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How To Love Yourself—The Key to your Amazing Future

Men are often confused about themselves. Men frequently think that they are unimportant. Men think loving is for women. Men will look at you in horror if you talk to them about how to love yourself. That is so sad!

Do you know what love is? Do you know who you are? Can you honestly say that you know how to love yourself. This concept probably means nothing to you, it is outside your realm of experience. It is as if someone came up to you and asked you how to get to Mars, you would have no idea how to answer.

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How I Found A Fabulous Marriage Using A Relationship Vision [Video]

For me great relationships are part of what makes life tick, so when I became a single man in my fifties the prospect of a new relationship terrified and fascinated me. I used a Relationship Vision to create a new, amazing marriage.

For me having a passionate, creative relationship is crucial to a full life. The problem, when I was not in one, came down to a single, crucial, issue; what was I looking for? This was a puzzle to me, there was so much choice out there. How do I make a choice that will work for years to come? How can I distinguish between all the amazing women out there?

I discovered the relationship vision, the answer to great relationships.

“A vision is not just a picture of what could be; it is an appeal to our better selves, a call to become something more.”
(Rosabeth Moss Kanter)

Watch the video to hear about my vision as I wrote it some years ago. I crafted it from the perspective that we were together and that this is how we are living. I found this positive, present, perspective very powerful.

“Vision without action is a dream. Action without vision is simply passing the time. Action with Vision is making a positive difference.”
(Joel Barker)

—Photo‌ insightimaging/Flickr

This article was previously published on ‘The Good Men Project’

Old People Love Sex Too—6 Illusions About Age And Sex

I question the stereotypes of older men having sexual performance issues and older women having physical attraction issues. I look at six illusions about age and sex for men and women.

Flickr: Tommy Hemmert Olesen

Old people sex is often seen by people as a contradiction. In response to my column about being a good man, ‘What On Earth Is A Good Man?’, a man made a fascinating comment on Facebook about a friend of his wife.

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How My 91 Year Old Relative Showed Me The Secret To A Powerful Relationship

Graham Phoenix explores the difference between loneliness and aloneness, and discovers how dependency can destroy a relationship.

photo by javier cito

I recently visited a relative of mine who is 91 years old. She doesn’t get out of the house much these days, she suffers from dementia and is locked in her loneliness. Although people go in to see her every day and others come and take her out on trips she doesn’t remember much, if anything, about this. So when she sits on her own in front of the TV in the evening she feels lonely and is lonely, because she remembers nothing of the events of the day, all she can remember is the distant past of family life and activity, so she feels lonely.

Her dementia locks her in her prison, but do those of us with our full faculties need to be locked in our prison. What is the prison I am talking about? Is it loneliness or dependency? Both, I think, can be prisons that distort our view of the world.

After I left and divorced my wife of thirty years, I lived in a one bedroom flat on my own. It was the first time I had ever lived on my own. On the one hand I felt liberated and excited, on the other I felt lonely. When I met a girl I wanted to have a relationship with I pursued her and determined to create an amazing relationship with her. She resisted this because I wanted it too much.

I stepped back and looked at what was happening and realised that I was trying to fill a void, I was trying to get rid of my loneliness. I discovered that I was not going to create a great relationship until I could let go of the need to have one. I found that difficult for a while and set about understanding my situation.

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Osho, an Indian mystic, guru and spiritual teacher, helped me to understand what was happening with his distinction between loneliness and aloneness.

Loneliness is what I was describing at the beginning. Osho explained it as follows:

“Man ordinarily lives in loneliness. To avoid loneliness, he creates all kinds of relationships, friendships, organizations, political parties, religions and what not. But the basic thing is that he is very much afraid of being lonely. Loneliness is a black hole, a darkness, a frightening negative state almost like death … as if you are being swallowed by death itself. To avoid it, you run out and fall into anybody, just to hold somebody’s hand, to feel that you are not lonely… Nothing hurts more than loneliness.”

