Men have it rough, too, you know? In a world where all men are seemingly predators or have ulterior motives, it’s tough for them to navigate. Even if they do get bogged down by societal pressures or unfair assumptions, they can’t say anything about it. These are just some of the worries that trouble the minds of men today.
It’s terrifying how lonely middle age is. I can absolutely understand why so many middle-aged men feel down on their luck. I'm actually trying hard to get out and meet people, but it's difficult. I'm an outgoing guy, and it’s hard to form friendships with other guys. Then I imagine how all the socially awkward men just don't even bother anymore.
Being expected to make the first move as a man always gets me super anxious. I hate the idea of misreading a situation or making a woman uncomfortable, so I tend to "disregard" a lot of obvious hints when I first start seeing someone. It just seems like the safer path until we’re both more comfortable with each other.
When I was a teenager, my sister fell into a river. My dad put his hand on my back and pushed me in after her, saying, "Go get her." Her leg was stuck on something, but I got it free and she swam back to shore. I, however, was pinned by branches under the water that had somehow gotten around me (there was a whole tree under the surface).
I remember looking up to the water's surface and seeing the silhouettes of my family members walk away from the edge and thinking, "No! Wait!" Long story short, my fight-or-flight system kicked in and I scrambled as hard as I could to free myself. I eventually got free and came up to take the best breath ever.
When I was crawling back on the sand, my dad, sister and brother were about 100 yards down the bank. He turned and said, "C'mon!" and I hurried after while coughing on water. That whole thing just about sums up my experience in life so far. People just expect you to be "okay" in obviously dangerous situations.
Everyone expects so much of you. Yet, they simultaneously feel as if they owe you nothing in return. You must provide, you must defend, you need to be solid as a rock. And yet, you also need to know how to deal with people in the most respectful and submissive way otherwise you’re going to wind up as the bad guy.
In all situations, if you’re a man, you’ll never be the victim at first. If you are, shame on you because you weren’t strong enough. You’re responsible for everyone, but no one needs to worry about you. Two men fighting? Both stupid, violent men just doing toxic men things. The reason for the fight doesn’t matter, there are no victims.
And then there’s the obvious loneliness that comes with it all. No one really wants to be friends with you. I mean, as far as we know any man has something wrong with him or will commit some kind of crime, won’t he? It’s seemingly okay to discriminate against men because they can handle it like a man, can't they?
During my last relationship, I was treated very poorly. My ex proceeded to spread rumors that I was violent to hide the fact she's an unloyal person. I had to find out through her best friend messaging me asking me if it was true because I seemed like "the nicest person.” She wanted to know the truth. I explained and she was shocked. I was shocked. I didn't think she'd stoop lower than she had done already. I'm lucky no one took her seriously enough to contact the authorities.
I’m pretty young, but somehow, this still happens. I was playing with my sisters at the park and we were playing tag. At one point, this middle-aged lady comes up to my sisters to ask if they know me and how they know me. I went up to her and told her those were my sisters. She just gave me the stink eye, ignored me, and turned back to my sisters to keep interrogating them. It was only after my mom came to see what was going on that the lady left. By the way, I'm in middle school. I’ve been mistaken for being 11 years old, so I don't know what that lady thought I was doing.
I was 30, walking to pick up a Zip Car in Chicago. It was parked in a school parking lot. Some mother came up to me and started interrogating me, asking why I was on the property. She obviously didn’t want to hear what I had to say, though. Before I could even answer her, she flat out accused me of being a predator. I called ZipCar and told them maybe it was best if they didn’t lease spaces from public schools.
The fact that we’re seen as “potential predators” scares me. I never want to have to defend myself from such insane accusations, but being a male, alone, can sometimes be sketchy. Had my wife been with me, I’m sure I’d get zero questions. I could have been the father of a student picking them up. But the instant “he’s a threat” mentality hit me that day; before that I’d gone 30 years with no issues. Suddenly, I’m made to defend the fact I’m not trying to abduct a child just because I walked into a parking lot at 3:00 p.m. on a weekday.
My manager was a horrible, old-fashioned woman. I was having a particularly bad week, dealing with a few health issues (which I'm on top of now) and the loss of a close family friend. On Friday, I had several berating calls within an hour. I simply asked if I could have my break early and a chat with my manager.
