Why I’m going to start my next Relationship in the Friend Zone!!

Just FriendsSo are you saying you want to be “Just Friends” or you want to “Be Friends”?

Ok so now that I’ve lost 90% of the people who first saw that I posted something new I’ll tell you why we should all want to be in the Friend Zone! In today’s age of technology and information that’s readily available, it seems as though we can all use a lesson in Friendships, remember when you would talk to someone for hours on the phone, or you’d sit and actually have a face to face conversation? Now it’s a Text “hey what’s up?” I’ve been fighting this Smart Phone craze, while it’s easy to send a quick “hey just wanted you to know I was thinking about you” or “check out this cool thing I know you’ll love” We’ve become too complacent with our friendships. A few weeks ago I decided to open up a bit more and talk about my sexuality Coming into my Masculinity Full Circle, and as the weeks go by of this abstinence journey, some things are becoming clearer. As I focus on not letting my libido control my actions, as I learn to not react to every arousal I feel, it’s changing the way I see the world. In a conversation with a friend last week, we talked about not reacting every-time you feel an attraction to someone, sure there may be some chemistry, but what else do you know about them? As I reflected and listened to my friends words, it seems there’s two options when you feel attracted to someone. It’s either you let the opportunity go, or once you interact with them the only other option is a Romantic Relationship, or acting on the sexual chemistry you feel from them. For me I think there’s many more options, I’m sure we’ve all either heard or used “I’m not ready to be in a Relationship”, what about getting to know the other person first, why are we jumping the gun?

Sexual Chemistry isn’t the only criteria for a Relationship!

If we’re coming from the perspective where we’re controlled by our libido, we allow sex to play a bigger role than it should. As I spoke about in my last post, I’m learning how to feel sexual energy and not react to it. No one goes around having sex with every person they feel attracted to, yet if we feel attracted to someone, we neglect getting to know them if we can’t or don’t want to have sex with them. That is the main point I hope sticks with you. As we go through life, we will meet many people, and they’ll all bring out various parts of our personality. While we may be physically attracted to them, that doesn’t mean that we should be in a relationship with them, what about just being their friend, what about getting to know them first? Now you’re probably thinking, sure I already know what you’re saying, this isn’t anything new. I challenge you to examine your thoughts the next time you meet someone you’re attracted to, I bet you’re not thinking that it’s ok to get to know them, and not have to act on your attraction to them. We all know this in concept, but I feel that it’s in our thoughts that we’re missing this subtle difference. My Pastor Steve gave a great explanation of a few things that we should all have in a Romantic Relationship. He also believes that there’s an order to them too:

  1. Friendship – The kind where you know every detail about the other person, their likes, dislikes, want, desires …(As Steve put it, you’re fused together)
  2. Gardening – Then the  lord  God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper who is just right for him.” – Genesis 2:18. (NLT). Imagine if you will that men and women were created for each other, to compliment the other and be a helper. There is also a clear distinction here that they are going in the same direction, for a garden to grow everyone involved has to be doing the same thing. You can’t have one person pulling up the soil after another has just planted a seed.
  3. Sexuality – Sex was meant to be a very pleasurable experience, if not our bodies won’t react to it the way we do. Not to be graphic or anything, but imagine how different it is when you know what every little sound that your partner makes, and you know what excites and makes them more aroused. That’s why friendship is important, you foster a relationship where communication is key, you tell and share your most deepest secrets. After all it is called Intimacy (into me see).
  4. Family 

With this kind of a road-map can you begin to see why the order of these things are important, can you begin to see how sex shouldn’t come first?

Does “The One” really exist?

