Category Archives: Men
FOR A LOT OF GUYS, intimate relationships are hard work!
It’s uncomfortable, way too emotional, and you’d rather just not deal with it at all, and hope it’ll work itself out. After all, she normally returns to her senses after a while. Right?
Even when deep down, you know you have some problems in your marriage or relationship, you might be saying what my friend said right after he found out his wife had fallen in love with another guy: “I knew we had some problems, I just figured we’d get to it some day”.
But here’s the great news.
It really isn’t meant to be that difficult, and it’s absolutely attainable to make it smooth and easy.
And if you’re being totally honest, wouldn’t it be worth a lot to feel admired, loved, and appreciated by her? Doesn’t it make you feel taller when she thinks you’re the best guy ever?
You just need to know some key points, and then do your best to practice them. By doing so, you can actually make it easy for her to see you as the man she fell in love with.
- She’s not like you. Never will be. Isn’t supposed to be. So don’t try to convince her to stop being “so emotional”. Simply accept that she has a different “operating system” installed than you do. Accept that her emotional way of processing information is as valid as your logical way of doing it. Just different.
- The #1 thing she’s looking for is trustworthiness and reliability in you. Why? So she can feel safe and relax. When she feels safe and relaxed, it’s really easy for you to relax and enjoy life.
- Face your own discomfort with her intense emotions and conflicts in general. You cannot make emotions or conflicts go away, period, so you might as well make friends with them. How? Own your discomfort about it, admit it out loud.
- Pay attention to her. Be an attentive mate, just like you were when you were first courting her. Chivalry never goes out of fashion. So notice how she dresses, notice when she comes and goes, hold her hand, touch her cheek … BE there in a way that she can feel. Don’t just be the silent brooder in the corner.
- Find your own power. Say yes when you mean yes, and no when you mean no. Don’t pretend to listen for 10 minutes while thinking, “blablabla, she’ll be done soon”. Be honest if it doesn’t work for you to be talking with her right now. Stand up for what’s important to you, in a firm, but non-aggressive manner. Let her feel you have a spine, and don’t just along with anything she says so you can avoid a conflict. She’ll respect the man you are when you do that.
Now, sure, there’s a lot more to the equation of having a great marriage. But if you can keep these five in mind, and use them as a starting point, you’ll be ahead of the game, and might even produce some serious breakthroughs and sexy action!
After the last blog post I put out, Chris sent me this email about his girlfriend:
“I am afraid of her anger. I avoid confrontational things and I get silent and shut down when she gets angry. I don’t feel safe to express my wants and feelings if I think it is not what she wants. Then, I get even more distant because I am resentful.”
Chris is highlighting some of the biggest signs of what it means to “lose your power with women”:
– Have trouble saying No
– Afraid of her anger
– Avoid confrontation
– Shut down and get quiet
– Feel angry and resentful
Do any of these ring true for you? Do you recognize them from your own relationships?
The urge to avoid an intense outburst or a “prolonged session of processing”, as one man called it, is easily understandable.
But avoiding an outburst today fuels ten outbursts tomorrow. It’s like pissing your pants on a cold winter day to get warm: extremely short-lived benefit, followed by freezing misery.
In other words, it’s detrimental to relationship.
In Chris’ example, his girlfriend probably thinks he doesn’t care about her and doesn’t have the guts or ability to see a conflict through to resolution.
Plus, in seeing him turn away from her, she’s likely to conclude that something is wrong with her.
Then there’s the impact on Chris himself.
By not expressing his feelings and wants because they might not be what SHE wants, he is dis-empowering himself. In essence, he’s telling himself, “My wants and needs are not important – they might even be bad and make her mad.”
One of the central aspects of being powerful, of being in your power, is to be able to guide yourself from the inside out. In other words, to have your “emotional center of gravity” inside yourself.
This in stark contrast to Chris’ experience of trying to guide his actions based on what he thinks SHE wants. That is, to have his center of gravity outside himself.
For any of us to be powerful men and have powerful relationships, we need to be solidly rooted in our own wants, desires, and values, while at the same time being attuned to our partner.
Here are a couple of actions you could take …
- Look at yourself: Where do guide yourself by what you think other people want?
- Take a risk: Say what you really feel and want, even if it’s not popular.
- Check out the Men’s Retreat I’m offering in January. It’s all about finding your power as a man. (It was sold out last week, but I managed to get the lodge to open up another 4 spots). Click here for more info …
Last week, I sent out a video about men losing power with women (here ).
