Is it More Difficult to be a Man Today? (A woman’s perspective)


Is your man assertive enough, decisive enough, passionate enough? If the answer is no, it may be worth looking at how both of you view male energy.

I frequently hear my female clients complaining that their husband/boyfriend is too passive, not pushing for the raise that he deserves at work, not standing up to his parents, and not communicating clearly (and using passive/aggressive communications instead). These same women might not see how often they have rewarded their man’s passivity, and made him “the bad guy” when he is direct and seems confrontational. It can be an intricate maze that the modern man is asked to navigate….

For decades women have struggled to enjoy the same rights, opportunities and power that men have traditionally held. I’m indebted to the brave women who paved the way for myself and other women to go to college and law school.  And I’m not naive; I’m aware that there are remaining areas of inequality that need to be addressed. But in general a woman in the US feels entitled to seek the same opportunities for advancement that her male co-workers seek. As women are becoming more empowered, they are encouraged to retain their femininity but to add to it a large dose of male energy.

For the purpose of this blog, let me offer a very brief description of male and female energy:

Male energy is typically experienced as direct, logical, linear, confident, proactive, empowered energy. We use it for making logic-based decisions, directing others and enforcing boundaries.

Female energy is usually experienced as intuitive, listening, feeling, nurturing energy. We tend to use it for information gathering, mediating conflicts, and for making feeling-based decisions.

We all contain both male and female energy within us, as we can each hold a newborn baby tenderly, or assume a take-charge position in an emergency.

As women have sought equal rights and opportunities, they have felt increasingly comfortable embracing the qualities associated with male energy, sometimes to the detriment of their female energy. I know that I was raised to see male qualities as more valuable, and not just in the workplace. In my high school and college classes my teachers rewarded me for being an assertive leader, but I don’t ever remember being acknowledged for being nurturing or for “listening well”. Looking back I can acknowledge that I came out of law school quite assertive (read bossy), controlling, and rather pleased with these qualities in myself, convinced that they would make me successful in my career. Looking back, I don’t know if I was successful because of these qualities or in spite of them!

So what happens when both people want to occupy the same type of energy? Here’s what I’m seeing: too often men are made “wrong” by women when they use their male energy, and they are rewarded for using their softer, female energy. This has left men disempowered, both at work and in their romantic relationships.

My spirit explains it this way: picture the yin/yang symbol, with equal parts of black and white energy. The black represents male energy, and the white represents female energy. Within each color there is a small amount of the opposite color, as we each ideally contain our predominant energy, and a smaller amount of the opposite sex energy. Romantic relationships are about balance, and ideally there is an equal amount of both energies present. When one person in the relationship steps into the other type of energy, it naturally pushes, or nudges, the other person to occupy the now abandoned energy in order to maintain that balance.

It’s been wonderful that our culture has encouraged men to open up and share their feelings more. This is certainly a much-needed tool, and as their emotional vocabulary has increased, communication within the relationship flourishes. But no one wins if the man is then asked to abandon his male energy.

So when men step back into their male energy and speak assertively or want to take charge, how well does that go over? I’m seeing more and more men in my practice who have been in relationships where the woman was allowed to play with both types of energy, but the man was only trusted with small amounts of male energy. Too much and he was labeled scary or too aggressive. And over time both the man and his partner became dissatisfied, without understanding why.

I’m certainly not advocating for yelling, hitting or any sort of abusive use of male power – either by a woman or a man. But as women have been rewarded for being more like men in the workplace, it seems that men have often felt “pushed out” of the male role in their romantic relationships.

So where does this leave us? In my case, it has me speaking openly to my boyfriend Bill about my tendency to stray too far into male energy, and how he should not let me go unchecked just to be polite. He agrees that neither of us will be happy if we get out of balance in that way, and we have created phrases that we use to gently notify the other person if one of us gets out of balance. If  I start ‘helping’ him by telling him how he could be doing something in a ‘better’ way, he is likely to say, “Honey, I got this!”, which is his signal that I’m using male energy to direct him around. Because I know that we will both be unhappy if he allows me to micro-manage his actions, I appreciate his gentle reminders.

So many men have been conditioned to be super-polite, even when that means allowing the woman to rule the relationship. Bill and I are in agreement that we’re both happiest when we’re in balance, and we have a good idea of what balance looks like for us.

So many women complain that their men are not masculine enough, and wish that their men should be more direct, decisive, and proactive. But I wonder how often these same women have “shot down” their men for being “too much” of these same qualities? I have learned from my male client’s spirits that often women refuse to give up any decision-making power and then wonder why their man has become so passive.

I’m not advocating for a return to the 1930’s and the small number of opportunities available for women in the world. But I am suggesting that couples have an honest, open conversation about the qualities that make up the ideal embodiment of male and female energy, so that their relationship can be as balanced and fulfilling as possible. What do you think?

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