You don’t need to be a therapist to know that there is a ton of pressures and expectations wrapped up in what it means to be a man. The ‘strong and silent type’ might seem a bit 1950s but, for many men, the idea is still alive and well. I think that when phrases like ‘man up’ or ‘grow a pair’ are so common, it says something about how men are still expected to behave.
The more we learn about men and women, the fewer the differences appear to be. We both experience the same problems with difficult relationships, in our intimate relationships and with our families. We both feel the same hurt. But for many people words like ‘low self-esteem’ or ‘vulnerable’ still seem exclusively the province of women.
So, what happens when you don’t ask for help? For a lot of people, men and women, not talking about how you feel can make a bad situation worse, and take a fixable situation to the point of no return. The lack of trust in a relationship can be incredibly hurtful for both partners. More generally, refusing to admit to anything as ‘weak’ as unhappiness or self-doubt can have a major impact on your overall health, leading to depression and stress-related illnesses.
What can happen when you do ask for help? The good news is that things are changing. Men are just as likely as women to seek help. At The Spark 40% of callers to the Helpline and 54 % of people accessing the website are men. And despite many preconceptions, relationship counselling and marriage counselling can be a very down-to-earth experience, bringing a better understanding of how your relationship got into trouble and offering practical support towards moving forward. Many say that just talking to an impartial professional brings a sense of relief.
The Spark’s Relationship Helpline (0808 802 2088) offers immediate relationship support to anyone in Scotland; but if talking at all seems too hard, our free Webchat service might be an easier way to start. We all feel trapped by what society expects of us, but vulnerability isn’t the privilege of women, and asking for help might be the toughest and most manly thing you could do.