Do You Really Want A Sensitive Guy?

Real Men KnitWomen tell me they need a man to be emotionally sensitive, in touch with his feelings.

Two minutes later that same woman will tell me they want their man to stand up to them, to not let them always get their way. They want a strong, powerful man who is rugged and independent. They actually say that, “I don’t want to get my way.” (Am I to believe them?)

Well which is it?

I have written before of the influence of the myth of Prince Charming and the princess in popular culture. There is strong evidence to suggest that many women, for example, raised on Disney stories and fairy tales still yearn to be treated like a princess – adored, elevated, protected, honored by a strong and beautiful man. No where in Prince Charming’s resume does it require him to be emotionally available, or in touch with his feminine side.

There is a significant dichotomy at play in the dominant female heterosexual culture. Women confess all the time that they are looking for both traits in their man – strength and vulnerability. There is something attractive about a guy who strong and self-contained (if you don’t believe me wait until my upcoming article on How to Pick Up Vulnerable Twenty-somethings). A man who is powerful has long been an aphrodisiac. Most men of my generation were raised to emulate such guys – Eastwood, Arnold, Pitt, Stallone. Today many woman also are attracted to a man who can cry, is sensitive, and can even pretend to be a glittery vampire and lie beside you all night not asking for anything, only staring at you sleep. It is a tall order.

It is no wonder then that men are experiencing an identity crisis like never before in history. A generation often raised by females, guys today are not sure how to behave. We are still supposed to have muscles, though we now shave everywhere. We are supposed to have both masculine and feminine characteristics (not my contention but it seems that way to the average construction worker). Our fathers did not help around the house (though mine did), did not share their feelings, did not watch Househunters International. In fact, our predecessors didn’t do much around the house at all. My grandfather came home from work everyday and proceeded to drink himself sleepy. For all I know he may not have had actual feelings about things, it never came up. We had dress codes and opinions, not feelings. For thousands of years men knew who they were and what was expected of them. Women weren’t happy but we really didn’t seem to notice and if they did complain it was because we thought it was “their time of month”. It was easy to be a man, in peace time.

It’s hard to be a guy, really. I had the amazing opportunity to be a single parent for most of my children’s young lives so I learned the hard way that I can actually cook, do dishes, read and do homework with the kids, go to parent-teacher night, and talk about feelings. I am almost certain that I would not have learned those lessons if I hadn’t been forced to.

There is no training for men. We have had difficulty looking to male role models from our past. We have not been able to talk about our struggles until recently and now we have no idea how. Men are emotionally immature but in our defense we have had little practice. Recently I was out for drinks with my eldest son and a few close friends when I made the mistake of saying something to the effect that it’s cool that we can get together and talk about deep issues. My son turned to me and said, “Dad, we don’t talk about this crap when you aren’t here!” It’s true. Social protocol has dictated, for literally thousands of years, that we do the exact opposite. Men who gush are weak. Effeminate men or even those in touch with their feelings were ridiculed.

So please be patient with us. We are undergoing a cultural and anthropological shift that is unparalleled in history.
Most of us still are trying to figure out what a clitoris is.

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25 thoughts on “Do You Really Want A Sensitive Guy?

  1. I like this article. I agree with it and I’m a woman.

    “It is no wonder then that men are experiencing an identity crisis like never before in history. A generation often raised by females, guys today are not sure how to behave.”

    I agree.

    I would say that the females are just as confused. We have the fairy tales of childhood, then we have the media focusing on our physical beauty, and movies that promote “You complete me” ideas.

    But I am not the typical female. I’d prefer to parse Nietzsche or discuss atheism than watch decorating shows. My husband and I tend to watch Elementary or Sons of Anarchy together.

    “So please be patient with us. We are undergoing a cultural and anthropological shift that is unparalleled in history.
    Most of us still are trying to figure out what a clitoris is.”

    I laughed. Nice.

