Monthly Archives: February 2010

Ladies…is YOUR Man A Closet “Metro?”

Just the other day I was sent a request from a reader who thought I should write about Metrosexuals. Scientific or not… defining what is or is not a Metrosexual…now that is a project I would like to take on….so let’s begin…

There have been many a theory as to the origins of Metrosexuals. Some think that “Metros” are just stylish visitors from a far off planet while others think that Joe Namath and his pitch for pantyhose sprung the “fad” into action. There are some that think the U.S. was invaded again by the Brits and David Beckham and some have no idea…they just want all “Metros” to “go away” as they tantrum back to their man-caves.

Trust me…from a guy who has lived in Detroit, Chicago, L.A. and now Nashville the very concept of “Metro” is a bit bewildering and primarily due to the stereotypes of each locale.

In the South…you might be a “Metro” if you use product in your hair, brush your teeth twice a day, and have thrown out your plaid flannels from 1997. The bar is pretty low in the land of honky-tonk and okra. To be a “Metro” is associated more with sexuality than hygiene or appreciation for the art of conversation. Evolution moves a tad slower in this region and the growth of males is no exception.

We All Have Our Limits Joe

Up North…or should I say the Mid-West—well it isn’t a whole lot different. The typical guy might shop at Eddie Bauer, but that might be pushing it. Manhood can still be found to be judged on horsepower rather than overall style and health.

...For the 21st Century Man

The Northeast…now this is a region more like the West coast. Metrosexuals are trendy, they are considered the true evolution of man. Style is in. Hair product and “outfits” a must. Appreciation for healthy habits in vogue…and enjoying the arts with your wife/girlfriend a requirement for card-carrying status.

The West coast…well what else is there to say? It’s Hollywood man! It is the land of perfect bodies and teeth, health food stores on every corner, and women who openly desire a man who is fashion-forward and has a sense for fine cuisine. I am not sure if the birth of the “Metro” came from L.A., but it sure can credit its continued refinement to it….calm down New York…you dress us all up and you know it.

Calm Down Ladies...Calm Down...

What do you think? How do you define a Metro? Is he hiding out in your home? What are the benefits? What are the costs? My fiance has joked that she is so happy to be marrying a “Metro” because I take part in the wedding planning from all angles.

So…is it exclusively judged on a man’s level of participation in stereotypically female activities? Does it mean that “Metros” dislike guy movies, getting dirty, playing football in the park, or having a cigar with the guys?

Absolutely not! Those that think that “Metros” are less manly are missing the boat and are probably stuck in an era infamous for keeping women and African Americans down and out in society. Can anyone say…Archie Bunker? And, let’s face it…with all of the negative stereotypes surrounding males (beer belly, beer guzzling, grunting, thoughtless, art-less, and chauvinistic…to name a few) it is a wonder that some men have taken heed and responded with an updated version of the gender.

"You Mean I Can't Watch South Park?"

So with that said let’s channel a bit of Mr. Foxworthy and begin the conversation that might determine whether or not your boyfriend or husband is actually a closet “Metro”….

  • You might be a “Metro” if your first association with Jack Black is a skincare line and not the actor…
  • You might be a “Metro” if know that Sephora is a cosmetic store and not a place on the map…
  • You might be a “Metro” if you comment on newscasters ties or pinstriped suits…
  • You might be a “Metro” if you wash your hands and face after mowing the lawn instead of grabbing a brewski…
  • You might be a “Metro” if you think all mirrors have a date with your face on it…
  • You might be a “Metro” if you know how to match your shoes and belt with your clothes…
  • You might be a “Metro” if you worry about back, ear, and nose hair…
  • You might be a “Metro” if you count calories…
  • You might be a “Metro” if you plan your outfits ahead of time…
  • You might be a “Metro” if you know the difference between HGTV and the Versus Network…

Now you might say that this is all fun and games, but it truly is a battle…one fought in the trenches of our living rooms. Some might even say that political lines are being drawn. Trust me now…no tried-and-true Democrat wants to bring Cheney on as a spokesman for “Metros” and Republicans, especially in the South, have no interest in an “evolution” that their “daddy” and his “daddy’s daddy” wouldn’t partake in. I’m just sayin…