I got in the pod and basically told her I was really struggling and asked for some support. She basically went, "Oh, grow up. You're a grown man! Man up and get over it, it's not like it was a relative or anything." I quit the very next week on Monday. Looking back, I should have put in a formal complaint against her. But I just wanted to get out of there.
I am over 6’5” and can kind of come off as intimidating, but I'm really just a teddy bear. At my job, I have to walk through a dark alley in a downtown area to get to the parking lot. Lots of times, women walk back to go to their cars as well with my lumbering loner self walking behind them. I feel awkward and scared that they think I’m going to hurt or rob them. I’m just trying to get home!
I follow farther behind and always act as inconspicuous as possible, which probably makes me more suspicious. I also get on my phone like I’m texting or calling someone so they can hear I’m far behind them and not stalking them. Maybe it’s just my social awkwardness or the fact there is a lot of crime in our town, but I don’t want to be seen as a threat by people I would never hurt.
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My ex was very unkind to me. She went after me and I called the police on her. The police showed up and threatened to arrest me unless I let her take our toddler and leave. The double standards suck. She tells everyone I was at fault. She has a family member with her at every exchange of our son to protect her from me. My family and friends know she’s a liar. But, her family seems to have swallowed her lies completely.
I'm 29 and don't have a girlfriend. My fear isn't so much that I won’t find someone (there's always time for that), my fear is meeting someone I think is the right person, having kids and it doesn't turn out to be the case. As men, I think we need to talk more about the wounds people don't see instead of holding it in.
You're pretty much on your own. Less of your problems are taken seriously and you're seen as weak if you can't sort them out. You're also expected to throw yourself in harm's way at a moment's notice. Additionally, the courts look at you less favorably and so does a large portion of society. You're seen as a potential threat; I love kids but heaven forbid I smile at one in public. You're the one who has to be able to sort everything out, even if you sometimes feel like just curling up in a ball and crying.
Speaking on behalf of my husband here: the sheer expectation that he can shoulder everyone’s stress. If you’re a man with emotional intelligence, people will act like you’re both a rare unicorn. They act as if you must take that emotional intelligence and merge it with the “men can shoulder it all” mentality.
What this means for him is that he’s called on a lot more than other people. He’s utilized way too often by too many family members and friends who don’t make any emotional effort. He’s asked to manage everyone’s drama. He doesn’t, but the sheer expectation that he won’t burn out simply because he’s a man is hard to watch.
Your whole identity is wrapped up in your job. This was the case decades ago and is still prominent today. You weren't born to be a doctor, lawyer or entrepreneur? You must be some kind of loser. Your industry is laying people off? You're definitely a loser. It’s our fault for choosing the wrong major twenty years ago.
I don’t know about anyone else, but for me it’s that there’s no assumed support network for men. Too many men become isolated and lonely because they cannot share their emotions with any of their friends. Additionally, Government services will also put you right to the bottom of every list so don't become homeless.
I have a friend who is dealing with depression. Therapists don't seem to be working for him and he constantly just lets his family steamroll him. A few times a week, I remind him I'm here and even went to his home recently and hugged him tightly. My hope is one day he'll take me up on my badgering of kindness.
I was at a holiday party for the company my partner worked for at the time. As we sat around a large table, there were people who worked together and their partners who got dragged along. In order to get to know one another, someone had the bright idea to go around the table and tell everyone their worst fear.
When it was finally my turn, I said, "My greatest fear is being called upon to do something to save my family, and finding I'm not strong enough to accomplish it." I should've lied and said something stupid like the idiot across the table from me. Like, “Oh, yeah, Karen! Living in a landlocked state, it's totally normal to be scared of jellyfish.”
A girl sought me out for help in the AP class we were both in. I already took a human physiology class that was way harder than this, so I knew I could help. I shared quality study resources with the class, answered questions in the class group, and finished the exams quickest. So, everyone expected me to help and know everything.
Well, the girl who recruited my help paid me to break down the material for her. In the end, I helped her get an A on the final and felt good that I’d aided someone in surpassing their expectations. Well, she then accused me of only helping her because I was trying to seduce her. And that's why I don't help anymore.
