of losing identity and community. We are all born into a society that has, rightfully or wrongfully, built itself up for centuries before us and still will be for centuries after we’re dust and we either naturally fit in and feel comfortable with its structure or we don’t. For men who do, they see feminine things as “different” and not of the prescribed male identity and community.

      I’d argue it’s less an issue of males calling out a peer who does not feel comfortable in society’s pre-selected clothes of masculinity for being feminine because women are “lesser” than men so much as because they’re the “opposite” of men. They’re the “other”. The outlier male has, to their eyes, lost or abandoned his prescribed identity, he is a runt of the litter who doesn’t belong in the community with those who know their place and don’t fight it. But I’ll tell you something, and I believe this very fervently–deep, deep within all heterosexual men, I believe, in a place none of us like to look, a place that we feel rather ashamed to look, in fact, is the crushing understanding that, in most ways, women are stronger, more capable and enduring creatures than men, and if not for the fact that (more often than not) we have the power to subdue women physically, women could swallow us whole and spit out the seeds. In fact, I think most men understand in the deep, dark hollow of their souls that if it wasn’t for our inherent physical advantages (the “honey, can you help me open this jar of pickles?” principle), there would be precious little reason for women to even spare us a passing thought, much less partner through life with us. So how could it be an insult to call someone a woman if men privately exalt them? How could we ever love women if we’re all wired to think so little of them? I’m sure there will be many who vehemently disagree with me, but I’ll bang the drum until I die that men have belittled, subjugated and marginalized women throughout history only because of our collective-but-private panicked fear that, one day, you’re all going to harness your innate power and the entire race of men will instantly be rendered inert and superfluous. So again, just as I don’t like being on the receiving end of comparisons like “you’re as soft as ice cream!”, even though I love ice cream, or “you’re as dumb as a brick!”, when I love the look of brick houses, I don’t want to be told, “you’re not like a man, but like a woman/a gay guy/a child/an old grandpa, etc.” It’s not a sexist, racist, ageist, etc. thing, not at its fundamental core. It’s a fear of not living up to what we’ve been told is expected of us, and the stark terror of realizing, if I am unwilling or unable to follow the role of being a male as society has codified it, then with what community can I find acceptance? I may not be a so-called “real” man, but neither am I not a man.

      Like

      • wiseoldlady says:

        Yowza! There is so much good stuff here, I’m speechless, … er, wordless for the moment. But I’ll be back once I’ve pondered.

        Like

      • Donkey says:

        Hey Travis B! Very interesting post. I learn a lot from you.

        I can’t agree with you all the way though.

        Generally speaking, It’s much more socially acceptable for a girl to practice martial arts than it is for a boy to do ballet. It’s much more socially acceptable for a woman to be an engineer than it is for a man to be a nurse. Because “boy”-stuff is cool, and “girl”-stuff is less than. It’s not just a question of other-ing. Definitely, women also shame other women who don’t conform, but who do you think faces more laughter and judgement by their peer group in these example, the boy and the man or the girl and the woman? Because “boy”-stuff is cool, and “girl”-stuff is less than.

        When being called a woman, a pussy means being a coward, the thought behind it isn’t “you don’t behave the way a man should, you behave like a woman which is not ok even though women are just as good as men”. Being called a woman, a pussy is straight up an insult because women are less than men. Cowardice isn’t just “other”, it’s inherently negatively loaded, and it’s associated with women by a lot of men.

        You say: “So how could it be an insult to call someone a woman if men privately exalt them? How could we ever love women if we’re all wired to think so little of them? I’m sure there will be many who vehemently disagree with me, but I’ll bang the drum until I die that men have belittled, subjugated and marginalized women throughout history only because of our collective-but-private panicked fear that, one day, you’re all going to harness your innate power and the entire race of men will instantly be rendered inert and superfluous”.

        I get that you believe that this may be behand all the woman-as-insult-stuff. I’ll keep beating the drum though, that I think it has, to a very large extent, to do with everything being associated with women/femininity being degraded since we became farmers or whatever and men needed to control women to make sure their heir was biologically theirs (or something like that). Apparently we were pretty egalitarian in hunter-gather-times, and the Bonobos (just as close a relative as the patriarchal and violent chimps) are matriarchal.

        But I have to admit, I do feel flattered by your point. And maybe you are right, to some extent (aren’t I generous, hehe). The hobby-psychologist in me loves this, that all the women-are-shit-you’re-a-woman-hahaha-stuff is a way of covering up a deep sense of being less than, a deep fear of being left behind by women.

        …but as much as your point may flatter and appeal to MY unhealthy ego, I just can’t really buy it. It’s been established on this blog that just as men are capeable of being CEOs and presidents, men are also capeable of all kinds of things associated with women traditionally, including housework, logistics of housework, carework. What’s left (other than pregnancy, birtht and breastfeeding, which certainly shouldn’t be discounted as a contribution to the human race, I’m just excluding it here since y’all menfolk can’t do that) – that’s mostly the strength of women that y’all feel is so valuable and that you don’t have nearly as much of and therefore are in fact less-than-women? Emotional depth? This seems to be one of the things not considered “manly” and therefeore not acceptable to men these days (which I think is a great tragedy). But come on, haven’t any of you read poetry or novels by some of the great male authors? Whitman, Proust, Rainer Marie Rilke, Shakespeare, Flaubert (I’m western-centric here, I know). How about all the painters and composers? Seems to me that men’s capacity for emotional and spiritual depth and creativity isn’t lacking at all! (And just to be clear, if women had the same opportunities and social and emotional climate in which to create art, I’m sure there would have been many more female artists)

        Other than emotional depth, what’s left? Beauty? Have you seen David by Michelangelo? Or Johnny Depp or that guy from Prison Break (I know he’s gay but whatevs). Now those are some beautiful humans!

        I just think you’re selling men short here Travis B, and I also think that putting women on a pedestal can be a way of cutting men slack that they shouldn’t have cut for them (or however one should express that). Like, “oooh, women are just so inherently wonderful at creating a beautiful home that runs smoothly and where everyone has their feelings considered, that’s so great, why don’t you ladiiez keep doing that while I watch TV, y’all are just priceless I could never do what you do”. I know YOU’RE NOT saying this Travis, I’m not trying to be rude (I’m trying to be funny) but I think it’s very easy to start thinking and really believing stuff like that. I do think there are differences between men and women that aren’t a result of nurture, but I’m not sure what they are, I don’t think we can know until society is very equal. And I think they’re quite small, especially when it comes to our inherent…wonderfulness.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Lisa says:

        Donkey,

        I second everything you said with the possible exception of the prison break guy because I’ve never seen the show. :)

        Like

      • Travis B. says:

        “When being called a woman, a pussy means being a coward, the thought behind it isn’t “you don’t behave the way a man should, you behave like a woman which is not ok even though women are just as good as men”. Being called a woman, a pussy is straight up an insult because women are less than men. Cowardice isn’t just “other”, it’s inherently negatively loaded, and it’s associated with women by a lot of men.”

