One of the fabrications in our culture that has always driven me bonkers is the myth that “real” men don’t succumb to worry or stress. It’s the idea is that guys are somehow genetically engineered to shake off the rigors of everyday life– that no guy should crack under pressure, fear or insecurity.
Never let ‘em see you sweat.
We guys wish it were that easy. From an intellectual perspective, we all agree that this belief is silly. Unfortunately, the gut reaction to actually witnessing a man’s will being broken is generally something less than empathetic. So once and for all, men DO have their own insecurities – just as many as women – and I’ve listed below a few of the most common concerns that men feel.
What Men Worry About
- Making enough money. This one has mass awareness. But the depth of the anguish men feel when confronted with the possibility of not being an adequate bread-winner can be unimaginable. We’ve all heard the stories about what many have resorted to when money problems become overwhelming. And yet most peoples’ reaction is a less-than-understanding, “It couldn’t have been that bad.” Apparently it was.
- Age. You think men age gracefully. We don’t. Actually, for all the jokes and mythology about women getting older i.e., never asking them their age, facelifts, mom jeans, soccer mom hair, etc., women actually seem to handle the transition overall a bit better than men. And of course, they seem to embrace their sexuality as the years tick by. For men, mid-life crisis is no joke! Men can feel frantic–trying to locate that lost hair-line, chasing the younger women, experiencing a dwindling sex-drive and becoming physically vulnerable to younger, stronger guys.
- Body Image. Seems shallow. And of course it is. But this is America…we’re ALL about shallowness! Sure the typical belief is that because of a bombardment of media images and our society’s focus physical beauty in women, that guys are immune to the insecurities that accompany a negative body image. WRONG. We hide it, but we’re just as wrapped up in looking great in beachwear. And it’s not just the ladies who are checking out the competition on the beach and at parties. Guys do it too.
- Intelligence. The only thing guys respect more than money is intelligence. More to the point, a man would rather be poor as dirt than to have the perception that he’s an idiot engrained in people’s mind. The guys who have it the worst? Jocks. Those dudes are fighting a lifelong battle attempting to prove that the sum of their parts is more than how fast they run or high they jump. But of course….some of ‘em are actually idiots. But I digress. Intelligence, in spite of the conclusions you may have drawn from reality television, is a highly-valued commodity in our society. Guys want to be highly valued in our society. High value equals respect. Respect equals power. And we love power.
Now in the grand scheme of things, these can all seem like fairly harmless issues. But I promise you that these are things about which men are concerned. I’d suggest you talk to your guy and reassure him that you’ve got his back, you’re there and willing to listen to whatever is on his mind. Being a guy, he may simply fire back that everything is fine – even when everything isn’t fine. He’s keeping it to imself because he doesn’t want to seem in any way weak in your eyes. That’s yet another concern of his – being strong for his partner. But he’ll certainly appreciate your affirmation of support and may even eventually take you up on your offer of a supportive ear.
Keep at it.