I mean look at this advertisement… “only manly men like my daddy know what to drink and how to act.” How ridiculous…you’re telling me that the guy in the sunglasses didn’t pick that “stylish” hat because it matched his shirt…come on fellas…

If anything…the mere concept of Metrosexuality provides a forum to actually discuss what it truly means to be a man. I think we can all agree that being a man encompasses elements of both Jack Blacks and to say otherwise only retards are overall growth as a gender. Trust me when I say that “Metro” men are just that MEN.

Metros enjoy watching the Bourne Trilogy, hanging out with friends, the thrill of competition, and seeing the smile on your face when we have made you happy. Males of all ages need to settle in and get comfy…Normal Males are not going down without a fight. We want young men and boys, and the females that care for them, to know that being a man encompasses far more than the televised imbeciles we see on T.V. and in the movies.

Now where is that darn mirror and who stole my facial cleanser?

It's Mine Dr. Rod....All Mine....

Dr. Rod
Rod Berger, PsyD The Normal Male

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Does your Relationship Have a Hidden Agenda?

Have you ever stopped to think about your marriage or relationship and the original motivations for becoming a pair? Have you ever stepped back and said, “…hmm what was I thinking or why was my spouse appealing to me back then?”

We would all like to think that our nuptials signify purity and above all else–honesty. I, though, want to talk about relationships in terms of walking, breathing agendas that we all carry around—it is just that so few of us are willing to share them.

Maybe you began your relationship to spite your history of train wrecks or maybe you chose your partner because they were the opposite of your parent’s choice. Some of you might have had a list…and a man with a job, a spare tire and an excuse for every domestic request was just a part of that bucket list.

So many of us are sly. That is right…sly. We act one way during courtship and then do an about-face somewhere between the “I do’s” and, “What…we’re having a baby?” Agendas do not have to be wholeheartedly bad or negative or manipulative. Your agenda could be to be the best spouse, parent, friend, employee or boss there is. Others will present their agendas using morse code, winks, growls, uniquely placed books and do-dats that spark curiosity from their partner.

Sometimes agendas come from society, your friends, or television. Sometimes agendas can feel like they are closing in on you with no escape route in view. The pressure can be daunting to say the least. It can feel like no one understands the pressure you feel and nobody, especially your spouse, understands the long-term impact of such pressure.

Whose Agenda will Win out?

Men and women can often feel pressure to meet an agenda that the other has absolutely no idea exists. A man may be absolutely oblivious that his partner’s agenda includes kids at a certain age to meet her girlfriends requirements/peer pressure…she may be in the dark about his agenda at work that includes trophy-wife expectations and expensive suits to land the management position.

Agendas can kill a marriage. Agendas can make us feel less than. We can feel cheated by our spouse, our family, and friends. We can become accusatory and hateful when wronged by a perceived agenda and we can walk away wondering if we ever really knew our spouse.

So why is it that we hold our agendas so close to the vest? Because we all want to maintain a certain level of control for our current and future circumstances. If your spouse told you that you fit a need or a check-box on a list you might be mortified. Ben Stiller’s character in “Along Came Polly” wrote a little cost-benefit or should I say risk analysis to see which woman was better suited for his agenda which was to play it safe in life. Sounds corny when Hollywood tackles a very real-life marital issue, but the fact remains that agendas are a mainstay for most relationships.

Of course, the natural life-cycle of an agenda means that it will surface at some point in the relationship. Whether one is caught or openly shares their agenda…the couple can be impacted for the better or as agendas are publicized–for the worse. Infidelity is the most common of “dirty” agendas for the guys out there. Women, on the other hand, are often accused of having agendas that:

  1. Create a Domesticated Spouse
  2. Provide Children at a Specific Age
  3. Position the Family for Social Prominence

Now, of course, these are rooted in stereotypical renditions of the American Family this side of “Toddlers and Tiaras” on any reality network in this country. Do they have merit for either gender? Your guess is as good as mine. What I can tell you is that when I worked with couples…what would come up the most were their individual agendas and the failure of the other to lend credence to their wishes.  So many of these couples wanted the other to take part in what we call “2×4” therapy. They wanted the agenda “beaten” out of the other…figuratively speaking that is. They were tired of the game playing. They were tired of feeling like they were a mere character in their spouses self-written and directed play about themselves…I mean a narcissist…I mean themselves.

