Nobody wants to be That Guy
What’s negative masculinity? Well, nobody actually knows…but most men know that its an unwritten rule that they should NEVER be perceived as being ‘that guy’ – its almost a staple in media representations of ‘how men are’… boorish, aggressive, inconsiderate, did I mention aggressive? What about rapey (which isn’t a word as far as I know…but we know what it means nonetheless) Nobody really wants to be That Guy – In short – men want to appear to be the exact opposite – considerate, not aggressive, non-threatening, friendly, not, NOT aggressive and generally easy to get along with. And not aggressive. At all.
We’ve been trained to keep our masculinity on a short leash – to hold ourselves in check and to constantly monitor HER. Her face, her energy, her responses and movements for clues, cues and permission to move forward, to be authentically ourselves, waiting for permission to reveal ourselves. We try as hard as possible to be what we consider safe and dependable. Comfortable. Someone that a woman can feel safe around and with. Picture that adolescent guy on his first movie date and his internal angst – sitting there facing the screen but can’t see the movie – he’s in a world of torment because he wants desperately to put his arm around the girl, to touch her – but he knows he can’t just DO it…not without her agreement. And in the absence of her permission he’s bewildered – should he go forward? Wait? Retreat? He’s stuck in NEUTRAL. Imagine spending your life like that and you have a window into what Life In Neutral feels like for many men.
Meanwhile, in the same theater, approximately 1 half inch away she sits waiting for him. Hoping, perhaps longing – and much of the time becoming more and more frustrated. Eventually he makes his move. Even though she wanted it before, she doesn’t want it now.. its not personal, its an energetic thing. Consider this – for the last little while his energy has vacillated between tense and tentative and tense and neutral and she’s instinctively turned off by that. Instead of melting into the ‘safety’ of his arms, she’s stiff, unresponsive and irritated. His inner critic instantly begins kicking his ass for screwing things up. Or perhaps he becomes irritated in response to her irritation. She asks what’s wrong – he doesn’t respond, preferring to keep his thoughts to himself.. thinking ‘why make things worse than they already are?’. Both come away from the encounter thinking…I don’t like this..I don’t understand you.
In many of our relationships, the masculine NEUTRAL causes the person carrying the feminine energy to shift gears in an attempt to restore the polarity balance. They becomes strong and unwavering to counter the void they perceive in the NEUTRAL guy. This is a MASSIVE energy drain for her – with one person feeling they have to be strong and unwavering and dynamic and ephemeral by turns…and the other person stuck in Neutral. What many of us fail to understand is that it is our desire to please, the desire to show up as something else – keeping your masculinity in check and defined by popular culture and goofy ass media representations is at the heart of why you and your woman dont get along as well as you could. NEUTRAL keeps you from the passion that you both need and deserve.
YES you can change things, but there’s a cost associated with that..
Most men that I know carry around a secret reserve of strength – but because they are stuck in neutral most of the time, like a car – the engine is running, but the drivetrain isn’t engaged and they are unable to move either forward or backward. Because of spending so much time in the neutral zone where ‘being a GOOD man’ is seen as being very dis-passionate and agreeable, this can be very confusing to the man stuck in Neutral.
“I try to get along with everyone” – “I do my job, I don’t cause trouble” and this one – which is probably the most confusing and the source of the most unintended heartache in relationships: “I try to get along with her and go along with just about EVERYTHING that she wants…and we still do not get along!!! I DONT GET IT! I devote my life, my finances, my resources…everything to her happiness…and she’s STILL not happy. WTF!?”
I hear this a lot from men that are confused and unhappy – they are doing what they consider to be their very best at being a ‘good guy’ – and it seems that the more they try to ‘make her happy’ the more her irritation seems to be on a hair trigger. These guys are often situationally wavery and generally are perceived by most people that they know as a ‘good guy’- they try their best to get along with everyone by not being objectionable to anyone. Because they don’t ‘stand’ for anything, they have no passionate positions or feeling about anything (other than getting along with everyone and being nice) they are often frustrated as to why they aren’t noticed, are passed over for promotions or leadership positions and do not feel like they are truly ‘seen’ by anyone. They push this frustration down into their belly and spend a lot of their thought-life imagining living a life that is drastically different from the life that they feel ‘stuck’ in.
Next time – How to get out of NEUTRAL into DRIVE