From pop culture to Internet porn, men are getting all kinds of wrong “advice.” You can toss in video games, sports, and pretty much everything that goes into male socialization. Memes are cute but no relationship can be summed up in a few words. Guys who want to hear, understand, and communicate well with their love interests would do well to put down their phones and do some introspection. It may be time to take a long hard look in the mirror.
From mansplaining to gaslighting and beyond
I mentioned the idea of conditioning above. Guys, it’s a major obstacle. Thanks to male privilege, you may be sabotaging yourself and not even know it! Here are just a few examples of what simple facts you might be missing:
- Women want and deserve to be heard and respected
- You don’t need to take up more space, talk louder, or dominate situations
- So don’t take up more space, talk louder, or dominate situations
- Your opinion is not more valid than hers or any woman’s
- Macho rarely means “sexy”
Can you imagine living in a society that doesn’t fully validate you? If so, then take it one step further. Imagine that your male partner doesn’t fully validate you. He may not mean it. He may not even realize he’s doing it. But that’s kinda the point. Don’t be that guy. Be the guy who “gets” it and keeps learning.
5 Ways Hear, Understand & Communicate Well
1. Friendship as foundation
Let’s put the “friend zone” nonsense to bed, once and for all. Do you realize how insulting it is to be told that friendship isn’t worth a man’s time? To get close, guys, it begins with a foundation of friendship. To stay close, that friendship must deepen and grow.
2. Redefine intimacy more broadly
Thanks to the rapid growth of Internet porn, and fast paced dating apps, we’ve lost touch with a wide range of intimacy. Sex in its many guises can be wonderful. But there’s much more to being intimate. Eye contact, hand holding, cuddling, secret telling and so much more. All of it can be more sensual than anything “hook-up” culture has to offer.
3. Respect boundaries
Everyone deserves this respect. We all have the right to establish personal boundaries—and allow those boundaries to evolve. If you’re not sure what those boundaries are, ask. Learn more about being a strong male ally.
4. Challenge gender stereotypes and expectations
The common gender roles for men don’t exactly make it easy to get and stay close with women. From childhood video games to contact sports to war movies—the list goes on. These factors are not based on biology. Remember: You are free to be whatever type of man you wish to be. Usually Oakland area supports this, and that’s why I love the Bay Area.
A basic component of any relationship is how you communicate. Part of this involves understanding power dynamics. As a guy, you have more power than you may even realize. Communicating with women means checking that privilege. Level the playing field. When talking with a woman, be mindful of your tone, body language, and listening skills. This goes for all women, not just those you wish to date.
All these suggestions may sound difficult. But please consider two factors. Firstly, it is so worth it. Also, you are not alone. Choosing to work with a counselor demonstrates a willingness to explore and grow. You and your therapist will identify patterns. You will also map out new directions. This process will enrich your life and the lives of all those around you!