The news isn’t all bad…nor should it ever be when we think of the motivations and agendas that permeate our lives. Do our spouses and partners serve a purpose in our lives? Absolutely!

Hopefully for yourself and your relationship you have both grown and become better people because of the one you share your life with. Maybe your agenda in the beginning was borne out of a reaction to your family or life in general…but now it is a mutual agenda…dare I say plan…for mutual growth and admiration for the partners you have become.

Here’s to couples who aren’t afraid to share their hopes and dreams, their reality and their faults along the way without malice. If there ever was a human on this earth who would “cut you some slack”…let’s hope it is the one you call “Dear”.

All the Best!

Dr. Rod
Rod Berger, PsyD The Normal Male

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Has Your Marriage Become Boring?

Fearing the Inevitable?

We are an ADHD society. Admit it! Don’t be scared! Put the Red Bull down. Throw out your “5 Hour Energy Drink.” Go easy on the B supplements and give your back an ole fashion stretch. Let out the anger, the frustration, the exhaustion. That’s right…you are a married person.

You have put up with the ebb and flow of life and your partner’s wishes. You have learned to love or tolerate activities your other half adores, and you are still coming up empty. You proudly display your addiction to coffee and thanks to the commercialization of it you actually look pretty trendy with your latte in-hand. Problem…it isn’t working. No amount of caffeine can resuscitate you back to the old you…the version of YOU you never wanted to leave behind.

You love your partner and wouldn’t want anyone else. You might even love your job, your kids behavior, and the way your spouse communicates their admiration for you…but there is still something missing. That special ingredient that came abundantly to the both of you during the courting stage and is now only represented by late-night cable specials and People Magazine. Where is the excitement? Where is the commitment to never being like your parents? Where is the commitment to try and do different activities with your partner…not even caring about the actual activity, but spending time with your loved one. The answer can be a bit mystical just like the origins of love…often snatching you when you least expect it…Exhilarating during courtship—Painful during the day-to-day routines of relationships.

And…unbeknownst to you…your life has gone the way of a chain gang on I-75 (Please insert your favorite boring stretch of local highway). Your life went, without your knowledge, to the hardware store…purchased various sized shovels and proceeded to did a trench a mile long and a 1/2 mile wide!

Wishing You Had Your Claws for Life Back?

How could your life go and do something like that? It is almost as if you are living your own personal Shawshank Redemption only this time Andy’s behind-the-poster dig-out wasn’t for your freedom. It was more like someone declawed you and you are stuck pining for the tree tops. You want out of this rut NOW!

For some of you…boredom may gently take your hand and steer it in another’s direction. For others you will go into a slow and painstakingly long coma. You won’t veer off course to see if other pastures offer renewed excitement…no no…you are in it for the long haul.

You are committed to understanding yourself, your partner and the path laid before you and your marriage. You remain curious to life’s idiosyncrasies and actually don’t consider your marriage to ever be in a rut…rather in a different and evolved space.

Either way, individuals and couples will find themselves having to evaluate, place judgment, and make plans accordingly. In a perfect world that is. You see…so many of us are terrified of conflict, of hurting others, and of placing ourselves in the throes of abandonment. So what we do is repress. We repress our feelings, our thoughts, our concerns, and wishes. We go into protective mode and actually find a degree of comfort in our personal bunker or behind our personal electric fence. We really don’t want to bring up our dissatisfaction with the marriage for fear that we will not be able to hold up our end of the New Deal.

And…what if, after you try to put a bit of spunk into your marriage you actually find no real bump in your marital stock? What if your bailout plan struggles to show anything more than inflated credit card statements from dinners and movies neither one of you enjoyed? The short answer is…you will never know unless you try. You will never know why it is that your marriage has put up shop in the village of Boredom U.S.A. and you will never know or understand your role in its current state.

