Do I Really Understand Men’s Perspective on Relationships?
While listening to Brene Brown’s book on audible “Men, Women and Worthiness: The Experience of Shame and the Power of Being Enough” it dawned on me. I have been thinking wrong about men and women’s ability to relate. When I would hear men say “women don’t really want me to be vulnerable” I would cringe. Immediately I would come up with reasons as to why they’re wrong. I invalidated their experiences and only listened to myself and the women who stated that they wanted a vulnerable man. I truly did not understand men’s perspective on relationships.
I had to get real. Wanting a vulnerable man is not the same as having one. Having the vulnerable man you said you wanted does not mean you can handle his vulnerability. Instead of thinking men simply couldn’t see where women were coming from, I had to realize it was the opposite. I was a part of the underlying problem.
Questions began rummaging through my mind so I went to my phone to ask. Then I realized there were only like 7 men saved in my phone, 4 of them family members and I only talk to two consistently – my dad and my brother. No wonder I have no idea what is going on with men, I don’t talk to them! I have to laugh at myself because I really hadn’t realized this until I had all these questions. To help me understand the minds of men I created a survey and headed to social media to ask my male friends to enlighten me.
Brene’s book is an amazing read. If you don’t have audible you can sign up here! It really is worth the read, and the book is only a 2 hour listen on audible!
P.S. I appreciate each and everyone of you. Y’all the real MVPs.
What I Think I Know About Men
So let me touch on what I think I know about men’s struggle in society. Boys are raised and taught to stuff their feelings. “Suck it up” “don’t act like a pu**y” “be a man” etc. This is so common that a lot of men don’t see the issue with it once they’re adults. And if they do see the issue they may have their guard up, to the point where they can’t or won’t acknowledge it as a problem. Now what I don’t know is how men handle this along with their everyday lives and interactions. Inevitably I believe that this has a negative impact on men’s perspective of relationships.
To be clear, I am not saying men are incapable of managing their own emotions. I am not saying that all men feel or behave this way. I am saying that their vulnerability can be layered with more than one woman can handle since society has taught them to ignore their own feelings. And being someone who believes I thoroughly understand emotions, it’s baffling to think that I’ve gotten this wrong for so long. I needed to sit back and listen, not just assume I know a man’s experience. The survey monkey was only a starting point for understanding men’s perception on topics I have ignored or assumed I knew for so long.
All my life I’ve heard what a woman wants from a man. Men being more open and transparent with their feelings has always been in the top spot, and men being financially stable is a close second. I started thinking about why this is said and how both parties feel about it. Men and women.
Breaking Down Relationships
Relationships of any kind are not supposed to be built off of trauma bonding. Professionals are created to help break down emotional and traumatic barriers. Romantic relationships should not be the source of your healing. Instead, your relationship is the place you go to practice the healing you have discovered after ‘doing the work’.
You can certainly have deep and meaningful conversations with your loved ones. A breakthrough may even occur on multiple occasions. But the healthiest way to deal with navigating a relationship is do your own healing and let that be the basis of your relational connection. Not trauma bonding.
Women should know the difference between wanting to talk openly with their partners and wanting to heal their partners. One is healthy. One is toxic. Women were not created to be healers of men. Somehow many women have this desire to be the one who knows all and heals all for their mate. That’s what mental health professionals are for, and even they are unable to heal all.
Wanting to be his source for healing is indeed a noble cause. But if done in a sense of “all your pain can be healed here” it is toxic. I say toxic but not in a disrespectful manner (this word has gained a strong negative connotation in our society). What I mean is that it is unhealthy for a woman to assume she can heal her man of all of his issues. If there is a lot of healing that a man needs to go through, it’s likely laced with more than the average woman can handle. Even if the woman is a professional counselor, social worker, therapist, etc., it is not her job to fix her partner. After all, you aren’t supposed to take work home.
Men Share Their Perspective on Relationships
Okay, I know I sound repetitive, but I am simply driving home the point that men and women were not created to heal one another in a vacuum of romantic relationship. We have a Savior for that. But now, let’s get into these results and see what are men’s perspective about relationships. Below is an image of the questions I created and how they were rated. I asked about 15 men to complete this survey, 11 did so. And yes, this experience has taught me that I really need to work on building my male friendships, but that’s another topic for another blog.
The Raw Results
Sexual orientation: 8 straight, 1 bisexual, 1 identified themselves as Satan (jokingly, later revealed that they are straight for a total of 9 straight males), 1 no response.
Longest relationship time frame ranged from 8 months to 7 years
Some additional comments that the participants made after taking the survey.
- Financial specifications are dependent on the occupation
- Very insightful questions . Controversial as well
- Arguing is not an effective method of communication, but SOME disagreement and SOME healthy discourse is natural and healthy as long as you can come to a mutual resolution like adults. Also no one should HAVE to be the sole provider barring extreme circumstances. Balance is key and dependency is dangerous for both parties.
Now I Understand Men’s Perspective A Bit More
So now, let’s discuss. Based on having a response rate of 73.33%, with only one question skipped I would officially like to go on record and say that men do respond to all parts of the message. My biggest takeaway from these results is that men value communication and believe they are not being seen or heard by women. There did not seem to be a negative view of women and their ability to empathize in a general sense. Nine of the participants even acknowledged that women wanted them to be vulnerable. However, in response to “when I open up to women they are able to comfort me” there was at least one response from strongly disagree to strongly agree with 4 responses being in the neutral/neither agree or disagree territory.
I asked a number of other questions just out of curiosity. Each question was geared towards understanding men’s perspective on relationships. The categories I based them on were money, connection, and communication. There were about 5 to seven questions for each.
My main goal was to get a sense of communication. Of course this would be better if I were to sit down with men and ask these questions so that I can get more in depth responses. Yet, with the data I was able to gather we can see that it is not that men don’t believe women want them to be vulnerable. Instead, men believe that women aren’t quite capable of adequately providing the comfort they need during the times that they choose to share and be vulnerable.
Where Men and Women Agree
Ironically, based on personal conversations I have had with women that date men, they also feel that men do not comfort them adequately. There are clearly some misunderstandings. In an effort to provide some practical advice on how both men and women can be better at comforting their partners I have created another survey. This has three questions:
- What is your gender identity?
- What is your sexual identity?
- What are some ways you would like to be comforted during times of vulnerability?
They will all be open ended responses. You can take the survey now if you are interested in sharing your thoughts and advice with others. This is completely voluntary and anonymous. I want to give a huge thank you to anyone who decides to provide a response. You’re helping me and helping others.
Once I gain a good amount of responses from both genders I will complete a follow up blog. That way we can all have a greater understanding on ways to meet the needs of the opposite sex. This will help us get the big picture and help women understand men’s perspective on relationships and vice versa. The greatest part about this is that the responses can be used with any relationship. I can learn how to comfort the men in my family, the men I work with, and the men I will begin to befriend. This will be a large win for us all!
I hope you learned something by reading this blog. If you would like, share your thoughts in the comments below! I would love to engage with you on this topic of understanding perspectives!