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MANhood From A Different Perspective… My Own

MANhood From A Different Perspective... My Own

MANhood From A Different Perspective... My Own 10

I am a man. But for a long time, I didn’t know what being a man meant for me. Not that I was too young to enter manhood, rather filled with too much shame, doubt, and a zeal for perfection above all else – not to mention, an abundance of misinformation about what being a man even was! When it came to sex, I also struggled from the same setbacks. Maybe you have, too. And if you have, welcome!

Conversely, if as a man, you vehemently reject the idea that manhood has it’s struggles, well, read on, because I’m talking to you as well.

Honestly, there’s a distinction that I want to make about what being a man means.

There’s a narrative about men — the label of man — that is restrictive.

We often acknowledge this narrow definition, assuming that men don’t talk; men brag. Men don’t share; men take. Men don’t feel; men manage. Really? That seems to be a narrow definition of what it means to be a man. In fact, the stereotypical definition of “man” hardly includes any men I know whatsoever. The majority, even if they deny or hide it, are more nuanced, more flawed, more vulnerable. 

Embracing manhood can be another hurdle.

I think being a man is taking responsibility, having integrity, caring for others, and most importantly, caring for oneself.

Let me list some of the ways in which I thought I wasn’t a man… Couldn’t get an intense, 5-hour erection? Not a man. Couldn’t make my partner climax? Not a man. Didn’t make a ridiculous amount of money or come from some rich family? Not a man. Lacking stability? Not a man. Cried at a commercial? You get it… (That last one may seem absurd to you, but there is a Coors Light Commercial that for some reason just pulls at my manstrings and makes me cry — well, I should say that I come to the brink of crying, but given that the commercial is only fifteen seconds long, I don’t have enough time to produce tears.) 

Needless to say, my younger self was confused in two major ways: 

  1. I felt that I wasn’t a man given the popularized, narrow, and harrowing definition, and;
  2. I hadn’t yet learned to be man, in the sense of existing with confidence as myself

So I needed to do two things; expand my definition of man, and embrace my responsibility of living up to that broadened definition.

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The Multi-Orgasmic Man is a wonderful resource for men looking to broaden their sexual manhood, confidently!

Ironically, what was actually holding me back was revealing and exposing what I thought made me less than a man: my vulnerability, imperfections, speaking clearly, asking for what I needed, and showing up for myself… not just for my partner.

When I was very young, in high school, I had a sexual experience with an older girl. It was my first sexual experience. We made out, and I used my fingers to please her for 45 minutes. It was relatively innocent but the next week at school, I felt immense shame as if I had done something wrong or was inadequate. My immediate fear was not being good enough, even though I only tried to please her. Maybe I let her down, or didn’t prove how manly I was in the moment, or worse yet, be laughed at by her friends. At that moment, however, I was living within the expectation of what I thought “being a man,” meant.

Men are supposedly stoic and ultra confident, so should I have been that?! I was not, and judged myself for not only letting her down, but for letting myself down, too. Sure, there are some men who express stoicism and ultimate confidence — though I have my doubts as to what extent it’s genuine — but all men have ups and downs, good days and bad, fears and desires, and intense emotions. Yep, almost sounds like women! Isn’t that weird? Men and women with similarities? That’s crazy!

The more we hear that men are from some strange, barren planet, the more we believe it. No, women aren’t from another planet, and neither are men or the non-binary community! We’re all from Earth!

In any case, I assumed that I was not a person who need to succumb to my desires. I could do without sexual pleasure. That’s life! That manifested later when I dated a woman for four years, and for the last two years — TWO YEARS — of our relationship, we didn’t have sex (a very bad idea for prostate cancer risk, as explained here). That’s life, right?! That’s what it means to be with someone. You sacrifice everything, including your pleasure, and you sure as hell don’t bring it up! You take it like a man, as they say.

What I didn’t ask myself for a long time was how I could, as a man, be a good lover to myself.

It sounds like a strange question, perhaps. In fact, if that question seems like a contradiction to what it means to be a man, you’re not alone. You may think that if you’re caring, you’re merely covering your bases. That if you could make your partner happy, your happiness cup was automatically filled, too. I operated from this belief and left myself out of the equation. I didn’t understand how I could ensure my sexual pleasure while engaging with a partner? It’s fundamental to pleasing both you and your partner.

Deep down, I felt that I was just not good enough. But maybe, maybe if I gave my partner enough orgasms over the course of a 1-hour sex marathon, well maybe then, I would be good enough. Pressure? Sure, there’s pressure, but that’s what a man does, right?! Lives in constant pressure to be tough, perfect, strong, and devoid of any major emotions or emotional breakdowns.

Some people may call this sort of thing armor. I like that imagery, because armor is a literal heavy burden to bear. But even more, I like the idea that it was my representative showing up, not me. Hello! I’m Alex, the cool guy. I charm and tell jokes. I’ll make you laugh. I make you feel wanted and sexy. I... well, I represent Alex, the flawed human who has too much fear and shame to show up for himself. He’s dealing with depression and meaninglessness almost all the time, so he sends me instead. Will you ever see him, you ask? Not unless he has a mental breakdown and pushes me out of the way. But what does it matter if you see him? I’m perfect in every possible way! 

The problem with having the representative show up for you is the real you gets bottled up, resentful, unfulfilled, angry, and hurt.

And then, you end up doing things that hurt you and your partner. I’ve lied about petty things. Lost my integrity. Said I was okay with things when I wasn’t.

I’m in a new place now, though I hesitate to say that it’s entirely stable — there’s always doubts and questions.

