Category Archives: head of household

How to Help Your Man When He is Depressed

Sometimes our greatest fears are realized. Sometimes that pit in our stomach actually means a great deal. Yes, we are men. Yes, we can be and are often strong, but many times we are one degree from emotional combustion.

Normal men struggle with confidence more often they will ever let on. We, men, wonder what you wonder about us. We burn out, feel left out, and sometimes when we are vulnerable we lash out. These are things we are not proud of nor do we want to be sponsors of for the next generation.

Men become depressed at rates that are still unknown and baffling to the health care community and the providers educated to treat them. Thankfully, there is a growing movement to better understand male depression, its origin, and proper methods for therapeutic inclusion and treatment. Too often men and their families are unaware of the signs and symptoms of depression. Men shrug off their blue feelings as just another struggle they have to endure alone. They struggle to access the health care community and at best only talk to their primary care physician who either dispels such “nonsense” or over prescribes outdated and temporary solutions. 

I will admit that I am quite tired of the temporary solution-based approach that America has taken with just about every social problem. Makes me wish I owned stock in Band-Aids. The issue of male depression reaches far and wide impacting millions of men and their families.

The solution(s) will not be fast acting, maximum strength, over-the-counter goodies. The solutions will have to start at home. They will have to be identified and approached by the very person who has seen this man at his best and worst.

The signs are there even if communication about them is a bit archaic. We are and have been in a funk, as a country, for a good long while. Many men and women have lost their jobs, homes, and self respect. That’s right self respect…meaning that too many folks have not responded to their adverse situation in the manner they thought they would. They, like the peanut in this ad, are wondering why they can’t get up off the curb and start anew.

And, it is during these times when men need their partners the most. This undoubtedly puts women in a very difficult position because the language used, verbally and non-verbally, greatly impacts the man early on. When tragic news hits or you see a series of little defeats mounting for your man you have to treat him in the first 72 hours. This is, of course, not an official number but it gets the point across that to be effective in helping your partner you need to move swiftly and deftly in the early hours.

Are You Ready to Respond?

Think of it like a legal defense. We have all seen “Law & Order” or the new smash hit which I love “The Good Wife.” We watch as the lawyers and officers strategically plan the response and subsequent actions…all of which have to be done early on if they are to get ahead of the charge etc.

So, in that vein let us look at some things to look out for when you think your husband/man is depressed:

  1. First and foremost know how YOU typically respond to him when he is down.
  2. Prepare yourself for statements that are nonsensical and reactionary because he too knows your typical response style.
  3. Think about how YOU would feel given his stressors and situation.
  4. Take YOURSELF out of the discussion–this is not the time to talk about your needs/wants.
  5. Use physical touch to caress and reassure him–difficult because you may feel inclined to “mother” him.
  6. Remember that, like you, he may not want solutions early on.
  7. Let him know that you love him, believe in him, and will stand by him.
  8. Do NOT say, “Life isn’t easy” or “You’ll find something” or “That’s just the way life is.” Statements like these minimize his current fears and distance you from the solution. The message you are sending is…”I will wait till you figure it out alone and in the meantime buck up, you’re a man.”
  9. Stay connected and engaged. Do not fall the way of so many women who yield to giving him “space.” Men may say they want that, but only for a short time and most often because it is safer. They do not trust their feelings with you.
  10. And last but certainly not least…continue to love and support him…encourage him when his spirits are increasing and support him if and when mental health intervention is needed.

It takes a team effort to assist anyone who is down on their luck. Knocking them down even further because they are vulnerable sounds horrific, but practiced more than your neighbors would admit.

You can be your own best friend if you approach your man in thoughtful ways. These are tough times for everyone not named Palin, Jordan, Lebron, Gosselin, or Steve Jobs…let us all use a little compassion as we support the ones we love.

All the Best!

Dr. Rod
Rod Berger, PsyD The Normal Male

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Filed under Fathers, finances, Good Men, head of household, Males, Marriage, men, Relationships, sex, women, Work

Competing Sexes

Looking to Beat the Next Guy?

HBO has done it again! They have secretly become a documentary juggernaut. Their latest prize pits NBA Hall of Famers Larry Bird and Magic Johnson in an epic depiction of two men possessed with competition. You don’t have to be a sports fan to appreciate the layers these two icons peeled back during their reign…racism, big versus small town, East coast-West coast, and dollar for dollar they delivered.

I will admit, as a sports fan, that my competitive juices were flowin even if from the couch flanked by my two cats and a lukewarm cup o’ joe.

