The Male Bravado Syndrome…

Male bravado is a trait I used to be attracted to in another. Having grown up with a father figure who was mentally and emotionally absent and unstable far too often, I repeatedly found myself drawn through much of my childhood and most of my adulthood to males who exuded this trait that I erroneously thought to be a strong trait of masculinity. I find myself being turned off to that trait now though, as most men I know who exude it, have no idea how to truly be empathetic and intimate in non-sexual ways with another male, something I truly desire in my life these days.

Men often struggle showing compassion, empathy, and intimacy with other males because their raised to show it’s a sign of weakness. For plenty of male individuals I’ve sponsored over the years in the 12 Step world of recovery from addiction, most had absentee fathers and had to learn how to grow up and take care of themselves all on their own and became hardened in the process. Hardened in the sense that when any male came into their lives outside of maybe their own children, who were struggling with anything and just wanted some love and compassion, their response was always to essentially get over it, because it’s what they had to learn to do to grow up quickly and be the man in their household. The notion of showing compassion, hugging another male, offering supportive words was so completely foreign to them, that it wasn’t even in their makeup.

For much of my life, I honestly believed men like this were alluring, but the more work I’ve done on myself, the more I’ve seen it was only alluring because it’s only what I knew as a kid. Unfortunately, my father’s mental health issues and addiction issues often caused me to feel a strong distance between the two of us, so I never quite learned the love and support from another male. This in turn led me to seek peers in grammar school and friends and partners later in life who acted just like him, never feeling all too supportive on an empathetic level.

When I first began dealing with my sexuality, instead of seeking someone who was willing to offer me strong unconditional love and compassion, I sought those bad boys, closeted men, and men who had no idea how to be close to another man, because all in all, it was the only comfortable pattern I knew with men given I learned in with my absentee father.

Today, I’m finding myself more drawn to individuals who have gotten in touch with their feminine side and have a greater balance with both their feminine and masculine parts of themselves. Because it’s men like that who have developed the exact opposite of male bravado, who know how to be close to another male, and express a depth in intimacy that has nothing to do with sex whatsoever.

It’s ironic how one of my closest friends today was also someone I once dated back in 1995, who I passed up the chance to be with back then, all because of how much they were in touch with their feminine side. A male having this trait truly scared me back then, because I had never had any male figure in my life who had demonstrated it with me. I’m thankful to say this doesn’t scare me anymore and I’ve worked hard to be in touch with both my masculine and feminine side as well. I know how to offer compassion now to others deeply struggling in their lives, to hold their hands and show my true love and support, especially when they’re feeling broken.

People who struggle with this male bravado syndrome don’t know how to do this with others and quite often instead will judge when males are seeking compassion, as only being needy and living in self-pity. The irony in this I’ve discovered over the years working on this is that the very thing they’re truly seeking within is the very thing they’re constantly judging in their minds as weak and pushing away in the process. I know this because I once did it myself, that is until I saw it really wasn’t weak at all, it was someone being strong all along…

Peace, love, light, and joy,
Andrew Arthur Dawson