A Perspective Against “Manning Up”

Tuesday, Dec. 27th 2011 11:08 AM

Has anyone ever told you to “grow up,” “be a man,” “be a woman” – or made some other comment meant to make you behave as he/she believes is best for you? These are clearly subjective phrases. What it means to be a man or woman varies greatly, depending on the speaker. In fact, I have uttered these judgmental phrases along my journey and can easily admit that I was being manipulative each time.

I recently had an intriguing conversation with John, who is in a long-distance relationship with a woman he loves. He noted that he has been “busted” a few times over the years for carrying on sexual relationships with other women. But, to be fair, he told her that he would understand if she wanted to see other people, to which she responded, “When are you going to grow up? You are over 30 years old now. It’s time for you to settle down.”

Regular Frank Love readers know that I am all for making decisions based on what you feel is best for you – even when you are in a relationship. Poet Thaddeus Honeycutt, in Coming Outa Darkness seems to agree. He writes:

When folk love

each other,

They don’t expect to

get their feelings

hurt.

But when you accept

someone,

You see what they are,

how they are,

And what they do

makes you

feel good sometime,

And other times

it hurts.

But you accept them

because you know

that if they

did what you thought

should be done,

or act the way you,

think they

should act,

they would not be

themselves,

they’d be you…

I couldn’t have put it better myself! It’s fascinating how we appreciate our mates being themselves enough to partner with them. But once we are in relationships, when they do something we don’t like, they become “selfish” or “immature,” and we believe they need to “man up” (or “woman up”) or any other accusations that will guilt them into doing what we prefer. It often works, because few things hurt worse than having our manhood challenged?

The real challenge is accepting our partners for who they are and what they want, even when what we want is at stake. Remember, the second step to being a Powerful Person in a Partnership is: Don’t take away your partner’s power.

If you are getting a guilt trip of this variety from your mate or from other people in your life, it’s worth considering what they have to say. After all, all feedback is valuable. But remember that they have their own motivations, and ultimately you must determine the best way to conduct yourself. You are the one that will have to live with it.

You may decide that the behavioral or lifestyle adjustments they suggest are what is best for you. Sometimes we have to strike a balance between what we want and what the people in our lives want from us – particularly if we value our relationships with them more than our own desires. However, you are the only one who can make that call. No one else can determine what you should value in life or how you should behave in order to be a man or a woman. Be the man or woman you want to be.

So, John, there is no shame in wanting to date or have sexual relationships with more than one woman at the same time … as long as you have determined this is what is best for you. Tell your partner what you want, proudly. The question is: Does she want you, or does she want the person she would prefer you to be? If she can’t accept you for who you are – something we all want from our partners – you may also consider whether you really want her. I promise you that if she doesn’t want you, another woman will.

And if you enjoyed Honeycutt’s poem as much as I did, you can find the complete version, and other excerpts from the forthcoming book, Coming Outa Darkness, online at the Weirding Word® Publishing House.

Keep Rising,

Frank Love

www.FrankLove.com

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Leave a Comment: Let Us Know Your Thoughts

How to Gracefully Exit a Relationship

13 Comments on “A Perspective Against “Manning Up””

  1. Ms.XiXi Says:

    I disagree Mr Love. If we were supposed to look and act the same gender-wise, we would be a race of one, with androgynous parts. And if we all just did whatever we wanted, society would be pure chaos. Rules, values, standards, they’re all a necessary part of our healthy socialization process and existence. Some women need to act a little more like ladies and not little girls and some men need to man up and get out of mama’s boy mode.

    Yes, I’m a woman. And I will tell a man who wants to go from his parents house to his “girlfriends” house that he needs to man up and try being independent without any woman around to coddle him through life. Especially if he is in his 30s or even worse, pushin 40. Third world country speaking, a man may move in with his American based wife and it could be that in his developing country there was really not enough income to live a single life – that’s undestandable. But I’m not talking about those guys. Because those guys are taking their manliness to the next level and are trying to be husbands and fathers. I’m talking about the 38 year old who is still at home in his old bedroom playing nintendo or Xbox games, having mom’s call him for dinner, except on the days he decides to eat out. That dude needs to man up! The dude who has never lived a full year on his own – living in the dorm in college doesn’t count. That dude needs to man up! It’s not a manipulation. If he can’t pull his own leadership weight in the relationship, then guess who will be doing it mos-of to all-of the time? Yup. The woman. And that is not cool.

  2. Diane Tomkin Says:

    I agree you and with Ms XiXi as well. There are times we have to take constructive criticism from people who care about us because sometimes we’re so immersed in ourselves and just cant’s see the forest through the trees. But there are however, individuals in our lives, who are so insecure about themselves and the criticism is in fact manipulation or even jealousy for our own independence. The key to all of this is finding the balance. Thank yuo. Great article

  3. Joan Says:

    Amazing you brought up this topic in my new book (in progress) The Disappearing Male, I discuss the “baby husband” or the “baby father” e.g., dead beat dads or passive aggressive men who always coerce their partners in the parent/child dyad.

    Thank you bringing this up would like more discussion on this topic.

    Happy Holiday!

  4. Mary Says:

    While there may a bit of truth to Honeycutt’s poem, I think it is meant more for the ‘young of heart’. Any adult who is mature enough to see a relationship for what it truly is, should be quite aware that they will get their ‘feelings hurt’ from time to time and, realize the each person is unique with their own perspective, desires, and needs.