I suddenly thought about my youth and how my seconds, minutes, hours, days, weeks, months, and years were staked out by competitive outlets. I had a sport for every season, a grade or project every term, a girl I wanted to look buff for, and distant educational and career goals to tide me over. Life was competitive ALL the time!

Now…well it seems that for many of us competition is relagated to survival…not for mere advantage or gamesmanship, but for our financial security and lifestyle. Where did it all go? Is this Normal? Is it Abnormal? Am I losing a step?

I mean I can turn on the tube and see competition for viewership and marketshare. Shoot, I can even read about competition between Bill Gates and Steve Jobs, Democrats and Republicans, Barbara Walters and Diane Sawyer, Oprah vs. The World, Mac vs. Windows, and last but certainly not least Conan vs. Jay. Competition is right at our fingertips…and as I painstakingly reach for it I can’t help but wonder what we would all be without competition?

Looking for Your Competitive Advantage in Life?

Would we be lost? Would we be a species that never got out of the Stone Age? Competition has a place…we need to feed our species, advance our species, and procreate our species…and competition remains the single most important ingredient. It inspires us during times wrought with disallusionment and pain. Competition helps us gauge our progress, modify our approach, and reach for new heights. And, for each gender competition can be deeply personal…

Males are given the edict that to compete is to demonstrate your prowess amongst all in your path from dusk to dawn. Some have deemed this male character the Alpha Male….the Silverback. So, as men age they look for arenas to compete in, to win…and many do so with very little regard for their opponents.We have all read of the hostile takeovers, the businesses now running lean and most have a man at the helm. Most of us have been personally impacted by the corporate competition…I mean greed…

Females, on the other hand, have been wronged for centuries. Females have been given the message that the competitive landscape is for men only…thus relegating women to compete for these men. Let’s not forget that, though, times have changed significantly, the overwhelming message has been for women to compete in non-threatening areas and for menial purposes.

You see it has been the great spoof our species…men convincing women that their pursuits were more important to the greater good…that women had a place…just over there on the sidelines.

For many, these deficient approaches are not borne from intention or malice, but rather from generations trying to survive the way they knew how. It really is hard to pass definitive judgment when we, as a country, are continuing to breed competitive destruction…we have just found new and different ways to mask our approaches and intentions.

Feeling Competitive?

We all have a burning desire to stay on top, to pursue the unattainable…it is the American way. Just look at the current landscape…looking even closer at our educational system. We now have “Race to the Top” from the federal government, we have schools and districts that pay students for attendance and top grades…and why? Because competition, today, isn’t about aspirations or dreams…competition is about the almighty dollar. Adults are wooing kids for higher test scores, ratings, and marketshare. It is as if they are saying…“Here kitty kitty….here kitty kitty.”

All the while, children who are only concerned with competing in gym class are actually playing lead roles in the high-stakes game of adult competition. In fact, it is the children who hold the magic ticket and not the adults. Failing tests grades, reduced product usage, and even fewer website hits put us and our American dollar at risk.

It truly is sad that competition, while fantastic as a sport and motivator in times of despair, brings out the animal in all of us. We were once young people competing for a cause, for a purpose, for the betterment of generations past and present. Somewhere along the path to adulthood we lost our way, sold out to the highest bidder and forgot what makes this country so grand….The hope and belief that with a little elbow grease and commitment we can win at the game of life…together.

Let us all think about the role competition plays in our lives, the impact on those around us, and the messages we are downloading to the up-and-coming generation of children.

All the Best!

Dr. Rod
Rod Berger, PsyD The Normal Male

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Filed under Boys, finances, Girls, head of household, Males, men, Mothers, sex, Sports, Success Stories, women, Work

Man-Up or Stand Up? The American Boy is in Trouble

Who Needs Lifting? Men or Boys?

I am a staunch supporter of males and the females in their lives. I believe that we can do better, as a gender, but must step up and be accounted for. Some of you who read this might wonder if I woke up on the wrong side of the bed or took my politically correct vitamins in excess. Some passerby’s might wonder if I live in the basement of my mother’s home and spew comments in a an environment where anonymity is a given and gravatars act as i.d. badges.

Though this image might bring you joy it just isn’t true. I am a Normal, insecure, bold when I need to be, confident in waves, man who loves ESPN, the arts and yard work on any-ole-day U.S.A. And, yes sometimes I find it necessary to shed light on a social practice that isn’t helping males in their pursuit to be Normal…in an effort to reach personal greatness…and life satisfaction.

