SOUL EXPRESSION

Awaken your soul and fire up your senses. Turn up the volume on your inner wisdom. Increase your capacity for truth, love, openness, passion, fire and freedom.

Let’s Be The Women Our Men Are Craving

And no, I don’t mean let’s compromise who we are to please them. I mean let’s use our feminine power for good and shift the way we show up for them which in turn invites them to do the same for us.

As women, many of us are crystal clear on how we want and think we deserve to be treated…but for many of us, our behavior is actually incongruent with these desires.

Allow me to explain.

A guy I used to date had a theory that women’s behavior in relationships always comes down to daddy issues. I remember him telling me once, “See how normal you are? You have a great relationship with your dad.”

He was right.

We all have daddy issues…good or bad.

And I do have a great relationship with my dad.

My dad is one of the best humans I know.

I choose the word human because realizing he’s human and allowing him to be human was part of growing up, and fully loving and accepting not just my dad, but all of the men in my life.

When I was little, of course, I thought he was a super hero.

    He can build or fix anything.
    He’s hilarious.
    He played minor league hockey before I was born so he’s a super athlete.
    He can paint and draw.
    He was the guy who always got in fights as a kid, not because he was a bully, but because he would jump in to save the kids being picked on by the bullies.
    To this day, I’ve never really seen the man look physically tired, ever.
    He can drive anywhere, anytime. Early morning, middle of the night, any distance. Maybe I see this as a special ability because I hate driving? Not sure, but I’m keeping it on the list.
    Oh, and his name is Patsy. I’ve been calling him Pats or Pasquale since about 7th grade. No disrespect. I say it with as much love as I would Dad or Daddy.
    He’s always been freakishly strong. Like if the man closes a soda bottle, good luck ever getting it open.
    He looks like Super Mario.
    And if I need him, he comes running. Always. As recently as this past September when I was staying in NYC and he was two hours away in PA. I’d totally reached my limit on being the city and I called to see if he could come get me. No questions asked, he was on his way 10 minutes later. It was 2am when I placed that call.
Me & Pats

Me & Pats

At this point you might be thinking, I get it Liz. Your dad is a real stand up guy. A real man. Yes he is. He’s also made plenty of mistakes which is why I intentionally chose the word human to start this post off.

Here’s something you’re probably not expecting, though -I’ve seen this man cry plenty of times in my life.

Grant it, he was raised by Puerto Rican women so he’s no stranger to wild feminine levels of emotion. (Also – he has no problem picking up tampons for me at the grocery story if I need them. Awesome.)

So what’s the big deal?

I love Brene Brown. She’s a shame and vulnerability researcher, best-selling author and speaker. I think everyone on the planet should read her book Daring Greatly to find the language to speak about the things we are most ashamed of that cause us to hide and keep us to ourselves.

In October I saw her speak at Emerging Women in Boulder, CO and she said that for women, the #1 source of shame is our bodies, for men, it’s being viewed as weak or “a pussy.”

A MAJOR point in her book is that as women we say we want our men to be vulnerable, but most of us really don’t want to see it.

She tells a story of a man coming up to her after a talk and asking where the research was about men. As a woman, until that point, she hadn’t actually considered that men experience the same depth of shame as women.

The man went on to point to his wife and daughters in the back of the room and say something along the lines of “See those women back there? They say they want to see me be vulnerable, but they’d rather see me die on my white horse.”

It hit me as she retold this story that it’s TRUE.

As much as I love everything about my dad, I’ll never forget the way I felt seeing him crumble to the ground, sobbing, when he got the call from Puerto Rico that his grandmother had passed away. I couldn’t handle it.

I literally remember talking to my brother about it and agreeing that neither one of us every wanted to see that again.

How unfair is that?

And also what message did that send to my brother that I felt that way?

THIS is how we as women can empower the men in our lives.

Just as we want them to hold the space for us to experience a full range of emotions, to support us when we are feeling vulnerable and to love and accept us as we are – we need to do the same.