#19 Nothing to Report
I teach at a high school with a lot of underprivileged kids. There are a few I'm very close with. One of the girls came to me after school to tell me she had gone through some serious trauma. I left my door open as I always do when alone with a student. But, when she started sobbing and went to hug me, of course, I hugged her back. There was a minute or two where she was crying on my shoulder as I held her. We had a long talk about her feelings, her value as a person, her rights. In the end, she said she felt a lot better just having someone to talk to about it. Another teacher reported me for it.
I'm in college, so I often go to the library or cafeteria late at night. It’s the most uncomfortable thing to walk back home to my dorm room when a girl in front of me is also walking there. I have to force myself to stop walking or really slow down because I never want the girl to feel uncomfortable. I'd imagine it's a lot more uncomfortable for the girl in front of me, but I’m truly terrified of being seen as creepy or as a stalker.
When your date picks a fight with some random guy in a bar and expects you to defend her triflin' butt. It happened to me. I walked up to the guy and calmly explained that I was just on a date, that I no longer care about her — considering the situation she just put me in — and told him I was out of there. He laughed, we bro-fived and I left. I have no idea what happened to her.
The loneliness of it. I've got a small, but very close-knit group of friends and family. But, even still I sometimes wonder why I'm so unlovable because I'm still single. People tell women all the time they don't need a man, but for guys, if you're single you're seen as a creep, weirdo or defective in some way.
As a patriarch, you’re financially responsible for your family. For most families in the United States, the man is the primary breadwinner. This means if you suffer a loss of income, your family suffers a loss of lifestyle. So, my advice is wait until you're older to have kids and make sure you spend time with your partner before you have kids to make sure you both fit together nicely. Violating this mistake personally cost me $80,000, five years of headaches and a foreclosure.
What irks me is immediately being seen as a predator simply for being a man near children. Whenever I see a child who might be lost, I need to remind myself not to help no matter how much I want to. I don’t want to be seen as a "strange man approaching child.” It honestly just looks too bad to too many people.
One day, while shopping with my wife, I noticed a small, upset child without her mother. Ignoring my usual restraint, I approached her to see if she was alright. All of a sudden, her mother emerged from behind a corner, called her over, and gave me a nasty look. I guarantee that had my wife been the one approaching this little girl, she would have been seen as "caring and motherly," not "an evil person who wants to snatch a small child."
All the double standards. We’re expected to respect women and their independence, but also expected to be the provider for my family. If I’m not, I’m seen as a lazy low life. We’re expected to fight in wars yet don't want to lose our lives any more than a woman. We’re expected to take pain, disappointment, and other things “like a man.”
And of course, the big one is that men can't even care for a child without being seen as a potential threat to their safety. I always feel so weird even taking my little girl to the bathroom and getting weird looks. Stuff like this just really gets to me a lot of the time. You really can't win in most situations.
I was in the army once. A girl came back to camp with four soldiers, did the deed with all of them, and went home. Her husband became suspicious and questioned her about it. To save face, she claimed that the soldiers attacked her. Four of my friends got arrested, questioned, and taken to court. They were found innocent, but that label sticks.
You have almost no control over what will happen to your kids if your partner wants to leave or make things up to get them taken from you. I don’t have children, but I’ve seen terrible things happen to friends who lost their kids and have read the stories online of men losing their children. A woman can do many terrible things, go to prison for them, and come back out with the possibility of seeing their kids. A woman can say a man is unfit to be a father, even if he’s a great dad, and just on word alone that man may never see his kids again.
Also, if a woman becomes pregnant and decides to have the child, the father can say he doesn't want kids, but will still have to pay for them after they’re born. My best friend’s ex-wife left him a month after she gave birth to their son. She just left the kid with him and ran off with some other guy. They’re divorced and she suddenly misses her son now. She can come see him whenever she wants. If my friend would have left his son with her, then decided to come back and see him, he would have to go through a legal process. I just think it's really messed up that men have no choice in the matter most of the time.
Laying next to your wife on the verge of a complete mental breakdown, but feeling that you cannot show it because she’ll lose respect for you or leave you. Knowing that society has no interest in men’s mental health, only that a man with mental illnesses can’t provide as well as a man without. Knowing that not a single person other than yourself can fix it. Knowing that as a man, you truly are on your own, regardless of what anyone else says.