How bout a game of penuckle?

In fact, the only real method of understanding whether or not you are experiencing full fledged boredom is to honestly and accurately evaluate what YOU are contributing…both to the good and the bad.

Are you in the middle of a mid-life crisis? Are you feeling regret for career missteps? Have you put the time and effort in to better understand your spouse? Can you honestly say that you communicate your wants and needs to your partner? Can you honestly say that you are proud of your commitment to your spouse? Have you given as much thought and attention to your marriage as you have of your career?

If you can honestly say that you have given the effort, communicated your wants and needs…and those of your spouses, spent the time participating in their activities and you still feel a sense of boredom…well then you need to put on the detective hat for yourself and maybe even seek out professionals who can help guide you along the path of self-reflection.

Life is not easy and to expect that marriage will save the day is foolish. Yes, the beginning can be magical and guess what…so too can the middle and the end. The problem most people have is that they focus on their partner of yesterday, set up expectations and patterns, and then expect them to never change. We all change our likes and dislikes. Our energy levels wane throughout the years as our mind and body meet up with ole Father Time…but that doesn’t have to mean our marriages have to wither up and die. We can find out new and exciting things about our partners and even more importantly…ourselves!

What it truly says, for those of you still looking for a mate, is that you want to find someone that celebrates your imagination, your creativity in all of its forms of expression…because days will come when what you loved or were stimulated by suddenly change for another hobby, job, or hair style and you want someone that roots you on along the way.

Reclaim Your Youthful Passion for Life!

If you can do that you will feel closer to your partner, younger than ever, and vibrant for all of the wonderful adventures ahead. Spirited love doesn’t have to mean rock climbing or co-ed volleyball or even displays of affection that channel champagne and jazz music from yesteryear. Love that is spirited can be as simple as a crossword puzzle, coffee and CBS Sunday Morning on in the background. It can be walks in the park, holding hands in the mall or even silence as you each read your favorite book. Sharing your life with someone is just that…sharing. The ups and downs, the exciting, the scary, the unknowing, and the quiet of life.

Branch out, reach out, and ask out your spouse. Remind them of the person you were, are, and want to be. Share your fears, your enthusiasm, and ultimately your passion for watching both of you grow. If that is boring then I don’t know what fun is!

All the Best!

Dr. Rod
Rod Berger, PsyD The Normal Male

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Are YOU Normal?

Just Wait for the Next Generation!

It becomes increasingly obvious that a segment of the population fears the word NORMAL. Maybe some folks think that it implies less than, adequate, or maybe even average when in fact it has NOTHING to do with performance!

Our country has sent us all down the river. Yes, this is a great country in so many ways but the messages we have sent down the stream to males and females can be devastating. Even I get sent down the river, as they say, by readers who send me angry notes of bewilderment. I sporadically receive some of these back-channel emails from individuals who are new to my blog and they ask what my definition of Normal really is. I am thankful for the reminder for both our sakes.

Re-establishing a marketing campaign for an entire generation can be daunting…but I am up for the challenge! I am showered, dressed, hair quaffed, new stylish glasses resting on the bridge of my nose…and oh yeah did some curls to exercise the ole biceps…mighty beneficial for a blogger these days. And, now that I am prepared for this challenge I want to reintroduce thoughts that I was recently asked to provide given the tenuous position our gender is in these days…

As I sit and ponder my place in the world I am reminded of the men who have gone before me, those around me, and those thrown at me. It has become increasingly hard to define what normal males look, sound and, maybe more importantly, act like.

On television and other media outlets, normal and male aren’t represented accurately or collectively, for that matter. We are inundated with reality TV shows about swapping wives and nannies who know better than parents. And on CBS we have men fighting in cages.

It is True...We are Humans During the Day...Superheros in our Dreams

I don’t see normal conversations about the experience of manhood or the shared activities and thoughts between a father and his children. I don’t see family shows depicting stable family life or marriages that one could be relatively proud of. What I see are dumb men who are presented as normal: men who don’t know how to respond to their spouses dreams, take care of the kids, or do anything requiring thought for others.