        I agree that it is a straight up insult, at least on the surface, but what drives the sentiment? Is it true disgust at women? A deep-seated belief that they are lesser creatures, even–on some level–sub-human? Sorry, that just doesn’t wash with me. There is far too much evidence of man’s fascination with, and exaltation of, women throughout history for that to ring true. Even if someone were to cynically boil that down to just a surface-level, sexually-motivated infatuation, I’d have to riposte with, why would any mentally healthy man want to stick his dick in something below and beneath him (in estimation, mind you, not actual sexual position…*drumroll*, *cymbal crash*)? If we found women so innately deplorable, wouldn’t we all be gay? No, I would argue that, just like the youth and the old-timer who insult each other, or the heterosexual and the homosexual, or the black and the white, or the Democrat and the Republican, or the rich and the poor, et al, there is some deep-seated, cancerous fear at the heart of the insult. We feign disgust because we’re really afraid that the person we’ve demeaned has discovered, and is made stronger by, some great truth to which we are still blind. Men have built cities for centuries, we’ve trekked every ocean to reach the four corners of the globe, we’ve fought great wars, we’ve created, altered and demolished nations, we’ve touched the Moon. We men are Terrible Creatures with Great Power. And yet all it takes is a woman to utterly decimate us, to crumble us into just so much useless dust. One day, womankind will fully grasp the full flower of its innate power, and it will turn its internal dissensions of who has the best man/most exceptional child/most extraordinary beauty/most delightful personality/most outstanding career outward from its fellow sisters and, on that day, men will tremble in the shadows at your terrible might.

        “…but as much as your point may flatter and appeal to MY unhealthy ego, I just can’t really buy it. It’s been established on this blog that just as men are capeable of being CEOs and presidents, men are also capeable of all kinds of things associated with women traditionally, including housework, logistics of housework, carework. What’s left (other than pregnancy, birtht and breastfeeding, which certainly shouldn’t be discounted as a contribution to the human race, I’m just excluding it here since y’all menfolk can’t do that) – that’s mostly the strength of women that y’all feel is so valuable and that you don’t have nearly as much of and therefore are in fact less-than-women? Emotional depth? This seems to be one of the things not considered “manly” and therefeore not acceptable to men these days (which I think is a great tragedy). But come on, haven’t any of you read poetry or novels by some of the great male authors? Whitman, Proust, Rainer Marie Rilke, Shakespeare, Flaubert (I’m western-centric here, I know). How about all the painters and composers? Seems to me that men’s capacity for emotional and spiritual depth and creativity isn’t lacking at all!

        Neither I, nor Matt, ever spoke to men having an absence of emotional or spiritual depth. What is being spoken to is men having an absence of societal support for expression of those things in a context that allows them to still be recognized as, and a defining characteristic of, being “manly”. You speak of great poets and painters, but are any of them considered “manly”? I would argue not. They are famous for their talents, but rarely heralded as measuring sticks of alpha-male purity. I daresay if a typical man told another typical man of his love of the poetry of the Bard, or of the breathtaking beauty of Michaelangelo’s paintings and sculptures, he’d be labeled a ‘queer’ and the conversation would quickly be pulled back to discussion of something on Spike TV.

        (Generally speaking) Woman mature faster than men. Women live longer than men. Women have more robust social networks than men. Women are more comfortable with processing emotion, and being fueled by a greater range of them, than men. Women have the power to hold a child in their womb. Women are more naturally in tune/linked with their offspring than men. Women are better at studies and learning than men. Women are driven to perceive the world in greater depth than men (don’t believe me–watch a group of male friends interact for more than ten minutes without work, sports, pop culture, beer or sex coming up). Women’s bodies are more aesthetically pleasing than the streamlined and functional man’s. On every level you wish to analyze, save for raw physical strength, women meet or exceed what men can bring to the table. I’m telling you (and even you touched on it with your words “men needed to control women”) that men have kept their collective thumbs pressed on women throughout history, almost always via some direct or implied threat of physical harm, because we are secretly terrified that our physical strength is our one sad, singular virtue over the so-called fairer sex.

        Like

      • Donkey says:

        Thank you Travis.

        You say: “What is being spoken to is men having an absence of societal support for expression of those things in a context that allows them to still be recognized as, and a defining characteristic of, being “manly”. You speak of great poets and painters, but are any of them considered “manly”? I would argue not”

        I agree, the poets and painters aren’t considered manly. But I’m wondering why there’s this need to be considered “manly”. I’m saying it has to do with the degradation of the feminine in our culture since…. a long time a go. You say 1.) that the need to be considered manly is the need to really be part of the group where one belong (you’re a man, you want to be accepted by men).

        Here come’s what I’m really wondering: are you also saying that 2.) The surface level is degradation of women, but at the heart of it as a deep fear men have that women are infact and will someday realize that. So all that man-card stuff, the need to be considered manly by one’s peers is not just a way of being part of a group, but a sort of silent collective contract between men to continue to tout their superiority over women as to protect themselves from their collective fear that women are better?

        You say: “(Generally speaking) Woman mature faster than men. Women live longer than men. Women have more robust social networks than men. Women are more comfortable with processing emotion, and being fueled by a greater range of them, than men. Women have the power to hold a child in their womb. Women are more naturally in tune/linked with their offspring than men. Women are better at studies and learning than men. Women are driven to perceive the world in greater depth than men (don’t believe me–watch a group of male friends interact for more than ten minutes without work, sports, pop culture, beer or sex coming up). Women’s bodies are more aesthetically pleasing than the streamlined and functional man’s. On every level you wish to analyze, save for raw physical strength, women meet or exceed what men can bring to the table”.

