Most men are touch starved, touch phobic or sexualize a tender touch.
Many men have never availed themselves to a therapeutic massage by males or females. I was one of those men into my 30s. The first time I received a healing massage, I wept and wondered why I’d waited so long and why I had to pay $30 (back then) for human touch when lots of people got it for free.
To be hugged by a man was taboo in the Deep South of my raising. Real men shook hands. Some of us eventually graduated and upgraded to what I call the “Heterosexual A-Frame Hug.” This is a leaning, barely touching, beating the hell out of each other’s backs, for no longer than 1 ½ seconds.
You see many men that I grew up with were, and some are still, “Homophobic.” This term has lost its true meaning. The word does not mean fear of gay people; it means: Homo = Man, Phobic = fear – fear of men – the competition, bullying, beatings, cheated, lied to, molested and abused by fathers, uncles, Priests, etc.
So all this has led to men not only alienated from men but isolated and lonely in their own bodies. Perhaps this is one of the many reasons men die earlier than women and are lonely to their core and ultimately leads to a breakdown of male friendships and male non-sexual intimacy, the lack of mentors, and the fear of being held in general, which after thousands of hours of therapy and men’s work a lot of us finally receive a safe man’s embrace.
Here is an excerpt from Canadian poet, Alden Nowlan:
“He Sits Down on the Floor for the School of the Retarded”
…It’s what we all want, in the end,
to be held, merely to be held,
to be kissed, (not necessarily with the lips,
for every touching is a kind of kiss).
Yes, it’s what we want, in the end
not to be worshipped, not to be admired,
not to be famous, not to be feared,
not even to be loved, but simply to be held.Don’t like ads? Become a supporter and enjoy The Good Men Project ad free
So What’s the Holdup on Being Held?
Touch-starved men might be interested in considering the following ideas.
- Most men either have one male friend who lives in Russia or Tasmania, but they haven’t met face to face in 30 years, or they have none – solution? Get more men in your life.
- Where to go to get a healthy male hug or simply to be held? Men’s gatherings like the one I led two weeks ago in the mountains of North Georgia – 70 good men with Mentor Discover Inspire (MDI)! 12-Step Programs that sober men attend. Go to a Mankind Weekend – an excellent place for male comradery.
- Stop settling for bullshit conversations sometimes, not always, but talk and listen to what is going on inside of them and you.
- Deal with the “Moral Injury” perpetrated on you by boys and men and the hurt and injury we have done to other men. (Definition of Moral Injury: An injury, a wound to an individual’s moral conscience and compass when men witness or fail to prevent acts that go against deeply held codes of conduct. Moral injury is a betrayal of what’s right and often results in PTSD because of unprocessed grief, guilt, anger, embarrassment and shame.)
- Remember C.G. Jung’s words, “Condemnation does not liberate, it oppresses.” So don’t condemn men who need to be touched, and for God’s sake, don’t condemn yourself for still being alive, breathing, touch-starved man.
John Herald Lee
You can connect with John on his website: johnleebooks.com