Men and Women are different, there have been many books and Speeches given about this subject. Yet despite our differences, together we can create a Family, together we make life. While I don’t claim to understand Women or even Men for that matter, we’re all carrying around this image of who or what we expect our spouse to be. When we’re single we have a long laundry list of qualities that we’re looking for, and they’re all non-negotiable. At some point we end up with a person sitting across from us that might not either measure up to our list, or even if they have many qualities they don’t have them all. This is quite a leap, but I’m wondering if “The One” is more of a fictional character that no one person will ever embody? If you’re in the situation where the person you’re with isn’t all that you desire, you may end up putting too much pressure on them to be something they’re not. How come we don’t embrace the qualities they do possess, and recognize that someone else may be the person for the other things you’re lacking. Now I want to be clear here though, within the chastity of Marriage, if your partner is lacking sexually, you’re not to go find it somewhere else. If we are to follow the Road-map from earlier, we should be able to foster a better relationship through genuine friendship, and by communicating I think it’s still possible to achieve what you’re looking for sexually. For clarity, lets say perhaps your spouse isn’t driving you to achieve your career goals, perhaps a mentor can fill that void. By understanding that we can have genuine relationships with people that are not sexual, but still fosters growth, and helps you accomplish your goals, I think we can ease our spouses from some of those burdens. Imagine if you will it’s not “The One- who encompasses all that you’re looking for” but rather “One person who has …” another “one person who has …” and yet another “one person who has…”

Above all boundaries are important in relationships. Relationships are supposed to be mutually beneficial, allowing both people to get what they desire out of it. I caution you here though, if you have a friendship where you’re taking, be warned that it may not last very long. Even if you can remain friends, you will leave your friend feeling drained, and who likes being with someone they feel is a leach. In most romantic relationships the problem arises when we haven’t fostered a true friendship, as I’m sure many people know sex usually becomes infrequent at some point, what do you do then! Life isn’t easy, you have to WORK at everything you do, a friendship and a Marriage both require work to make them work. Complacency is the enemy of Growth, it doesn’t matter the type of relationship, we should be continually growing together. If you find yourself using the words “Oh you know me, you know what I want” you’re probably in danger, the other person may be asking a question because they don’t know the answer. Unfortunately relationships don’t grow by osmosis, time together doesn’t constitute actually knowing each other; we have to actually communicate for that to work.

May your week be filled with joy, peace and love, and let’s all make an effort to be more intentional in our Relationships. Also I hope that you recognize that it’s ok to be physically attracted to someone but not have to act on it. Who knows how fostering a friendship with that person may positively influence our lives.

Has becoming a Man become an Unreachable Goal!!!

Struggling Man

A few weeks ago I wrote a post about what it means to be a Strong Man. As my 34th Birthday came and went, I find that the topic had not faded away, but instead become a bigger part of my consciousness. As it has been in the past, many of the thoughts I have are either addressed in other posts, or is the topic of discussion in Church.

What proceeds isn’t meant to chastise anyone, I’m hoping that this topic can be a prompt for a conversation; a conversation between men and the women in our lives. All I ask is that you keep an open mind, and hear what I say with a voice of Love. Thought it’s important to start with this disclaimer, didn’t want my words to spark anger or any kind of resentment!

A recent conversation with a friend reminded me that my struggle isn’t unique, as males we face constant pressure to be a Man (not quite sure what that even means). Although we face pressure to provide, to show strength but still be passive, to NEVER fail (failure is a sign of weakness). We are told these Stories that we eventually believe, and they become our mantras; but we’re never thought how to cope. I seem to be a bit of a tri-fecta unmarried, no children, and no substantive financial successes (money, nice car) to show for myself. But how has my manhood become about that? I’d like to point out that those things I listed aren’t everything, and although it’s not verbalized, EVERY man knows that he’s measured by those things.

Living with Bad Role Models!

Whether you’re religious or not there seems to be a scarcity of good role models. In the Media we see Athletes who are strong and great at their physical accomplishments, but we also hear of stories of infidelity or rampant divorce. In the movies we see the Man who can get multiple women in bed, idolized as “The Man” What about the stories about the many who’s a father, a husband, a lover, a friend, life long companion all wrapped up into one person? Why are those men not idolized? Even in the Biblical times, we read stories of Men like David, who was a great Leader, but who was also plagued with depression and feelings of inferiority.

Talking about problems is seen as a Weakness!