        I just don’t agree. Yes, women mature a little faster, and live a little longer and can be pregnant and breastfeed (but only for part of our lives mind you). While the average woman today probably perceives the world in greater depth, and have greater social network and bond better with their kids, I think that’s because of nurture, not nature. That was what I was trying to get at with naming some of the great male artists and authors for instance. Men are obviously capeable of this! These aren’t inherent qualities of women, so there’s no need to feel that men are somehow less than. The problem isn’t with men’s capabilities, the problem is that we live in a sexist culture where all this is considered feminine/womanly and is therefore degraded an off limits to men (it’s not considered manly as you say). If the girl school and boy school of life were truly the same, men would have emotional depth at the same level as women, men would have as broad social networks as women, men would bond easily with their offspring and so on.

        I remember reading something by some sexist male author once. He wrote of the deep (non sexual) intimacy he had with his male friend (quite beautiful really). And then proceeded to talk about how the womenz just aren’t capeable of this, because they lack the necessaary depth or intelligence or whatever. :p
        So while women are probably better at this on average in our society, I think that’s cultural, not inherent. Just like this author was wrong in assuming that women inherently aren’t good at it, I think you’re wrong if you think that men are inherently worse at it than women.

        And this is sort off point, but I must object to what you say about men’s more utalitarian lines. As to who’s more beautiful, well that’s in the eye of the beholder now isn’t it. :) And women’s bodies are just as useful. Yes, we lack your physical strength, and yes we can carry a baby and breastfeed, but we didn’t evolve on the Serengeti just to be pregnant and look pretty. We can walk a long time, our extra fat helps protect us and the human race frome extinction when times are lean (probably helps us keep the baby if we’re pregnant), we have, on average, a better sense of smell, taste, and hearing, and we’re more flexible. I’m sure all of that came in handy in hunter-gatherer times aswell. :)

        Liked by 1 person

      • Travis B. says:

        “Here come’s what I’m really wondering: are you also saying that 2.) The surface level is degradation of women, but at the heart of it as a deep fear men have that women are infact and will someday realize that. So all that man-card stuff, the need to be considered manly by one’s peers is not just a way of being part of a group, but a sort of silent collective contract between men to continue to tout their superiority over women as to protect themselves from their collective fear that women are better?”

        In a nutshell, yes, that scores a direct hit on what I’m saying, though I believe in very large part, this is a subconscious, not overt, drive in males. And I actually believe that everybody on Earth, not just men, suffer some version of this drive to assert a kind of superiority over others (women: men are stupid knuckle-draggers; whites: blacks are sub-human and criminally minded; older citizens: today’s youth are shallow, lazy know-nothings, et al) to try to assuage an inner shame or concern that those of us who are different know (and are made stronger for it) a truth that we don’t. People aren’t commonly driven to challenge the truly weak; we challenge what we fear may have a real chance at winning out over us.

        “I just don’t agree. Yes, women mature a little faster, and live a little longer and can be pregnant and breastfeed (but only for part of our lives mind you). While the average woman today probably perceives the world in greater depth, and have greater social network and bond better with their kids, I think that’s because of nurture, not nature. That was what I was trying to get at with naming some of the great male artists and authors for instance. Men are obviously capeable of this! These aren’t inherent qualities of women, so there’s no need to feel that men are somehow less than. The problem isn’t with men’s capabilities, the problem is that we live in a sexist culture where all this is considered feminine/womanly and is therefore degraded an off limits to men (it’s not considered manly as you say). If the girl school and boy school of life were truly the same, men would have emotional depth at the same level as women, men would have as broad social networks as women, men would bond easily with their offspring and so on. I think you’re wrong if you think that men are inherently worse at it than women.”

        On this point, Donkey, you and I are actually incomplete agreement, so forgive me if my spotty writing suggested I believe men are inherently, biologically inferior to women. In most cases, I don’t believe that at all. Much more often than not, and by virtually every important criteria, I believe that men and women are fully equal in their capabilities. Like you, I believe that the inconsistencies between what is easy or normal for men vs. women is explained nearly entire by culture and society. I believe girls learn better than boys in traditional schools because traditional schools cater to female learning styles. That stunted and problematic learning paradigm also feeds our tendency to mature at a delayed rate. Added to this is the fact that the entertainment industry caters to the hand that feeds it, and the money teenage boys make doesn’t have many bills to which it belongs, so pop culture in general (and increasingly) feeds male infantilism. The breeding of this endless childhood for men puts them in a situation where they are less suited and feel less connected to raising offspring because, in their heart of hearts, they’re still kids themselves. The fact that women have broader social networks probably began back in the caveman days, when they were clustered together for cave care and raising of the village’s children and had opportunity to share of themselves with each other. And without much beyond rote tasks to get through day after day, that probably offered ample opportunity for theoretical discussions about things larger than the dull duties of the day. Contrast that with the hunter men, who on a daily basis, were focused on life-threatening tasks. There would have been comparatively little time for rich, textured conversation. From the very beginning, male brawn has forced us into a dynamic of worrying about tasks and focusing on action steps. Women have had the luxury of putting energy toward communal dialog, theoretical wonderings, and all things outside of the specific moment in time in which they found themselves. Depending on the societal situation throughout time, women either weren’t allowed, or weren’t best suited to be an active part of the “outside world”, so they were able to become much practiced and cultured at spending time in their “inside worlds”.

        So I believe you and I are simpatico when I say that this, by and large, is not an issue of nature, but nurture. But this nurture, this cultural/sociological agenda of placing everyone in very codified gender expectations, has been going on for thousands and thousands of years. It runs deep down into the marrow of all of our bones, and to try to effect change means individuals attempting to press against the crushing weight of millenia. I don’t think it’s gone so far as to be hard-wired via evolution into our genetic code, which would represent a bleed-over from nurture into nature, but it’s still something we almost surely can’t just shrug off in a single generation or two. So, again, though it may irritate the snot out of some of the readers here, my interest always pushes past theory into the question of practical application–what can I glean from this that I can put into practice? Is the gender divide composed of mostly ill-thought, impractical, outdated and even self-destructive societal norms? 100%. But it is the reality of where the human race still finds itself now. It’s one thing to say, “Cast off the irons of gender expectations society has shackled you in, ye good men of the land!”, but the fact remains that it’s going to be a very slow sea change and many of us are going to have to live awkward, shunned lives, filled with derision and disgust by a majority of the peers of our gender, and even of many members of the opposite agenda, before the majority becomes the minority. For now, and throughout history, the posh, private School of Life women go through is not the same Title 1 public school men go through and until it is, what Matt’s talking about resonates, and is a very real struggle for our gender. Take it from a heterosexual man who lives in Oklahoma (cowboy kuntry!) and hates sports, guns, car and lawn care, and just about all of society’s other big dick measuring sticks, but will sure spend a ton of time participating on a blog that focuses on relationships.