I see many relationships created out of this fear. My first marriage, I realise now, came out of this. Frequently these relationships don’t work and end in disaster. People find that the other person does not fill the void, the gap that exists. More often they exacerbate it and create even greater fear.

Osho goes on to say,

“The day you decide that all these efforts are failures, that your loneliness has remained untouched by all your efforts, that is a great moment of understanding. Then only one thing remains: to see whether loneliness is such a thing that you should be afraid of, or if it is just your nature. Then rather than running out and away, you close your eyes and go in. Suddenly the night is over, and a new dawn … The loneliness transforms into aloneness.

“Aloneness is your nature. You were born alone, you will die alone. And you are living alone without understanding it, without being fully aware of it. You misunderstand aloneness as loneliness; it is simply a misunderstanding. You are sufficient unto yourself.”

I discovered aloneness as a powerful, positive state to be in. I came to understand myself and enjoy my own company, I ceased to need others to fill my void, I was able to do it myself. I let go of the need to be in a relationship, but not the desire. The desire was about the woman not about myself. What I hadn’t expected was that as soon as I fully embodied this state the woman I was interested in became interested in me. I no longer needed her and so became attractive to her.

We married and love our life together. We spend most of our time together but don’t depend on each other. We are capable of aloneness, of being on our own, but love being together.

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Jed Diamond in a recent post on the Good Men Project, ‘5 Little-Known Secrets Couples Need To Know About The Science of Love’, talked about his confusion over dependency between couples,

“Like most of the people in Western society, I believed that “dependency” was something I needed to avoid like the plague. I believed that a “real man” was strong, independent, and self-sufficient. He didn’t complain and he never showed his weaknesses. To a lesser degree women are also raised to value independence and see dependence as a weakness to be overcome.

““Again, this is backwards,” says Johnson. Far from being a sign of frailty, strong emotional connection is a sign of mental health. It is emotional isolation that is the killer. We know that men live sicker and die sooner than women and the suicide rate is 2 to 18 times higher for men than for women. The main reason, I believe, is that men have fewer social supports than women do. We associate manliness with independence and dependence with “wispiness.””

The confusion is that he equates dependency with the strong emotional connection we need in our lives. For me dependency is the attempt to fill the void of loneliness, it’s using the other person to complete ourselves, to make ourselves feel whole.

This is an unhealthy emotional connection, the one that destroys relationships. Aloneness, on the other hand, is where we find our own strength and let go of the need to have others fill our void. Through aloneness we can build genuine, strong emotional connections that support both people in the relationship.

The emotional isolation that Jed refers to is more to do with a refusal to be ourselves and be happy with ourselves. Like my 91 year old relative we ignore all that happens in our lives and just focus on the lack, the loneliness. Yes, men need social support but not to enable dependency but to support self-sufficiency. This is not manliness but a sign of emotional strength.

The danger in the idea that Jed talked about is the idea that men cannot be emotionally strong on their own, the idea that they need a woman to support them. Both partners should only approach a relationship from their own emotional strength, then they can find the spark that creates the electricity in the relationship, the excitement that makes them want to be together.

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It simply means that emotional strength comes from believing in yourself before you use someone else’s belief in you. What you think means more than what others think, no matter how seductive that can be.

Maslow’s hierarchy of needs puts love or belonging above the physiological and safety needs of people. We need to have our basic needs met before we even think of connecting with other people. We focus the our security needs and our need to stay alive, be fed and watered. Then follows our need to belong to groups, to society, to other people. This may seem to be a need for dependency, I see it as a need for connection, for understanding.

Remember that at the top of Maslow’s hierarchy is the need for self-actualisation. This is where the sense of aloneness comes from. This level of need refers to what a person’s full potential is and the realization of that potential. That potential comes from within themselves and is not dependent on others.

How does this work out in real life, what are the consequences of all this?

It simply means that emotional strength comes from believing in yourself before you use someone else’s belief in you. What you think means more than what others think, no matter how seductive that can be.

