Pressures on Men to Be a Provider
First off, the fact I am not in my professional garb in this video is relevant. This is me wearing what makes me comfortable and happy. That is part of the message I want to convey to men here (comfortable, happy men tend to be better partners).
To start with the Nature of Man topic for this month, I am opening up more of a question about man's nature rather than a definitive statement. This has to do with the stereotypical role of men as providers. Men struggle with this, often not feeling like they are matching up to the provider they think they should be, the provider their loved ones want, or both.
What man has not heard in some way, shape, or form "Be a man"? I heard this in my last relationship so often that it made me question my manhood at times. Many men have had the same experience, and even hearing this one time can be the root of significant emotional damage. Men can play this out in a lot of different ways, one of which is to go out of their way to prove their manhood by acting tough, hardening themselves emotionally, being emotionally unexpressive, or taking on greater responsibility than is healthy. Much of this goes into the tendency for men to put greater importance on being 'a provider' more than anything else in their life, even their happiness.
Even when the pressure from one's partner to be the provider is not there, sometimes men have this self-generated pressure to be a better provider regardless. Why do men do this? In many ways this is cultivated in us as boys very early on. We have seen our fathers take on this role, we are discouraged from our emotions and encouraged to find a way to solve them, we are exposed to endless examples of idealized masculinity in the media of what is attractive to women. Then there is competition from other men, posturing that occurs between men, and pressure from our fathers to make up for some masculine ideal they feel they did not meet in their own lives. The pressures are immense, and it is a man's worst nightmare when a woman he caress about implies he is not a man, or a enough of a provider, or say this directly (I elaborated on this specific point in October's Tele-Seminar: Why women tell us to "Man up" - https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/83075897/Audio%20Clip-%20Man%20of%20...). The pressures are so strong that I have seen men breakdown when they are not able to meet up with their own ideal of what it means to be a provider, even when their female counterpart never put them into question at all.
The pressure I described in the video was around the opportunity to be a provider. I saw the opportunity and my male ego wanted to prove something as 'a man'. I felt it very deeply that I wanted to do this, even after I realized it would be at the cost of what was important to me and my own day to day happiness. The fact that this expectation existed from those around me made the pressure exponentially greater. In my work with men I have found this tendency to take this role of provider onto their shoulders so deeply ingrained that it affects what choices men make in their lives as well as how they express themselves emotionally (or more specifically not expressing themselves emotionally). I am lucky that even despite those expectations existing, my loved ones support my happiness and my decision. This is not always the case. It is important that you surround yourself with people that do the same, because if you are providing for the sake of proving your worth as a man or to meet the expectations or demand of your partner, this will ultimately break down, and even potentially break you down emotionally. Because we as men act invulnerable sometimes those around us believe that we are.
Fact is, we are not invulnerable. We have our limits, we have emotions even when they are pushed down deep inside of us out of our awareness. Men need love and support and need to take care themselves as well. Find what makes you happy and find a way to do that. If being a provider is that, then great. But be aware that there are many ways to provide for those you love. Many men internalize that to be 'the provider' means that they have to make a mega salary, and short of that they are not 'a man.' Some may call it nature, some conditioned behavior, whatever. I'm here to challenge that notion and help men build a life and develop themselves in a way that makes them and those around them happy.
Also, as a caveat I want to point out a couple of things. Despite loved ones being disappointed with a decision you make, that does not mean they do not love and support you. They can still love and support you even despite those feelings. As men, when we see expectations or disappointment from our loved ones, the provider role tends to kick in and we want meet the expectations or quell the disappointment or solve the problem. That is an internal pressure that exists apart from whatever external pressures there are to do or be a certain way.
If you are confused about what your path is and whether it is caught up in the expectations of others' I can guide you in defining the path that feels most authentic to you and making it work with your life.
If you like what you've read, you might also be interested in my free tele-seminar. The tele-seminar covers a wide range of men's issues and happens once a month. Sign up for the free tele-seminar below...
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