        “And this is sort off point, but I must object to what you say about men’s more utalitarian lines. As to who’s more beautiful, well that’s in the eye of the beholder now isn’t it. :) And women’s bodies are just as useful. Yes, we lack your physical strength, and yes we can carry a baby and breastfeed, but we didn’t evolve on the Serengeti just to be pregnant and look pretty. We can walk a long time, our extra fat helps protect us and the human race frome extinction when times are lean (probably helps us keep the baby if we’re pregnant), we have, on average, a better sense of smell, taste, and hearing, and we’re more flexible. I’m sure all of that came in handy in hunter-gatherer times aswell. :)”

        I sure didn’t mean to imply that women’s bodies, by virtue of being more aesthetically pleasing, are somehow less structurally sound. Simply stated, it’s just that men are built more for function, whereas women are built with a more even spread of form and function. I equate it to women’s bodies being like ’50s cars, with eye-catching curves, shapes and dramatic lines, whereas men are built like ’70s cars, all straight lines, streamlined and boxy. Sure, ultimately, they’re both just cars; they’ll both get you where you gotta go in the same manner, with the same capability. But pull a crowd of random people together and ask them which is sexier to the eye, ’50s car body styles or ’70s, and I’m willing to bet a paycheck very few hands will go up for the bland, functional ’70s ones. Even a lot of women, my wife included, concede that women’s bodies have a lot more aesthetically compelling elements to them. Notice how it’s becoming more and more common for otherwise heterosexual women to playfully make out with each other these days (Katy Perry’s “I Kisses a Girl” principle at work)? You’ll never see that with two heterosexual men, not just because of basic homophobia, which certainly plays an appreciable part, but because men don’t really see much visual appeal in other men. We get that the male body can be “beautiful” in a “sculpture of David” kind of way, but sorry, I stand by it–the way women are built is where it’s at, LOL!

        Liked by 1 person

      • Donkey says:

        Thank you Travis, for taking the time to reply to my questions/comments/concerns! Seems like we agree on a lot.

        It’s very intersting to read your speculations about women having more rote tasks (although women certainly faced life-threatening situations during birth and probably had their hands full a lot of the time with small kids) and could focus more on the emotional depth of ourselves and each other. Maybe you’re right about this. But I would argue that in later times though, with many women being “shackled” more or less to the home and care of children, men (probably only of the upper classes though!) had more opportunities to philosophize and develop their intellectual lives.

        I think the mental and emotional burden of not only doing the domestic work,but being the one that is the CEO of the home (as has been talked about so much here on this blog) is a signifcant reason as to why more women don’t lean more in career wise today. Most people just can’t deal with both,- have so much responisbilities and things to remember at home and at work, and having to deal with the additional resentment and grief that the partner won’t step up and both do and be responsible for half.

        I have to agree with you though, I do know many heterosexual women who find women more beautiful than men, even if they are attracted to men. Maybe it’s because we’re all culturally indoctrined to associate beauty with women (didn’t the ancient Greeks consider the male body more beautiful?), but maybe not. Who knows.

        Like

      • Travis B. says:

        “But I would argue that in later times though, with many women being ‘shackled’ more or less to the home and care of children, men (probably only of the upper classes though!) had more opportunities to philosophize and develop their intellectual lives.”

        Perhaps. So now all those men have working against them is millenia of never doing it that way. ;-)

        “Maybe it’s because we’re all culturally indoctrined to associate beauty with women (didn’t the ancient Greeks consider the male body more beautiful?)”

        You’ll note that’s a dead culture, LOL!

        Like

  19. Matthias Johnson says:

    As a reply to this post, I don’t believe the shame is proof of guilt, necessarily. I think the shame comes from the fact that many men are expressing themselves and being willfully ignored. I don’t think it’s the case for many men that they’re turning to escasim so they don’t lose their man card. I think many men have TRIED expressing some sense of helplessness they may feel, only to be met with people who turn the other cheek. That isn’t to say they don’t end up perputrating the cycle with behaviours that lead to their wives eventually leaving them, and that they’re not resposibile. But I don’t think it’s as simple as men not wanting to lose their man cards. If you express yourself enough and yet enough people turn the other cheek, you’re going to start feeling shame about it.

    It isn’t just men who need to look and change their expectations of themselves, it’s women too.

    Like

  20. April Jagger says:

    One of your best! Goes right to the heart of male-female relationships are the causes and consequences of their failure. Bravo!

    Liked by 1 person

  21. […] Must Be This Tall Ride , Matt  Just delightful, honest, poignant, powerful. He’s just written a post called The Death of Manhood. […]

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  22. Julie says:

    Well done. I’m happy to report that I see things changing. My daughter’s male friends seem less interested in maintaining the traditional Man Card than the men of my generation (of course “seem” may be in operation to some extent). To me it looks like they are redefining, expanding the definition of manhood. This post is also evidence. Even my hub – who is of a generation deeply steeped – is less concerned with toeing the line. Probably because his wife is awesome. :)

    Like

  23. zombiedrew2 says:

    Lots of great conversation in here. Travis made the comment “this entire article’s theme is built upon men’s unwillingness/inability to seek help”, and I think that’s true, and is at the root of *part* of the problem. Boys are raised to believe that they need to be “strong”, and part of that perception of strength is this broken notion that emotions are bad – we shouldn’t cry, we shouldn’t ever show that we actually feel. In so many ways both big and small, showing emotion is seen as emasculating – and that makes us feel pain. But because we aren’t supposed to express that pain, we bottle it up and hide it. We never learn how to deal with things in a healthy way.

    When we eventually get married, these things that are part of how we were raised become sources of conflict in our marriages. We distance our wives and invalidate them, because we were doing exactly what we were taught to do. And by this point, we don’t know how to do anything different. So is it really any surprise that it takes a failing marriage for guys to start to “get” a female perspective?

    When you look at the view of masculinity and gender roles, it seems horribly unhealthy and broken for guys. So the obvious solution for men is to start to remove the stigma associated with emotions. Start talking, start accepting our emotions. Start being willing to look for help when needed. Stop looking at the more “feminine” sides of things as being less, or being unacceptable for men.

    Now here’s the paradox for guys…

    although guys were raised with these notions of what a man is, so were women. Women also see these things as characteristics of men, and often those are things that they are subconsciously looking for. I’ve seen dating profiles where women talk about looking for a man who will make them feel safe, and protected. On average, if you have two guys that are virtually identical women will still go for the one who is taller first.