Can this be normal? I hope not, but I am gravely concerned that this is what our young children believe to be true. The bar for men has been set so low that the only direction to go, I hope, is up.

As our boys continue to struggle in academic settings and our adult men struggle to find their places at work and in the home, we need a change. We need to redefine what it means to be a part of this group called manhood not at the expense of women or children, not at the expense of common sense or traditional grunting during a playoff game, and not at the expense of our communities.

Redefining our gender requires adult men to think about it from a boyish stance. What do we want our boys thinking about when they think of themselves and this group they belong to? Do we want them to have a sense of pride for the good we contribute and the leadership taken through thoughtful discussion? Or do we want them to think of boys behaving badly at school, home, and work?

We Can't ALWAYS Be Perfect or Feel Invincible

In the 1980s we saw a redefinition take place for the youth of the African-American community. Prior to the Cosby Show, critics wondered how young African-Americans viewed themselves and what they could or could not accomplish when they grew up. Our media, to that point, had given limited opportunity for a child to see successful African-American children and their families. We are at a similar point in our history as men.

We have an opportunity to reshape the motivations of young men, and it will come at the cost of our own experiences. A certain level of grief can be expected when we begin exploring our lives and the motivations behind our good and bad decisions in the context of those who provided such lessons. It takes courage, community, and commitment from normal males to shepherd the next generation from I.S.S. (in school suspension) to college campuses where men are in danger of extinction to careers and families they can be proud of.

To be Normal ultimately means that one is fallible, successful, strong, weak, proud, humble—we are everything that encompasses a human being. Please do not support the notion that males only value comes through performance, but rather in the discretionary spaces of life where we can demonstrate both wisdom and compassion, emotion and direction, love and disappointment. We are many things…what we are not should NOT shape our direction now or ever as we steamroll into the future. The next generation of young men and boys need us and the next generation of young women and girls need us too. Let’s provide an accurate landscape that does not misrepresent the challenges and celebrations of life.

Best Wishes!

Dr. Rod
Rod Berger, PsyD The Normal Male

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Filed under Boys, Dumb Men, Education, Fathers, Girls, Good Men, head of household, Males, men, Sports, women, Work

Avoiding the Pink Elephant in Your Marriage?

Come on…you know you want to read on, but you are a bit afraid that your spouse will see you and ask, “What do you think is wrong with us?” So with that in mind I will “allow” you to channel your inner 8 year old, grab a flashlight and sneak under the sheets to read today’s post. Or, I guess you could be like Meg Ryan in Sleepless in Seattle when she goes into the closet to hear Jonas talk about his lonely and grieving father played by Tom Hanks.

Either way…you do what you need to do because the Pink Elephant in your marriage is sniffing you and your issues out like a hot bag of peanuts on Opening Day. And, if I might ask, what is your interest in today’s post? Have you recently gone to sleep wondering why it is that you and your spouse can’t talk about the things that really matter in your marriage? Is it that you have been avoiding a topic for so long that you fear the dire consequences if it ever saw the light of day?

Has your love changed for better or worse? Have you gone in circles with your spouse without really bringing up the topic? Avoidance behaviors are learned early on in life and honed throughout to provide us with sample-sized packets of oxygen in a world full of smog. A quick breath and back to real life. Right? Does it have to be that way? Didn’t you and your spouse share everything with each other during the dating phase? Maybe you did and maybe you didn’t—what matters is that the Pink Elephant rarely lies dormant for too long. As human beings we are bred to speak out, act out, live out, and shout out our thoughts and feelings. Now, many of us struggle to communicate the elephant in the room and as a result we play silly games with ourselves and our spouses.