My aged relative spent most of her life living in her own strength. She did not rely on others and believed implicitly in her own abilities in this world. The sadness of the dementia is that this this has gone leaving her without her own self-confidence, and so very alone. Although she remembers family life long ago, she doesn’t remember how much of it came from her, she has lost the emotional strength that was once at the core of her life.

Men And Women – The Shifting Dynamic At The Extremes

How do you see what is happening in the world? How do you see it changing? How do you see the shifting dynamic between men and women?

men and women

Why do I upset both men and women at the extremes when I write. What am I doing that scares them so much. Why can’t they acknowledge what is really happening in the world and join to make it even better.

I recently posted on The Good Men Project a piece about parallels between what has been happening in Ukraine and the struggle for masculinity. I received a fascinating reply from a woman who said…

“The world is becoming more ‘feminine’ in its workings and men hate the idea of claiming femininity so they take all these characteristics that are deemed ‘feminine’ and call them the ‘new masculinity’ so that they can get credit for this new ‘more moral and honourable way of living’ without giving credit to the example that they are following – the feminine.”

This immediately set me on edge and pissed me off. Why? Read more

Walls Are Ambiguous, Two-Faced – Just Like The Boundaries We Set

I was trying to exert control over others to force them to do my will. I had no real control over myself, as I discovered over the following years of struggle with my anger.

setting boundaries

I realised later in life that you can only control yourself. To lead others you need to be seen to be in control of yourself, then others will respect you and follow you.

This was the conclusion I reached, last week, after considering the question of ‘Taking Control‘.

I started thinking about setting boundaries. I wanted to understand what boundaries really are.

I discovered that they are not as simple as they seem. The meaning of boundaries depends on which side of them you are.

I love this image,

“There was a wall. It did not look important. It was built of uncut rocks roughly mortared. An adult could look right over it, and even a child could climb it. Where it crossed the roadway, instead of having a gate it degenerated into mere geometry, a line, an idea of boundary. But the idea was real. It was important. […]

“Like all walls it was ambiguous, two-faced. What was inside it and what was outside it depended upon which side of it you were on.”
(Ursula Le Guin – ‘The Dispossessed’)

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Can Masculine Men Be Emotional – Will Relationships Work If Not

Men have a reputation for suppressing their emotions because they believe that to be emotional is to be feminine. Yet when men suppress their emotions they often destroy their relationships.

My wife has been reading the book ‘Getting To “I Do” – The Secret To Doing Relationships Right‘ by the well-known relationship expert Dr Patricia Allen. She has been reading excerpts to me and I have been getting increasingly agitated.

There is one quote that I find particularly difficult to take,

“Maleness is the pragmatic, functional way in which we handle work, the initiator of action. It is the verbal, the left lobe of the brain.

“Femaleness is the passive, the receptive, the emotional; it can be represented by non-verbal energy. Its function in traditional terms is to serve as an outlet for emotion and as a moral brake; it can be seen as the stable center that allows a relationship to develop and be maintained.

“Although both male and female elements are vital to the make-up of both men and women, I believe that for a relationship to be healthy and successful these must be reconciled and become complementary to each other. In other words, there can only be one male and one female in every relationship.”

No wonder men do not know what to do in their relationships, which are, as a result, not working. Read more

David DeAngelo/Eben Pagan Finally Finds Love

I received an extraordinary email from Eben Pagan recently. That’s Eben Pagan who made millions as David DeAngelo of Double Your Dating.

david deangelo

He is the man who is famous for popularising dating and The Game amongst men, in his own words,

“… probably helped more men around the world how to be successful in dating than anyone else. Millions of men have read my newsletters, watched my videos and purchased my books and dating success programs.”

He said, in this email,

“Even though I had as many dates as I wanted (and occasionally a relationship that lasted a year or two) it just didn’t seem like it was ever going to really happen for me. I had actually “accepted” that I was probably going to be single forever…”

I didn’t dknow this but it didn’t surprise me, not because I know anything about Eben, but because I don’t believe all that stuff about dating. Read more

Why Do Men Cheat – The Dirty Lowdown Of The Affair

Why Do Men Cheat
Man On The Lookout

Women seem to talk constantly about why men cheat. There is a perception that men cheat all the time, is this true? It creates an impression that men are not to be trusted, do you find this?