    The way I see it, some of the same characteristics that initially attract us are the same ones that can also cause issues.

    And this happens with femininity as well. Honestly, I think the traditional views of femininity are just as broken as the one of masculinity. But that’s a whole other topic.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Donkey says:

      – “Women also see these things as characteristics of men”
      – “some of the same characteristics that initially attract us are the same ones that can also cause issues”
      – “I think the traditional views of femininity are just as broken as the one of masculinity”.

      I agree with you all the way!

      What I find confusing though is this concept that men shouldn’t ask for help, they should be able to handle everything themselves and so on…But that certainly doesn’t seem to be the deal when it comes to both the practicalities and the logistics of the household and caring for children! (Yes yes, not all men). As has been stated on this blog several times, boys are trained in many ways to not see everything that needs to be done, not feel like it’s their job and, and girls absorb that the state of their homes reflect strongly on their value as a person and so on. Some men view housework as degrading women’s work, some men are clueless.

      I just wanted to state that this thing that men should be able to be independent, self sufficient, competent and all of that isn’t a general thing. It seems to only be valid (and I mean valid as in a strong social norm that’s enacted by many) in some areas, not in all.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Travis B. says:

        Not saying anything here is incorrect, but I think you may be speaking “apples” to Matt’s “oranges”. As I read it, this post is constrained specifically to men’s inability to ask for help in matters of heart, in matters tied to emotional vulnerability, in matters that negatively affect the perception (both from within and from without) of our inherent “manliness”. For most men, our concept of manliness is in no way tied to housework, and in only certain ways tied to child care (more from a rearing standpoint, less from a maintenance one).

        Like

      • Lisa says:

        Well, to speak to the question at hand, I think you have to put Matt’s statement back in the context of the greater article. Perhaps it becomes clearer if you’ll allow me to make a very minor, but perhaps helpful, editorial tweak to Matt’s sentence construction:

        “We never just say: ‘For the same reason I don’t know how to design rocket engines and navigation computers for space shuttles, I also don’t know all there is to know about how to feel great about my life and have successful relationships with my wife and kids and friends and self.’

        We choose the bottle or a gun or a pill or a mask, instead of what we should do, WHICH IS learn the rules of the game so we can have fun and play competently.”

        In other words, this entire article’s theme is built upon men’s unwillingness/inability to seek help, their self-inflicted duty of shouldering all the work of figuring out adult life with precious little training or outside input. As has been pointed out, women are accultured differently in this respect. Women’s social networks tend to be broader and, even when not, they certainly traffic in richer, deeper, more emotionally vulnerable conversations than men’s social networks. Women also reach out to relationship-based articles, books and informational programming in exponentially greater numbers than men. Quite simply, the “teachers” are of much better quality at women’s School of Adult Life and the students do a shitload more homework on the subjects which matter. Over at the men’s School of Life, there have been a lot of budget cuts, we tend to be left with a bunch of who-gives-a-shit substitute teachers, and it’s gym class all damn day long. Matt is entreating men to “learn the rules of the game” by “doing the homework” of learning about, and talking about relationships, with as much energy as we devote to sports, beer, sci-fi/horror/action cinema, comic books, video games, lawn and car care, and ogling “hot chicks”–in being able to admit that there are many things we don’t know, things that we’re not even in a particularly strong position to make sense of, and that we need help from someone–men, women, people smarter than us, people with more practice than us–and that asking for such help does not make us weak, but simply “arms” us with more “ammunition” to kick Adult’s Life’s ass and take names.

        Travis you said in a comment above somewhere:

        “I have further concern that it appears that, rather than using this blog as an opportunity to understand the general (and, yes, sometimes stereotypical) male mindset and thereby gain some empathy (though not necessarily sympathy) for our unique struggles in the marital process, as well as some vital insights that can help her make productive shifts in how she approaches solution-building with her husband, all too often certain female readers want to use it as a way to further judge or blame men (which I can’t say is unfair, necessarily, but I can say it’s mighty unproductive), or as grounds to fight for some kind of twisted equality (I’m often bemused and a little saddened to see how many times women here are hell-bent on making an argument along the lines of, “Well, sure maybe genes/upbringing/culture screwed men up, but genes/upbringing/culture screwed us up, too, so that’s no excuse!”; okay, so now that you’ve proven you can piss as far as the big boys, what now? Your marriage is still broken, right? Want to fix it now, or do you just want to win the pissing contest?), but I digress.”

        I have no idea if Donkey and I are on your list of unapproved women commenters but I found your comment…strangely puzzling.

        Like

      • Lisa says:

        let me try to copy and paste again lol

        Travis you said in a comment above somewhere:

        “I have further concern that it appears that, rather than using this blog as an opportunity to understand the general (and, yes, sometimes stereotypical) male mindset and thereby gain some empathy (though not necessarily sympathy) for our unique struggles in the marital process, as well as some vital insights that can help her make productive shifts in how she approaches solution-building with her husband, all too often certain female readers want to use it as a way to further judge or blame men (which I can’t say is unfair, necessarily, but I can say it’s mighty unproductive), or as grounds to fight for some kind of twisted equality (I’m often bemused and a little saddened to see how many times women here are hell-bent on making an argument along the lines of, “Well, sure maybe genes/upbringing/culture screwed men up, but genes/upbringing/culture screwed us up, too, so that’s no excuse!”; okay, so now that you’ve proven you can piss as far as the big boys, what now? Your marriage is still broken, right? Want to fix it now, or do you just want to win the pissing contest?), but I digress.”

        I have no idea if Donkey and I are on your list of unapproved women commenters but I found your comment…strangely puzzling.

        Like

      • Donkey says:

        1. Yes Travis, seems that we agree on this, the not-asking-for-help-man-code only applies to some things, not all.

        2. This is in response to what Travis B wrote that Lisa reposted: I have no idea wether or not I’m one of those commenters you’re thinking of Travis. I can only say that for me, discussing all of this, including saying things like you wrote “well, sure maybe genes/upbringing/culture screwed men up, but genes/upbringing/culture screwed us up, too, so that’s no excuse” IS a way of learning more about men and learning to empathize with them! Sometimes I just want to make sure that the “facts” (like even though your male identity isn’t tied up with housework that isn’t an excuse for not doing your fair share) are on the table even while I try to understand the sometimes stereotypical male point of view. I assure you, I definitely want to understand the more typical male mindset. That’s why I try to pick your brain! I can’t speak for all the ladies here, but if this my approach, I’m guessing many have a similar one. So maybe you’re worrying unnecessarily Travis. :) Sometimes writing stuff out is a way of sorting my thoughts and solidifiying in my brain what I HAVE learnt here aswell.

