When you hear the word relationship from a man’s context, what comes to mind? Is it a warm relationship, or is it based on just “high-fives,” alcohol, and sex? Searching for an answer to this, I was looking around on the internet at different points of view from a male perspective about relationships. I read an impressive paragraph about relationships for men. The Good Man Project brought up an issue that made me look at the relationships I have in my life and the stages we go through with relationships as men.
Mostly when I was younger, I have had several “superficial” relationships with acquaintances that have come and gone from my life. I realized that I have always had more of the traditional thoughts of relationships. Although, I did not know how to act on these thoughts. I had none of the coping mechanisms to deal with relationships more than the superficial types.
The article points out that Men often search out several different types of relationships. There are meaningful relationships, familial, long term relationships between you and your partner, work relationships, online relationships, and friendships with other males or mentors. Taking this into account, I realized several points in my life that I can look back on and see each type of relationship that the article mentioned, but no one ever said anything about it. No one ever acknowledges what type of relationship they are in, and the connections are taken for granted. It was an unspoken rule that you were never too close to another person, but if you met them down the road, you could pick up with the small talk and help each other out then go about your way again.
Now that I am older, I find myself in a smaller circle; I can count on two hands the people who I can trust besides my wife. The ones who inspired me to create this community and try to bring more men together are the ones that are the closest to me outside of my family.
Why is this so? I moved very often, so my connections were different than most, and typically when I look at those I count closest, they had the same circumstances I did. I know there is another side of the coin. Those who did not move so much also have a smaller circle, whether necessity or opportunity, there are probably the same amount of relationships in common.
Two parts of the article stuck out in my mind. It mentioned that men loving their children with their whole heart and soul made conscious decisions to love differently from their parents. Talking with a friend, we deduced that parents raised our generation from the values from the 1950-1960s. This style of raising children is all our parents knew how to do. When male stereotypes were high, and you did not meet those, you have labeled an outcast. So it takes about two generations to affect change. The third generation would be the proof if the different ways of child-raising were better. I find myself wondering why does this happens?
If that is the case, what was it like earlier than that? What did those generations of men endure and pass along to make us what we are today? Good, bad, or indifferent, what you brought with you from the way you were raised comes from them. I want to make this statement of making a conscious decision to love their children different than their upbringing, where we teach our children that this is the way to be as men, not let them find out later that this does not work, as many of us have found out along the way.
The next passage that stuck out in my mind was that a loving relationship with any other human being is a sign of strength. This passage rings very real for me; I had to go through life alone for years I did not accept help with relationships or tasks. I had to live up to my stereotype of what I thought a man was supposed to be. I realize, looking back, that I had wasted so much time and disregarded so many lessons along the way. Today, I look for opportunities to help others, accept the help offered, and listen when others say I should ask for help.
Many of my relationships have turned into mentors for me. I believe each one of us builds a tribe around us, hopefully bringing value to who we are as men. Look for a second at who you hold close in your circles, do they bring value, do you return that value for them? Even mentor-mentees are in a relationship without caring for each other, and then neither will be invested enough to build the other up. Building our tribe is the only way that real value happens. Pushing each other or showing each different ways to grow and improve.
Relationships should not be a taboo subject to men’s community, and this should be something we can talk about and admit we have outside of just our families. It does not mean the same in every situation, but it is still a relationship. When we realize this, those relationships can grow and be more beneficial to all involved. What connections do you have in your life? What new relationships can you foster to continue to grow and learn? What effort are you putting into the relationships you currently have? Leave a comment below or join our conversation on social media about this topic.
Continue to grow personally, emotionally, and financially as men.