Rarely seen in the wild, and often referred to as the stuff fairy tales are made of, the question is often asked: “Where are the emotionally available men?” Or, more to the point, “Why are there no emotionally available men?”
What I am about to share with you is top secret.
I could get into trouble for this, but I want to help, and I want you to know that: 1) I am one, and 2) there are more like me.
All kidding aside, it is no secret that I am emotionally available. I know that secret is out because I get messages every day from (mostly) women asking why there aren’t more of me. So, I guess the real secret in this scenario is that there are emotionally available men here in existence. There are quite a few of us.
The other secret is that there are men who would like to be but, for various reasons that I will get into, are not tapping into that part of themselves.
Before I get deeper into this, I will say that yes, absolutely, there are many men who are not emotionally available. I acknowledge this, and I know that there is much work to do. There are many reasons for this, and I will name a few.
Please understand that I do not use excuses and that my presentation of reasons is for informational and understanding purposes. Men have not been emotionally available because we have not been taught how to be. Any display of emotion has been used against us.
As young boys, if we get upset, cry or talk about our hurt feelings, we are told to toughen up, get over it and shut it down. If we don’t, we are called pussies, wusses, pansies, little bitches and so on. We are raised to believe that our feelings and emotions are parts of us to be ashamed of, and then as we become adults when our partners ask us to open up to them, we don’t know what to do.
Even for me, the admitted emotionally available man; I can say that it has not been ok for me to express myself in my life. I remember being in my first fight in the third grade. I got into the fight because I was challenged and I had never been in one before. As third graders, we all talked tough, and we were all working hard to assert ourselves.
Another boy and I had some minor disagreement, and he said to me, “You wanna fight about it?” I said, “Sure,” and we went and found ourselves a part of the playground to have our brawl. We traded blows. Mostly he did some flying Bruce Lee kicks. One or two landed. I don’t think I connected with him at all. Then I became disinterested and headed back to the tetherball court where this all began.
When we got there, to my dismay, he tried to kick me! I caught his foot, and we stood there, eyes locked, his foot in my hand, frozen for a few seconds. I didn’t know what to do and figured it was understood that I won at that point, so I let him go.
Then something interesting happened: he walked up and punched me hard in the cheek, twice. I backed off, a teacher came over, and as we were explaining what had happened, another boy kept saying to me, “Matthew, don’t cry. Don’t’ cry.” Crying hadn’t even been on my mind, but then the tears started flowing. I had no idea why, I didn’t understand what was happening, but all I know is that I lost the respect of my friend, the boy I fought and anyone else who was paying attention.
When I was eighteen, I recall a drunken night with friends. I stayed sober because I was the designated driver. And while the night for me had plenty of fun, by the end, as I am sure you can understand, being the sober one amongst several “drunken idiots” took its toll.
My best friend, in particular, was the worst of the drunken idiots. He said some harsh things to me (in jest), made continuous comments about my driving (in jest) and would not let up.
In the most respectful way I could think of, I pulled him aside and let him know that he was hurting my feelings. The result was a barrage of, “You need to lighten up,” “you’re too sensitive” and, my favorite, “maybe you shouldn’t hang out with drunk people.” And while I knew logically that I had done nothing wrong, I took that to heart: “Don’t talk about my feelings and don’t rock the boat.”
As an adult, there has been no shortage of women who say how much they love how in touch with my feelings I am. I have been told what a gift it is that I am so present with them and how they appreciate how much I am willing to share. That is until my “sensitivity” does not align with theirs.
One past partner who had a particularly emasculating tongue repeatedly would assert, “I should be able to say whatever I want to you, without you taking it personally.” Other partners told me that I needed to develop a thicker skin. And all of them, until my most-recent relationship, would use whatever I shared with them in confidence against me at some point.
I get that I chose to be in relationships with these women and that my journey has been one of learning my boundaries, setting them and sticking to them. I continue to work on this. However, my point is that it is not as safe as one might think, to be a man who is emotionally available.
If you are looking for someone who is emotionally available and coming up short, of course, all of the dating, relationship, and law of attraction gurus will tell you to become that which you seek. How emotionally available are you? Are you available to yourself? Are you available enough to be available to someone else? Can you really hold space for someone else’s crap?
The other thing I would ask is, “How safe are you for someone, a man who is on shaky ground as it is, to open up to you?” Do you have judgments and expectations that you can’t set aside or think you shouldn’t have to set aside? Are all bets off in a fight? Are you looking to make him wrong in some way so that you can take a power position?
I ask you to ask yourself these questions without any self-judgment. There is nothing wrong with you if any of these are true, it is simply our conditioning. If your partner, or potential partner, is not open to you, of course, it may be they are just shut down themselves. However, the more likely answer is right here, as always, looking within.
If you are honest with yourself and recognize there is a discrepancy in your alignment or how safe you actually are, know that you can change this. I help people to work through these blocks all the time. It just takes a willingness to look and do the work to make the changes. Emotionally available men are out there. And, the men who may not yet be, just need someone safe enough for them to open up.
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