When both men and women are asked why do men cheat, the immediate responses are often,

… men cheat to get back in touch with their inner caveman.
… men cheat because they like to play with fire.
… men cheat out of boredom.
… men cheat because they want more sex than women do.
… men cheat because the wife always nagging.
… men cheat just because they can …

These answers come mainly from Urban Myth, are they true, are there any facts to back them up?

Since 1950, when the famous Kinsey sex study found that 50% of American men cheat, the number cheating hasn’t changed much, even with all of today’s opportunities at our fingertips, including the internet and chatrooms.

Why Men Cheat – Is Infidelity A Given?

How true is the idea put forward by men that ‘It’s our biological nature‘?

Scientific research has taught us that there are three hormones inside our body that determine how monogamous we are: oxytocin, arginine vasopressin, and testosterone.

Oxytocin makes people want to stay together. It is the hormone that forges the bond between a mother and her new-born baby.

Arginine vasopressin supports the desire to support your mate or offspring, an important aspect of bonding between couples.

It’s the receptors for these two hormones in the brain that determine us as monogamous.

Then there is Testosterone, associated with libido and sex drive, and also male characteristics such as muscular structure.

Testosterone conflicts with the bonding effects of Oxytocin in driving a person to seek more sexual partners, to be single-minded and to take risks. Men usually have up to ten times more of it than women.

Our brain makes constant, calculated guesses regarding the consequences of our actions. A high level of testosterone seems to influence our calculation in favour of the satisfaction of the immediate desire.

Does that mean men can blame their Testosterone level for the fact that they cheat? Absolutely not, although influenced, we still are responsible for deciding whether to act upon our impulse. So hormones are not the answer to why men cheat.

What other reasons do men have for cheating in relationships?

Many men have difficulty talking about their feelings, let alone showing them. Sometimes it can feel safer to meet with someone new than to speak up at home and perhaps jeopardise their long-term relationship.

Often men are cheating because they don’t know how to be in a successful relationship. Instead of dealing with their hang-ups, like fear of connection or fear of intimacy, they entertain the idea that an affair remains superficial and, therefore, safe.

There are men who cheat because of their own feelings of loneliness, or suppressed anger. Instead of stepping up and addressing those issues they run away and hide.

It seems that cheating can be closely connected with men’s inability to address issues in their lives.

Five Types of infidelity

It is recognised that there are a number of different types of infidelity. Each type of infidelity indcates a different cause of why men cheat:

Opportunistic Infidelity – You have a partner but give in to the attraction you feel for someone else. Driven by lust in the moment, the time is right and usually a little risky. Many men specifically enjoy this type.

Obligatory Infidelity – Based on the fear that not giving in to the sexual advances of the other person will result in rejection by them. This stems from the need for approval.

Romantic Infidelity – You are lost because your relationship is petering out and you look for a replacement, look for affairs. To quote the legenday B.B. King, the ‘thrill is gone’.

Conflicted Romantic Infidelity – You have a strong sexual desire for several people at the same time, as well as being in a committed intimate relationship. You feel confused and that confiding in the intimate partner is not an option, unless you are in an ‘open relationship’.

Remembrance Infidelity – When you fall completely out of love with your current partner and want to get back to when you were in love.

Who Are You Really Cheating, Your Relationship?

Usually you are cheating yourself. Most infidelity involves pretence and lying to yourself. Personal honesty is key to preventing this. Don’t promise to be anything that you are not. If you like hunting women, if that is you at your core, stay true to your word. Don’t start creating false pretences by telling women you always want to be with them. Because you know you don’t.

Remember you will always feel the pull of polarity. The decision to take it further, however, is always yours to make or not. Your Testosterone creates urges, it does not control you.

Love Is Not Arousal

Graham Phoenix looks at why kissing his sons helps them to grow.