I saw a story about the recent recession and how families were dealing with it. One of the men made a statement that has stayed with me, he said “They would rather see me die trying to stay on my White Horse, than to see me fall” What he meant was that to maintain the facade of having it together, even though it’s obvious he doesn’t. He said that his wife and daughters don’t talk to him about the struggles he’s going through to to maintain the view that he has it together. The truth is we don’t have it together, we men face immense pressure to “Be a Man” We’re expected and in most cases required to be a provider, safety and security are our main priorities. I challenge you though, sure men don’t generally talk about their problems, but in many cases part of the problem is that others aren’t willing to have the conversation.

The R Word feels like the Kiss of Death!

Yes I’m talking about that “R” word, responsibility. While being able to provide and care for those around you with financial support is important. It has become the defacto response when not wanting to face fear. As Jim Carrey said To find peace you first have to let the Armour go and stop worrying about what will happen if people see you without your armor. I’d replace the “R” word, with the “V” word. No not that “V” word, I’m talking about vulnerability. We all have weaknesses, we all fall short, but the great thing about vulnerability, is that it frees us from fear. Without Fear we can have hope and faith instead. Fear keeps us in a state of inaction, it prevents us from moving and bettering ourselves. Faith and hope on the other hand are action oriented, they entice us to do better, to not take the status-quo as an acceptable pathway.

Keys to become an Agent of Change

Now that I’ve painted a picture of doom and bad role models, how can you possibly change. My Pastor Steve suggested a few specific things you could do, his were really great so there’s no need for me to invent something new.

Use your Strength for Good

Reject Passivity- As males we possess a kind of strength, and we should lead that way. When a problem arises don’t default our responsibility, don’t use “Ask your mom” or “I don’t do that kind of stuff, why don’t you plan that honey” We must be an active participant in decisions, the women around us are counting on us to make decisions, don’t become complacent. Now what I’m not saying is “I’m a man and I need to make all the decisions (while pounding my chest like a cave-man)” There’s a difference between compromising on a decision and making all the decisions. Compromise fosters harmony, and allows both people to have a stake in the decision making process.

Take Responsibility- Not the same one from earlier, but take responsibility for your actions, don’t blame others’ for what you do. Take full ownership of your action, and leave it up to others for theirs. Something I learnt this year I think is helpful here, “Always do my Best.” Each day I will do the best that I’m capable of, the caviat here is that if I can only do 50% then that’s what I’ll do, I won’t beat myself up for not being able to accomplish 150%.

Lead Courageously- We’re expected to lead our families, so lead with confidence and courage. If you feel you lack those skills then pray for them, and actively seek out opportunities to improve. For single person like myself, it doesn’t take a family to lead, and I can still lead in my everyday relationships, whether work, friendship, or others.

“A wise person hears the Truth, and adjusts his behavior to the truth. A foolish person hears the truth, and adjusts the truth to his behavior” – Unknown (well I hear my Pastor Steve say it on numerous occasions)

The Truth is constant, it shouldn’t change, therefore you should change to the truth rather than the other way around. For example, we know that smoking is bad for your health. A wise person will say, smoking is bad for my health and since I would like to live longer, I will have to stop smoking. In contrast a foolish person will say, well I don’t smoke that often, and I probably won’t get cancer for awhile anyway, so I’ll smoke till I die. Sorry smokers, it’s the first example I could think of, and there is Scientific evidence to back it up so it seemed a great illustration. As the truth becomes exposed to us, do we change our behavior to reflect the new truth, or do we find a way to maintain our current behavior, and model a truth that reflects our behavior. As we navigate our lives as males, which are we living, as a wise person or a foolish person?

