By | Ronald Frederick | community.thriveglobal.com
In August of 2019, I was a guest on Dan Griffin’s Man Rules podcast to talk about my book Loving Like You Mean It. Dan and I had a stimulating conversation about how, when men are growing up, we’re essentially taught and praised for behaviors that run counter to having a healthy, romantic relationship. We’re taught to be strong and not show our vulnerability, to hide any signs of weakness, to be quick to take action, and to not back down in a fight.
While these behaviors can be useful at times, they can be restricting and don’t give us a lot of options when it comes to dealing with a range of feelings, precisely what’s needed to have healthy connections with others. In essence, we aren’t given the tools to be successful in love.
Dan and I shared our own personal journeys of how, through a lot of struggles and pain, we both eventually figured out that we needed to turn inward and learn to manage our reflexive, emotional responses to our romantic partners so that we could begin to reveal more of ourselves and create the lasting, loving relationships we wanted.
As a therapist, I see so many men who come to me desperate to understand why they’re having such a hard time in love, why they may act in ways that cause damage in their relationships with their partners, kids, and at their jobs by getting defensive and reactive or pulling away and disconnecting.
Though of course everyone sometimes struggles with their feelings, what I see in my male clients goes deeper: men not only have a tendency to rely on defensive ways of responding to their feelings, but often anger is the only emotion many of us seem truly okay expressing.