Definitely struck a nerve. The day after, Brian sent me this email …
It’s a scary spot to go with my partner. Feels like if I go there she will use that against me in some way that will hurt me or the relationship. It will get out that I’m really not a man; I’m a puss that can’t even stand up to his woman!”
Boy, could I relate to that! For the larger part of my life, I did not show a shred of vulnerability to my woman partners, for exactly the reasons Brian stated.
I thought it would make me look like a wuss! That I’d lose all my power and be totally humiliated.
This was probably the biggest reason I crashed and burned relationship after relationship.
Now, I know you might be thinking …
Isn’t that just because Brian (or me) are old-fashioned and haven’t caught up to the new Times of Equality? I mean, c’mon, men today know about feelings and being vulnerable and embracing their feminine side.
Yes, many men are certainly a lot more comfortable with emotions, vulnerability, and sharing openly than our fathers or grandfathers ever were, no question.
But I have a theory – based on work with hundreds of men around these issues – that even though we are in “new times” where men can be sensitive and feminine, as well as powerful and strong …
That deep in our psyches, there is still a strong voice that says to not get too open, too vulnerable, too feminine, with our partners, or with anyone.
I think we men have an in-built, ancient, protective mechanism that has us either clam up or get pissed when feeling questioned, threatened, or unappreciated in our intimate relationships.
Now, I’m well aware that lots of men are highly conscious and engage in diligent self-discovery, shadow work, relationship work, you name it. I happen to know that Brian is such a man. I’d like to think I am, too.
Men like that are in the historically ironic situation that it’s easier for them to be real and open with other men, for example in their men’s groups, than it is with their woman at home.
Which sounds kinda crazy. According to stereotype, she should be able to be empathetic and understanding of our fears and vulnerabilities, right?
Those same stereotypes would suggest it should be way more risky and difficult to be vulnerable in a group of men than with a woman we’re intimate with.
Brian even said as much: “Crazy thinking for sure but then again sometimes I’m not too far from that craziness!:)”
In other words, he knows it’s crazy, but finds himself doing it anyway.
So back to the question about losing power with women …
If you or me or Brian, or any man, is afraid to show his vulnerability and feelings to his woman, and thinks to himself: She will use that against me. It will get out that I’m really not a man; I’m a puss that can’t even stand up to his woman!”
What impact do you think that would have on his relationship with his wife/girlfriend/partner?
Well, for one, he would have to protect himself from his own partner. NOT a good situation, to say the least.
And even more importantly, what impact would it have on himself? On his sense of worth? On his ability to be a powerful, whole man?
You bet. Detrimental. Self-sabotaging. Painful. Fucking “ouch”, man!
Food for thought, I hope …
And if you’re interested in a deep-dive into your own power as a man, check out the retreat, Where Is Your Power, Man?
During any given year, I engage with hundreds of men, in private life coaching, in our workshops, and in men’s work. And one thing I consistently find is this:
Men lose their power with women!
Margaret Paul, PhD, makes a great distinction about power (here…)
She says, “Our society often confuses personal power — ‘power within’ — with ‘power over,’ which is about controlling others.”
She continues: “Personal power comes from an inner sense of security, from knowing who you are in your soul, from having defined your own intrinsic worth.”
It is in this respect I see men lose their power with their women partners. (On a side-note, most conscious men today have no desire to have “power over” their partners, but they definitely DO have a strong desire to keep their “power within” in their relationships.)
I used to think that “losing my power” was exclusively about backing down, not following through on commitments, or taking orders from anyone (i.e. my partner); basically not looking like, and acting as, an ever-confident, invincible, man-hero!
But it’s a lot more nuanced and complicated than that. Losing power takes place along the entire spectrum of states a man can find himself in; from weak to strong, fearful to heroic. Losing your power is just as much about not standing up for yourself as it is about not daring to share your softest, weakest spots.
This may show up in different ways …
1. When your wife/girlfriend/partner gets upset and emotional. Especially when it’s about you or something you did. Because you feel uncomfortable in the face of the intense emotion, you want to get out of there or make it stop. Further, when she gets emotional, you might feel it’s a statement that you’re somehow lacking.
2. You don’t dare share your vulnerability, your fears and insecurities. So you have to “pretend” you don’t feel those things. When you don’t express the full range of how you feel, you are out of integrity with yourself, because your insides and outsides are not out of sync.
3. You say Yes when you mean No, or No when you really wanted to say Yes. In other words, you “bend” too much away from your own knowing of what is right and true. You either accommodate too much, or don’t go for everything you want. In either case, you shortchange your own desires to take care of hers, and you can only do that so many times before you get resentful.