    I too have been guilty of using the terms “Man Up” or “Woman Up” and, at the risk of sounding judgemental, I use these more in sync with saying “Get with the program,” or truly, “Grow Up”. If there is an individual who is 30 years old, still living at home or letting mom and dad pay their bills, etc. then yes, they need to Man/Woman Up! Naturally, one needs an enabler to do this but, it is also very manipulative as children know their parents do not want to see their children ‘suffer’. This is what has brought us a generation of those who feel entitled.

    As for “John” and what is good for him…in this day and age is having several sexual partners truly in John’s best interest? In my opinion, his girlfriend needs to move on because she certainly deserves to have a partner who can manage to be exculsive and not put her at risk.

  5. Seriously? Says:

    To me, “Man up” simply means be honest then choose. John clearly is not ” manning up” because he is unable to say out loud what he truly wants and is probably telling his partner that he wants what she wants. His partner is not “womanning up” because John is showing her what he wants and she chooses to hope for something different. Manipulation at its best. What she is really doing is condoning his behavior and subliminally telling herself that she is not worthy or too insecure to have the relationship she claims she wants. The truth is, she is actually in the exact relationship she wants. Not only is John putting her at risk, but she too puts herself at risk when she lies to herself. They both should be honest with themselves and in turn to each other and then the relationship can have a new ending and possibly a new beginning. As far as a man who lives with his parents and plays Xbox all day…there are plenty of women who will sit in his room with the Right On posters taped to the wall and give that brother plenty of “play”. If I were one of those guys, I would have no need to “man up”. Why should they?

  6. Clinton Says:

    Frank I would agree with you up to a point. Manning Up I believe has more to do with a man standing up and taking his role and responsibility to his family, community and above all to God seriously. So serious that he’s willing to own up to his failures, be steadfast and unmoveable in his true convictions and be a man of his WORD. Lead by example. Love hard, work hard and play less. Living everyday with a desire to leave this world in a better shape then when he got here.

  7. BigWillie Says:

    Did I just read the same article, as the rest of you? This article has nothing to do with X-box or grown men living with their mothers or men from turd-world contries. In fact, it doesn’t even have anything to do with John and his long distance relationship (probably a ficticious person and definitly a poor example). This article is about communication, compromise and values, in a marrital relationship. If you notice, the writer uses the words “mate” and “partner”. He is speaking toward improving the climate of “healthy” relationships, not immature, or perverted ones. I think that the only mistake, in this article, is the mention of John, and his crazy relationship (probably not even real). I suggest taking that part out and then reading the article again.

    Marriage can be very difficult. My wife and I have both done this to each other, and its rarely a case of her not being a “real woman” or me not being a “real man”. Its almost always, simply, that one of us isn’t conducting themself the way the other would like. The writer is simply saying that we shouldn’t allow ourselves to become either “emotionaly injured” or manipulated, as a result. He is saying that when that happens, your spouse is communicating somthing to you (although in a hurtful way). He is also saying that you should listen, and then decide whether or not to change your behavior, based on YOUR values. He then goes on to say that one of YOUR values may be to accommodate or please your spouse and family. In which case, you may change your behavior, even though it isn’t your preference.

    I think it is a healthy article that has been ruined with this crap about “John”, his swinger lifestyle and his wimpy girlfriend.

  8. Derrick Says:

    Frank, I have to say that on the surface, I wholly disagree with the ETHICS you promote (e.g. “I am all for making decisions based on what you feel is best for you,” for example) and the unacccontability and consideration for real adult behavior and adult choice-making patterns necessary for living life peacefully, successfully and responsibly.

    You are promoting “situational ethics,” which really is a self-centered, top-down, methodology for engaging in life and relationships and I do not endorse, condone nor accept any of the premises stated in your blog post.

    There is such a thing as “adult behavior” and “growing up,” and I cannot for the life of me understand how anyone can ignore this standard for life and relationships.

  9. Joan Says:

    Wow! Derrick sounds like a real man a no nonsense guy. Here is our model of “manning up.”

  10. Derrick Says:

    Joan, if you have some substantial disagreements with what I said and can demonstrate I am genuinely wrong, I will entertain that discussion.

  11. Ms.XiXi Says:

    I think Joan was complimenting you Derrick.

  12. Carroll Says:

    I was always told not to be so analytical” and not to be so idealistic. But that is who I was, and I am. I think it is a form of verbal violence to tell someone else their feelings are unacceptable.

  13. The Silverback Says:

    I wish I had responded to this in 2011. Folks, let this be the year of forward thinking. Frank, you slipped and fell yet again. Your perspective is destroying the fabric of the Alpha male and all for which we stand. What makes John less than a man is simple. He claims to be a relationship builder when he is still in “hunting mode”. Fact: he is not mature enough for a relationship. All people do not mature at the same time and that is ok. Additionally, if you live long enough, you will be disappointed(kind of like I am with this topic).
    The real immaturity lies in thinking that one is above receiving constructive criticism and seeing it as judgment. Frank, every time I read one of your warped perspectives, I am concerned. What man to you know that does things based on what he feels? What woman do you know that wants to be married to that man? Feelings are not synonymous to leadership Frank. The last time I checked, one of the qualities a woman wants in a man(at least sometimes) is the ability to lead and make decisions. Emotions and feelings cloud one’s judgment and though they have value, they MUST be kept in check! So now I know why you see things the way you do Frank. Your, “feelings and emotions” have clouded your perception to the highest degree. Your Alpha Male card, if you ever had one, has just been revoked!

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