As I stated in the beginning, this isn’t meant to chastise anyone, but it’s more about starting a conversation. As a man I face immense pressures to be a certain way, and while it may not be entirely true, I feel that women around me expect those things of me too. You may argue that it’s not true, that you do not expect those things from your men, but have you ever talked to them about it? If you ask what is a Man, whether it’s from a man or a woman, you’d probably get very similar answers. This pressure has lead to depression, suicide, and men are literally killing themselves to maintain this persona. I hope you use your words to build up and strengthen rather than tear down and humiliate, do it with and for Love. Men speak to the women in your life, let them see the real you, let them see what you’re actually struggling with. For the women, talk to your men, and be willing to get rid of the “Knight in Shining Armor” persona, I’m not saying that your guy isn’t going to save the day. But this is real life, no one rides a white horse, maybe a white Prius!

What does it mean to be a Strong Man!!

When you think about that phrase, it’s a bit of an oxymoron, because a strong man doesn’t necessarily mean a guy with muscleA Strong Mans who has great physical strength. I read several articles last week that started me thinking about masculinity, and as I grow older, what does it mean to be a strong man. You can find the full article by Bryan Reeves on “Women are not defective Men” to get more insight about what my general theme is. As I go deeper into my 30’s with each passing day, I find that many of the things which peeked my interest when I was younger are no longer enough. Having an intellectual connection is more fascinating, and far more intriguing. I’ve talked regularly in-dept about a book I read earlier in the year “The Four Agreements” by Don Miguel Ruiz. I read an article on The Daily Love yesterday that got me thinking again, for an agreement to be effective, everyone involved has to follow it. As I get older I’m beginning to see that there are many wrong beliefs about what a Man should be, and they lead to statements like:

  • Good men are strong and powerful.
  • Real men don’t cry or show emotions.
  • The Man is supposed to be the provider.
  • The Man is supposed to be a hero, to come in on his white horse to save the damsel in distress.

To many Men money, power, prestige, family (wife and children) are a measure of your man hood. While those things are important, they don’t give the full picture, and what about communication, love, honesty, vulnerability. Why are those things not on the list?

As I was thinking about those things, and as I read Bryan’s article, it was clear that there is so much that men are not taught. To be a functioning and healthy adult (I use the word healthy, because there are many other ways) you need to learn certain things. Going back to what I said about agreements, if we’re not taught these things, and we believe the wrong beliefs that we are taught, then we’re doomed to repeat the same bad choices. As a man there are so many pressures that plague us, and yet in many cases, there are more incentives to perpetuate the wrong beliefs.

So how do you get on the right track. It starts with acknowledging some truths:

  • We’re all human, and that means that we’re capable of emotions, yes even us hard exterior men. Suppressing our emotions in effect is invalidating the gifts we were created with.
  • We must learn that people are different, and that thinking differently or having different values are not right nor wrong. We see the world differently, and that’s ok, it makes us unique not broken.
  • On a level we’re all broken, we all have flaws, it was built into our DNA. While having flaws isn’t an excuse, it’s good to remember that when dealing with others. Sometimes against our best efforts we make mistakes, give others opportunities to correct their mistakes. After-all we’d like the same treatment if the roles were reversed.
  • Learn to embrace our emotions, we were born with 6 senses, if they’re telling us something, we should probably listen. It’s like seeing a wild animal coming towards us with teeth gnashing, and saying “hey you must want to lick me!” By allowing ourselves to feel, we deal with the issue in the moment. Suppressing doesn’t make the emotion go away, it only bottles it up, and it WILL come back, and perhaps at a most inopportune time.
  • Learn to embrace our male and female selves. Men are confident and have a rugged bravado, women are gentler, kind, and caring. Each was made differently, but they were made to combine to produce pure LOVE. By embracing each other’s best qualities, we are able to achieve a more perfect harmony.

To be a well functioning adult male, I must do away with the old mole. I’m not Ryan Gosling, but he’s not be either. So I’ll stop tryingAverage Man to be what I’m not. It’s ok to be me, as I get older I become wiser, well that’s my hope anyway. I must learn to embrace my Male energy, and learn to be in harmony with the mesmerizing and fascinating yet mysterious female energy. I don’t understand it, but perhaps that’s the point. Men are conquerors, and when we do we move on. Perhaps our women are supposed to be a mystery, it keeps us longing and coming back for more as we learn and explore her mysterious deity.