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I recently read an article at the Good Men Project (you’ll find the link here in my post) about the dark side of women asking their men to become more emotionally open.  Obviously it happens.   Women pressure their men to pour out their souls and later regret it.  Find that they can’t respect him or that they see him as weak.    But is it really a prevalent issue in relationships or society these days?   My first reaction was no, they are probably the exception not the rule.  But on second thought I realized that maybe it’s a bit more of a mixed bag.   That it’s not really a clear cut matter.   Maybe it’s less of a direct relationship between the act of the woman requesting  a more expressive sharing man and the conclusions she reaches of respecting or not respecting him when he opens up.  

It’s possible that she loses respect not because he opened up and bared his soul but because once he stopped pretending to be one thing she recognized she didn’t relate to or respect the thing he really is.   That would be  intrinsically tied to the two individuals involved but not necessarily relational to whether men should or shouldn’t dare to open up.  It’s more a case of reaching a conclusion based on the facts revealed as opposed to reaching a conclusion based on facts withheld.    In other words maybe it’s not a case of men being viewed as weak just because they opened up, but rather because of what they shared.

Take for example a woman who pretends to be something she’s not.  She makes the effort to be sweet at all times.  She never questions him and lets him make all the decisions.  Avoids eating in front of her partner to add to the perception that she’s dainty and will be forever slim,  etc. etc.    One day her partner says to her why don’t you ever get mad?  Why don’t you ever speak your mind?   I’d prefer you were open with me.  It kind of weirds me out that you’re so stepford wife like.  I want you for you, so I want you to be open with me and not always try to be perfect.      Two months later after she has revealed her true self,  doesn’t let him run the show, complains frequently, gossips about his friends, he loses all interest in her.   It’s not that he doesn’t truly want someone to be honest with him or to be real around him, it’s that he didn’t like what this woman was when she revealed the real person behind the pretense.    It wasn’t because someone was real with him, it was because in this particular case he didn’t like who the person really was.

I’m sure there are women who ask for more emotion and later are un-nerved when their men become criers.   Women who stereotype male roles and don’t know how to respond to the variance.   I personally don’t know a woman who loses respect for a man just because he cries, expresses fear or uncertainty or shares his deepest emotions.  But on the same hand I have to be honest and say I don’t know any woman who is comfortable with a man who cries frequently and gushes emotion, fear or uncertainty on a daily basis.   The request for someone to be more emotionally open is by and large sincere.    But that doesn’t mean that extremes in the requester expectations or the responders responses are not going to sometimes factor into the equation.


Emotional (Photo credit: Valerie Everett)

I’m pasting one of the comments below that was made on the article .   It’s interesting to me because of the last line he writes….  Women only desire and respect power.

September  20, 2012 at 7:34 pm

Yes, women asking their men to be more emotionally open is a test. Don’t fall  for it, she very likely will lose respect for you. I, and many other men, have  all experienced this.

My last girlfriend, who had a master’s degree in women’s studies, begged me  for months to open up emotionally. When I did, she told me it made me less  sexually attractive to her because “You’re a man, and you’re supposed to be  stoic.”

Women want men to be strong. Even if they do everything in their power to  weaken us, and convince us otherwise. They only respect and desire  power.

Read more at  http://goodmenproject.com/good-feed-blog/megasahd-the-dark-side-of-womens-requests-of-progressive-men/#kV4uDHlsb7gWTwyK.99

I don’t agree with the comment but it did open questions in my mind.   Questions about my own perceptions of men, what makes a man and what I look for in a man.

I once dated a young man named Wade.   Wade is a sexy name.   He was a very sexy guy.  The kind of guy that looked ready made for a photo shoot, with perfect hair, beautiful eyes, drop dead body.  He rode a motorcycle and looked like a live commercial as he pulled up, flipped his hair, removed his mirror sunglasses, smiling perfectly white teeth from a tanned slightly stubble covered face, swinging his leg over his bike to reveal a perfectly shaped ass in faded Levi jeans, strong carved legs leading down to weathered work boots.   He was HOT.   I was nearly speechless when he asked me out.  Always in awe that he pursued me when every girl I knew or we encountered looked at him beneath fluttering lashes with a longing so deep it burned.

Wade was nice guy.  He ran with a rough fast crowd and it intrigued me that he could also be so gentle and so kind and so tender.   A guy who cooked for you and put out linen tablecloths, packed picnics,  arranged star gazing with wine.   It would seem that this was the perfect man who got away.  That one I’d look back on and say why oh why did I ever let that go?   But for me he wasn’t.    Because I perceived him as weak.

I recently discovered one of my top 5 relationship needs is a person who values personal growth and development and experiencing new things.  Both for themselves and in support of their partner.   A person who challenges you to be better.

 For me when I picture that person I have a perception in my head of strength.  A person who’s emotionally secure.    Wade was not this person.   What at first was romantic attention become smothering.  Where was I at, where was I going, when could he see me again?  He would call and then call 30 minutes later just to hear my voice.   He would gush sentiments about his love, my beauty, our future together, how much he missed me in the past 8 hours, how he couldn’t sleep because he ached to see me again.

At that time I was young, beautiful and full of options.  I had all the time in the world to find a mate.  I could afford to be picky.  I began to question whether this man could ever be strong when I needed him to be strong.  Whether he could support me if I had a sudden opportunity in life that would divert my energy or attention to anything other than him.  At the end of two months he told me he was going to marry me.  Within a week I was moving on.    I hated hurting his feelings.  I missed the attention and yes I missed having every girl envy me.   But I could breath again.

None of that was because he was emotionally open, which is something I value highly in a partner!  It was because he was emotionally needy.   And so I wonder if this perception that women are only testing men is one that really holds up.   I don’t think it does.  Not from the majority of women.   I wonder how many women push for emotional intimacy and then reject the man who provides it and I personally believe that the percentage of women who do so is very small.   And I wonder if men who open up emotionally and are hurt when women reject them in the end have made a false conclusion.  Determined it was because they opened up instead of hiding behind their bravado.    Perhaps though it is simply a case of two people who are not meant to be together rather than evidence that opening emotionally to a person will always lead to rejection.     Hiding who we are never works in real life.    Even superman struggled in that regard..

 Superman: Up, Up and Away!

The real question I have is which is worse?    Hiding who you are to keep someone and maintain an image?   Or opening up and finding out the person is not the person you were meant to be with?  Isn’t it worth being a little vulnerable to find the person that clicks perfectly with who we really are?

What are your thoughts?