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  5. I have to admit that I think you’re right (it was hard to admit that. LOL) but don’t you think it goes the other way too? Maybe not to the same extreme but I am expected to be a woman who can do anything, yet at the same time I am supposed to ‘need my man’ for rescuse me from spiders. One minute I am supposed to be able to save myself and the next I’m told that is not sexy. Actually I think this is a battle on both sides of the fence. You just gotta love those ones. ;-)

  6. Sexist? Don’t think so. ‘Sexism’ is about gender-specific stereotypes and prejudices imposed on people in a way that denies a huge variation within each gender. Your article is about some gender-specific patterns in the society. We have yet to see a ‘sexless’ society on this planet without any gender-specific patterns where males and females would be totally identical and feel, look and behave in a totally identical way. Until we get such sexless society, there will always be certain gender-specific patterns and traits that should be studied like all the other patterns and traits in the society. While identifying certain gender-specific patterns, your article does not deny huge variation within each gender. I wonder whether some readers might have perceived your article ‘sexist’ because of small linguistic nuances rather than its content (e.g. using ‘women’ instead of ‘some women’ or ‘men’ instead of ‘some men’)? May be, ‘some women/men tell me’ would be perceived less sexist than ‘women/men tell me’?

  7. Great post Scott. Thank you! Indeed a time of change within gender roles! Ashanam’s comment has some really good points as well. I believe that what women want is not a guy who is gushy and can cry, we want a man who is self-aware. Knows who he is and is able to express both his thoughts and emotions with confidence. He knows being vulnerable does not equal weak, it means open. Sensitive does not mean push-over it means awareness of his surroundings and what he says or does may bring up for others. But indeed it is still a trek ahead as you say, role models are scarce but, hopefully, the liberating factor of finally being authentic and able to express one’s true self will be enticing enough to get us all to the next societal evolutionary level.

  8. Ahhh! It’s not easy being female either. In today’s world you need to be able to take care of yourself — that means supporting yourself and possibly a family all by yourself; haggling with the car repair guy and any contractor looking at you like you are easy cash. Strong women often intimidate men so you end up walking a fine line or perhaps looking for a more sensitive man.

  9. It sounds like what you are hearing is that women mostly, really want to be with another woman. Because women are often vulnerable and can talk about their feelings, but this doesn’t mean they aren’t assertive or always give in. Men don’t talk about feelings as much as women seem to want them to, and they also cave too often because they are afraid of conflict and of having to deal with feelings. I think they also may lack real skills for working through conflicts. Women talking to their friends disagree, they negotiate about what to do, what to eat, where to go. They don’t just surrender or resort to emotional blackmail. And if a conflict comes up and it hurts someone, they talk about that too. That is both strength and vulnerability. And I think that’s what women are telling you they want.

  10. This post is profound and insightful!…Women all over the world could learn something from reading this….If we didn’t already assume we know more than men… Lol …Just in case you are unsure, I am a woman…. and I was like that and I have seen the error of my ways and am working on making big changes to my expectations. Having an old school man who is vulnerable helps ,a lot though.. Needless to say that I would not like nor have ever liked the idea of a glittery vampire watching me sleep and thinking it was soooo SWEET! Gag!! Hahahaha

  11. just wanted to know generaly……why are almost all your articles are in the favour of men ??? dont you have any knowledge about feminity and their world ;)

      • Very good post, Scott. :-) I think aishwarya_pahwa is kidding :-) It would be impossible to find a blog that favours women more, than yours and does that in a very well balanced manner. I like that your blog ‘favours’ both men and women in a good way – by explaining things that they might not be able to easily see or experience themselves (like explaining what’s happening inside men’s and women’s minds and souls, explaining both female and male perspectives and points of view). I’ve seen lots of very agressive blogs on the internet, which are pretending to be ‘supporting’ and ‘promoting’ women’s views while instead locking women in the cycle of aggression and making them totally blind to other perspectives and views. Don’t think that those blogs are doing any ‘favour’ to either men or women.

      • Sexist? Don’t think so. ‘Sexism’ is about gender-specific stereotypes and prejudices imposed on people in a way that denies a huge variation within each gender. Your article is about some gender-specific patterns in the society. We have yet to see a ‘sexless’ society on this planet without any gender-specific patterns where males and females would be totally identical and feel, look and behave in a totally identical way. Until we get such sexless society, there will always be certain gender-specific patterns and traits that should be studied like all the other patterns and traits in the society. While identifying certain gender-specific patterns, your article does not deny huge variation within each gender. I wonder whether some readers might have perceived your article ‘sexist’ because of small linguistic nuances rather than its content (e.g. using ‘women’ instead of ‘some women’ or ‘men’ instead of ‘some men’)? May be, ‘some women/men tell me’ would be perceived less sexist than ‘women/men tell me’?

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