“I’d argue that perhaps the only thing that garners more suspicion than a father being affectionate with his daughter, is a father being affectionate with his son!”

I read this recently from a commenter on GMP and was amazed. I wondered if I lived on the same planet as this man or whether I have ignored what people think all these years.

I am a man and I have two sons who are now in their thirties. They are perfectly normal, well-adjusted men and we hug and kiss in public. This is not some overt display of family emotion: it’s just something we do. Am I supposed to worry about this, about what people might feel? Am I supposed to feel guilty and see the finger of suspicion pointing at me?

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Last year I was working in a small church in Ireland, re-designing the lighting. I was in a design meeting with the architect and the priest (it was a Catholic church) and I found myself intrigued by some of the work that was proposed.

There was the re-design of the confessional that put a glass door in the front. There was the building of a mezzanine floor in the sacristy so the choirboys could change separately from the men and priests. I enquired about these, to be told by the priest that these were now a requirement because of the revelations about the terrible misdeeds of many Catholic priests.

The priest was quite unconcerned about the needs for these changes; he felt no personal guilt for the terrible happenings but recognized that the Church needed to feel a sense of public recognition, even guilt, for the situation. If strategic architectural changes meant the life of the Church could continue, then that was okay.

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The problem with this is that all it does is feed people’s paranoia. It does nothing to change what individuals may or may not do.

I feel the same about how I behave with my boys, and with others in my life. If I stopped showing my affectionate feelings I wouldn’t actually change anything: it would just feed people’s paranoia. If I really were a sexual predator I hardly think that I would call people’s attention to it by such public displays.

I think that we help people to come to terms with their emotions by showing them that can display them openly. Here, I am talking specifically to men.

So many men are brought up to believe that showing emotion is a feminine trait. So many men fear how public displays of emotion might be interpreted by others. Instead of hugging, men slap each other’s backs in a show of “masculine” bravado. Men shake hands with their boys, fearing sexual tension if they bring their bodies together.

I openly kiss women and hug men—no back-slapping—and I put all my emotion into it. I rarely offend people. I kiss my gay male friends without any connotations or confusion.

Where, I wonder, does the guilt come in to such innocent displays of love? It’s clear that if men have taken things too far and crossed boundaries,then they should feel guilty. If men have taken advantage of their sons or daughters, then they deserve our despising of them. But love between family and friends: should that create guilt?

Perhaps men are confused by the feelings stirred by close physical contact. Perhaps they find their daughter attractive or find they have a response to the physical power and strength in their son. That’s understandable to me. I feel the power and energy in many people I have contact with, even my sons. I recognise them as men and enjoy the physical intimacy.

But I know the difference between close, warm physical intimacy and sexuality. I know when I am sexually aroused and when I feel intensely close to someone. I know the power of sexual polarity and I respond to it.

I feel strong sexual polarity with my wife, not with my family and friends. I know the difference.

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Maybe that’s where the guilt comes in. That’s what causes the confusion: when men have not learned the difference between sexual polarity and strong emotion they get confused about what’s going on and feel guilty. Where people in general get confused about this they see things that are not there and start accusing people.

I love sex and I feel sexual emotions powerfully. I am in a relationship where I can express these emotions and thoroughly enjoy my sexual urges. How would I be if I didn’t have this?

Are men, as they are often presumed to be, just sexual predators who will prey on anyone they meet, including sons and daughters? Do men need to fill their sexual urges somehow? Are men incapable of controlling themselves?

For me the answer is “no,” to all of these questions. Sex is a powerful drive in men, but it can be controlled. There is no reason why men need to fear what they are going to do. Self-control does, however, require strength and maturity. It requires men to feel strong in themselves and proud of themselves as men.

I think this is achieved through emotional strength and authenticity. So I openly hug and kiss my sons so they can express their emotions and feel strong in the process. If I succumbed to feeling guilty and drew back, I would create in my sons the very guilt that makes people draw back.

In the end it’s a generational issue. If, as men, we show our emotions we clear the air and allow future generations to be open and authentic. They will no longer need to feel guilt.