We bring up issues that other couples are having in hopes that our spouse will then examine our relationship under the same lens. We get books, read books, and place books in strategic places hoping that SOMEONE in the family will see our silent cries for help. For years I wondered what the heck was going on with cherries! My mother had Erma Bombeck’s best-selling book, “If Life is a Bowl of Cherries What am I Doing in the Pits?” I knew my parents struggled to communicate…I just didn’t know what cherries had to do with it and why it sat on our bookshelf. My mother is not alone by any stretch of the imagination. Human beings love to lay a crumb trail to be saved or to lay a trap for their relationships. I will leave it up to you to decide whether or not you have been laying traps or maps for you marriage.

Elephants Like Cherries Too

For so many couples the issues are real and devastatingly personal. For many individuals the issues we avoid are often found in the following areas:

  1. Sexual Intimacy
  2. Family Finances
  3. Children
  4. Individual Health for Vanity and Longevity (Weight Gain/Drinking etc.)
  5. In-Laws

Whether we avoid talking about our mother-in-law, how many children we really want to have, how to spend our incomes, or how many times a week we expect to be intimate is ultimately irrelevant to the larger issue in the relationship…which is..Why do we feel slighted or ignored by our loved ones?

Why is it that she can’t notice how hard I am working for the family? Why is it that he always assumes that we are going to be intimate when I just want a hug? Why can’t she protect me from her mother’s meddling? Am I not important? Do you not love me? Are you picking them over me?

We have all been there during moments of vulnerability. We both want to feel as if our spouse can read our minds and act accordingly, and do so in terms of love and mutual growth and not spiteful retribution. We want to go to bed each night feeling thought of and cared for by our partners. And, for men out there that say otherwise they are just fooling themselves and their spouses. Men and women do not want to feel judged or ridiculed for their attempts to navigate life—they want a partner that catches them when they stumble and alerts them when they are about to.What we do not want is to approach life in fear. We should not approach our marriages with an, “I told you so” attitude. We should not our marriages assuming we know or can predict the manner in which our partner will respond. It may be funny for Dilbert, but not for our day-to-day interactions…especially with our loved one.

Avoiding Something?

So…what to do…when to do it….and what can you expect when you try to communicate? The answers to these questions are fundamental and yet require a healthy dose of originality from you. Talking about the pink elephant in the room will not be easy, but it sure will be fruitful for decisions made down the road. Remember this…when you can come to a point in your life and marriage where you can let the chips fall where they may…well, you will feel a sense of personal empowerment. So…without further adieu here are the basic steps to communicating those issues that gnaw at you more than you care to acknowledge…

  1. Choose a time that both parties are at their most relaxed and non-defensive state. Do not attempt to discuss sensitive and possibly shaming issues when emotions are running high.
  2. Begin with a statement about all of the things you love about your spouse, your continued commitment to loving them and the marriage and YOUR desire for continued growth for yourself first…the relationship second.
  3. Provide an acknowledgment of your role in the issue and any back-story as to why you believe your sensitivity levels are possibly higher than expected.
  4. Talk about how you think your behavior or avoidance has impacted the marriage and your partner and ask them if they have been feeling or suspecting the same issues.
  5. And finally…share with them your ultimate fear. Tell them the root fear you have if they reject your feelings (example: When we aren’t intimate I think that you don’t find me appealing and will ultimately look elsewhere).

These are but a few strategies with which to approach your partner. If your partner scoffs at your attempt…let it be on them. Maybe they need time just as you did to muster up the courage to speak in the first place. Don’t take an initial “No” as a long-term deterrent. If, after repeated attempts you get the same song-and-dance then you have the information to make decisions accordingly. Let’s be realistic here…the pink elephant may be very large and significant to the success or failure of your marriage—all you can do is be honest about your role, your commitment to the relationship and partner, and hope for a shared renewal of the values that brought you both together. If your partner continues to tease you with attempts and/or changes before resorting back to the original…then you can at least feel confident in the effort you gave the relationship. Some succeed and others choose to move on. Here’s hoping that you allow yourself and your partner the time to know the household pet you have been avoiding for so long.

All the Best!

Dr. Rod
Rod Berger, PsyD The Normal Male

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Filed under Divorce, Family, finances, Males, Marriage, men, Relationships, sex, Success Stories, women

How Much is That Negligee in the Window?

Can I Help You?