Wanting to wear more diverse clothing, but then society scolds me for not complying with its standard for men's fashion. Or expressing emotion in healthy ways. It's terrifying not feeling like you can express emotion, slowly bottling it all up until it explodes sporadically. Seriously though, this societal standard makes it so that men are some of the most emotionally unstable people I know. Let a man cry, or laugh, or just feel.
There are just so many situations that society says you have to put yourself in danger because of your gender. Is someone yelling at you in a carpark? Yell back, wimp. Did someone push you? Push them back, wimp. Did that massive walking face-tat pinch your girlfriend? Better be ready for a fight, wimp. Depressed? Go for a run, wimp.
If I had to pick one, it would be being disposable. Men are the vast majority of the workplace, military, and mental passing, at 93%, 99%, and 4:1 respectively. Think about it. How many women do you see in a coal mine or on an oil rig? What about on the front lines, how many women do you see there? The answer is you don't. Women rarely enter these dangerous lines of work. This has been true since the beginning of humanity. If the tribe lost a few men while out hunting, no big deal, you could always have more kids. If the tribe lost a woman, that's one less birth giver to increase the population.
There's a reason the phrase "women and children first" exists. We are disposable. A few losses on our side isn't something anybody cares about. The only people to cry over will be a small ring of friends and family. When we’re out at night with our lady friends, we’re expected to keep them safe, disregarding any danger to our own well being. In short, society values a woman's life over a man's life. This terrifies me. When I fear for my life, I’m told that my fear is invalid, because "what does a man have to be afraid of?"
As a teacher, I actively remind myself to not touch students. Not even when I’m trying to comfort someone. I've known older, male colleagues who got the reputation destroyed just for things taken out of context when they touched a student in a completely normal situation. It has become a sort of automatism to never touch students. But, I always get reminded of this when I see a female colleague hugging a student to comfort them. It looks completely normal, but I would never do that.
I would have to say that for me, it’s getting random “excitement” in public places. I swear, every time I sleep on the bus, I wake up with a surprise no one wants to see. I’m not even having any naughty dreams! The last time I was literally studying for my exam in my sleep. Getting off the bus can be a real pain.
You're supposed to be "the man" when in presence of "weaker" people, (grandma, girlfriends, etc.) and I know that there are situations where I wouldn't be able to help at all. I don't know how to fight, so if I walked up to someone and started fighting, I'd 100% lose. But, my mind wanders to random scenarios sometimes.
For instance, I wonder what would happen if some guy in the street were to catcall my girlfriend. I know for a fact that I wouldn't be able to win, but I wouldn't let her to her own luck. If that was the case, what I'd have to do is throw myself into the situation to guarantee her safety, even if it costs my life. That is one of the scariest feelings.
The lack of feeling. I can't remember the last time I was excited about anything. That fluttering that you feel in your chest as well as your mind. I miss the passion of childhood. I miss thinking that something, anything mattered. Or, if it does matter, that I can do anything about it. I miss being able to connect with others and feel that shared sense of wonder, and excitement, and life. I miss connecting with anything in any meaningful way. I miss being alive.
Being rejected. Sometimes, if not most of the time, when girls ask out a guy, there will be a very high chance that he’ll say yes because at least a girl likes you. Whereas, if a guy asked out a girl there’s a very low chance they’ll say yes unless the girl likes that guy. All of this would be absolutely fine if the reaction by the people watching weren’t so stupid.
If a guy asks a girl out, most of the time, the bystanders will laugh at the guy, publicly embarrassing him and turning him into a shut-in. If a girl were to get rejected, completely different story. The bystanders will comfort the girl if she gets rejected and the guy will be named rude because he didn’t say yes.
The overwhelming feeling that my value as a human being is directly tied to my abilities. I'm disabled and last year was the sole income for my family of five when my dad lost his job. I worked a lot that year and ended up being six feet tall and 130 pounds. There is virtually no support for men's mental health.
It took six months to get into counseling, just to be told by the counselor that I wasn't welcome because she was uncomfortable with being a female therapist working with me. I wish people could see that we're not a threat. Especially those of us who look "rough." Life takes its toll on all of us differently, and nobody should be judged based on that.
I once had a little girl run up to me and wrap herself around my leg. I kneeled down to ask if she needed help or was lost. Some woman, I don't know if she was the mother, jerked her away from me, and gave me a real serious glare. That was the day that I learned that as a man, your intentions are always in question.
