He grew up in a world where men weren’t supposed to be friends with women, but he decided that world wasn’t for him.
Cheryl her name was. Christ she was absolutely stunning. It was a hot summers evening, the skies were dark blue and the wind had a nice and warm breeze to it. Two thin but sky-length clouds trailed above like aeroplane smoke. I glanced over again just to be sure. She had long shiny blonde hair, you could see from where I was sitting that her breasts were of bigger size than normal, they lay heavily tucked away in her short top. Short tops were trending that year. Her curvaceous features were amazing which really added value to her smooth facial features. I started to dream for a split second. I imagined what it would be like to be leading her up to my bedroom, my first time ever. I began to feel a bulge in my pants. She was standing with another friend just behind the crossline of our Sunday league football ground. I was laying on my side, relaxing behind the football goals enjoying watching the game. I looked back over to her friend that was looming over me with a big grin on her face. Her smile was welcoming and she looked very friendly. Her friendliness was quickly turning as I stalled for a few moments into impatientness.
“Well then? Are you going to get fixed with my mate or not?” Getting fixed with a person in our local lingo meant that we would be dating of some form. Usually it meant a fumble or more behind some shed.
I choked. I was becoming fast aware that I was somehow blossoming and becoming more appealing to the eye than I previously was. I would love to have taken the risk and went for it but my extremely low self esteem and anxiety were enveloping me in that all too familiar darkness. It was like an overpowering negativity that asked me these simple things. What will other people say? Will she reject you after one kiss? Look at what happened to your Mum and Dad. My answers to myself were never normal. Nowhere near. They were the answers of a kid that had been kicked down too many times to recall.
I remember walking home that night. The extreme frustration and internal anger that I could feel yet not completely understanding why I had said no. The thought of being next to that girl had sent my testosterone in a spin yet when it came to answering a simple question I couldn’t bring myself to do it. I felt so silly. So embarrassing. So humiliating. I had rejected myself. Not the pretty girl.
I would have given more examples but that was so excruciatingly hard and embarrassing to write one example will be enough.
But by no means was this the last rejection either. I’d been offered so many times from 16 to 18 years old that the hatred and frustration for myself grew and grew to an insurmountable rate. I was a pillar of self hatred and self delusion. I had worked myself up to be this inexplicably ugly and horrible person inside that there’s no way I could be successful in dating and love.
Alcohol however had came to me as a godsend and at about the right time. As I’ve said in my last articles that alcohol made me the Lion that I always wanted to be. So by my 18th Birthday I had finally lost my virginity. And well on my way to winging it for gender team male.
I’ve always liked women. Ever since the days when I was very little and in primary school I can remember being curious of what they were doing and games they were playing. But I come from a stricter age than today’s youngsters. I come from an age where it was expected that boys play football and girls play skip rope and hopscotch. And if you strayed from the path, boy were you looked at differently. And it definitely wasn’t cool to be gay. No way. “That’s just weird,” as one boy would say to the next. We came from an age where men were stiff as boards and women did their own thing. Genders were different and that’s all there is to it.
But what if you were like me? I’m a gentle soul. I had to get used to rough and tumble at school when I generally didn’t like it. And I had no father to guide me. So Like any kid in a jungle with natures odds stacked up against him I adapted. I became the boy, and eventually the man that beat his chest and kicked a ball as hard as any other man in a friendly game of football. Actually, I became quite good at it.
It never really occurred to me that I was of gentler nature until I met Natalie. She taught me more about myself than I ever would have managed to on my own. The introspection began to happen as my Son grew older. And watching him build upon his achievements and grow in his own way I began to realise. Began to realise that I wasn’t this big hard person that throws caution to the wind whenever trouble is thrown his way. I’m actually soft as shit. And that’s fine. As we break gender stereotypes and move more and more towards embracing diversity I feel that this is fine.
I feel men in general are brought up to believe that men and women are entirely different. Not strictly from a familial perspective but also from a social stance too. And an instinctual stance. But we’re not as different as it may seem. We still want the same outcome in life. We still want to have a close community of friends, family and someone that loves us. I think the quicker we realise this the better it will be for us all.
All through my single and dating life I feel that the hatred for myself was brought upon the pain and frustration that I would add into the bigger equation. There’s only so much rejection, anger and confusion that one person can take before it boils over. Right? That was my downfall. I had no-one to talk to. No-one to truly open up to and cry my eyes out to and be hugged and told that everything would be fine. Mum always wanted me to have a balanced view of everything. I couldn’t come to Mum. She would always take everyone else’s side in hopes that I see things from a different perspective. But sometimes a dude’s just got to have someone agree with him right? I couldn’t talk to anyone. I held it deep inside.
It’s hard for men. Men are brought up to believe that emotions are nasty horrible things that should be hidden away from society like some dirty little secret. Emotions are dirty. Displaying emotion is bad. So when we try (but fail) to pull our robotic faces when we are clearly experiencing raw, burning and passionate sensations we saunter off into our little man caves to settle down. Regardless if we’re single or with partner.
I think we get it wrong with women. I think we generally have it totally wrong. We spend so long hiding our emotions away that we forget what some feelings are like. I spent half my life thinking that women who wanted to be my friend wanted more than that. Mainly because I had hidden my emotions away for so long that I forgot the difference between genuine connection friendship and actual attraction and wanting to be with someone. Even in the last five years, when my wife wanted a hug (and believe me she just wants a hug most of the time) I used to frequently get aroused. Why? Because I had spent so long objectifying women and hiding my emotions that I couldn’t differentiate between emotional connection and physical connection, or both.
We are the same
It occurred to me that after I realised the difference, and what it feels like to be connected with on a friendship level with women they just want the same as men. Literally, all the outputs are the same; albeit worked in a different way. You show me a woman that doesn’t crave the same things a man does. Connection, friendship, family, acceptance, collaboration, cohesion, trending, conformity, etc.
As I move towards embracing my emotions and accepting myself for who I am I seem to be finding it harder to make any new friendships with men. Perhaps it’s just the way I am? I find that I connect better with women and that my interests align better. Perhaps it’s because I’m more in tune with my emotions? I’m not so sure. Or perhaps it’s because I’m gentle. And I like to talk about feelings and flowers and purple stuff.
Don’t get me wrong the people that I have been friends with for as long as I can remember are all men. There’s Ben, there’s Baz and there’s Andrew. All who have been my friends since I’ve barely been out of nappies, and I really enjoy being in their company. Yet I feel many men lose out on good friendships with women because they can’t see past their willies. And I can hear the complete frustration calls of women when all they want to do is make friends with interesting people!!
So here’s a thought for us. Why not the next time we meet a woman, when in a relationship or not, why don’t we use our brains and have an interesting conversation with her. Instead of re-routing everything to our willies! (I’m guilty as charged too) You never know. We may end up with an absolute amazing friend! Women ARE amazing.
And so are Men!
This article originally appeared on The Relationship Blogger
Photo credit: Getty Images