That one time a dead fish kicked my butt

It’s been a while since my last article, huh? Looks like the last time I’ve written something was…let me check…

…back in October 16, 2019…

Welp.

As per Quietly Romantic tradition, anytime I go too long without publishing something new, I get to post something embarrassing about myself. So, here’s a picture of me eating sushi that has WAY too much wasabi on it:

Yep, that’s me getting my butt kicked by a dead fish. I’m sure I’ll sleep well tonight knowing that a picture of myself literally crying now exists on the internet.

I’m unapologetic about the fact that I’m a crier, and the idea that men can be emotionally sensitive is an example of something that I’d love to see talked about more in today’s world. There are a lot of men’s issues in the world that deserve much more attention than they currently get. On that note, here are a few links to people doing a beautiful job of talking about these issues.

Why Romance Sucks for Men

A few days ago, I got roped into watching a soppy rom-com with my wife. Personally, they’re not really my thing, but I’ll watch them with her because I know how much she enjoys it. During the movie, she would always get excited whenever…

  • The guy starts talking to the girl
  • The guy starts flirting with the girl
  • The guy starts holding hands with the girl

…and when the big kiss finally happened on the screen, she flipped out about as hard as I did when I learned that Banjo-Kazooie was confirmed for Smash Bros. Then she looked at me, saw that I was not freaking out like she was, rolled her eyes, and just said

“Men.”

Now, she loves her rom-coms so much that she sometimes affectionately refers to them as “porn for women”. But she was confused that I didn’t feel the same way. Why?

This comment by u/detsnam sums it up fascinatingly. He says:

“To generalize for the purpose of an easy answer, let’s think in stereotypically gendered terms. When it comes to love, men have an active role while women have a passive one.

What are the implications of this? It means that what a woman feels as the ups and downs, the mystery, the unknown, the excitement, etc., all things that define “blossoming” love, are things that happen to her. She is passive, she is the recipient. Her agency is contained in her response to these things.

But for a man, anything that makes “love” progress (or regress) pretty much directly stems from one of his actions. He does something or initiates and a woman responds/reciprocates. Because he does not have the gendered luxury of taking a backseat or passive role and watching things happen (if he does, nothing will; the woman will lose interest), he begins, by necessity, to view love as the cause and effect relationship that it more accurately is in reality (he does something, woman responds).

Seeing something like this takes a ton of the “magic” out of it. Compare it to seeing the sun rise every day. It becomes a lot less mystical, exciting, and dramatic when you know exactly why it happens and can simply see it for the cause and effect relationship that it truly is… you may even begin to take it for granted.

This is why romance eventually becomes well… unromantic for men. Romance is not a phenomenon, but instead a verb; it’s a series of actions carried out by a man to earn a woman’s affections… it’s labor.”

Be sure to read the responses to his comment, as well as his follow-up comment. It’s truly fascinating. As one Redditor puts it, “You just answered questions about myself that I didn’t know I had”.

On Being a “Man’s Man”

I’m the kind of guy who cries a lot, and I’m pretty unapologetic about that fact. I’ve told you that I cried eating spicy wasabi. I’ve cried watching Toy Story. I even cried watching Pokémon: The First Movie after Ash got turned to stone.

(Seriously, if you can watch a Pixar film without feeling any sadness…you have no soul!)

So, I’ve always disliked the notion that men are not “supposed” to cry. And perhaps that doesn’t mean much from me, a skinny dude that looks like a stick figure…

…but it’s beautiful coming from Nick Offerman – the guy who plays the “Man’s Man” Ron Swanson. Here’s what he has to say about it:

“I went to theatre school. I took two semesters of ballet. I’m the sissy in my family. I cry with pretty great regularity. It’s not entirely accurate to equate me with manliness. I stand for my principals and I work hard and I have good manners but machismo is a double-sided coin.

A lot of people think it requires behavior that can quickly veer into misogyny and things I consider indecent. We’ve been sold this weird John Wayne mentality that fistfights and violence are vital to being a man. I’d rather hug than punch. Crying at something that moves you to joy or sadness is just as manly as chopping down a tree or punching out a bad guy.”

“Man up” and Toxic Masculinity

Quietly Romantic has always ostensibly been a dating-advice blog. But I’ve always seen it as much more than that.

A couple days ago, I saw a little boy crying in a Target and my first instinct was to look away from him. Why? I was afraid for him. Sure, he’s at that age where it’s still socially acceptable for him to cry. But what happens when he gets older? Is he still going to be able to show his emotions? Or, is society going to use phrases such as “Man up” to shame him into never showing any sign of vulnerability again?

I hope not. I sure know what that feels like.

There’s tons of dating advice on Quietly Romantic. I’ve written countless articles on how to be confident, on talking to women, and on where to meet women. But in talking about these issues, you end up realizing that there are many more issues that men are encouraged to just “Man up” and deal with.

That’s why I built Quietly Romantic. To provide a safe space where we can talk about those men’s issues that aren’t getting enough attention, such as why romance sucks for men, and why it’s OK for men to cry.

Because those issues have caused me a lot of pain in the past, and writing about it allows me to give meaning to that pain.

Even if that meaning is simply to help others navigate that same pain.

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