Just that one word, and you know exactly what I mean. 🙂
You can say it in frustration.
You can say it in anger.
You can say it like you’re savoring candy on the tongue.
Throughout our lives, there have always been two separate camps.
The guys and the gals.
The boys and the girls.
The dudes and the chicks.
We live by different codes.
We strive for different things.
Yet somehow we’re expected to come together and merge seamlessly as one for a lifetime.
In a world that WANTS us to see men and women as separate…
With black masculine razors and pink feminine razors, with spicy men’s deodorant and sweet women’s deodorant, with muscle cars for the guys and hatchbacks for the gals…
It’s hard to see how we could ever come together long enough to want the same thing.
So let me tell you a little story about what I think is happening, and how it’s affecting our ability to connect.
Way Back When
Maybe you remember a boy you knew way back when…
Who had a tender heart and sweet emotions and happiness that shone from his grin.
He was so good. So kind. So caring.
But then he grew into a man, and he learned to close his emotions down. To pretend that nothing bothered him. To see other people as prizes for the taking.
You look into his eyes now and seek for traces of the happy boy you remembered…
And instead you see shadows.
He’s pulled the curtains of his emotional life shut.
Life Changes Us
We all have to grow up.
We learn that our innocence isn’t safe.
We must find ways to shield ourselves against rejection.
Then when we meet, man to woman, our shields bump up against each other. It’s all hard edges and awkward clanks. We pretend that’s normal. We pretend that our shields are who we are.
When we go out into the dating scene, we are not seeing men for who they are.
We are seeing their shields.
Shields Give Us The Confidence to Date
Shields can be gorgeous things.
They can be big and powerful and shiny and impressive.
You might like to be seen with a man with such a stunning shield. Shields intimidate other men. Shields tell everyone the kind of man on your arm.
But where there are shields there is no love.
And that’s the way it should be, some men think. Love is for girls. I don’t need love.
Why would he drop his shield, when underneath is a pale trembling underbelly that’s never been loved enough?
He doesn’t want ANY woman to see that.
It’s everything he’s been told women reject.
It’s needy. It’s vulnerable. It’s soft.
He doesn’t remember childhood, when that soft underbelly was all he was, when he had no censor and everyone knew every single thing he felt. He cried when he hurt, he laughed when he was happy, he hugged when he loved.
But then other people told him to stop feeling.
They told him to quiet down, stop those tears, be a man, feelings are for girls.
He wanted to grow up, so he listened. He shut his feelings away. He became a man.
He owes everything he is today to that shield.
That shield made him a man.
That shield made him tough.
That shield earned him the respect of other men.
But then along comes this woman…
Who shows him her feelings and asks him to show her his.
What is he supposed to do?
The Fear of Feeling
He’s safe behind the shield. He doesn’t trust anyone. He’s let down his shield before, and the woman rammed a sword through his guts.
So he fakes his feelings.
He pretends to feel.
He shows her a great time, he makes her laugh, he teases her, he tells her he loves her…
Never letting her know he’s faking it. He’s saying what she expects him to say. His shield is welded so tightly to his chest he can’t imagine life without it.
And she SO wants to believe everything he’s saying—that he cares for her, that he wants to be with her, that he can see a future with her—that she never notices he’s only saying what she wants to hear.
He’s never gotten naked emotionally with her.
If he got truly naked, she’d see that he was lonely and sad and unsure and a mess, and that would repel her. He can tell she’s attracted to the way he seems so strong and self-assured and confident.
This is Us
This is where so many of us are at.
We are so afraid of not being wanted.
We are so afraid of turning people off.
We are so afraid of losing our chance at relationship.
So we pretend with each other.
Online dating makes it easy to pretend.
As long as you’re texting and exchanging messages and pics, you can be whoever you want to be.
Sometimes, to me, it feels like singles today have been forced into a reality TV show where their lives must look good on screen in order for them to have a chance at love.
(Do you ever feel that way? That all that matters is that you look good and sound good?)
How do we stop this trend?
How do we get back to love?
I have some ideas that I’ll share in my next post, but for now… what do YOU think?