Male sensitivity sounds like fuel for parody. However, it is a tender subject many men aren’t willing to acknowledge. Unless of course you’ve known them for a good length of time, they trust you with some of their secrets and aren’t interested in dating you. I happen to prefer friendships over relationships so I am privy to emotions some men never reveal to their mates. My eclectic mix of male friends; the good, the bad and the ugly open up about emotional issues that probably wouldn’t be touched on if we were in a relationship. These platonic, intimate moments offer insight on some of the delicate inner workings of the male species.
Like shoes, not all men are created equal. As women we like to place men in categories, classify them based on appearance or quality like Zappos. Admittedly, I’ve been a member of some classic male bashing, “waiting to exhale” moments with my ladies. We’d sing each others’ praises while toasting the demise of the latest mutt who bit the dust. All the while reciting our famous naïve, woman scorned mantra; “men ain’t shi*t they’re all the same.” Time, maturity and an unbiased look into the hearts of a few men has revealed they feel pain and hurt just as we do. They too carry the damage caused by ghosts of the past.
For instance, I know this guy; handsome, smart, funny, a bit quirky but he has a good heart. What frustrated me the most about him was he was so “in touch” with his emotional side that he constantly was on the defense. He viewed everything outside his realm of emotional understanding as an attack on him. The more I came to know him I “classified” him a punk. Had I paid attention to the feelings he revealed I would have realized he grew up a sheltered insecure little boy. As an adult he continued trying to prove himself and gain acceptance. He wasn’t weak, only suffering in silence, quietly crying out for someone to welcome the man he was, quirks and all. Instead, I dismissed him as not man enough, adding to his hurt instead of being a part of his happiness.
Another friend had the rug pulled from under him when he discovered his woman of over a decade was unfaithful. They had three children, lived in a beautiful apartment in a nice neighborhood and for the duration of the relationship she was a stay at home mom. They had a series of heart to hearts and he decided to stay and make it work with the woman he had dedicated most of his adult life to; he was working on moving past her indiscretion. That is until a few months later when he found out not only was she still creeping but also carrying her lovers’ child. What added insult to injury was when she admitted her boy toy was not the man she wanted and although she planned on keeping the baby she expected my friend to keep the family they shared together and accept her love child (I swear this is non- fiction). My buddy has gotten over the worst part of the pain, ladies you know it’s hardest in the beginning, but he carries the hurt (how familiar). A good provider and family man became cold, distant, and in favor of the one night stand.
Now, before the ladies form a witch hunt on me, understand I am always on our side. However, many of us are single, lonely, and want a good man in our lives. How can we expect them to love, honor and understand us in spite of what we’ve endured if we can’t reciprocate? Men, unfortunately, aren’t as resilient as women. Sure we think they should be built Ford tough but they carry a lot of the same baggage we do. Unlike the hyper sensitivity of women, men bury their hurt deep, locked away in the icy space their hearts once beat and just get on with life. They harbor emotional scars but have no outlet for the pain like us. Their boys may call them soft, family might say “just get over it” and some women see it as a weakness. This doesn’t make the actions of some acceptable but if we acknowledge their pain and maybe even offer a non judgmental shoulder to lean on it, may help us co exist a little better.
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