But we also need to understand that the great majority of men have been brought up in a culture that rejects weakness and equates vulnerability with weakness. Comedian Bill Burr hilariously describes this in this clip (warning: don’t be put off by the offensive title/language):

As research for this post, I posed this question to men on Facebook back in November:

Screen Shot 2013-12-16 at 5.25.23 PM

Here are some replies on how exactly they experience vulnerability and how we as women can relate to them in ways that will strengthen our relationships:

Jade Teta:

I love that thought………because it is very true. Each sex has their struggles with being in emotional integrity………men have a difficult time with sadness with a natural inclination to express it instead as anger and women vice versa. I think it is really not about approaching it in those terms…………men want to be seen as strong, capable, and courageous……….and I would argue society and many women want their men to embody these principles to some degree as well. So, speaking in terms of “vulnerability”, is probably not the best term to use as a man…………….emotional integrity, emotional courage might be better terms………..then I think it is about reinforcing behaviors in terms that resonate…………so, if a man opens up to you about something emotional. Instead of saying, thanks for being so vulnerable…………instead saying I really appreciate how strong you are in expressing yourself………or how you always take on your emotions directly………or something like that. It is a small thing, but a big thing…………my two cents. Or you could just say “listen, you are the freaking man!!”………that usually solves all the problem. The male ego is easily manipulated

Foxy Sparkles Pickett (this comment partially inspired this blog post- Thanks, love):

It’s just as important for women to ACTUALLY see their men as being strong when they are expressing doubts, fears, sadness – not just give it lip service. We need to retrain ourselves that sometimes, this is what strength looks like. When you actually receive your man’s “emotional courage” as part of his strength, he can feel your acceptance of and attraction to him – which maintains your relationship’s polarity and sexual chemistry.

For some women, they profess to want an emotive, emotionally brave man, but when they actually experience it, they lose their attraction for him. This is societal programming that needs to be erased.

Rog Law:

I think Jade’s choice to frame vulnerability as a form of emotional strength/courage is important.

As men, I feel like there’s some part of me that doesn’t want to back down from any reasonable challenge that I find important, these moments of emotional strength included.

I’m DYING to do that shit , especially in relation to a woman I’m vibing with. Innately I know it’s important and I don’t want to revert to the stoic, locked down “feelings are st00pid” kinda dude. But then old guards pop up – Will she understand? Will she use this against me? Will she think I’m weak?

Foxÿ brought up an awesome point as well. With more women accepting that as an extension of our strength instead of weakness, and Jade’s suggestion that women pump us up and reinforce the behavior they want to see will make us more likely to keep showing up, doing the work and getting that emotional practice in.

Andy Fogarty:

I started typing my thoughts and decided to read through everyone’s first. I stopped when I got to Jade Teta’s. He is spot on. Men have no problem being open as long as it’s approached from the angle of them being in control…or at the very least, growing stronger in some way that’s positively noticed by those around them. Especially women.

It’s the equal to women wanting men to just listen, hold, and be there openly without trying to “fix” them or their upsetting situation.

Jeremy DeWeese:

As a woman, if the man is not being that “ideal way,” there are options for bringing out that vulnerability. First and foremost–TRUST HIM. When you put your trust in him being his most awesome self, he will feel that, and it will give him the space to be vulnerable with you. If you find yourself doubting him or nagging him about “your being this way or that,” step back and say to yourself “in this moment, he is awesome and I trust him to be great.” Let go of yesterday, let go of an hour ago, and just trust him to show up as amazing. I promise he will show up. As men, and humans, we have a distinct radar for whether we are being trusted and respected. And, if we feel that you are creating walls and not feeling trust toward us, we will keep our walls up (catch 22 I know).

The next part is that we appreciate being respected for what we do offer you. In the end, we know what you want, and we want to give it to you. Our soul’s desire is to provide for you, keep you safe, and please you. If any man tells you otherwise, he is lying. If you KNOW that in your heart, your reactions to him will show up differently. You will give him respect for that positioning. When you do, he will give you all that you want, and more…

It is all right there. No couples therapy required.