As a part of an online community, The Art of Manliness, I am often challenged to think, laugh, and cry at the experience of being male. The members are thoughtful and thought provoking which I applaud with all sincerity. Yesterday was a perfect example wrapped into a single thread. A member asked a question…he wanted to know how to Man-Up a 13 year old that he knew. He described this young boy as soft, squishy, an unmotivated sissy, and lazy. I, of course, commented and to his credit the author said he didn’t know of any other word to use other than Man-Up.

The Art of Manliness

I was also given a review on the term and its usage on the site which said:

“Within the context of this site (AoM), “manning up” simply refers to “growing up” and coming to grips with yourself as a man. It’s not so much about toughening up as it is about maturing beyond boyhood.” -Jamie

To Man Up? The Urban Dictionary actually has 25 definitions and there is an organization, by the same name, that strives to end violence against women. Many of us have seen the phrase in reference to sexual enhancement and performance. We have seen it used at Little League games to dissuade emotions associated with females from being aired. Many of us have heard the phrase as a call to action; a rising up from self-induced-pity to a place of formidable stature and strength.

The American Way?

And, we have to wonder what is the impact on a generation of young boys without fathers, without male role models in schools, without heroes on the athletic field, governed by a society and educational system determined to squeeze the boy out of them, reprimanded when they become addicted to video games as a result, and told that success only comes to those who can effectively repress feelings and push on in the name of the American spirit.

I say with great confidence and sadness that our young boys are at a crossroads. Our boys are flailing in the wind with no direction, purpose, or sense of self.

Late yesterday afternoon as I was in the backyard I heard three young men talking and making a bit of noise. When I looked over to my neighbors house I noticed these three young men (approximately 18-21) crawling through an upstairs window. The house, you see, is in the midst of renovations and the owners are looking to rent the top unit out. I stopped them, at least the one young man who looked nervous, and asked them if they were with the work crew and found out they wanted a “peek inside.” Let’s just say they got my drift and headed out of my urban neighborhood.

You might say to yourself that this was a harmless act, but I am concerned at the lack of judgment. It concerns me that these young men were so apathetic to getting caught. I very easily could have called the cops and I would imagine a charge of breaking and entering could have been established. To them…nothing. They drove away quietly without verbal exchange.

Before we can ask young boys to Man-Up, we first need to establish what they are actually Manning-Up too. We need to provide a playground and environment that let’s them explore with guidance, tussle safely in the name of bonding, and believe what they feel inside. Just because we have generations of men, mine included, that were cast aside from the rational side of life doesn’t mean that we have to send them down the river as well.

If we, adult men, want a seat at the proverbial table of life then we have to set the example…together. We have to communicate our disgust for the medical system that limits access and respect during pregnancy. We have to communicate our needs with our medical and psychological doctors. We need to role model the great dualities of manhood…that we can grunt to our friends one minute, compose poetic stories the next, protect our children, cry with our children, love our spouse and most importantly ourselves all at a moments notice.

Apathy for ourselves is one thing…apathy for the next generation—shameful. Think about the language you use and the story it supports or erodes…young boys are waiting for us to Step Up…in the process we might just figure out what it actually means to Man-Up.

All the Best!

Dr. Rod
Rod Berger, PsyD The Normal Male

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Filed under Boys, Dumb Men, Family, Fathers, Girls, Good Men, head of household, Males, men, Mothers, sex, Sports, women

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

Why Women Change Their Tune when Jewelry is Involved

Feeling Loved?

Being a man can be many things…some good, some bad, some quite exciting and others quite costly. Recently, my fiance and I went out to shop for our wedding bands. I was aware that her band would be exponentially more than my ring and so I prepared myself.

I thought of the cost of the engagement ring, my checking account balance, my credit limit…said a few prayers and had a couple of sips of my coffee before we met at the jewelry store. As we proceeded through the “security” doors our sales associate peered up with that, “I know them ;)” look and I knew I was in trouble.

You see the one thing I didn’t take into consideration was that when you buy an engagement ring of a certain quality you HAVE to buy a band that equals that quality…and yes I do know the famous 4 C’s of a diamond and if you don’t, guys, you need to quickly. The world revolves around 4 C’s and the irony is that we were all taught that coming home with 4 quality C’s on our report card was average—at best. I shudder to think what 4 A’s would cost you and me if they were a part of the equation.

