Striving for a conflict free life and the necessary mental gymnastics to maintain it are ridiculous. Men are over domesticating themselves into an unhealthy state. We allow others to manipulate us by reacting to them… with our agreeableness. We might like to think that we are being patient and cooperative, but I consider it an epidemic of “nice guy syndrome”. The first book that opened my eyes to this was No More Mr. Nice Guy by Robert A. Glover, Ph.D. I highly recommend it along with Not Nice by Dr. Aziz Gazipura. They explain that by being agreeable in all situations we are compromising integrity and being spineless. If we are always agreeable, we are also being taken advantage of. By no means am I condoning acting like a true asshole or a bully, but we must be prepared to handle conflict.
Conflict avoidance is at the root of many a man’s problems embedded throughout his life. I believe our society generally encourages conflict avoidance behaviors in boys and men to create a more compliant and domesticated male population. As boys raised in post sexual revolution/feminist era, we were taught to behave and be compliant people pleasers (in my opinion as part of the female knee jerk reaction to the patriarchy that came before us). Unfortunately, this indoctrination did not come along with education on developing self-discipline or any assertiveness training. It would seem western society considers those things dangerously close to male empowerment and therefore discourages them. Instead, boys are conditioned to be compliant and deferring, particularly when interacting with females.
Australian author and speaker Liam McRea make a great analogy about the dual nature of masculinity by comparing it to fire. Fire can burn a person and cause injury or even burn down a house. However, fire can also heat a home or provide electricity to light up a city. I believe most men fall into the latter category, quietly defending, building, serving and providing. Obviously, there are a few men speaking and/or acting in a despicable manner. It is all over the news. That sort of shit does not do men in general any favors. However, our society is a little confused about what masculinity is and tends to overreact on the side of political correctness. The message from our media is that in our present polarized political climate, masculinity is “toxic” and to be acceptable men must become less masculine. I consider this part of a cultural conditioning campaign to essentially, extinguish that fire as much as possible. Unfortunately, it seems to be working.
Meanwhile I observe that girls are taught from their parents as well as the rest of society the “you go girl” attitude. Part of the well-intentioned campaign seems to be the message that to be female is virtuous unto itself, to be overweight is beautiful (in women), and that the male gender is out to take advantage. Not that there is anything inherently wrong with encouraging empowerment in young women. However, I think the messages can get exaggerated and skewed to the point of indulgent. The use of the term “goddess” is used casually by adult women to describe themselves, particularly in the yoga or other new age circles. Even in the general female population there is the prevalent and generally accepted attitude of “fight the patriarchy”. The societal programming runs deep.
Boys and girls are taught that men are by their nature, oppressors. Woman good, man bad. There is some truth in there, history shows us that men really did (and in some cases still do) murder, rape, enslave and mistreat women. Men today feel so guilty that we strive to remedy the wrongs of our patriarchal grandfathers (real and/or imagined). We become tools of the feminine imperative and strive to become the nice guys that win favor with womankind. We want to set ourselves apart from the bad boys, chauvinists, and sexist men that allegedly make up the male gender. This makes logical sense to men; we fall in line with what women say they want, become submissive then cleverly and covertly become a pussy magnet.
The problem is that men are not really that clever. The irony is that nice guys absolutely do nothing for women. The truth is that women are usually delighted to get some damn opposition to their unchecked emotionally driven female agendas. Men that do so are much more interesting, while conflict adverse (compliant) guys come across as people pleasers. Sadly, to be a people pleaser means one must be somewhat dishonest (because honesty might lead to a dreaded conflict). Guys that fear conflict are ingenuine, and that is a turn off for women. Being agreeable simply comes across as dishonest. Living in truth means there will be conflict, but conflict is not the same as aggression. Abuse and aggression are unacceptable, but we tend to equate them with conflict. Conflict can be healthy because it leads to resolution, while avoiding conflict through people pleasing only leads to more unresolved issues. People pleasing can begin in childhood as a survival mechanism or be adopted later in life as a means of “doing the right thing” or “being a better person”. Unfortunately, people pleasing is unhealthy in any case.
It strikes me that men that were raised as people pleasers may find themselves in a (terrible) perfect storm as adults. We live in a time steeped in decades of feminist influence, it teaches us that men are oppressive savages and women are just innocent creatures seeking equality while being oppressed by us. People pleasing guys take this message to heart, shoulder the guilt and strive to be “white knights”. They try to be more pleasing to women through several means to “fix” the situation. They do not want anything resembling a leadership role in their relationships, they relinquish all decision making to their partner and as a consequence (justifiably) have no self-respect. They likely even abandon their personal boundaries and expectations, striving to earn validation from women.
In polite society men and boys have been so conditioned to bend to the whims of the feminine that some males seriously have a sense of self-worth inextricably tied to how happy their female partner is at that moment. That is unacceptable. Christian author John Eldredge makes a great point in his book Wild at Heart, Discovering the Secret of a Man’s Soul. “If he has given her the power to validate him as a man, then he has also given her the power to invalidate him too.” The reality is that a man who worships the feminine and makes his female partner his top priority and works tirelessly to please her will ironically cause her to despise him.
This is the fate that will befall most males and there is not much that can be done to stop it. A few of us must break free of that “nice guy” narrative and reap the benefits of real masculinity.
The female of our species wants a male that will stand up to her, stand up for her and most of all stand up for himself. He will have his own missions in life (that have nothing to do with her). He can be kind and loving to her, but not be obedient to her. He will have boundaries as far as what behaviors he will tolerate from her. He will be a rock: disciplined, kind and honest but not be a “nice guy”.
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