We have all heard the tune from back yonder, “How Much is that Doggie in the Window” and been transposed to the days of our youth. Back when innocence prevailed or at least it did on T.V. and we lived a life of “purity.” That has come to a screeching halt…that of no surprise…to those of you reading today. We continue to be fascinated with those around us, the scandals they embroil themselves with, and the filthy gossip we bat around like a good ole fashion spat between Robin Givens and Mike Tyson. The dirtier, scarier, filthier it is…the better! Right?

Seeing others flail about is fun…right? Taking me away from my own reality feels like a gift from the Gods…right? Giving me pause, for entertainment purposes, is a way of giving back for the hard work and pain I have endured…right? Which brings me to a classic example of gawking that I just have to share…

The other night I was driving downtown Nashville with my fiance when we past the Hustler store (on of all streets, “Church Street”) when we noticed a gentlemen staring or should I say gawking through the plate-glass windows. As we sat at the red light, we both took notice at the level of commitment or should I say intensity with which this gentlemen peered into the candy store for adults. We both looked at each other and almost simultaneously said, “He looks Normal” as if to say he didn’t look like a stereotypical weirdo. Shocking no…surprising yes….

…and it got me thinking about this fascination with what is just beyond our reach. It also had me thinking about whether or not it was gender specific or driven by idiots. Was it something that only degenerates do or was this display of sultry desire a mere expression of hormones going askew? And, if gawking at negligees is Normal or accepted, what other ways do we ALL gawk at life and what assumptions do we lather onto the object of affection and/or disgust?

If men gawk does it turn women off? If women gawk do men feel mighty? Does it lessen one and uplift the other? Is it different if you are single and are “gawked” at? Does it sometimes feel good to stop others in their tracks with what you have done or what you look like? And, are there different forms of gawking that are unacceptable, equal, and/or just different? Would we consider tabloid journalism gawking? If so, then are we all guilty of the sinful pleasure of gawking through a news rack?

Let's Talk About Wants Instead...Whadda Ya Say?

Which brings us to the most appropriate and timely example….that of Mr. Tiger Woods. Millions probably watched Tiger’s apology today and formed immediate opinions. Many have been fascinated to gawk, I mean watch, the unraveling of an American icon. Now for many of you, this is an example of entertainment—not gawking. For some of you, like writers in the Golf world, boycotting is the approach of the day and for others it is mere water cooler talk.

Watcher or Gawker of Tiger's Press Conference?

Either way it presents as a perfect example for us to consider. Why is it that others successes and failures are far more entertaining and interesting than our own lives? Why do we get significant pleasure in the unattainable? Why do we want to bear witness (my apologizes to Lebron James) to salacious, scandalous, and murderous activities?

I must admit that I am the first to gawk at death on a Saturday night or two when I watch 48 Hours Mystery. I will say out loud that I am ready to, “…see dead people.” I say it with pleasure for entertainment and for my (I know I am not alone in this) desire to test out my detective skills.

Witness the NEXT Michael Jordan

I am not proud of my “gawking” and I want to continue to understand it. I think we would all do ourselves a favor by asking what it is that we gawk at and what are we truly going after. What lessons are we teaching our kids? How will they know when to intervene or will they just practice group-think and gawk with others when someone is in need?

Just recently a young girl was beaten in front of security personnel in Seattle and received no assistance or protection. Why did gawkers not turn into helpers?

Gawking can begin innocently. Gawking can merely be wishful thinking. The problem is that it sets the stage for an overall approach to life…One that places us on the sidelines of life assuming and placing judgment on people and circumstances outside of our purview and probably pay grade. Think about what you are gawking at and think even harder about the respect you are displaying to yourself and the younger generation looking for acceptable role models.

Dr. Rod
Rod Berger, PsyD The Normal Male

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Filed under Dumb Men, Fathers, Girls, Good Men, Males, men, Plastic Surgery, Relationships, sex, women

Who Likes Angry, Sad, Crying Men?

Do Women Really Want More Complex Men?

