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Can Masculine Men Be Emotional – Will Relationships Work If Not

Men have a reputation for suppressing their emotions because they believe that to be emotional is to be feminine. Yet when men suppress their emotions they often destroy their relationships.

My wife has been reading the book ‘Getting To “I Do” – The Secret To Doing Relationships Right‘ by the well-known relationship expert Dr Patricia Allen. She has been reading excerpts to me and I have been getting increasingly agitated.

There is one quote that I find particularly difficult to take,

Maleness is the pragmatic, functional way in which we handle work, the initiator of action. It is the verbal, the left lobe of the brain.

Femaleness is the passive, the receptive, the emotional; it can be represented by non-verbal energy. Its function in traditional terms is to serve as an outlet for emotion and as a moral brake; it can be seen as the stable center that allows a relationship to develop and be maintained.

Although both male and female elements are vital to the make-up of both men and women, I believe that for a relationship to be healthy and successful these must be reconciled and become complementary to each other. In other words, there can only be one male and one female in every relationship.

No wonder men do not know what to do in their relationships, which are, as a result, not working.

I feel that it is not so much that Dr Allen is wrong, but that she is confused.

Dr Allen is saying that both men and women are both male and female, but that in a relationship there can only be one male energy and one female energy.

As far as the relationship is concerned I agree with her. Sexual polarity is critically important in creating a joint energy that makes a relationship exciting. It does not matter how this polarity comes about, but it must be present.

As for being both male and female, I do not agree. She is basing her ideas on the psychologist Jung, who talks about anima in men and animus in women. She says that to be a whole person we need to have both male and female energies. My experience of men and women does not support this view.

In practice, I believe, we are infinitely more complex. We are made up of many characteristics, some more male-oriented, some more female-oriented and some that are neither. We develop our own masculinity or femininity based on a complex matrix of characteristics.

I think the problem with Dr Allen’s approach is that it can cut both men and women off from being whole human beings. It suggests that to be the male or female energy in a relationship you need to let go of essential parts of your personality because they belong to the other energy.

If this is true it would suggest that to be in a relationship you need to suppress parts of yourself. If this is how she sees sexual polarity then I am concerned.

I believe that when a man is emotional, it does not have to mean that he goes into his feminine, it does not have to mean that he loses his power and strength.

For example, she suggests that femaleness is, “an outlet for emotion and a moral brake”. To follow this argument would insist that men, in their male energy, cannot be an outlet for emotion. But for me that is the problem in many relationships, masculine men suppress their emotions.

In my view, even in their masculinity, men need to get in touch with and express their emotions. If they are being told that that is a sign of femaleness, they will, of course, never do it.

I believe that when a man is emotional, it does not have to mean that he goes into his feminine, it does not have to mean that he loses his power and strength. When a man is emotional he is often being vulnerable and showing increased inner certainty and a greater ability to be a force behind the relationship.

He is being more of a man.

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  1. Early in my marriage, I thought it was weak to show my emotions in any way. I would show anger, but that never seemed to solve the problem. My wife would get emotional and I would either get angry or just walk away. Listening to that now sounds nothing like being a strong and disciplined male.

    These days work much differently, thanks to the power of the Holy Spirit. I discovered that being angry and shutting down was not the answer. I found out that true masculinity was expressed when I worked together with my wife to resolve the situation or issue. I don’t have to be overly emotional, but I do have to be mature and receptive to her needs and the needs of the situation. I agree with the end of your article, that this behavior has made me more masculine and a much better husband.

    Thanks for sharing this article.


    1. Thank you for sharing, Bryan. It is interesting that we forget that anger is an emotion, not a very helpful one, but an emotion all the same. Men are emotional but often cut themselves off from ones that appear feminine.

      Well done for connecting, intimately, with your with and accepting your vulnerability.


  2. Thanks to all for focusing a discussion on the issue of men’s capacity to access their emotions and not be limited and “boxed-in” to stereotypical roles. Engaging Men in embracing the full range of their experience is something HopeBegins supports and promotes. We are part of a collaborative grant between LICADD and The Retreat in NY which desires to explore new definitions of masculinity with the belief we can help reduce intimate partner violence. Join us on FB or Twitter


    1. Thanks for your comment and your support for emotional intelligence in men. I know your intention is noble and good, but I am uncomfortable with your constant focus on violence and abuse. What you are giving men is a negative view with little in the way of positive views of men’s behaviour. In my experience you will push men away with this approach.

      There is also a danger in just creating new stereotypical definitions of masculinity. What I believe in is helping men find their own definitions of masculinity, ones that work for them and their lives.

      Let’s keep the discussion going and see how we can move forward.


  3. I believe that men need to express their emotions and that it is dangerous to the relationship if they do this with their women present. Men have been doing this with other men for thousands of years and that is what works. It’s only in the last 60 to 70 years that men have been trying to express their emotions with women.

    Look at the results and you’ll quickly see how well it works. Most Men don’t have men in their lives that they can turn to and get what they need so they turn to a wonderful creature that has no idea how we feel, how we think, what’s important to us and what makes us tick. We all need good men that we can be with and express all of our emotions and get what we need.

    If we have those men in our lives then we will not be coming to our women as needy little boys and the women will feel saver and better taken care of. Women really want a strong powerful man that is not week or needy and one that is 100% committed to them and the family. Pretty simple, lets not complicate it.


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