Big boys don’t cry…men do


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From the beginning, men are taught to suppress their emotions.  This is partially due to genetics, specifically survival of the species.  Women are conditioned to seek out alpha Males.  Alpha Males were good for hunting and thereby good providers for their offspring.  Aggression, strength, speed and agility are characteristics that make good hunters.  Women are generally more interested in that type of male.  This is why women are more attracted to athletes and also explains why we as a society place so much emphasis on sports.

A good hunter knows how to kill.  To be able to kill requires repression of empathy.  You can’t be squeamish if you are expected to kill in living creature.  This also puts men at conflict with their emotions.  They become obstacles.  Being emotional is considered a weakness, something children do.  Think of how many times you’ve heard or seen someone chastising a little boy saying big boys don’t cry.

All throughout our puberty the emphasis is placed on suppressing your feelings.  We are taught not to cry when disappointed.  Not to react to rejection.  Not to show fear. The problem with this is that these emotions are real and can be intense. This causes men to be at conflict with themselves internally. The body changes chemically, hormones fluctuate rapidly. This is manifest as extreme mood swings and often insecurity.

Irresponsibility and risk taking typically occur during the pubic phase.  The focus is on being a leader not a follower so as to be recognized. To stand out among your peers. You should make your own rules, so existing rules are meant to be broken or subject to your approval. This is the root cause of juvenile delinquency. There is however a flip side to this behavior called “pack mentality”.  Going back to the hunter concept, much like a pack of dogs, hunting in a group yields greater success.  The group becomes a surrogate projection of the individual. As a group, the ideas is to have more power and more control.  This is also the reason behind why you will hear a man refer to his favorite team as “we”.

Biologically, men are driven to procreate, to father as many offspring as he can to ensure that his genetic code survives. This is why when men have sex with a female, they continue to look for other females. Monogamy is a cultural concept which is in direct conflict with this urge. This is not an endorsement of that behavior, just an explanation of its root cause. Women are the caregivers, the nurturers. They are programmed to care for their young. To that end, maintaining a relationship with a strong protective male, increases the odds that their children will be safe, which is why women tend to be more driven to a monogamous relationship once children are involved.

This brings in focus the overall problem that we as a society have in relationships.  Biology vs. culture.  Our behaviors are programmed.  Our cultural behaviors are taught.  Women have difficulty understanding men simply because they are programmed differently. This is also true in reverse.

Men live longer now than they were genetically designed.  After the peak age of 30, the testosterone levels in men starts to decrease.  This introduces a whole host of complications.  Men find themselves in new territory emotionally and physically.  The lower testosterone level makes men less aggressive and more vulnerable to emotions that they are not prepared to handle on that level of intensity. Combined with cultural expectations, this period can be the most difficult for men. This is also the driving factor behind the male “mid-life crisis”.

In summary, we are in a constant battle between our biology and our culture.  Society places great restrictions on the ability of men to express their emotions but as time passes, this will ultimately change.

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