Four aspects of masculine immaturity prevent men from being authentic friends with women. I’ve struggled with all of them. I’m learning.
As a man, I believe mature men can be legitimate, authentic friends with the women we’re sexually attracted to. We can work respectfully alongside them, hang out with them, have lunch with them, talk sincere and impartial with them about their boyfriends and husbands, and do pretty much anything else we’d do with any friend. Mature men can experience sexual attraction and still honor healthy boundaries with women. Mature men can do this. Mature. Men.
On the other hand, adolescent boys—and men perpetually stuck in adolescence—will have difficulty being honest friends with the women they’re sexually attracted to. To be clear, this isn’t about going from intimate relationship to friends. That’s called a breakup and deserves different consideration. The question I’m posing is:
Can men be authentic friends with women they want to sleep with but haven’t and won’t because those women don’t seem interested in sleeping with them?
This blog is about men who, like adolescents new to the sexual experience, haven’t yet learned how to move their sexual energy in healthy, constructive ways; men who live at the mercy of attractions that complicate their interactions with women. Our culture constantly feeds us immature ideas about what it means to be a man: real men win at all costs, make the important rules, make lots of money, sleep with lots of women, have the biggest dick in the room, don’t cry or feel emotions or show weakness, etc. As a result, most adult men are profoundly confused about what it means to be a healthy mature man, whether we admit it or not—and of course most can’t admit it because that would be a mature thing to do. I have been confused for 20 years, and I never even knew it.
That said, here are four aspects of masculine immaturity that can prevent us from being honest friends with women we’re attracted to:
1. Men have not learned how to be with their sexual energy without having to do something about it.
Like adolescent boys, most grown men in our culture don’t have a clue how to simply be with the powerful masculine sexual energy coursing through our bodies.
It owns us. The basic story culture has taught me is that I was born an uncontrollable ravenous shark in a pool filled with tasty guppies. I was then given two strong conflicting directives: (a) eating guppies is a measure of a man’s worth, and (b) try not to hurt any guppies. I was then left on my own to deal this dilemma while living inside a sexually charged body ready to pound the bottom out of a boat with every erection. Whenever confronted with intense sexual experiences in my body, I would choose the easiest of shame, sex, or masturbation as my main options for quickly dealing with it.
No one ever taught me how to wield my sexual energy in intentional, respectful ways; how to direct it constructively. Most men never learn this. Most men cope with some version of this inner turmoil in countless unhealthy ways: we sex it, money it, game it, work it, porn it, drug and alcohol it, TV it, shame it, deny it, or anger it into oblivion. But by doing so we live perpetually disoriented, a detriment to ourselves, a detriment to the women we genuinely love, and to those we don’t. As long as a man is owned by his sexual energy, he remains stuck in sexual adolescence. Unfortunately this kind of man is all too common in our world. An attractive, intelligent woman who writes for major blogs recently blasted out this frustrated public denunciation on Facebook: “If a man has a penis, he wants to sleep with you. Period. It doesn’t matter how old he is.”
When a Man matures by learning how to be intentional with his sexual energy and not slave to it, he embodies the essence of what author Byron Katie wrote: “Just because a man has an erection doesn’t mean he has to do anything with it.” Then he can be genuine friends with an attractive woman.
2. Men don’t know the difference between authentic love, romantic love, and sexual energy.
In his book, Intimate Communion, David Deida talks about three unique aspects of love: authentic love, romance, and polarity (sexual energy). Like adolescent teens confused about the rich new experiences happening in their bodies, most men still confuse sexual polarity with romantic love. With such a man, you can trace the entire path from lust to love along the contours of a petite woman’s aerodynamic ass. Such lust-love thoughts tempt me all the time in the presence of attractive women, insisting I could surely love the complex person attached to those yummy long legs. But I’m learned that such thoughts are usually just mental leakage from my lizard brain. I’m learning not to trust them. It is fascinating to have witnessed my own experience of what felt like love for a woman essentially vanish in the afterglow of a powerful orgasm. It’s astonishing—and disturbing—just how quickly sex can switch a male mind from the “ocean-deep loving” setting to “kiddie-pool shallow.”
While genuine romantic love is fairly elusive, men can experience sexual polarity with different women … every … single … day. Polarity attraction happens. Constantly. In the grocery store. At the DMV. In our cars. At the bars. On a plane. In a rocket ship to the stars. We’re like polarized magnets walking around bumping into each other everywhere. Of course we’re going to feel the pull. That doesn’t mean we have to act on it. Sadly, many immature men use this polarity-love confusion to manipulate women into sex, which helps confuse the trust right out of women.
For us to become mature men, we must learn to distinguish this sexual polarity energy from both romantic love and deeper authentic love. We must stop manipulating women into false romances fueled only by sexual energy. We must gain some level of mastery around how we ultimately wield that sexual energy.
3. Most men do not fully respect the boundaries set by women, because they do not fully respect women.
Adolescent boys and aging toddlers clearly make up most of culture’s rules. We still don’t fully respect most feminine ways of being. We place high value on the masculine expressions of competition, rational thinking, control and domination, achievement for achievement’s sake, etc. We place far less value on the feminine gifts of intuition, consensus, holistic well-being, beauty for its own sake, vulnerability. This bias is so fundamental to our culture that I don’t even need to offer examples to convince you (think: politics, business, war, zillionaire sports athletes, broke school teachers, and on and on).
Until we men fully honor and understand that a healthy functioning world requires feminine wisdom as much as masculine wisdom, we will not be able to fully respect the boundaries of our hot female friends. We will continue exploiting weakness in their defenses, whether with subtle manipulation or outright violence.
4. Men don’t know how to be authentically vulnerable.
Most men don’t know how to be with awkward feelings and experiences without having to do something manly about them. We believe we are supposed to act on our feelings, even if that means forcibly suppressing or drowning them in addictions. We are compelled to take whatever action will get us most quickly away from our discomfort. That’s why we hate it when women cry. We don’t know a middle way. We don’t know how to simply be with awkward truths. We don’t know how to express our real truth without playing for an outcome.
Because so much of our worth is tied to a woman’s approval, being vulnerable is particularly difficult in relationship to women. Our fragile adolescent egos can’t risk feminine rejection of our authentic inner worlds. So we’ll be vulnerable and tell women how we feel, but we’ll do our best to control the scenario so that we either get what we want in the end or keep them far enough away that they can’t possibly reject us. Which is how adolescent boys behave.
It’s hard to create genuine friendships without being genuinely vulnerable. Even with other men.
Imagine a world where Men could differentiate between sexual energy, romance, and pure love; and where we could acknowledge this openly, without shame, to the women in his world who would appreciate his honesty. Imagine a world where Men could breathe into their sexual energy and simply enjoy their own erections without always having to do something with them. Imagine a world where Men fully respected Women and the wisdom they bring. Imagine a world where Men knew how to be vulnerable with their deepest truths, their joys and their sorrows, and could easily share them with women (and men) without manipulating for an outcome in the sharing. Wouldn’t the Men in such a world make for incredible masculine friends to women? … not to mention spine-tingling intimate partners, too.
Originally appeared on ThisWildWakingJourney
– Photo: JohnSeidman/Flickr