Part of my mission is to empower you, my women, to discover who you really are and allow yourself to be that woman. One of the TOP sources of pain and confusion for us is relationships. It comes up all the time in our conversations.

We have to two choices, complain about it and wallow in the misery of not being able to find the men of our dreams OR we can be the women the type of man we desire would fall in love with and allow living from that place to call him in naturally, in perfect timing.

The BIG Takeaway

Amazing relationships come when we are willing to take FULL RESPONSIBILITY for our own happiness before putting it in the hands of another. – Click To Tweet

It’s way easier said than done though. Being wide open and holding the same space for our men that we want them to hold for us can be terrifying – but not only is it worth it, it might just be what so many of us have been overlooking in our search for partnership.

Let’s Be The Women Our Men Are Craving
  • http://jennburton.com Jenn Burton, Have Him Your Way.com

    Liz, this is an excellent article. Although I don’t agree 100 percent after working with women specifically to draw in their dream men that it always boils down to daddy issues. For lots of women this isn’t the case. I absolutely agree that women claim they want an emotionally sensitive man but lose attraction in witnessing that sensitivity. I personally know that one way to remedy this is by using your suggestion of taking full responsibility for your own happiness, only then can you create space for an emotionally sensitive partner who you will find wildly attractive as well.

    By the way I love Jeremy’s advice about ‘trust him.’ He is soooo right on. I can’t tell you the number of men I’ve spoken with that said that everything was awesome in the relationship until she started showing ‘I don’t trust you card’ and things take a nose dive. And yes, sincere appreciation goes a long way with men.

    Again excellent article. Hugs!

    • http://hershberger.co Samuel

      Jenn –

      The issue of trust is interesting.

      Ultimately, I think the trust we have in ourselves translates to the trust others have in us.

      I’m only one data point, but I’ve found that the only times my partner hasn’t trusted me (now or in the past, regardless of any “baggage”), is when I wasn’t showing up fully.

      I know this is anecdotal evidence, but I believe it’s a hugely important factor in trusting your partner.

      Ultimately, if a man doesn’t trust himself, all other trust will dissolve.

      • Liz DiAlto

        Sam – I am with you 100% on other’s trust being a reflection of the trust in ourselves. Same goes for acceptance, if we don’t fully accept ourselves, we’re not going to fully accept the other.

        This is why we partner with people, to learn this shit!

    • Liz DiAlto

      Thank you for weighing in, Jenn. Always nice to have an expert’s opinion 🙂

  • http://www.roglawfitness.com Rog Law

    Hahaha, so glad you found a work the brilliance of Bill Burr into this post. You’re seriously on a roll with your last two posts – thanks for this.

    Sam’s point is interesting and is something I can speak to and agree with from my own experiences. Things can get really wonky when we don’t have enough trust in ourselves; the word grounded comes to mind. When we’re grounded, we’re less likely to put out unconfident, needy or wishy/washy vibes and more inclined to show up fully, confidently and act from our truth, whatever that may be.

    Kind of like a rock in stream – the rock does what a rock does, and the water moves according to the rock. Not in a super rigid way, but grounded.

    HOLLA!

    • Liz DiAlto

      Might have to start calling you Rog Lee, my friend. Love the rock in a stream analogy and you. Thank you!

  • Karen

    I think this is an interesting post, and there are a lot of important points here. But unfortunately the men (and some women) in my life don’t tend to express vulnerability and emotion the way you describe. I wouldn’t mind, or be thrown by, seeing them break down and cry, and I think I could support them in this. But what I get instead when they’re feeling vulnerable is defensive, aggressive sarcasm, anxious OCD-like behaviors, yelling, nitpicking, criticizing, and/or shutting down completely and withdrawing. It’s true, I’m not supportive when they act this way. In fact, my response is usually quite negative; at best I just disengage and leave, at worst I become angry and tell them to stop acting that way. I don’t want to bear the brunt of these behaviors. It feels emotionally abusive to me, even though it doesn’t cross the line into physical abuse. I am open to changing how I respond to such behaviors, but I don’t know of a better way. It makes me very upset to just stand there and listen to it.

