Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Guys: Part Deux

I've had the enormous good fortune to become friends with one of Meagan's oldest male friends. He responded to my earlier post about guys. I think his insight is brilliant and wanted to share it, with his permission. 

"I think the questions you asked today are extremely valid.  And I think there are a myriad of reasons for the male response.  We can look to individual motivations or to socializing patterns for clues to behavior.  But the older I get the more I realize that it really isn't all that complicated.  True, we layer on rationalizations and excuses for the way people respond, look for clues as to the inner-workings of those around us like they are a code to be deciphered, but I truly believe that biology presents itself as a king full of riches when in actuality it's nothing more than a pauper with a few tricks in a tattered bag.

I think we men are full of fear.  Fear that comes in a variety of flavors.

Nick, you are a strong, extremely successful man.  That's enough to deter most guys right there.  What could we possibly offer that you couldn't supply yourself, and probably better than we could at our best?  Who are we to offer insight?  Perspective?  Like it or not you are an alpha.  To admit to ourselves that you require assistance . . . well, what does that mean for us?  If you can be vulnerable, what chance have we?

Yes, I'm also convinced that we eventually turn any situation back on ourselves.  That's not necessarily narcissistic. It's human.  A survival trait. 

There is also the fear, through our inability to 'fix' the situation for you, that we might make things worse.

There is the fear - a basic, primal, 'magical thinking' - that tells us that if we give voice and recognize the severity, the reality of what you are experiencing,  that somehow we will also somehow be touched or bring illness into our lives.

There is the fear that if we talk, we will feel.  And, among most men, feeling is weakness.

There is also the fear that we are interfering in an extremely personal time for all of you.

And we are afraid of a thousand other major and minor things that twist inside until all we can do is offer platitudes and change the subject.
I believe this is what happens with most men. Biology is a harsh mistress.  So much of what we feel, what we do, what motivates us and pushes us towards one action or the other is driven by the electro-chemistry of the brain . . . so much it's just stupid."

Pretty interesting perspectives. Much to ponder here. What can I do to help my male friends and acquaintances feel safe asking questions (it's not necessary to offer advice)? What can I do to make them comfortable hearing about my feelings? Or is anything I do useless in the face of biology? 

I don't mean to blast all my my male acquaintances and friends. I just think this is a very interesting issue and certainly one that I care about for individual and broader reasons.

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