4. You avoid engaging with her about emotional or triggering stuff. Instead, you keep quiet, you check out, you find reasons to be elsewhere, you stay busy with work or projects. This a favorite strategy of men (mine too, sometimes!), and whereas it might give the immediate “benefit” of avoiding trouble, it always comes back to bite you. Either because you feel shitty about yourself, or because she will make it unbearable to keep doing.
5. You don’t speak your truth. You feel you can’t say what’s REALLY on your mind. You don’t want to hurt her and cause another stir, so you keep it to yourself. Which ends up robbing both of you of your contribution. A man I worked with, who used to keep his thoughts to himself a lot, said it like this: “Before, I just didn’t think I had anything to contribute to the relationship … I didn’t have the tools to communicate to her what my needs were”
6. You’re afraid of her anger … or your own. Anger, hers or yours, is tricky in most relationships. Most men are – rightfully so – keen on NOT being like their angry dad or like the violent, dominant males they see in the world. So they try to keep their own anger contained and under seal. On the other hand, they are pretty sure their partner’s anger means they themselves screwed up somehow, and given how much self-criticism most of us men leverage on ourselves, we just don’t want anymore piled on top of it from her. I coached a man who said, “I’ll stand and face a gang of thugs any day, but when my wife, who’s 5-foot-1, gets angry at me, I get scared and I just want to run.”
I believe Margaret Paul has it right when she says, “All of us would love to have personal power — the power to manifest our dreams, the power to remain calm and loving in the face of fear, the power to stay centered in ourselves in the face of attack.”
And it is exactly this personal power that men often lose with their female partners.
When that man is you, there’s a very real cost to you. First and foremost, you don’t get to feel good about yourself. Every time you have an interaction where you don’t stay connected to your power, you feed the little voices in your head that says you’re no good, you don’t measure up, you’ll never make it, and you’re not good enough.
Secondly, by not being in your personal power, you inadvertently contribute to the breakdown and demise of your marriage or relationship. A healthy, loving, passionate, empowering relationship takes two people who not only stay connected to their power, but knows how to express it, in times of passion and love as well as in times of anger or conflict. When you don’t, the results are the “usual suspects” of less sex, less connection, more arguments, more distance, and so on. In plain language, it sucks! And it hurts.
A question for you …
Does any of this sound familiar? Do you recognize yourself in what I’m sharing?
I’d love to hear from you. Please send me an email and tell me where this hits home for you (or if it doesn’t).
Also, check out the private retreat I’m offering for a small group of men, which is all about your power as a man. Click here for more ….
Don’t you hate it when he says, “I’m fine”, but you know there’s something going on? Don’t you hate it when he insist on staying in denial and just keeps saying, “I’m okay!” when it’s obvious to you that he’s either lying or being oblivious?
And don’t you hate it when you’re minding your own business, and she comes over and starts prodding you with, “Is everything okay?” or, “Is there something we should talk about”? And don’t you hate it when you say, “No, I’m fine, really, nothing’s going on”, and she just keeps on pressing and pressing, and pretty soon you end up arguing about absolutely nothing!
Don’t you hate it when he just wants to go to bed and “sleep on it”, but you’re laying there totally unable to sleep with all that emotion running. You just want to talk it out, so you can go to bed at ease, feeling connected again, and sleep in the knowledge that you’re okay.
And don’t you hate it when she has to make a big deal of everything and talk-talk-talk but you have to get up at 5:30 am and you really do need some sleep? And if you could just sleep on it, it would probably pass all by itself, since it was nothing important to begin with?
Obviously, the differences between men and women could fill a whole library of books (and has!). Here, we want to point out a crucial difference, that trips up most of us at different times, and that is our different responses to feeling stressed, or triggered.
Both women and men under stress aim for reducing their stress levels, in that way we’re all the same. We all want to feel less stressed and calm ourselves down.
But HOW we do it is totally opposite. As a matter of fact, it’s one of those places where you might wonder if Nature screwed up just a bit, because how women and men attempt to reduce their respective stress levels seem to only INCREASE the stress when they’re taken together.
In short, women try to make themselves feel better by talking, connecting, coming closer, sharing. Men, on the opposite hand, try to accomplish the same result by going inwards, going to silence, having internal conversations in their head, or “taking space”.
You can see how a woman and man in relationship would trigger each other more when they try to reduce their own stress levels, yes? The more she tries to talk and connect, the less space he has to make himself feel better. And the more he tries to “take space” or go away, the more it seems to her that he’s avoiding her, and she has to talk louder and pull on him, and he gets even more stubborn, and she gets louder …. it’s a mess!
It’s not all hopeless, of course. Watch the short video for a few simple, powerful ideas for having the whole thing be easier.