        And yes, sometimes I write because I do want the menz here to understand a probably more typical female point of view aswell. I figure that both men and women want to learn something from eachother here, and that reading comments by different men and women explaining their feelings/thinking on all of thisis helpful for a lot of folks, both the ladies and the gentlemen.

        Like

      • Travis B. says:

        Lisa, I sincerely apologize if my words caused you any alarm or perception of negative judgment. Please believe me when I say not a single individual is on my “radar” as an (using your phrase) unapproved women commentator. Firstly, I can’t imagine anyone here needs or should seek my approval. What I spoke to was less individual-specific and more just a general observation that I see a lot of responses around here from females to the effect of, “Nope, Matt, not buying it. Woman are just as good at/just as fucked up at this thing as men, so try again.” Personally, that always frustrates me because it puts the focus on what I believe to be the wrong thing. Just as Matt always talks about moving men from a point of trying to understand why a woman feels the way that she does about Issue X (or worse, trying to get her to shift her feelings over to the way he feels about Issue X) to simply accepting and validating that she does and working from that point. I see those moments as ones where women would benefit from spending less effort on challenging the “worth” or legitimacy of our male mindset and simply accepting and validating it, as baseless and untenable as it may be to the female mind, as our Truth so they can effectively work within that paradigm. To me, it’s the difference between someone who feels there isn’t enough time in the day not accepting that it must be 24 hours and, therefore, spending the rest of their life trying to find a way to alter the Earth’s orbit around the Sun, or accepting the 24 hour standard as an axiom and changing their time-management behaviors to better maximize the day.

        All this said, please, I hope I haven’t offended you and want to assure you no one here is on some kind of personal black list. Consider my digression a venting of a pet peeve, not an attempt at assassinating anyone’s character.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Donkey says:

        Travis B and Lisa (and everyone) seems like we’re all friends here. Yay! (Can y’all feel the oxytocin flowing?)

        Like

      • Lisa says:

        Donkey,

        You said
        “Travis B and Lisa (and everyone) seems like we’re all friends here. Yay! (Can y’all feel the oxytocin flowing?)”

        I’m don’t feel unfriendly at all. I’m just trying to clear some things up and make sure that women commenters who happen to disagree are treated with respect. I think it is good to have lively discussions.m and respectful disagreements. I’m not conflict avoidant as you can probably tell :).

        Like

      • Donkey says:

        …well I’m a bit conflict avoidant Lisa. ;) Regarding what you wrote further down, I can only agree with you once more. To me, intention matters only so far. When an adult person dismisses their partner again and again and again and again, even if they do it because it just doesn’t add up in their brain, they don’t mean to hurt anyone and all of that, it’s not innocent to me. And yes, women and men do it. I’ve done it. It’s great to understand how we all have these blindspots by becoming aware of our own, and that can help us forgive ourselves and other people, but still. And I relate to what you say about improving accuracy. That was what I was trying to get at when I wrote about getting the facts on the table or whatever it is I wrote.

        Like

    • Donkey says:

      …and regarding what you say Travis B, I think when women have a hard time accepting the more typical male point of view and moving on from there, similar mechanisms may be at work as when men can’t understand why a dish by the sink would hurt his female partner, so he just rejects it over and over (She’s wrong. She’s just exaggerating because she has a bad day or is anxious/depressed in general. She needs to get a handle on that shit, THAT’s our problem. No one sane can really think that this is a problem).

      Some (not all!) of what you guys (I mean in general, not singling anyone out here) say is just so freaking unbelieable to me, and I have thought stuff like (don’t read this if you’re easily offended, it won’t be pretty, but perhaps enlightening in some way): “That can’t be, this guy must be an exception. No one who can walk and talk and write can be that STUPID and clueless. He must be doing it on purpose or at least working very hard on preserving his priviliged blindness. I couldn’t be that blind if I tried. How INSENSITIVE can you be?! I don’t believe this. This can’t be true. That’s not possible. THAT IS NOT POSSIBLE!!!! THAT CANNOT BE OMG OMG OMG OMG! ”
      And probably, when something doesn’t make sense in my brain, I just skip that part without really noticing that I’m doing it (gives me a bit more empathy for when men tune out their wives)”.

      …and yet having read different men describe similar things over and over, it’s beginning to settle more in my brain. :) And I KNOW I have blindspots aswell. I’ve had my fair share of come to Jesus moments.

      Like

      • Travis B. says:

        I appreciate your honesty and vulnerability. The same thing you’ve been increduously screaming in your head when the general male mindset is being espoused by us Y-chromos is the same thing damn near every single husband has been screaming in his head when his wife drones on for the umpteenth time about a stupid dirty dish, or a dumb pile of laundry, or watching an idiotic “chick flick”, et al, but when Matt published his viral hit article about dishes by the sink, literally hundreds of women exclaimed, “Yes! Finally a man who gets it!” Maybe what’s gradually happening for you (and I fervently hope many other female readers here) is the flip-side of that gender struggle.

        If the two genders can mutually move to a point where we stop dismissing or disrespecting the other on the grounds of not being able to sympathize with the other’s perspective, and instead recognize that perspective as a kind of gender “truth” that we’re open and prepared to work at empathizing with, therein must lie the direct path to successful and powerfully fulfilling relationships.

        Like

      • Lisa says:

        Donkey,

        I think that is half of the equation. The other half is things you’ve discussed before. Does it matter that he doesn’t know that he is offending her to the point of divorce? Does that make it better and less offensive than if he did? Many women disagree in comments here with Matt and Travis distinctions that it does matter. That they were good men who were bad husbands. Some women don’t agree with that premise. Doesn’t mean they don’t understand it, only that they don’t agree with it. They are trying to crowdsource the accuracy with an equally valid premise that it does matter that a spouse chose to dismiss the others needs (even if they didn’t understand it was hurtful) and it is a reflection on their character (as I’ve said I’ve done it to my husband) Both sides have good points for the other to consider perhaps to improve their understanding and challenge their own interpretations based on limited personal experience.

