Understand Men Better: Do Men Have Issues? Are They Even Real?

It’s hard to be a man and when I say this I don’t mean to compare it to being a woman because I know nothing about being a woman, therefore comparing the two doesn’t make sense. Navigating through this life is rather tricky and I am discovering that I am not equipped with the right tools to engage with the future Mrs. Every time I have to explain what Marvin is to a complete stranger I get different reactions from women. I always say it’s a platform where men can openly have conversations about their issues.

This one lady I met at the border of Botswana said “Men have issues? Are they even real?” and she went on to say that she had to read this Marvin to verify if these issues are real or not.

It’s very hard to articulate yourself as a man in general and say “this is how I feel and this is how you hurt me” because we do hurt even though we don’t say it. Now, even if you can articulate that you are hurt and have issues that are caused by women, the jury is still out if that particular issue is even worth a discussion. How dare you as a man bring up things that say that you are as vindictive, hurtful, mean and manipulative as men are. At times you end up apologizing for bringing up the issue because other things are brought up in this conversation that has nothing to do with the argument. You apologize to keep the peace, yet the matter is not resolved, you are still upset because you are not heard, therefore not valued, therefore not seen which leads to not being loved.

I always say that the root of a lot of infidelities comes from not being heard or seen in a relationship. If every time we argue, you cut me off during my time to try to address my issue with you, there will come a time I give up on trying. The relationship will get to a point where I give up trying to even get anything through to you because you already know what I am going to say and how I am going to say it or how I am going to lie to you. There is a difference between when you listen to defend yourself or listening to understand. When you are listening to understand you will try to understand what this person is really saying. You would even say what they said back to them, just to make sure – because you are trying to understand. When a man is not heard at times it opens him up to seeking that validation elsewhere – similar to women when they say he doesn’t give me attention, therefore, it is sought elsewhere.

I remember when I was in a relationship and I was not heard and then one day I met a girl who listened to me better than my then-girlfriend. I loved my girlfriend, but I wanted to be with this girl more, I wanted to be around her because I loved how she made me feel. At some point, I thought to myself my girlfriend would be amazing if she listened to me the way this girl does. At that point, I understood how easy it was for me to cheat. This is where a 20 starts looking like an 80. This girl made me feel good, and with any relationship or friendship, you always go to the friends that make you feel good when you seek validation. A lot of our hurt comes from women, we feel the hurt, the hurt manifests into other things, we can’t even articulate it, therefore women don’t know that they are even hurting us. Being hurt emotionally, I think, is the worst thing that could happen to a man, because you really don’t know how to deal with it hence alcohol, women, and drugs are the first places we go. Obviously, those never work out and now you have to face yourself in the worst way possible. You have to face the emotions part that you have been told as a young man to ignore or rather, that they are not important – it’s like it’s a setup, a setup for failure because why wasn’t I told that I’m gonna have to deal with these emotions, now I look like an idiot for not knowing or understanding my own emotions.

There are two ways to deal with these emotions – one way is to face them and get out the other side understanding yourself better, this is the hardest option (might need therapy as well). Another way to deal with this is to blame everyone else but yourself, so instead of dealing you get another girlfriend who will not bring up these issues about yourself aka control.

Yeah dealing with your own emotions is just hard work because we never acknowledge them until we are older and we see flames by then. What makes it worse is that even when you try to fix it, society doesn’t allow that or encourage it.

Photographer: Timothy Barlin