I remember a time when meeting someone who was just as damaged was a bit of a relief. Everyone walking…
I never liked generalizing people. And while stereotypes exist for a reason, the problem is – they simply aren’t exclusive. Oh sure, there are traits that tend to lend themselves a bit more to a certain creed or culture, but they aren’t always correct and you run the risk of dehumanizing someone unfairly based upon the group as a whole. But just because certain groups of people exhibit behaviors different than yours doesn’t mean we should write people off.
There was a song I would sing along to when I was a budding punk rock kid. It was called Colorblind by 7-Seconds. One of the key lines of the song says, “To me we are all just the same.” Well-meaning, sure, but overshooting the message. What I mean is, we are NOT all the same. There is a distinct difference between cultures, races, creeds, and genders. There are behaviors and customs that are so vasty different we can’t begin to understand the history or reasons behind them. And unfortunately, the large portion of people in this world are taught to fear what they don’t understand and as a consequence, we get racism, sexism, and bigotry. It really is damaging to our forward-thinking politics but to assume that we are all the same is a disservice just as well. We are not the same. But that shouldn’t matter. We should embrace what we don’t understand. The behaviors and customs foreign to ours should not be the grounds for division but should foster the curiosity. Because what a boring world this would be if we were all the same – so we should celebrate our differences for the unique, different, bold, strange, and the weird.
All that said, there are certain practices that lend themselves to genders. You know, the classic, “Men are from Mars, women are from Venus” kind of sentiment. It’s not that any one gender is better, just that sometimes we tend to come from different positions.
If you haven’t noticed, I’m doing my very best to skirt a precarious line. A sensitive one where I do my best to address the common behaviors specific to gender without dehumanizing or selling anyone short because first and foremost – this site, my writing, and who I am as a man, is based upon the foundation that every individual should be treated equally and with respect unless given a reason not to. Listen, there are plenty of assholes all around us. Black, white, jew, gentile, man, gay, straight, and woman. And if you believe that everyone should be treated equally and fairly regardless of skin color or what does or does not hang between their legs, then you are on my team. But again, there are certain characteristics that lend themselves to gender and creed.
In my line of work, I have listened to thousands of stories from thousands of people with all sorts of relationship issues. I have been sent thousands of anonymous emails, some to respond to on my podcast, some to answer in private. Some people have sought me out and asked me to listen to their stories over coffee or dinner. Some people have bared their souls and begged me never to tell and I never have. But the one thing everyone had in common was they simply wanted a little insight into what was troubling them. And I have always respected anyone who came to me and entrusted me with their emotions because I know it is not easy to ask a stranger for advice but I also know what it means. It means that they have gotten to the end of their rope and they are desperate for someone to tell them something, anything, that might help them make the right decision, or revelation, or to snap them out of a rut. And I do my best with that. I never tell anyone how to live but I tell them what I have learned through my experiences. Maybe that helps, maybe it doesn’t, but my hope is that it planted a seed somewhere inside their heart to make it a little bit wiser.
We are all made up of our experiences, whether they left us with scars or smiles – none of us are blank canvases. We are smeared with the paints of everyone who we have encountered. Our teachers and parents. The bullies and bosses. The cities we have smelled and the hearts we have held. And sometimes someone comes along and sits across from us and does their best to give us a tool, a story, to help us make sense of it all. And that is all I have ever wanted to do. And that is why I began this website. And of course I will inevitably get an email asking, “Well if you truly believed that then why do you charge $5.99 a month?” And I will say, I put in hours of work into this site on a daily basis and truthfully, I believe that my effort is worth the twenty cents a day. But then again, I shouldn’t feel the need to justify myself because people choose their level of involvement and if they see value in this they can choose to continue to support this idea or they can simply opt-out.
And through these articles I will often generalize but I want you to know that it is not because I am lazy, but because we have encountered behaviors from both men and women that some of us simply don’t understand. There are irrational and unsupportive terrible women out in this world, just as there are awful men. Women are not “crazy” and men are not “assholes”. Those traits are not gender-specific. But in my years, I have found that women tend to want more answers. They tend to need a little bit more information. Whereas men tend to think only in the moment. And in our culture, men are subconsciously taught that showing emotion makes you weak. And when you refuse to show emotion, you refuse to make yourself vulnerable. And if you don’t open up, you don’t explain or demonstrate your intent. And if you are a person who simply needs to know why you got dumped, well, that tend to make you a little… irrational. And as well it should. If I get fired from my job and no one tells me why, well yeah, I’m going to be rightfully upset. As well anyone should. So when a “man” doesn’t call back, or does the fade out, or never explains you why he loves you – it’s not because he’s being a “man”, it’s because he is regurgitating what his father, and the men who came before him left him with. Now as an adult, should he know how to open up and explain his feelings? Absolutely. Because real man – a real PERSON in a relationship, should WANT to help you though the tough parts. Because that is part of the emotional contract we all sign. You are there for me as I am there for you. And that isn’t just about who pays for Taco Bell or opens the car door. All that is irrelevant gender role bullshit designed to keep us distracted from what truly matters. It is about how you hold a person’s faith and trust. We trust that you will tell us when something is wrong. We trust that you will be open and honest when we disappoint you, and we trust that you will do everything within your power to not disappoint us. And if you do, that means you should learn how to apologize. And if that means you have to open your mouth and say the difficult words that make you vulnerable GOOD! That is your job when you enter the contact of a relationship. Men SHOULD want to make you understand their actions and women should as well. And we should all be as rational and reasonable as possible with someone that we truly care about. And sure, I know we are all influenced by the painters who left their mark on our canvas along the way but you and I, we are adults. And while none of us are perfect, we should do everything within our power to try. To learn how to continually be better, regardless of what does or does not hang between our legs.
And maybe we should not only try to understand, but celebrate, our differences. To know that some women are going to want to know what you’re thinking and be man enough to discuss it. And be woman enough to be reasonable in stressful situations. Because men aren’t “assholes” and women aren’t “crazy”. We are simply people doing our best to be happy and at the end of the day, we all would like to feel loved and appreciated – regardless of what our shitty painting looks like.