Reddit is often a place where people’s worst impulses rise to the surface, the anonymity allowing for cruelty. Yet sometimes, it shows itself to be somewhere people come together, sharing themselves in ways they wouldn’t otherwise let others know. A recent post on the subreddit r/askreddit gave men a moment to describe the parts of being a man they struggle with.
Men revealed a few things ‘women will never understand’ about masculinity.
"What is a struggle men have that women will never understand?" someone asked the community, sparking a discussion of over 2,000 comments.
1. The delicate balancing act between emotional vulnerability and masculinity
One man expressed that he has a hard time “trying to find the balance of being emotionally vulnerable and masculine in such a way that maintains attraction.” According to his experience, seeking that balance is something that “leaks into communication, sex, outward behavior… near everything in a relationship.”
His comment captures a trap set by patriarchal thinking, one that’s easy to fall into, no matter what gender you are: basing social interactions on how others perceive you while centering attractiveness as the end goal. Real beauty and desire arise from connecting with another person. Reaching a deeper emotional connection requires a level of vulnerability, allowing others to see the softer, imperfect parts of ourselves.
2. Not being taken seriously as victims of domestic violence
Two other men shared their experiences with a darker side of being male, sharing how they were not taken seriously as the victims of domestic violence. As one of the men explained, “I was laughed out of the police station when I attempted to report it.”
“I was sexually harassed by a girl in my class a really long time ago and when I told it to the school they didn’t do anything,” another man wrote. “Both of my parents got involved,” he stated. “They still refused to do anything to the girl who was harassing me.”
A different man responded to their predicament by offering a vulnerable expression of support, saying, “Sorry that happened to you. And nice that your parents believed you and stood up for you.”
The National Domestic Violence Hotline reports that “one in seven men age 18+ in the US has been the victim of severe physical violence by an intimate partner in his lifetime.” The Hotline notes the struggle men face to reach out after incidents of domestic violence, as men are “socialized not to express their feelings or see themselves as a victim [and] many believe that there are no resources or support for male victims.”
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3. Struggling with mental health
A different man noted the struggles men face in talking about mental health, a conversation that hinges on expressing the tender parts of ourselves, the parts we try to hide. He said, “In recent years I've become more open about it but a lot of the men around me just won't open up about it… I think it's a difficult conversation no matter your gender, but a lot of men are told to ‘suck it up’ or told that ‘men don't cry’ so they have to keep it all inside.”
4. Difficulty accessing and expressing emotions
One man revealed his “terrible issue with crying," highlighting the harm caused by not being able to access his most vulnerable self. “Even when I'm at my worst and feel a constant urge to cry for weeks straight, I won't and can't,” he explained. "Sometimes I think I can't cry without permission. I am well aware that I don't need permission, but my body doesn't care.”
5. Feeling lonely and isolated
Two other men shared their struggle with opposite sides of the same coin, describing their experience of the loneliness epidemic.
“Older single guy here,” one man introduced himself. “We're on our own. Nobody wants to touch us. No platonic affection. Nobody wants to help us. We need to figure it out for ourselves.”
Yet the other man felt isolated in his role as a husband and father. He illustrated the struggle with “middle-aged loneliness, particularly for married guys with kids.”
6. Being stereotyped as the breadwinner
Another man explained how damaging it felt to have his “sense of self-worth basically pinned to [his] ability to earn money.”
His comment highlights the harm caused by being put into a box and being asked to reach expectations that don't align with your identity. Historically, women have been penalized for being ambitious. Often, women are told to "stay in your lane" when trying to acquire financial success and independence. Yet as this man explains, men being held to a high and impossible standard is also damaging. In reality, rigid patriarchal definitions of gender hold all of us back from being our truest selves.
7. Not getting flowers
One last man shared a simple yet specific way that being a man felt painful, noting, “Women have no idea what it's like to go your whole life with no one ever thinking to give you flowers.” All people, along the entire spectrum of gender, deserve to receive expressions of affection, whether in the form of bouquets or any other intimate and caring gesture. While it seems like a relatively small struggle, the man expressed a vulnerable and tender request to be held, seen, and nurtured by those he loves.
Alexandra Blogier is a writer on YourTango's news and entertainment team. She covers social justice issues, pop culture analysis and all things to do with the entertainment industry.
This article originally appeared on YourTango