Manhood is taking responsibility for your pleasure and your commitment to your partner.

There’s you, there’s your partner, and there’s the shared interaction that you’re having. All three need to work. All three need attention. Yes, even men are worthy of pleasure. Men can state their needs, ask for what they want, receive consent, and encourage their partners to do the same. Because guess what? Most men, (more appropriately, most people), are incredibly nervous about revealing their sexuality to others. 

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The Hardness Factor measures a man’s health through the quality of his erection – perhaps the greatest male motivator for better living (more so than fear of cancer, heart attack, or stroke). This book asks, ‘Can men be hard and in shape for sex their entire lives?’ The answer is, absolutely. Here for the first time are scientific, evidence based regimens – emphasizing nutrition, supplements, and exercise – to increase erectile quality.

Friends have often come to me for advice about “manhood” because I have been open about my sexual experiences. It’s amazing how many men want to have a conversation about their experiences when I’m vulnerable enough to share my inadequacies. There’s just not a lot of safe spaces for men to have that sort of conversation. I hold a space for men to discuss their “manhood” in a way that isn’t self-congratulatory, but rather vulnerable, and “here’s what I’ve learned.”

Often we men feel as if we can be one of two things: a selfish asshole or a nice guy.

A selfish asshole takes what he wants and a nice guy gives everything to others. Surprisingly, both are eager to make everything about themselves. The selfish asshole is obviously out for himself, afraid to show more than what is necessary for a transactional moment. The nice guy attempts to cover any imperfections, hoping to appear incredible in bed, hoping for his partner to validate that he is worthy of having someone. Both, however, are rooted in the same broken idea of one’s self and what it means to be a sexual man.

I was the “nice guy,” and I’m still getting over it.

When I was at university, I worked with an incredibly attractive young woman who was mysterious, elusive, and out of my league (a concept I can get into another time because it’s bullshit). Anyway, I flirted with her in a way that was always reserved, always having my representative showing up for me. Astonishingly, she liked me, though she was wildly difficult to read (she had her own issues as well, as it turns out, just like everyone on Earth). She was my date for a wedding and we ended up at her place afterward. I was so nervous to perform and please her that I couldn’t get an erection. Frankly, it felt like a test. A test of my manhood. And I was failing! And as soon as that thought got into my head, it didn’t leave. What was wrong with me? 

I had performance anxiety, period. There’s a lack of research out there, but performance anxiety affects somewhere between 9-25% of men. (Here’s a decent article from WebMD detailing performance anxiety, which may answer more questions, if you’ve got them.) The bottom line is this: beyond gender binaries, the brain is everyone’s primary sexual organ, and if it’s not working, not much else will. It was my perception of how I was being perceived, not how I was showing up for myself and my partner. Of course it can be nerve-wracking to engage in sexual activity with somebody, but it’s also supposed to be pleasurable for everyone involved.

Personally, I have two recommendations for you if you’re discovering the man you want to be in bed… 

First, find out what you like

Do you really want to show up for your partner? Show up for yourself. You’ll be surprised that your partner wants you to feel good, too, believe it or not. Ask yourself what you want. How do you enjoy pleasure? What gets you off? 

If you’re having trouble answering those questions, investigate. Take it upon yourself to know what you like. A great way is masturbation. Try out more than just your hand. And it’s not just about your dick, either. There’s incredible products out there to help you discover what feels good. Here’s some that may intrigue you:

Masturbation is not a shameful act. It’s a pleasurable act that ideally happens in the safety of a judgment free zone. You may have to work on creating that judgment free zone for yourself. Talking with a therapist can help, or even joining a men’s group.

Second, talk to your partner. 

A real man, hell, a good person, can hold space and have a difficult conversation about sex. Explain what you want. Ask what your partner wants. Having that conversation during a sexual interaction may not be the best time, so, be a man (in the very real sense of this blog) and bring it up when it isn’t easy. Have a conversation that is scary, that may bring up disagreement, that may leave you feeling vulnerable.

MANhood From A Different Perspective... My Own microcosm publishing books learning good consent building ethical relationships in a complicated world by cindy crabb 28014049755197 2000x
MANhood From A Different Perspective... My Own microcosm publishing books learning good consent building ethical relationships in a complicated world by cindy crabb 28014049689661 2000x 1
Learning Good Consent is an extremely helpful, ethical, and conversational book! Whether entering manhood, womanhood, or something less binary, Cindy Crabb navigates this sometimes awkward topic with poise and grace. For that, this book is always a Trystology favorite!

Communication is key to good sex. As a man, it’s okay to ask for what you want. But remember to listen as well. 

In the end, what does manhood mean to me?

Are you a man? Am I? Well, I have two answers to that. Yes, I am a man (one who happens to paint his toenails blue), but I’m also still learning what showing up as a man means especially with a sexual partner. For me, being a man is both a fact and an ongoing process. One part of that process is discovering where my feelings come from. Society and culture sure play a role, but there’s always more to the story; life, parents, friends, experiences. This is where I’m at and I still have progress to make (and oh my, am I still imperfect).

I hold space for others but still struggle to hold the same space for myself. Yes, I’m still becoming my definition of the “man” I want to be, and encourage you do to the same! You, too, may find your vulnerabilities and imperfections have made you a better man already. Sharing those tender bits, authentically, only brings those we love closer, all while bringing us closer to ourselves.

To all men dedicated to finding their confidence, redefining manhood, and/or deepening their relationships with themselves and others, you’re not alone. It’s just another life journey, so keep going! Just remember – be yourself!

MANhood From A Different Perspective... My Own Manhood Instagram Post Square 2
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