Guilt and Loneliness
My past guilt and loneliness came from the same source.
I grew up in a culture that told me that to be a man is to be tough. I learned that being emotional was the antithesis of being a man. I was told to "Man up" and "don't be a pussy". I learned to repress my emotions. I learned to repress any personality traits that could be labeled, feminine, gay, or weak. I saw that physical affection with other guys was shameful (gay) and any physical touch with women should be sexual (get some). I was shown that women should be evaluated on their looks. I was shown that if a man is good enough, he deserves the girl.
Then, I grew up. I began to realize that some of what I was taught about being a man was unhealthy. I saw how it stunts my own personal expression, I saw how it is dishonoring to the women in my life. I realized how disrespectful and abusive the standard methods are for attracting women usually are. I made a decision to not be "that guy."
This is an important realization, but often, it causes guilt to creep in, either consciously or subconsciously. Because, almost all men have been complicit, in some way, in a culture of sexual harassment and abuse. Most all men have taken part in some amount of objectifying conversations about women. Most all men have let disrespectful comments slide. With the increased awareness comes feelings of culpability.
And there are cultural narratives that imply that merely being a man is a crime. There are those who suggest that masculine sexual desire is fundamentally predatory.
This awareness and guilt, and perceived messages lead men to reject unhealthy social norms. The only problem is that those social norms are subconsciously (and consciously) tied to "being a man" and "getting a woman" in men's minds. When men reject toxic social norms that are tied to being a man, they risk repressing their own masculine energy.
Furthermore, men lack language and skills for exploring intimacy in a way that is deeply honoring and conscious. Lacking these skills, men feel it's better to let women come to them. So, they don't pursue women. Men fear showing interest or sexual desire because they don't want to be "that guy."
The result is that men carry a double layer of repression. One is the early, and often subconscious, repression of emotional expression and traits deemed "feminine," and the other is the repression of sexual desire. Both layers of repression carry their corresponding painful experience of guilt and loneliness respectively.
Painted into this corner, and lacking resources to remove the dual repression, men are faced with the choice of which is worse, guilt or loneliness.
I have heard some guys say they avoided eye contact with women at parties for fear of being "that guy". Other guys confess that they were considering pick-up-artist techniques even though they disagreed with the disrespectful energy but they felt it was the only way to escape the pain of loneliness.
Now consider that abuse is more likely in a culture of repression.
I believe that most of the sexual abuse that happens in this country is not done by sociopaths who get off on abuse but regular guys who lack the knowledge, skills, and disposition for conscious connection.
This is why I help men in creating conscious relationship. This is why I host men's groups where guys can let go of unhealthy definitions of manhood. This is why I do what I do.
I want to live in a world where men can feel all of their emotions in safe and healthy ways. I want to live in a world where men know how to pursue intimacy in a way that is deeply honoring and unapologetically masculine. I want men to feel good about being masculine. I want to live in a world where men understand the impact and structures of an abusive society and understand how to make a more healthy one. This is the world that I want to live in, this is the world that I am working to create.