Now before some of you wonder if my fiance is one of the famous or infamous Bridezillas…you couldn’t be further from the truth. What we both are is practical…at least we strive for that. And, with that in mind it becomes very easy to look at your ring(s) as investments…as both an investment in love and commitment and in the value it holds on the open market. So…what happens is this—you find that you cannot just place an average band with an above-average engagement ring. It would be like buying a nice car and treating it like a contractors truck…both equally valued when kept separate.

Are YOU the Joker in your OWN Life?

And…who is kidding who? Both of us want the rings to look complimentary to each other and I want the ole ego stroked when she fawns over my choice…and it doesn’t hurt when her friends do the same ;). Which brings us to the overarching challenge of jewelry for men and women—men get hosed and women get the riches. We know it. You know it and we can only hope that when we want something that is a tad flashy like a riding lawnmower or season tickets to our favorite team—you understand the value we see in the purchase. Otherwise, the couple runs the risk of playing tit-for-tat with everything from material possessions to sex. Nobody wins and assuredly each party loses. The relationship loses overall focus, commitment to what brought you together loses focus…with the end result being two depressed individuals who look at their relationship like a failing stock that was given to them years ago by a less than normal relative.

Playing Games with your Love Meter?

So the next time you think of purchasing something for yourself or your family think twice about the message it can send your bank and your family. Yes we all want to have hand like George Costanza so famously stated on Seinfeld, but having hand without the one you love…well you get the point.

Please understand that we, the male species, struggle to understand the cues you give us and struggle even more to communicate beyond the material goods we purchase. We want you to know we care and that you are that special someone.

We also ask that you return the favor and express support for those other purchases that you might not necessarily deem important for your family. Yes jewelery and the purchasing of special jewelry is fun and expensive, but the look on your face fuels us to want to be the best and provide the best opportunities for the entire family. So many of us learned that men, and primarily from our fathers, communicate love through giving and doing and while we adjust to the new and Normal approaches to relationships we still might dip into the well a time-or-two.

Would a Ring Help?

We both know that if we are to call a spade a spade we would say that spending any amount of money on a ring is ridiculous when we take into account what truly matters in life. To some degree the purchase is a frivolous one…and that is ok. Sometimes being  like or exceeding the Jones’s feels good and other times it doesn’t even come into the picture. Openly communicate what you can and cannot spend for your display of commitment and you will set yourself up for emotionally prosperous communication.

All the best!

Dr. Rod
Rod Berger, PsyD The Normal Male

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Filed under finances, Good Men, head of household, Marriage, men, Relationships, sex

Imagined Fears Men Have About the Women They Love

Am I Good Enough?

Men are fragile beings. There…I said it! Whew! For many men the completion of Valentines Day can feel like an exorcism. This results from hours and hours of between-the-ears conversations…listing all of the fears we have about ourselves, our relationships, and our “standing” in your eyes. I know it may be hard to believe that a gender famous for saying “what?” or “huh?” would actually worry themselves about you and how you perceive them.

Now it is true that, even for Normal Males, relationships are difficult for us. We struggle to understand how you can truly love and believe in us when we struggle so mightily to believe the very same things in ourselves. This is why we act out, speak out, run out, and work out. We do all of these things because we are striving to avoid any and all conversations that establish value, propositions of love, and/or situations that require reassurance.

We fear that we are not good enough with regards to our looks and our brains. Normal Males worry themselves with so many imagined fears that it is as if we are racing against baldness on a daily basis…fearing the receding hairline like a wave of perceived criticism coming our way. We aren’t sure what you want and we aren’t even sure what we want. So I ask you this

“What imagined fears are occupying your mind today?”

Now please don’t think that our fears just happened upon us. No…they have been building up steam and accolades for years. Initial fears can be seen from grade school on up through adulthood. If anything Normal Males can hang their hat on is this…we wouldn’t be Normal nor human if we didn’t worry or concern ourselves with what others think. Now, I would imagine my female readers will agree or at least say that they believed this to be true…some of my male readers, though, will tell themselves that I am full of malarkey. These men are kidding themselves and those in their lives. I have never worked with a male or been friends with a male who hasn’t admitted these fears. We all experience them…and here are the Top 10 we fear the most:

Top 10 Imagined Fears of Normal Males

  1. You compare us to former lovers.
  2. You see our inadequacies more than our attributes.
  3. You don’t trust us.
  4. You don’t love us.
  5. You don’t want to be intimate with us.
  6. You think we could do and be better in every domain imaginable.
  7. You look at us not like men, but like children you have to take care of and take Control of.
  8. You expect us to be MEN…ALL the time even though we might feel like sheep.
  9. You think you could have done better in choosing a mate.
  10. You won’t like or love us if we displayed our true fears and feelings.