In other news, though, I've heard even worse stories from a few men. One guy once had the police called on him repeatedly because he took his lunch breaks in a picnic area of a public park. Seriously, the dude was just trying to get some vitamin D, but apparently he's a criminal simply because children exist.
Long story short, in our senior year of high school, my best friend lost his full ride scholarship and is still in prison because he left his ex on what would have been their two year anniversary. She got super upset with him when he wouldn’t take her back and ruined his life. He’s serving seven and a half years for something he didn’t do.
I had a reputation for being a good fighter in high school and college. Apparently, this attracted a couple of girls who loved the idea their boyfriend could kick people’s butt. I didn’t realize this until one of my girlfriends tried to start a fight with a gang member and seemed quite excited to watch me engage with him.
I sized up the situation and realized pretty quickly that there was a very good chance this guy had several friends who would be happy to help him fight me. So, I had to kind of grovel, allow this guy to cuss me out in front of everyone and embarrass me badly. I still think it was the right choice... I had no desire to get hurt for some dumb girl who started a fight over literally nothing. After I got humiliated, the girl had basically no interest in me anymore. That’s when I realized that having a reputation of being a good fighter is not so cool after all. I started changing who I wanted to be.
Wanting to flirt with women but never bothering to in case your advances are responded to in a way that makes you seem like a creep who’s violated their space. I’m an athletic, well-mannered guy and my female friends tell me I shouldn’t worry about it. But, I don’t think they really understand the reality of it.
A few things tend to really get on my nerves. First, as a man of 18 years, I do not know if I want to abstain until marriage. I get joked about all the time because I don’t want to walk up to girls at parties to hook up. Also, when boys gossip about things, girls just judge us when we do it, but they’re even worse.
When serious drama hits the fan, I’m the one that has to step up to deal with it. On a family level (even extended family) “the buck stops here.” I get scared like anyone else of facing potentially explosive situations, but I just have to swallow that down and proceed as if I’m Superman. It’s honestly quite frustrating.
Machismo. At multiple points in every man's life, he’s going to run into the one guy who feels like everything is a challenge. These types of people have a societal idea that anything that isn't aggressive or strong from a man is a weakness. This often leads to them being bullies or more prone to physical acts. I do believe culture and societal outlook play a huge part in this.
#45 Do We Matter?
It gets to me just how little we seem to matter. Legitimately, living as a man is one big lesson that you don't matter and no one cares. Any situation where there's a woman involved, she takes priority over you in a heartbeat. Boat sinking? Women and children to safety first. War happens? Men have to go and fight.
Having to make the first move when I'm shy. Having to pay for everything, though I'm not made of money. Having to show no emotion. A reduction in physical contact. Not being allowed to be positive or show love. You can’t be around kids or you’re a creep. Most importantly, I'm afraid of women using me for money and pretending to love me to use me. It's happened to me too many times and now I have trust issues.
Showing emotions makes you weak among men and popular among females while hiding those emotions makes you fit in with the men but never truly close to any females (unless they’re a significant other). I’m a very feminine male and split between whether I should just try to fit in or be myself. I’m not sure if I should be who I actually am or what society wants me to be.
I’m very paranoid about my every interaction with an even mildly attractive woman. If it's even remotely plausible that I was trying to get intimate, even if I know I wasn't, I'm terrified that she'll think I was. Then I'll worry that if it keeps happening, it’ll brand me as someone who won't stop trying to get with her.
So, I'll start to feel like a creep at best and a predator at the worst, even though I know I wasn't doing anything untoward. This results in me being just constantly terrified of women. People talk a lot about guys being clueless, but this is why I can't take a hint. I'm terrified of looking like a predator to someone I like.
The likelihood of never receiving affection for years or more at a time. I've read too many heartbreaking stories of men who receive zero affection once they've had kids and settled down. The only thing that keeps them going is work, the requirement to support their kids, or the beloved and trusty family dog.
I'm not, in any capacity, allowed to feel anything but joy. If I'm afraid people will say I’m not a man. If I'm angry and need to talk out my problems, people get afraid or defensive and I'm left alone. If I'm sad, I get gatekeepers. Like, I'm a human being with a full spectrum of emotions and I'm not allowed to show them.
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