5 Reasons Men are Headed in the Wrong Direction
A mentor once gave her students a koan (a.k.a. a riddle) to ruminate on.
“You are taking a road trip from Lincoln, Nebraska to San Francisco. After 2 days of traveling, you suddenly realize that you have been headed east rather than west. Up ahead lies New York City. Behind you, SF is now four days away instead of two. What do you do?”
For some, the answer was simple. Turn the car around and head back the way you came. For most, they compromised their original goal and headed to the Big Apple stating in a defeated tone: “we’ve come this far anyway”. Others would pull to the side of the road, beat themselves up for their directional miscue, and slip into a stagnant haze of indecision. Regardless, there would be a heavy bout of frustration with a dose of blaming and shaming towards their travel companions.
The least likely response was for the traveller to see it as one wild adventure.
For 15 years, I have been coaching people of all genders on how to modify their existing viewpoints and practices to have a more fulfilling, fun, and intimate life. After teaching over 5,000 men during this tenure, I’ve concluded that today’s world is extremely challenging for men and its getting worse.
This is no one’s fault and everyone’s fault. We live in a society that is getting more disconnected and the more people I talk to, the more malaise I encounter. My thesis is this: Men’s relationship to intimacy is headed in the wrong direction. Here’s why.
1. We don’t Invest in Emotional Intelligence (EQ)
The term Emotional Intelligence was first coined in a 1964 paper by Michael Beldoch. Since then, it has been the center of a debate between scientists on its importance in people’s development. Its’ cousin, Intelligence Quotient (IQ), has long been the gold standard for predicting a man’s success in the world. The higher his IQ, the more likely that fame and fortune will come his way. In contrast, Daniel Goleman’s 1995 book on the topic hypothesized that a lack of EQ is actually a major determent to a man’s success and he can not succeed on his brains alone.
From my perspective, its simple. As a society, women are taught to understand, feel, emote, and connect to their emotions. Men are taught to stuff down their’s, “man-up” and for god-sakes, not to cry.
This lack of investment in understanding our feelings handicaps us in romantic relating, emphasizing with our co-workers, and being able to handle our own emotional storms. We are a ship at sea with no captain at the helm.
2. We blindly follow scripts rather than feeling
A woman friend recently told me about a first sexual experience with a prospective beau.
He was scarce, he was pumping, and he didn’t listen to the flow because he wanted to please me. Like he has this idea that sex is supposed to last a certain period of time and it’s supposed to end in climax and he’s supposed to know all the fancy positions and make me climax multiple times in order for me to leave thinking it was good.
My guess is he’s got a sort of script that works with 90% of women he’s with. His attention was all on how his cock felt. He couldn’t hear. Probably won’t see him again.
Men want to be good and men want to win. Therefore, we look desperately for the script that will have us feel successful. The main issue, however, is life‘s dynamic nature tends to wreck havoc on scripts. Moreover, women tend to be non-linear and can sense one from a mile away. Depending on what worked yesterday is poor excuse for sensing what is actually happening today.
When we blindly follow the scripts that we have learned, it takes us out of present time, into our heads, and often leading to dissatisfaction with our partners.
3. Why-Bother? We are not going to get approval anyway
We live in a society of disapproval.
Men receive thousands of messages every day from our partners, families, co-workers and the media that we’re doing it wrong. We are not working hard enough, our clothes are wrong, we smell bad, we are lazy or workaholics, and we missed all the subtle clues left by women that we should have seen.
Men are turning to video games and pornography to avoid sex and marriage. In Japan, a 2016 survey of men 18 to 34 found that 70% were unmarried, 42% were virgins and a large majority were not looking a relationship. Many stated that women were “too much trouble” and in some extreme cases, they are marrying characters in Virtual Reality.
Men are often giving up rather than facing the rising tide of disapproving voices. We have enough negativity in our own minds and turn away from the external ones. I am seeing a larger percentage of men throwing up their hands and throwing in the towel.
4. We’re one-swipe away from something better
We’ve all been vastly affected by the technological changes in today’s society. When you walk into any restaurant or coffee shop, you will see the vast majority of people relating more to their hand-held devices to the people across from the table.
The Tinder revolution has enable the biological imprint of the hunter to arise and allow us to hunt, one swipe (left or right!) at a time. We know that if our coffee “hangout” isn’t working out that we can shake hands, watch them leave, and launch our favorite dating app to find another prospect. We are investing in quantity of experiences rather than quality.
When we face women’s disapproval, instead of confront it, we ghost and exit stage right. We know the bigger and better deal might just be around the corner.
5. We don’t understand the changes
Society’s gender dynamics are evolving at lighting speed. We can see it in the shrinking of the gender wage gap, the decision of all genders to marry at a later age and the formation of Urban Tribes rather than nuclear families. The roles of men in society, which seemed so clear in the mid-20th century, has become muddied and unclear.
The rise of women in the workplace has pushed them into more masculine roles and they are having challenges finding their own femininity. Men are unconsciously matching this change with leading to the polarity between the genders decreasing. When we add in the effect of wifi, cell phone radiation, and more chemicals in our environments, we are seeing changes in men bodies with reported significant decrease in sperm count.
Instead of getting curious about our world changing, we get angry. Unable to identify let along express this anger, we disconnect push it down internally leading to more separation, isolation, and depression.
Conclusion (a.k.a “What’s Next?”)
These issues are not going away. We have co-created these roles in society. We have the opportunity to stop heading in the wrong direction. As much as NYC is an amazing place to visit, we want to see San Francisco. I recommend, turning the car around, finding a new Spotify playlist, grab a new cup of coffee and head west.
My advice to men: Get support, read more books, ask more questions, say more truth, find a men’s group, invest in a therapist (I recommend somatic), exit toxic relationships, and most of all, build your self-esteem by doing esteemable acts. You’re worth it.
Studies have shown that people with high EI have greater mental health, job performance, and leadership skills although…en.wikipedia.org