Now before some of you throw your computers…I will remind you that these are fears…imagined and not completely based in reality. Fear of something can originate from negative stimuli and/or events and it can also be born out of assumptions and perceptions based on faulty intelligence. WMD (Weapons of Mass Destruction) we are not…misunderstood by others and ourselves…yes. It is neither easy nor desired to figure out the origins of our fears. We do not experience these fears daily, for the most part, and they can be fleeting in duration.

You Don't Want to CONTROL you?

The most intrusive thought or fear comes from a worry that we will lose control. Normal Males have feared the loss of control since being young boys. We were told by family, friends, and the media that what we felt inside was a lie. That our emotional experiences of life were misguided and/or sissy. We were told not to cry or express hurt, sadness, or shame. We were told to buck-up, man-up, and stand-up. This pervasive messaging can put one on high alert for a very long and lonely time. It is no wonder why we have so many imagined fears…we were never encouraged to share with other males so how on earth would we know that others felt and experienced the world in the very same way.

Many men, women, and even professionals will scoff at such notions, but I will tell you this…males that are honest with themselves will admit having a number of these fears “a time or two” during their life. They can be experienced as crippling, annoying, and sometimes refreshing for the natural reflective properties of such fear(s). They can be painful, but also provide lessons for the individual in how far they have come and achieved since the origin of the fear.

Why share these unspoken truths about men? What is to gain or be accomplished? Great questions…valid and necessary. Because males have spent an eternity running from the truths and leaving subsequent generations to clean up the emotional and relational messes left behind. It isn’t fair and it isn’t productive to act as if everything is “fine” or “ok.” Sometimes life isn’t and should be talked about in terms of reality. The impact these fears have on the individual, the struggling marriage, and the young boys wondering what dad is doing when he “freaks” out are significant for short and long-term health. We want to get past the past and realize the present and the future to come. We do not want to be annoying to you or ourselves. We want to live without persistent worry for our place in your heart, our own heart, and place of employment.

We want to feel secure in the men that we are on the outside, the gentle boy on the inside, and the husband and father we both want us to be for a lifetime. We want all of these things and sometimes cannot help feeling insecure. Forgive us for being convicted of being a human being. We want to share all sides of our experiences and personalities. We want to feel proud of ourselves, what we have accomplished from fortitude and perseverance, and in the ways we make you feel good…and loved.

Push us. Challenge us. Let us know that you want to know us. If we respond poorly then shame on us. Normal Males will respond to your passionate pursuits with humility and security that the women beside us are just that…beside us.

Men..push yourself to share and share openly and honestly. The fears you think you have will probably be extinguished by the one you love…give them a chance…give yourself a chance!

Dr. Rod
Rod Berger, PsyD The Normal Male

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Filed under Divorce, Fathers, finances, Good Men, head of household, Marriage, men, Mothers, Relationships, sex, women

What Do Women Want in a Man?

Yes Dear?

It goes without saying that we men have cornered the market on stupidity. Have I gotten your attention now? If you are a follower of my blog you may be wondering why I am following my latest series on the Divorce Life-Cycle with a series on what women want from men. You might find me even wondering the same thing. Ah…hidden issues…nah. Maybe a deep and true desire to put the work into productive and loving relationships in my own life. Yeah…I like that better.

What I do know is that the question posed today is not unique nor earth shattering. In fact, slews of journalists, scientists, and yes the blogging community are and have been looking at this issue in a very extensive manner. What you will read will be from evolutionary psychologists, hippies, and academics from all over the globe. You will find comparisons to chimps, movies by Mel Gibson, and acts of theater like the poster above from the U.K. As individuals and societies we are fascinated with what women want, how to obtain their glance, and how to secure it for relationship purposes. And, you know what? I am fascinated too! I, though want to take a different approach.

I want to talk about these needs, the bogus and hypocritical, and the sensible ones that men should know about. I am a tad tired of men who throw their hands up and say, “Women” in an exasperated fashion.

Is it all about women’s needs? No. It is absolutely about the needs of both genders. The problem is that males have spent an eternity sending inappropriate and hurtful messages and our actions haven’t been a whole lot better. My challenge to all of the Normal Males out there is to help me define what we think women want, what we think is fair, and how we are going to be a part of the solution taking our needs and personal development first.

Why this approach you might ask? Because the young boys in our communities are provided very little, if any, direction on how to treat females and themselves in a productive and mutually fulfilling manner. What we have, to-date, promoted is carnal knowledge and “tricks” to obtain women for sexual prowess. We have been under the assumption that we need to prove something to women and then they will choose us.