    • Liz DiAlto

      You bring up a really EXCELLENT point Karen – I think a lot of men express themselves in the ways you described here. I don’t have an answer, but I do have a recommendation. David Deida’s book Way of the Superior Man talks about the polarity of male and female essences and how we can actually use our energy to “cool” our men in instances like these. This is not a perfect reply – but it’s a start, hope that helps, and maybe someone else will weigh in with a better answer for you!

    • Liz DiAlto

      Actually on second thought I DO have a better answer, Karen!

      Energetically – where you said you disengage and leave – this is the part where you actually can make a difference. You stay and you stay open. I’m not saying take it, but I’m saying be love in the moment. Projecting love and holding that kind of space in the face of negativity is hard as hell, and it may not be “THE FIX” but it does make a difference. Yes!

  • http://www.nidhithapar.com nt

    Sam and Rog, thanks for your insight and sharing your experience. I’ll be sure to keep this in mind, in addition to what I’ve learned here about helping a man trust himself (trust myself and trust in him).

    Thank you Liz for this fantastic post! Great food for thought that I’ll be sure to carry with me into my next experiences.

    (PS – what a great community you have – so many smart,thoughtful comments make for a great learning experience!)

    All best!

  • http://christinabryza.com Christina

    Yes, Liz, YES! Thank so you much for writing about this hugely important topic. I agree that what women often (and often unconsciously) say they want is not necessarily what they are prepared to receive.

    I have been guilty of that double standard in the past (wanting a man to be vulnerable, then feeling uncomfortable when he shows vulnerability), but I’m grateful to say that through self-acceptance, love, and empowerment I have come to understand and believe: Sensitivity is SEXY!!!

    As I’ve learned to embrace my own sensitivity, and to take responsibility for my own wide range of emotion and experience, I’ve become able and willing to attract, respect, and appreciate those qualities in a partner.

    When we take care of ourselves, can allow ourselves to be vulnerable with someone who does the same. Thank you again for shining light on these vital truths!

    • Liz DiAlto

      Love all of this, thank you Christina!

  • http://jessgrippo.com Jess

    I really appreciate this post, Liz.
    I have a similar relationship to my father – one night he drove all the way from NJ to Brooklyn just to have gelato with me because i was feeling super depressed and lonely.

    But in the last 3 years I have had to see him in the most vulnerable position possible: physically disabled and mentally challenged. He had a stroke and so it all happened suddenly – the father I once knew was different and not able to do all of the amazing things we all took for granted. (his soul is still the same, but other things are different now) Just yesterday I was with him, and it killed me to see him watching all the guys shoveling snow outside when he could no longer do that. (He used to shovel the shape of a peace sign in our driveway before clearing it out.)
    And I know it’s really not easy for him – so much of his identity was about doing things like this!

    I think a lot about this in relation to my current romantic relationship – with a man who is manly but also sensitive and has shown his vulnerable side many times. I think it strengthens our connection. It’s also not always easy for me to witness him in those states. I think it’s harder for me when he is interpreting it as weakness… The more he owns his vulnerable state and shares it without putting himself down, the easier it is.

    I feel like I could go on for paragraphs about all this, but I won’t since this is already a massive comment!

    The questions this brings up for me are:
    – how can a man find strength in his weakness?
    – does my partner’s vulnerability activate my masculine energy by overcompensating? (i.e. should i stop trying to fix things and just allow it all to be?)

    Thanks for giving me the space to share. I’m not really sure what my point is, but it’s nice to just put this somewhere and have it be heard.

    • Liz DiAlto

      Jess- this question – “does my partner’s vulnerability activate my masculine energy by overcompensating? (i.e. should i stop trying to fix things and just allow it all to be?)”