Sometimes…and I am going to be completely honest here…I feel like men, Normal and abnormal, can’t win for tryin. I will admit that last night I turned on American Idol to see who had made it into the top 24. Beyond the cackles and snickers that the show has been known to garner…this was a very big deal for the participants. They are going after a dream and laying it on the line for all to see…

…and of course emotions became the Special Guest appearing alongside the contestants, their supporters, and the judges. So…why is it that when I turned on the radio this morning this first thing I heard about was the “unmanly” display of emotions from the male contestants?

Shouldn’t a young man who wants something so bad feel safe enough to express emotions that have never been owned, outright, by females…but rather the human race? Shouldn’t a male of any age be able to share his emotions as they happen when they are appropriate for the situation?

I say YES! I applaud all of the contestants for handling themselves with more dignity and honesty than the pundits who find joy in raking them over the coals the morning after. We have seen this before. We have seen this with athletes who have won or lost a big game…with actors who have won the coveted Oscar. This should not be considered a revelation. There should not be even a trace of sarcasm.

So the question then needs to be asked of women…

“Do women really want men who are emotionally complex and Normal or men who display emotion with hand signals and grunts?”

It really is that simple. I will say it again…it really is that simple. Why do I say this? Well, because men are trained early on that the gender holding the carrot and the one chasing the carrot are set in stone. We chase the carrot of your affection even if we do so like a drunken monkey at times. We will swing through the trees of life in pursuit and, in most cases, abide by your “rules” of engagement. Those men who scoff and wait for women to come to them are lonely gents who are probably still living in their parent’s basement playing video games!

Take Heed Little Man For the Emotional Police are a Comin

We, men, play a significant role in determining appropriate emotional expressions. Those men who want to provide a better experience of life for ourselves and the next generation of males understand the gravity of the situation. It is those that think I am being trivial that disturb me. How many little boys heard the DJ belittle the Idol’s who were crying and thought, “Wait a minute…when I didn’t make the soccer team I was upset…did I do something wrong?” Further, how many caregivers heard the same message over the radio and said nothing but laugh. Never forget that we often say more with what we don’t say than with what we say. All children listen and take notes…we are just foolish enough to think they don’t.

It can be very easy to laugh at the stereotypical man and the ridiculous and detrimental manner with which he responds to life. It makes for “funny” sitcoms and reality shows. Who doesn’t like to say, “Yup, another dumb man!” What we should be doing, though, is thinking ahead…for the long-term implications. How will my son, my brother, my neighbor, my cousin feel about himself and how will he even know how to express himself?

Could Global Warming Actually Help Man-Kind?

The answers to these questions become quite important for future romantic relationships. There will be days, ladies, when your partner responds like a caveman and you will say, “If only I had married a man!” And, there will be times when he cries in your arms and you say, “If only I had married a man!”

We need assistance from you. Other men won’t agree with me out of some unfounded fear that they will appear weak. Other men…Normal Males…will agree, let down their ego and proceed with needed negotiations. We want to feel safe enough that if we want to display emotion—it will be received in a loving and safe environment. We promise to embrace this New World and we will put the time into understanding our fears and how to better express them. We just ask that you, too, think about this New World where men share feelings, both good and bad, and include you in their thought processes. It would help us immensely if you thought about how this new, relaxed version of ourselves would impact you—how you experience the world, where you will turn your frustrations now that we are open communicators, and if you truly understand the systematic changes that will occur.

So many of us wish for the greener pasture…for that green grass just outside of our reach yet fail to comprehend that if you actually land on the greener pasture, you actually have to mow it, tend to it, and water it on a regular basis just like the patch of grass you stand on today. Never underestimate the impact positive change in one area can have on another. If men actually take this seriously…women might find themselves in some uncomfortable situations very soon. It might feel odd at first to see your husband expressing emotion, discussing his feelings and asking about yours—you might even think that he was abducted by aliens…but give him a chance and give yourself a chance. You might find that winning the emotional jackpot is worth it to you, your marriage, and your kids.

All the Best!

Dr. Rod
Rod Berger, PsyD The Normal Male

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Filed under Boys, Dumb Men, Fathers, Good Men, Males, Marriage, men, Mothers, Relationships, women