This post I wrote first appeared About Me.
Trying to be a 20-year-old doesn’t work at 60. Getting women to help us with our emotions – like we did when we were younger, starting with our mother – is no longer an option. And our friends? Well, they’re no better off than we are.
The friends we had in school or the military are long gone. We have our work and golf buddies, but we rarely have men we confide in, or ask to watch our backs. We have as much brotherhood left in our lives as we have six-pack abs.
One day you wake up to realize that your relationships have dissolved away. You don’t have close friends. Your wife is a roommate — if you’re lucky. If you don’t have a wife, your dates and relationships aren’t giving you what you want.
What you want more than sex is intimacy. Sure, sex is great. But what makes sex great is the deep connection that comes from vulnerability. How do you learn vulnerability if your training was to be tough? Having your date or partner tell you she doesn’t feel you, and consequently doesn’t desire you, might as well be her telling you she prefers blue eyes to your brown.
Once you realize that your model of how to be a man is outdated, you can create a model that serves you. The old notion that to be emotionally open is a sign of weakness is dead. Both men and women respect an emotionally and open man.
The secret no one told you
Our emotional model is a feminine version of vulnerability from centuries of women stepping up for men who were away at work. When we try to be vulnerable, we are often modeling a woman. That doesn’t work for men or women. It’s no different than putting on a beautiful dress – I don’t care how beautiful the dress is, you won’t look good or feel good in it.
The only way to learn a masculine model of vulnerably and emotionality is from other men who are also learning it. Being open as a man is not like experiencing emotions as a woman. It works for women to be what we see as “illogical.” The “sensitive man” of the 1960-70s is as dead as the Marlboro Man. Today’s real man, today’s Remarkable Man, is someone well-versed in Masculine Intelligence.
Getting what you want
As men, we are good at going for a goal that we can achieve. We were given a goal: be emotional like a woman. But we can’t win at playing that game. Change to a game you can win at… and women can win at.
Start mastering one of the key traits of the MQ® (Masculine Quotient). Discover how to be vulnerable and assertive simultaneously. The champion for the power of vulnerability is Brene Brown, PhD. She’s right: your world opens up to you when you are vulnerable. What she doesn’t say is that men need to do it differently.
As a man, you need to be open, feel, and express your emotions. AND you need to be willing to express your wants. In other words, you don’t just listen and emote. You also stand up for your feelings, the relationship, and what you need. Because you are vulnerable, you are not domineering. As you express, you are risking. You may be risking looking like a fool. You may risk doing it wrong. You may even risk the relationship you care about to be true to yourself.
The beauty of standing up for what is true for you AS you are vulnerable is that everyone feels safe. They feel how you raised the bar on vulnerability. You took it from being a passive experience to an action.
We regularly see men assert their vulnerability after years of not speaking what they feel and want to their partner. I know it can be scary to say what you really feel and want in the face of your partner losing it. To tell the woman you love that she just stepped over the line is dicey. In that moment, it may feel like you put your relationship at risk.
I still feel and taste the adrenaline on my tongue as I hear a voice in my head say, “You just ended the relationship” from asserting my emotions and wants for the relationship. When my partner stops her upset, takes a breath, and then says, “Honey you just melted me,” my logical masculine mind stalls. Then I breathe, realizing what I just did… I stood up in the face of overwhelming emotions to speak my truth.