        Like

    • Lisa says:

      Travis,

      You haven’t offended me really. I am just. puzzled. that’s all. This is the exact conversation we had several posts ago about your frustration that wives don’t just accept as faith whatever is presented as the “male mindset”. I think it is valuable to question the fact base. For example, I posted some information in the comments about the gender paradox in suicide rates. Matt’s post had some great point but also had some conclusions based on incomplete information. It is true that men are more likely to die by suicide but the facts are it is because they use more violent methods that are successful and NOT because of primarily for man card issues. It is also not true that ALL cultures show this paradox with China being a big exception. These things matter because if there are exception as big as China it may not be accurate to base a theory about men on it that doesn’t include cultural considerations. The fact that men attempt suicide at a lesser rate, means it is incorrect to base a whole theory around that men can’t deal with shame and therefore commit suicide at 3 times the rate. It’s only because they pick guns rather than poison that they die more often. Now me be you want to have a discussion about methods chosen but that is accurate. I greatly value Matt’s writing, I am not trying to nitpick just wanting to make sure the discussion and conclusions are based on correct facts. And believe me I need the same or more accuracy checks for every single thing I think or write. That is the point, NO ONE has the perfect point of view that is innerrant and should be swallowed whole.

      What do we do about non fact based experiential differences? Well there it’s a little trickier but I believe the same rules apply. I interpret things based on my knowledge and culture and life experience. It is not infallible, it is very fallible. There are common patterns that can be learned doesn’t mean they are universal or normative or that one persons interpretations of even their own life experiences are correct. That’s what cognitive therapy is based on for example, my or anyone’s thoughts and interpretations can be factually wrong and definitely should not be accepted as faith without challenge.

      Most female commenters I read here are writing their points of views, facts, and interpretations in an effort to crowdsource the accuracy. To IMPROVE the accuracy of everything presented here. Thats why I come here to read lots of different points of views (including yours) to challenge my thinking. I always learn new ways of thinking about things that make understanding and empathy more possible.

      Like

      • Travis B. says:

        If you’ll indulge me, I’d like to speak to a couple of your points. Firstly, you mentioned wanting to ensure that no one was being disrespected by my comments about women who labor to argue Matt’s points instead of accepting them as a truth about the common husband. Again, I want to assure you no offense was intended to you or any other reader here, but I would like to clarify that I do find the implication of the word ‘disrespectful’ to be a bit overcooked and inaccurate in this sense. I never identified any specific commentator, nor did I argue that their presence was not welcome here. I simply expressed frustration with how these unnamed readers are choosing to process Matt’s advice, which I feel well within my rights to do. As long as I don’t make the complaint personal, or attempt to prevent those who disagree with me or Matt from continuing to contribute here, I see no standing to assume the worst in my venting of a personal pet peeve.

        In terms of this latest post, it would appear that you and I are once more locked into our dance of theory over practical application. Perhaps it will be our lot in MBTTTR life, LOL. Frankly, from my perspective, all the effort you’ve put into establishing missing accuracy with Matt’s original post amounts to either an unconscious tendency, or intentional desire, to miss the forest for the trees. If we take the entire element of whether male suicides are successful totally off the table, and just work from the standpoint of men attempting to kill themselves (regardless of the ratio of the numbers of suicidal men vs. women), Matt’s point rings every bit as true. Many, many men are driven to the point of at least attempting to take their life based on a culturally reinforced inability and/or unwillingness to ask for help on a mountain of different interpersonal hardships until they reach critical mass and the only viable solution is to either be a “pussy” and kill themselves, where they won’t have to stick around to hear the accusation, or expose their emotional vulnerabilities while alive and face derision from both men and women who believe in a more traditional definition of what it means to be a man. None of the discussion of whether men try to kill themselves more than women, or succeed more often than women, is salient to the ultimate point of what drives many men to permanently check out.

        I am truly sympathetic, however, to your desire to for more empiric evidence when people like me ask you to just accept our assertions as truisms. I am not a theist for that very reason. Very little rankles me like someone saying I need to accept something on faith. But in this case, considering that women have no way of actualizing the male experience for themselves, it seems to me that hearing multiple men explain similar beliefs, mentalities and perspectives may be as close as you can get to the proof you seek. I’m sure it’s not universal. I’m sure there are studies that show groups of women with the same issues as men. Studies that show groups of women with the same perspectives as men. Studies that show groups of women that see themselves in Matt’s writing about the typical male mindset and men who don’t. But as a general, “more often true than not” rule, I would argue that the way Matt lays it out is, by and large, the way I perceive and experience things, and it rings true for pretty much any man I’ve ever known. Anecdotal? Sure. Easily dismissed as the baseless, errant views of one or two odddball males? I’d caution against it.

        Beyond all that, I’ll end by offering a rebuttal to this statement: “Many women disagree in comments here with Matt’s and Travis’s distinctions that it does matter that they were good men who were bad husbands. Some women don’t agree with that premise. Doesn’t mean they don’t understand it, only that they don’t agree with it.” Very well. You are well within your rights to disagree with it. But to what end? Matt is writing a blog that is chiefly geared to communicate the experiences which led to his unforeseen divorce, and the work he did afterward, both internal and external, to suss out why he tried to reach for the stars and ended up falling off his porch and bloodying his nose. He does this in the hopes that his experience rings true for the majority of his male readership and that it will be a catalyst for a collective “light bulb” moment where those male readers say to themselves, “oh shit, this guy is me! I don’t want to go through what he went through! I don’t want my wife and kids to go through it, either! I need to change up my shit stat!” For women such as yourself who disagree with Matt’s post-divorce theories about how he contributed to it, what his mentality was as he contributed to it, and how he might have kept the Titanic from clipping the iceberg if he’d made some different navigational choices during his marriage, then where do you go from there? How do wives discounting this male perspective bring them closer to their husbands? How does it bring their husbands closer to them? What does it accomplish? How does it promote marital healing? Remember, all Matt’s ever said is that husbands like him (of which I consider myself a [man]card-carrying member) intended to be good husbands, felt like they had been good husbands, and never operated from a position of malice or intent to do harm, not that they actually were, objectively, good husbands. He’s never once asked for forgiveness. Never once asked to be let off the hook. He’s only made the point that there is often a massive gulf between what husbands are intending in their marriage and what they are ultimately causing, and that if these guys want to stop the hemorrhaging before their marriages bleed out, they have to put in active effort to close that gap. Regardless of the finer details of the accuracy or applicability of his examples, statistics or analogies, I struggle mightily to see how that’s something that compels argument and dissent from either gender.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Lisa says:

        Travis,

        I respectfully disagree with lots of things you said but I think we just approach things differently so I’ll leave it at that.

        I hope you do decide to write your own blog. You write very well and I’m sure you can help people to improve their marriages.

