2 men in a boat

Male Bonding [Is Being An Emotional Man Simple]

I love seeing male bonding. I love seeing the way men simply love each other's company without the need to talk or gossip. This is true male intimacy. I love being a man, it's so straightforward!

On a beautiful Saturday morning by the Sneekermeer in Holland, bright and cold, looking out over the water I see a typical picture of **Male Bonding** . Two men sitting in a boat fishing. Two men with their backs to each other, not talking but enjoying each other's company. They wouldn't do it alone, it just wouldn't be the same. Women find this incomprehensible, they wonder what they can find of interest. So what is it that men are doing and why do they find such comfort in it?


Men love thinking about nothing. The way they deal with stress and responsibility is to leave it all behind for a time and empty their minds completely. They find this refreshing and invigorating. They can have the most serious problems to deal with but their way of dealing with them is to let them go, temporarily, and just be. This is why television is so favoured by men.

Sometimes I do this while my partner's mind is raging around 'everything' that's going on. She cannot understand how I can just switch off! When men do this together they support each other in this place, they understand in a women can't.


Men love to focus, it's their raison d'etre. Even better is when men can focus together. Fishing is focusing, on the fish, on the techniques, on being out and away. Together the encourage each other and intensify the focus.

Focus on a hobby, that has no real significance, is a way of connecting with your masculinity while letting the rest of life go. Nothing then focus is a powerful combination.

Being Together

Men find it difficult to be together without having a reason, a purpose. Women love the process of being together for no reason just talking and talking. men are not natural 'talkers', they need to be 'doing'. Just being together suggests a closeness that is dangerous for men, disturbing. (Remember the film Brokeback Mountain...) This is something they do with women. But if there is a task... then it's ok.


Men have a powerful ability to focus on one thing for a long period of time. This way of being has evolved from old wiring, once necessary for the survival of the species.

Having a one-track mind was necessary for the hunter to patiently wait for his prey so they he could feed his family. A man is just expressing his 'hunter' by becoming fully absorbed in the task at hand.


Finally there is talking. Men do it to communicate information, otherwise why bother. They will talk about what needs to be done, etc., on the trip, but they won't fill the time with endless chatter. What is the purpose of that?

So a task that doesn't need talking is ideal. Fishing is sitting and letting the fish do their thing, no real communication needed.

I love being a man, it's so straightforward!

Understanding Men—The Science And The Emotion

Understanding men is easy, some would argue; you just have to know what men want. Why do so many men feel confused about themselves, then? Why is it that most men couldn't tell you what they want or who they are?

Men are considered to be far less complex than women. A large factor in this is the way their brains are organised. The male brain is compartmentalised—every part works independent of the other. Specific behaviour that has been labelled as masculine results from this, for example being able to do only one thing at a time, or putting focus onto something else as a way letting go, or being in the mood for – and ready for – sex in a matter of seconds.

The Background

The two halves of the male brain are connected by merely one third of the connections the female brain has. These connections regulate the ability to switch from the logical, left, side of the brain to the sensitive, right, side of the brain. This is an important factor in understanding men and male behaviour.

Although the constitution of the male brain is a scientific truth, does this scientific truth explain why men are considered less complex? Does the way the male brain is organised determine men's level of emotional depth, men's ability to understand themselves, to understand women? Somehow that does not feel right. Could there be another reason?

As I outlined in 'Male Dominance' we live in a patriarchal society. Everything we are taught and all of our systems and structures are male focused. Boys are 'groomed' to be part of the structure, to contribute to it and to share in its rewards. For many boys this 'grooming' leads to them shutting off part of their personality. Boys are taught not to cry, to be strong.

Crying and displaying emotions are the domain of girls.

By the time men grow into adolescence, they are often no longer capable of truly expressing the full range of their emotions. When they reach their twenties and thirties, some 'real men' are no longer in touch with their emotions, their feelings at all. Some men in positions of power or authority might express anger and frustration, but that is considered to be in bad taste.

Fathering children and providing for the family is a responsibility that prevents many men from following their inner most desires. I have met countless men who talked about how they would have liked to do something important or real with their life – if they had only had the chance. Alas, duty called.

Men reap all the benefits, are out there in the world while the women stay at home. Men have access to things women don't have. Men, however, have areas they can't go to. Today, careful 'grooming' still keeps men from developing, knowing and living in their emotions. Knowing this makes understanding men's confusion a little easier. A man needs access to his full range of emotions to live a balanced life, a life of purpose.

Outrageous Creativity

Society adores great works of art, great men of vision and creativity, but the men who are painters, actors, singers and dancers are themselves despised. They often live unhappy lives, filled with alcohol and drugs. They are going against society's viewpoint that has branded their emotions an outrageous display of their feminine side.

Thus the confusion grows. It becomes ever easier to understand how men can feel so adrift. In a world increasingly under the influence of the feminine, men are expected to show their emotions and to talk about them, yet on a subconscious level society still moulds them not to.

We are all the product of the same groundwork that has shaped and formed us. It is no use us blaming the past, what is done is done.

In western society, however, things are starting to improve, there is more clarity in understanding men. Men have increasing opportunities to choose differently, to educate themselves and learn to bring the parts that are missing back to the whole.

There might be another light on the horizon for future generations. Recent studies have suggested that young boys might actually be more sensitive than young girls. But before you get too excited, let me give you Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist Sebastian Kraemer's reaction, from an issue of the British Medical Journal:

If parents were more aware of male sensitivity, they might change the way they treat their sons.

The traditional attitude that "boys will be boys" needs exploring further. Seems like we still have a long way to go!