By now, you know that a man’s childhood affects his relationship with you.
By the time he could walk, he already had a sense of whether it was safe to get emotionally close to his caregivers.
Even as a baby, he’d already developed strategies to deal with the stress of an absent or unattuned caregiver.
Chances are, he’s repeating those same patterns with you—even though he’s no longer a baby and you’re most certainly not his mother!
You can know everything about your guy’s attachment style and trauma history…
And STILL not understand what is going through that head of his.
Why does he act this way?
Why does he sabotage your relationship right when it feels like you’re getting closer?
There’s one more layer you must know about:
The way your guy was trained to “be a man” has EVERYTHING to do with the way he mistreats you or disrespects you in relationship.
The Problem with Man Training
As women, we spent our girlhood learning to be nice, get along with others, and people-please.
Those skills made us good at relationships (even if it was at our own expense).
Boys get different training.
The first imperative for a boy is to not be ANYTHING like a girl.
That means that he must:
- Stuff down his emotions
- Prefer sports to art
- Say little
- Know it all
- Tolerate pain without complaint
- Do stupid or risky stuff to show bravery
- Project confidence at all times
- Fight his way up the social hierarchy
- Never betray a bro
- Treat women as objects
Do you think that a young man who’s learned to stuff down his feelings and treat women as objects is going to be good at relationships?
He may be good at sexual conquests because of his cocky confidence, but…
When he gets into actual relationships, he won’t know what to do.
He may feel like his girlfriend is trying to feminize him by trying to get him to talk about his feelings or reveal his insecurities.
He might get shamed by his guy friends if he inadvertently reveals how much he loves her. A guy is “supposed to” choose his brothers over a woman.
Older men, who grew up in a more traditional era, are often bound by even more severe constraints.
Some men get angry with their wives for wanting to spend more time together or work on the relationship.
They believe that their only responsibility is to be a good provider. It’s HER job to take care of all the emotional stuff and not bother them about it.
It’s almost as if…
The way boys are trained to be men makes them bad at relationships by design.
Is It Possible to Un-Train Him?
Would you listen to your guy tell you how to be a better woman?
Of course not!
That’s why it won’t work for you to tell him how to be a better man.
Even if he has some really weird beliefs, it’s his right to define manhood for himself.
If he feels you’re making him choose between being a man and being with you, he’ll ALWAYS choose being a man.
However, you can give him food for thought.
This weirdly revealing question can get you off on a good start.
(Lest you think this work is just for men, I encourage you to question what you’ve been taught about being a good woman.)
One last thing…
A lot of good men are speaking out and sharing a healthy vision for what it means to be a man in the 21st century. (See The Good Men Project.)
They’re proud to be men and proud of the values men stand for, like integrity, service, authenticity, and accountability.
They’re changing how the next generation views masculinity.
Someday, stuffing down emotions and treating women as objects might seem ridiculously old-fashioned.
Real men have feelings and care deeply about those they love. How could it have ever been different?
Let us know what you think!