My guilt and loneliness came from the same source.
I grew up in a culture that told me that to be a man is to be tough. I learned that being emotional was the antithesis of being a man. I was told to be “man” and “don’t be a pussy.” I learned to suppress my emotions. I learned to repress any personality trait that could be labeled feminine, gay, or weak. I saw that physical contact with other boys was embarrassing (gay) and any physical contact with women should be sexual (getting). I was shown that women should be evaluated for their appearance. They showed me that if a man is good enough, he deserves the girl.
Then I grew up. I began to realize that part of what I was taught about being a man was unhealthy. I saw how atrophy my own personal expression, I saw how dishonorable it is for the women in my life. I realized how disrespectful and abusive the standard methods of attracting women are. I made the decision not to be “that guy.”
This is an important finding, but it often causes guilt to creep in, either consciously or unconsciously. Because almost all men have been complicit, in some way, in a culture of sexual harassment and abuse. Most men have engaged in a number of objectifying conversations about women. Most men have slipped disrespectful comments. With the rise of consciousness, feelings of guilt arise.
And there are cultural narratives that imply that just being a man is a crime. There are those who suggest that male sexual desire is fundamentally predatory.
This conscience and guilt, and the perceived messages lead men to reject unhealthy social norms. The only problem is that these social norms are unconsciously (and consciously) tied to “being a man” and “getting a woman” in men’s minds. When men reject the toxic social norms that are bound to be a man, they risk repressing their own masculine energy.
In addition, men lack the language and skills to explore intimacy in a deeply honest and conscious way. In the absence of these skills, men believe that it is better to let women come. Therefore, they do not persecute women. Men are afraid to show interest or sexual desire because they don’t want to be “that guy.”
The result is that men wear a double layer of repression. One is the early, and often subconscious, repression of emotional expression and traits considered “feminine,” and the other is the repression of sexual desire. Both layers of repression carry their corresponding painful experience of guilt and loneliness, respectively.
Painted in this corner, and lacking the resources to eliminate double repression, men face the choice of which is worse, guilt or loneliness.
I’ve heard some guys say they avoided eye contact with women at parties for fear of being “that guy”. Other guys confess that they were considering pick-up-artist techniques even though they didn’t agree with disrespectful energy, but they believed it was the only way to escape the pain of loneliness.
Now consider abuse more likely in a culture of repression.
I believe that most of the sexual abuse that takes place in this country is not done by abusive sociopaths, but by normal men who do not have the knowledge, skills and disposition for a conscious connection.
That’s why I help men create a conscious relationship. That’s why it hosts groups of men where boys can drop unhealthy definitions of manhood. That’s why I do what I do.
I want to live in a world where men can feel all their emotions in a safe and healthy way. I want to live in a world where men know how to seek intimacy in a deeply honorable way and without male apologies. I want men to feel good about being masculine. I want to live in a world where men understand the impact and structures of an abusive society and understand how to make it healthier. This is the world I want to live in, this is the world I am working to create.
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