The most important word in the title of my book, A Man’s Way through Relationships: Learning to Love and Be Loved is learning. This means it is a process. I think it is a never-ending process. I did not write the book because I have any answers but more because I am deeply invested in the question of how do we men learn how to love and be loved.
Bobby, one of the men I interviewed for this book, said it well: “Life is meaningful only within the context of the connections we have with the friends and family around us.” I have always cared about the relationships in my life. My guess is that you have, too. I did not always know how to show it, or have the courage to show it, and I would often act in ways that sent the message I didn’t care. Relationships are complicated and challenging territory for everyone, but particularly for men. Even today, relationships can sometimes leave me wishing I lived on a deserted island, just as they did when I was stuck in my active addiction. I still don’t always know, or have the courage to show, how much I care about the relationships in my life. I certainly do not do it perfectly.
The assumption that underlies this book is that all men care about relationships. We want to be good sons, partners/spouses, fathers, and friends, but we need help. We are shaped by these “Man Rules” that tell us asking for help is not okay. We may follow these Rules, but they belie what is in our hearts. I have worked with, sat with, cried with, and even physically held far too many men to ever believe that deep inside of most men’s hearts is not a real desire to connect, to love, and to be loved. Yet, an incredible force inside of them pushes them to separate, disconnect, push away, and pretend otherwise. This seeming contradiction is at the heart of this book and the conversation in which I want to engage you.
If this conversation interests you I encourage you to continue reading these entries over the coming months and join the conversation! I would love to hear what you have found to be helpful and the challenges you have been able to overcome in your own journey of learning how to love and be loved.