Introspections & Retrospections

To Love and To Be Loved As A Man

With the advent of the internet age, we’ve had a lot of articles giving various insights and enlightenments on how to love a woman. They talk alot about how to make a girl like you, how they should be treated, how they should be understood. Almost everything from a standpoint of how to please and make a woman feel loved: a veritable pedestal of romantic love, and man as the idealistic lover.

But how does a man really love? What does it mean “to love” for a guy? What does it take for a man to feel “loved”? What inspires us, motivates us to love— what makes our hearts tick-tock, what drives us crazy, and how do we show love yet [try to] remain manly?

One thing that the ladies should understand is that a man is most often (if not all the time) an oxymoron. And not just as a figure of speech, but in its literal meaning (or should I say, crude translation) as well! Oxy means sharp. And moron means, well, a stupid person. And yes, for all our wit and intelligence and wisdom and insight, we can be very, very stupid. Especially when it comes to love. So do bear with us on that.

Let’s face it— history is rife with its evidence: most of the world’s most creative pieces as well as the man’s most embarrassing (and/or hilarious) foolishness are connected (in one way or another) with love. Love that challenges the very foundations of a man’s values, principles, rationality and temperaments. Love that contradicts a man’s baser instincts, love that bends the impossible and improbable to his will. Love that incites a mutiny of thoughts, highjacking our will, enslaving our emotions to its whims.

Yet for the same reason, man is able to breakthrough against his perceived limitations because of love’s rambunctious nature and realize one’s potential beyond his own imagination. Love decries our assumptions and presumptions, wrestling with our preconceived notions and pressing us to take a more honest look at our own selves— the self which we have chained and painted over in order to be acceptable and pleasing to others.

It is therefore a wistful admission that most of us men are truly children when it comes to love. Like a child who had his first taste of candy, to a puppy who first heard of praise and felt a belly-rub, like a boy who first enjoyed admiration— men are quite shallow in terms of appeasement. Yet such shallowness is not without its own defect: we quickly develop a certain thirst for such attention, and this births to a cacophony of petulant demands or wishes. Without discipline, it can become self-centered, greedy and insatiable.

There is a popular saying that states: “First love never dies.” And in retrospection, there is a depth of truth in it. Not all of us may readily remember it, but we harbor an intense memory of how we first felt love— through our parents, our siblings, our relatives, our friends. Each interaction, each facet and form of love create an indelible abstract of definition in us which become a subconscious basis of our understanding and interpretation of love. This, in turn, determine the way we exercise and exhibit love— along with the flaws in our experiences.

Should we then excuse ourselves for our wants? Actually, no. Though it does help us in understanding why we have petty quarrels that originate from childish reasons. Rather, it is imperative for a man to take a serious look at himself and not merely allow himself to be tossed about by his passions like a piece of garbage in a flood. A man may be a victim of his circumstances, yet he can choose to be a hero of his story… which we all hope won’t be a tragic tale. And amusingly, our literature has more stories on love— even those of battles and wars.

The greatest conflicts, however, always exist inside a man’s heart. Not in his mind— arguments of logic are quite tame compared to the struggles of a man in love. No, the hardest struggle is between the man we want to be versus the child we truly are. And every child, as sweet as they can be, has their own tantrums and traumas.

Though I am not an expert, here are my personal observations and conclusions on how a man should love:

  • A man should love not with expectation, but with anticipation. A lot of a man’s frustrations about love is due to his many deluded and often unfair expectations from a woman— something we may blame to the perceived norms of society; but most often, it is an embarrassing reflection of our own hunger for worth. We expect women to treat us a certain way because we believe by that behavior or deed, we are affirmed. That by such, we are considered “worth the extra effort and/or attention”. That to them, we are worth more than the other guys. It is not to say that relationships should do away with certain expectations: they are after all a measure of one’s commitment. But when a man focuses on his rights in a relationship rather than the duties to a relationship, we regress from being a man into a mere child. For what defines a man is his desire for others’ goodwill: may it be in helping the family, protecting the home, defending the nation, preserving humanity. And such desire leads a man towards anticipation— a keen foresight which enables him to carefully tread his own past and evaluate the present in order to prepare for the future so that when it comes, he will be ready to respond with stolid faith and unwavering perspective. In this way, a man may anticipate problems with his partner yet will refuse to let it ruin their relationship— seeing beyond the urgent troubles and holding on to that bright ideal of wonderful old age. For a man who expects knows what may happen and tries to avert it, yet become embittered in his failure; but a man who anticipates knows what may happen and accepts its challenge— believing that his success or failure will still benefit him along the way.
  • A man should love not with regrets, but with reassurance. I guess nothing torments a man more than the pestering thoughts of what ifs and what could have beens. While such questions may help bring a man to an awareness of anticipation, an unguarded heart may only produce a sense of emotional paranoia. A man’s hidden regrets are like cancer to a seemingly healthy relationship; it either forces him to destructively push himself more than necessary in order to be loved, or it can warp his understanding and with tainted view consider almost everything with a hint of insecurity, malice or envy. For it is regret that nurtures fear in our relationships; it corrupts even our desire for goodwill, transforming it into an obsession. Our regrets drive us to a dissonant expression of love, a confusing ebb and flow of kindness against rudeness. It is not an easy task, but as a man— we need to learn to love with reassurance instead. For though we may never avoid having regrets, we can be reassured that our love will never be wasted, even when we have left broken pieces of our hearts with the undeserving, unworthy, or those who simply are unmeant to be. We should reassure ourselves in our immeasurable ability to love— to love beyond pain, to love beyond fears, to love beyond doubts. We should find reassurance that even if we fail, even if everything fails, our capability to love as well as our susceptibility to be loved shall be unchanged and unfazed.

How then should a man be loved? It doesn’t really matter— because at heart, every man remains a child after all. And by nature, everyone knows how a child should be loved. But kidding aside, I think I’ll just write about that on a separate blog soon.

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