        Liked by 1 person

  24. bygeorgeithinkyou'vegotit says:

    Holy Crap!!! How on earth does anyone have the time to read AND reply to all of this! I’m overwhelmed!

    BUT… really appreciating and learning a lot from these comments!

    Travis B. Your writing is super valuable! Great stuff!

    Donkey, great stuff as well.

    And Matt, I’m so grateful for you bringing these conversations here. You are wonderful.

    Thank you all! :)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Linbo says:

      I totally agree with this statement and with thewiseoldlady’s “Yowza!”comment. :) There are some amazing ideas and interactions going on here! I really appreciate reading them, even if not being able to be a part of the conversation.
      Just an aside, one on the reasons men may not participate is because most men are not as verbally inclined as some of you may be, and so would rather sit back and take in all this glory instead of participate. I don’t know if this is biological or if it is socialized out of young boys. But it’s definitely a reality.
      Peace! Write on! Have fun! :)

      Like

    • Donkey says:

      Thank you Bygeorgeithinkyou’vegotit and everyone. I learn so much here. :)

      Like

      • bygeorgeithinkyou'vegotit says:

        I wish to put a face and voice to all these comments. It would be so awesome to meet all of you in person! I find reading very time consuming. I feel almost *dumb* with all these quick responses and amazing writting skills!

        Like

    • anitvan says:

      I know, right?! The comments here are particularly good stuff

      Liked by 1 person

  25. Dave says:

    You hit the nail on the head again, Matt. Every time I think “okay, I’ve addressed a lot of this stuff, I’m WAY beyond stereotypical man behaviour” you bring up something like the Man Card and it makes me re-think my place on the progress bar.

    Liked by 1 person

  26. Donkey says:

    This is…pertinent. I “like” it especially from 1.00.

    Like

  27. Laura Beth says:

    Again, as I said last week, I don’t have the words to express what happens to me when I read your posts. But thank you. You have, with precision, very nearly summed up the reasons my marriage has fallen apart. My husband’s insecurities have lead him to be an angry man who blames me for the way he feels about himself. His anger towards me has created (in me) a huge lack of trust, an absence of respect, and even a dislike of his character down to the core; even though he’s a “good guy.”

    Liked by 1 person

    • Matt says:

      There’s a lot of conjecture here (in my post; not your comment) based on my perceptions of the male condition.

      There are a lot of super-smart and educated people out there who can dissect all of this much better than I, but I’ve really enjoyed the process of thinking about gender on a deeper level thanks to all of the excellent contributions here from readers.

      We keep asking questions, so that one day we can answer the question: Why?

      It makes me feel good that what you read here registers with you on a meaningful level. Thank you very much for taking time to read it and say so.

      Liked by 1 person

  28. “Men are worried about what other people think of them. But it’s not actually rooted in fact. It’s rooted in assumption. We GUESS what other people think about us, and then react emotionally to whatever we guess that is.”

    I’m just as guilty of this….and I’m a woman.

    Asking for help isn’t a sign of weakness. It’s a sign of STRENGTH. Strength over the mental illness that’s trying to smother and kill you.

    Don’t let it win. Fight back.

    Like

    • Matt says:

      Right. That is a universal human fear thing, and I’m sorry it doesn’t necessarily read that way here. I picked up on that when I re-read it.

      I only use the word men here, because they were the focus of what I was writing about in the context of caring about what others think.

      But I’m glad you highlighted that point, because I think it’s a HUGE thing that many people aren’t necessarily aware of.

      Many of the negative emotions we feel in life are not a result of anything real.

      Our brains lack 100% of the information, so we fill in the gaps with our imaginations. If enough real information is missing, there’s a lot of room for our minds to get in our own way, and they do.

      We concoct negative possible outcomes or scenarios and then we FEEL essentially the same emotions we would if they WERE true.

      It happens all the time.

      We don’t hear from someone via text or phone, and we make a million assumptions as to why.

      “Maybe they don’t think I’m important.”

      “Maybe they’re upset with me.”

      “Maybe what I said made them uncomfortable and now they don’t like me.”

      “Maybe something bad happened to them.”

      “Maybe they’re cheating.”

      And then we feel [insert negative and unhealthy emotion here], even though there’s another explanation that DOES NOT warrant feeling bad.

      We waste an enormous amount of emotional stamina every day on pure fantasy.

      We would do well to ask better questions, take deep breaths, and wait for facts for before jumping to conclusions.

      As always, these things are easier said than done.

      Liked by 1 person

  29. K says:

    Matt – this article reminded me of a story I read recently, written by the father of a schizophrenic child. His young daughter’s mental illness became more and more out of control, but he was willing to consider divorce and suicide rather than ask for professional help, because the idea of asking for help meant he was a failure.
    http://www.smh.com.au/lifestyle/edge-of-the-abyss-20120819-24h4r

    Like

    • Travis B. says:

      That was an incredibly fascinating read, Lisa; thanks for it! I noticed it seems to use the same statistics about suicide rates for men vs. women that Matt did, but again, the finer points of just how accurate that should be considered don’t take away from the fundamental points being made. I was particularly chilled by the line (highlighting by me): “Talk of empowering men emotionally yields eye rolling at best, furious protest at worst — as when the Simon Fraser center was proposed, in 2012, and men AND WOMEN alike challenged the need for a ‘safe space’ for members of the dominant culture.” It’s already going to be a Herculean task for men to be willing to embrace, and become more vulnerable with, their full emotional range while facing the harsh judgment of their own gender group, but throw in the ridicule and disgust of females on top of that? Oh, guys, we’re hopelessly screwed.

      Liked by 1 person

      • That’s a really good point. I often speak of empowering men because I believe that culturally that is the best thing for all of us, that is the way to going about making the world a better place. Just speaking those words, “empowering men” causes all kinds of discomfort and fear.

        It’s kind of sad because when we speak of power, many can only see abuse, authoritarianism. Our culture doesn’t perceive power as being an internal thing, a positive. What makes that even more tragic is that it is usually the weak, insecure, dis-empowered men who resort to violence and bullying. So really when you empower men, you reduce abuse and potential violence.

        A lot of women, feminists especially, get that wrong, so their first instinct is to reduce men’s power, to keep them under perceived control, to pass more laws, to reduce men’s dominance in society. When we empower men however, they aren’t driven to try to seek power and control over others.

        Like

  30. Great post! I identified with it a lot, I think that this is one of the most important things to face as a man. This is a blog post I wrote on the subject, https://mattsdailythoughts.wordpress.com/2016/12/26/32/

    Liked by 1 person

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