Society is full of mixed messages because people are full of mixed messages. To say that these mixed messages make it really hard to know what to do and not do, is the understatement of the century. One area in which these mixed messages create a big problem is in the relationship between men and women. So today I’m going to sort through one such mixed message for you. And this time, it’s going to be a mixed message that women give to men. Let’s call it the “cry but don’t cry” message.
So many men in society feel paralyzed and angry because the mixed message they keep getting from women (and honestly society as well) is to cry, but to not cry. To be vulnerable but to not be vulnerable. To be emotional, but to not be emotional.
Throughout history, men have been expected to be tough, rational, strong, un-emotional, stoic etc. Weakness of any kind in a man was not tolerated. Of course, men being pushed and punished into this way of being didn’t only lead to good things such as protection, leadership, providing, strength, rationality, containment etc. It also led to things like brutality, control, emotional unavailability, cruelty, coldness, unresponsiveness and lack of empathy etc.
When women came more into a mentality of taking back their power, a lot changed. I can’t say that women came into their genuine empowerment as women, because starting in the 1960s women started to try to gain their power (in what was a man’s world) by becoming masculine. One of the main things that changed is that men were feminized. Polarity began to flip in many relationships. Women were suddenly demanding that men become the opposite of the men that had hurt their mothers and that had hurt them when they were young.
Women were suddenly faced with a huge problem. Wanting strength and protection and rationality and leadership and positive ownership and masculinity. But also wanting the safety and closeness that comes from attunement, sensitive response, emotional availability and the raw vulnerable truth. But to women, this began to feel impossible. Instead, it began to feel like they got to choose between a lose-lose scenario. It began to feel like either a woman could choose a man who was unsafe because though he would protect, provide for, lead and contain her; but would leave her alone emotionally, be unattuned, unresponsive, cruel and controlling. Or a woman could choose a man who was unsafe because though he would be emotionally available, sensitive, kind, responsive and attuned; but would put her in the position to have to fend for herself, protect herself and be the strong one.
As a result of all of this, it seems to men that women are telling them that it’s ok to cry one minute and then getting upset with them for crying the next minute. One minute they are saying it’s ok to be vulnerable, but the next getting upset about it. It seems like women want a man to be vulnerable, but at the same time, they don’t.
Men are looking for one, solid message about whether to be vulnerable or emotional or not. They are not going to get this solid message because it isn’t cut and dry that a man should always or should never. The message varies and depends on safety for a woman.
In general, men in the modern world lack attunement to safety. I’m not just talking about physical safety; I’m also talking about emotional safety. Because of this, many men lack attunement to timing, situation and setting. Most women however, are constantly attuned to unsafety and therefore to timing, situation and setting. To understand about this in depth, watch my video titled: What Every Man Needs to Know About Women.
I’m going to tell you something that will make it all make sense. A woman will tell you to be emotional or vulnerable or cry if you doing so, makes her feel safer. A woman will get mad at you for it if given the timing, situation and setting, you doing it makes her feel more unsafe. Context matters!
This doesn’t just apply to women. Even men within society will be ok with other men being vulnerable, emotional or crying at certain times, in certain situations or in certain settings. There are other times, situations and settings that this behavior causes problems for other men or society at large and thus, this behavior won’t be well tolerated.
To make this make more sense, I’ll give you a more extreme example. If a saber tooth tiger is headed towards a man and a woman and the man starts crying and expressing how unsafe he feels in the world, the woman is going to feel totally unsafe and get mad at him. If a man and a woman are struggling because they are not on the same page emotionally or mentally and a man starts sharing emotionally about the pain of his childhood and how it relates to their relationship, the woman will feel trusted, more intimate, closer and more secure (therefore safer) with him and be happy that he became vulnerable.
A man can hold a new born infant and in doing so, be very gentle and soft and kind and emotionally available and even cry without being weak or losing his strength or masculinity. It really is so much about timing, situation and setting. What makes the process of discerning when being emotional, vulnerable or crying will make a woman feel safer and when it will make her feel more unsafe challenging, is that ‘unsafety’ is much more complex and usually less overtly obvious in the modern world than it was in the past. For example, a woman in the modern world is usually experiencing less containment by a man in a relationship. As a result, she may respond poorly to a man’s vulnerability in a moment because she feels like she is fending for herself and if he becomes vulnerable, may feel like she is even more on her own and even has to bear the weight of his wellbeing as well. To understand more about this in depth, watch my video titled: Containment (What a Woman Needs from a Man in a Relationship).
Challenging or not, men need to learn to be attuned enough to women, to timing to situation and to setting to be able to discern when vulnerability makes the situation more unsafe and when it makes the situation safer. And women, now being made aware that this is why they keep giving mixed messages, need to help men with this attunement. Clearly explain why and in what ways being vulnerable at certain times, in certain situations and in certain settings makes you safer or makes you more unsafe.
Women vary. There are definitely shades of dysfunction to be found relative to both certain women being repulsed by a man who is being emotional, vulnerable or crying and certain women loving it when a man is being this way. For example, some women are traumatized to the degree that they have a solid cultural association with a man ever being emotional or crying and a man being weak which then makes them feel unsafe. This solid association may make them interpret unsafety or weakness where it does not actually exist. Or for example, a woman’s wires could have been crossed. In this scenario, a woman who has been traumatized in her childhood by having less power than her cruel father could partially love it when a man is being emotional or crying because it makes him feel smaller and weaker than she is, and therefore she feels more powerful than he is and thus safer than she felt in her childhood.
The bottom line is, if you are a man, in order to not feel so confused and in order to get the reflection that you are doing the right thing, you have to see when a woman is made safer or is made more unsafe by your vulnerability. This is a real level of attunement and practice to master. But being able to sense when going into vulnerability is going to make a female feel safer and when it is going to make her feel more unsafe is part of the divine masculine. A man who is genuinely in his masculine energy understands that vulnerability only becomes weakness and is only unsafe at certain times and in certain situations and settings. In other settings, vulnerability is strength and creates safety.
A woman wants a man who is strong, not a man who is weak. But the fact that a man cries or is emotional or vulnerable does not in and of itself make him weak. Crying or being emotional or vulnerable at the wrong time or in the wrong situations or settings is what makes a man seem weak. Being vulnerable or emotional and crying in specific timing, situations, and settings makes a man seem strong and therefore makes a woman feel safe. When it comes to a man being emotional, vulnerable or crying, t really is everything.