      Hits me hard b/c I know I do this – I want to fix, heal, take away the pain/discomfort – which in itself kind of sends the message energetically that “I am not ok with you being like this in this moment”

      Important point – thank you.

      • http://www.gladlybeyond.com Cris Gladly

        Wow, I love this article. Fantastic conversation. I started my research project 2 years ago and meeting Christopher stopped it in its tracks, b/c of exactly what you said here. I was on the search for these strong but sensitive men, and then when I had one of my own, I was confronted with my own internalized expectations about masculinity.

        I’m finding that when his sensitivity comes up, my stronger/pragmatic side comes up in response. When he is very strong and solid, i get very soft and vulnerable. I’m entirely fine with this in the balance of our day to day interaction. We ebb and flow very well by allowing each other to just be HUMANS, not cramming one another in our boy box and girl box all day long.

        I think where it can become a challenge is sexually. I think the polarity thing has some merit (though I’m not at all a David Daieda) and where that can become challenge is that we can “love” our partner when he is in his vulnerability, but I think women are struggling with being “attracted” to him in that space. So far, that vulnerability isn’t being seen as “hot”. The vulnerability builds connection, but not necessarily chemistry.

        I’m not sure the answer to that. For me, I feel like relationships need to have space for BOTH … times when each partner gets to be strong and softer. Where connection is prioritized and when chemistry is.

        I think most people want to put their relationship on some auto-matic setting. We’re so freakin’ obsessed with dichotomies (male/female, good/bad, right/wrong, black/white) though NOTHING cleaning falls into an of them. People want to just check off the list: I’m boy. You’re girl. I’m blue. You’re pink. I am strong. You are weak. … and then they want to tra-la-la through their day. No HUMAN is any one thing all the time.

        But if we want a better men, we have to let them be actual humans. And I agree that for as much as men shame each other back into their man boxes the second one of them pokes a toe out, women do this to men as well. Some of the things I hear women at the playground say to their little sons breaks my heart!

        So now my research project shifted to understanding toxic masculinity vs. healthy masculinity instead of going on a search for white knights. I ended up with an amazing man in the process. Amazingly strong and vulnerable … because he’s human! 🙂

        • Liz DiAlto

          Cris – THIS –> “I think where it can become a challenge is sexually. I think the polarity thing has some merit (though I’m not at all a David Daieda) and where that can become challenge is that we can “love” our partner when he is in his vulnerability, but I think women are struggling with being “attracted” to him in that space. So far, that vulnerability isn’t being seen as “hot”. The vulnerability builds connection, but not necessarily chemistry.”

          I feel this – big time. I think so much of this comes down to the individuals as you’re talking about – expressing and relating our humanity. Having really open conversations about “I like it when you…” “When you do x I feel ….” so we can just understand where the other is coming from. That might be the start. But I’m not entirely sure.

          Thank you for this well thought out and really amazing comment 🙂

  • http://www.lifelonglearningcenter.net Leslie Frey

    Many points in this post.

    The noodle sticking on the wall for me: it may be highly beneficial to use new language to talk about men expressing emotion. “I love that you were so vulnerable” may miss the mark. Conversely, “I love how powerfully you just expressed that thought with me. You make me so happy when you are strong enough to share like that.”

    This approach jives with Dr. Joann Deak’s research confirming the cognitive differences between males and females. She says that if you want females to express, ask them what they feel. If you want males to express, ask them what they think. That one language switch may get at the same information, but it asks for it in a way that targets each gender’s cognitive strength.

    Before people jump too quickly to attack, Deak explains that women CAN and DO think and that men CAN and DO feel. The idea is that women TEND to process experience through the lens of emotion more, whereas men TEND to process experience through the lens of fact more.

    For men to go into a realm of emotional expression, then, requires the strength to step out of their comfort zone.

    I especially like Jeremy’s DeWeese’s comment:
    The next part is that we appreciate being respected for what we do offer you. In the end, we know what you want, and we want to give it to you. Our soul’s desire is to provide for you, keep you safe, and please you. If any man tells you otherwise, he is lying. If you KNOW that in your heart, your reactions to him will show up differently. You will give him respect for that positioning. When you do, he will give you all that you want, and more…

    Spot on!