In Need of a New Marketing Campaign?

What we have to prove remains debatable, but we sure can’t be docked for not trying to figure the puzzle out. Some men work on their bodies. Some work on their checkbooks and the image they can buy with an inflated bank account. You name it…men have tried it. Some of us have chosen academics to prove it is the brain and not the brawn that women want…and many haven’t even given it a thought, choosing to be unique while they wait for the doorbell to their mothers house to ring.

There will be men reading this that will attack me wanting to know why I am taking this approach. They will say it has nothing to do with women and I will say….“You’re Right!”

It absolutely is about how we conceptualize ourselves, what WE want to accomplish with our time here, and not about proving something to another human being because our mental health shouldn’t be tied to the opinions and directives of others. That sounds wonderful and it also sounds like a passionate undergraduate student who thinks they can and will create world peace. Until we better understand our fascination with mimicking the Peacock, we will struggle mightily to see that the pursuit of understanding ourselves with adequate reflection, insight, and collaboration is the real quest…not the end result.

Posturing These Days?

We have seen how focusing on the end result or prize has worked out…like a train wreck! So…what to do and how to approach the question of what women want…hmmm.

I think that the prudent thing to do would be to look at this issue as a negotiation between you and yourself, you and the opposite gender, and you and society. I think it best to avoid the academic jargon…to leave behind our ever impressive resumes, and talk about this issue in a real-world manner…How does it impact me and what do I want to do about it…and do I really care? These are all fair questions that we have to ask ourselves because some men couldn’t care less what women want others desperately do.

So, with all of my protective caveats out of the way maybe I should start by sharing my personal thoughts and experiences. If I look back at my experience of this question I have to go back to when I was a boy and more specifically a 1st Grader in Troy Michigan. I was best friends with a boy who was from Peru, a great soccer player, and very different from the average white boy fashioning a bright polo shirt with upright collar. No..he was unique…he had an accent…and was athletic. That is right he was the competition and I was glad he was my friend. I figured, “Cute and desirable by affiliation.” That is me of course 😉  With these fundamentals in mind…me and my friend set out to protect the females in our class from bullies and the Bart Simpson’s of our grade and thus the playground became our testing ground.

You see many young girls had been given the message that men were their protectors from commercials, cartoons, movies, and some even from their families so we were set-up perfectly. Or so we thought. We quickly learned that the most popular girls actually liked some of the boyish blundering by our classmates and we soon became relegated to a role…a position…which was of value to the girls I might add…just not the value we were hoping for. It became my first lesson in assuming one thing and being whisked away in another direction. As I grew older I tried various approaches that were not of my temperament or personality and failed miserably…I think that is precisely what Middle School is for. I tried to be the cool guy, the tough guy, the “ahh that doesn’t bother me” guy…and I found that I knew less and less about my self as I went down a path for the acceptance of females.

Please don’t feel bad for me or think I am the only one…fore fear not my experience was Normal even if emotionally painful. I, like so many males, was alone in my pursuits and worse yet very much alone when I failed. I didn’t have an audience around me that could console my personal shame and embarrassment when I looked more like a failure than a rock star.

What are we doing wrong?

Like most Normal Males I was never taught to ask for feedback, to desire feedback, or even how to take feedback from my peers let alone girls. We, males, are a lot like a scared cat always making sure that our heads are on a swivel because we fear that if not for us who will protect us. A lonely position I assure you and one that struggles to see the light of day for many well-intentioned and loving men.

There are legions of good men and boys who want to break the stereotypes for their own health first and for successful relationships later. We are tired of the old viewpoints and attitudes and we struggle greatly when observing young males making similar mistakes. We want to help. We need to help and we have no earthly idea how to collaborate. Normal Males realize the beauty in healthy companionship and too wonder why they struggled so mightily to figure it out.

So…in an effort to be thoughtful and mindful of the question at-hand…I propose that we start with something I have already referenced above…Feedback.

I suggest that we look at Feedback as the first variable in examining what women want. Guys…if we can’t tackle the issue of Feedback we have no business pining for women and relationships in the first place. If we can discuss the importance of and our experiences with Feedback then we can begin to look at hardcore elements that support both genders in a relationship.

So…share with me your thoughts on the importance of Feedback, for both genders, and we will then begin to build a framework of substance…one that promotes women AND men with the younger generations in mind.

Dr. Rod
Rod Berger, PsyD The Normal Male

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