On Masculinity

Our American culture gives men a lot of contradictory messages about masculinity. On the one hand, men are often expected to be strong, sturdy and aloof. Showing emotions or even just being the type of guy who wears his heart on his sleeve can put you at risk for a subtle but real kind of social disapproval. On the other hand, men are also expected to be competent and caring nurturers for their partners, children and close friends. Men who struggle when talking about their emotions or caring for the emotions of those they love can be viewed by others as cold and heartless.

Striking the right balance between hardness and softness can be challenging, especially if you’re a man dealing with emotional or relationship problems. As men, we are often socialized not to discuss our inner emotional life, but burying our emotions is a terrible way to deal with them. That’s like expecting a leak in your pipes to just magically repair itself. That’s not how it works. If you want to fix a leak in your pipes or a leak in your heart, you have to do the work to patch it up.

Sometimes having a male therapist to help you navigate these treacherous waters can make all the difference. If you’re a man struggling with depression, anxiety, trauma or relationship problems, don’t take the advice that many of us learned in Little League and just try to “walk it off.”

There is another way.