    So as women who want to connect deeply with men, we can look at how the oppression of a patriarchal system HURTS all of us. Men have been deeply hurt by the pussy/fag attacks and the expectations of stoicism. They long to find a safe space to express their true emotions. As women, we must honor and respect the men who are brave enough to express that with them.

    I appreciate Rog Law sharing his true fears around emotional expression with a woman he cares about: “But then old guards pop up – Will she understand? Will she use this against me? Will she think I’m weak?”

    What valuable and beautiful gems of honesty these men shared!

    We must show them in actions and words that connect with their identity. “Baby, mmm. I love how strong you are. I understand how difficult it can be to share that with me, and it makes me so happy and honored. I will do everything I can to never use that against you. I respect you for being so strong with me.” We need t reassure them that by choosing to share, they gained trust, respect, and approval in our eyes.

    I hadn’t put this particular frame around that picture before.

    The potential here is very powerful, and I look forward to sharing it in my relationship coaching practice with couples.

    I also look forward to using it with the men in my life! I think this isn’t just pertinent to romantic relationships, but to all supportive relationships with men we care about.

    Thank you, Liz!

    • Liz DiAlto

      Lesley- please copy/paste your comment into your own blog post – so much good stuff in there. Thank you, thank you, thank you for contributing to the conversation.

  • http://www.tinapaymaster.com Tina Paymaster

    This was really interesting to me, Liz. As someone that has been in relationship after relationship with emotionally unavailable men (and yes, I do think in part, but only part to “daddy issues”, but also to other things), I have the exact opposite opinion of the commonplace one of what defines strength in a man. In fact, It takes incredible strength for anyone to open up and put themselves out there, to let themselves be seen as “human” and flawed and be naked to the world’s judgement. And because of society’s pressures on men to not show emotion and be these stone walls, it’s it’s often so much harder for them to let go. Many of them just get destroyed on the inside because they’re dying to get out. A man that can show emotion, that can be vulnerable, show his WHOLE self and know that it is ok, is one of the strongest types out there in my opinion. I think that any woman that will deny a man that ability is reflecting her own insecurities in a way. I totally agree that there is a way to let a man show emotion and truth and still hold space for them to be strong and masculine. Great article! Thanks for sharing 🙂

  • Gabi

    Thank you very much for bringing this topic up! I feel like there should be more awareness for the difficulties men do have in our society. Many of my male friends complain often about how women are allowed to want it all and more but they aren`t. They feel misunderstood and in the worst case exploited. I feel like they are having a rough time nowadays. Peer pressure and “being a real man” on the one side, being soft and a women-understander on the other side. Plus many of us expect THEM to make all their dreams come true… Hard times these days for the boys.
    Another thing I noticed is that sometimes men do not demand the position they want in a relationship and let the woman position them. It seems to me that they are tired of argueing and overanalyzing situations that they just shut down and to whatever is wished.
    We should not want it all from them. First of all we should always see them as humans and give them enough room so that they can express themselves. We should not try to put them into prefabricated forms in order to get prince charming out of them. PLUS we should not always believe that we know exactly what is going on inside of them, because very often we really can`t tell. And if he tells you, you are interpreting him wrong, believe him!

  • http://freedomlovin.com Kevin

    PprsNNcX260x I find that women have an equally as difficult time being vulnerable than men. It’s not a gender thing. Most people are terrified of vulnerability. Women are notorious for “talking about their emotions”, but this doesn’t typically mean they are actually discussing their emotions! Most people, including women, avoid the topic of real emotions. Instead, there’s a lot of phrases like “I feel like he’s ignoring me”. “Ignoring me” is not an emotion. Discussing emotions would be something like “I felt really sad when I walked in the room and he didn’t look up.” Or even better, directing the discussion with the actual person you have the feeling about.