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Why Big Boys Don’t Cry Or Get Massages

June 15, 2021

I was recently moved by a tragedy in our local community that prompted me to reflect on the mental health of modern men. Why is it that men today seem to experience more mental stress than women? It’s most always a man behind the latest breaking news tragedy. Has it always been like this? What is it that’s driving men to commit such painful acts that women seem to be able to avoid? 

Over the years working as a massage therapist, I’d regularly hear my female clients tell me how difficult it is to get their husbands to come get a massage, even though they need one. More men come in to buy gift cards for their significant others than actually receive a massage themselves. Sadly, men make up only 15% of our massage clients. This is a reflection of the state of men’s conditioning. 

My own husband, whom I’ve been with for ten years, has still refused to book a facial! I have to chase him around the house after every shower to moisturize his face. It seems like  men have difficulty with self care. That is sad to me, because self care for  me is essential for my well being and state of mind.

What has been told to young boys to condition them to neglect self-care? I think they have the idea that self care is girly..(well, my husband told me this). Boys on the playground can be overheard saying “you run like a girl” “Don’t be a sissy” and have been told  “big boys don’t cry”... so it seems they need to avoid being girly...and they can’t be weak. I asked my husband if he thought girls are weak...he said “No way” (good answer, honey). I think it all boils down to the notion that weakness is unacceptable for boys and men and self care means weakness and being in a vulnerable (weak) position. 

With unrealistic expectations placed on men from Hollywood and society, it’s no wonder why men think they need to be stoic, heroic and dominant. They are expected to be the provider and defender of all, strong and not be vulnerable. This constant state of ignoring emotions builds up pressure that can ultimately become toxic. 

When men experience weakness, they can also experience shame and feel like they are letting  someone down, so they avoid weakness at all costs. It’s true about men and not asking for directions - that they’re afraid of looking like they are lost. Being vulnerable is seen as weakness to men, it’s having your guard down. 

However, vulnerability is anything but weak. Characteristics that are usually defined as weaknesses are actually part of the whole healthy man. Vulnerability in particular is a strong emotional connection skill that requires bravery and courage. It helps us build deeper, stronger relationships and bonds. 

We have been taking the tools away from men to connect to other people, to ask for help.. If men are going to connect with anyone in a meaningful way, vulnerability is essential. We need to recognize that vulnerability is an emotional tool and it isn’t weak at all.

Getting a massage is also an emotional tool. It offers a way for us to reconnect with our bodies and release all of the tensions we may be holding in them. It doesn’t matter what body you were born with, stress and tension is a universal experience - everybody needs a massage. Vulnerability is a prerequisite to relaxation on the table and for this reason, many men are reluctant to get on the table. 

On the opposite spectrum, women tend to be very comfortable with receiving massages. Women tend to be more nurturing and empathetic and understand that vulnerability is healthy. It’s through women introducing a habit of self-care to men that will help men feel more comfortable in their skin and release any trapped emotions or pressure they may be feeling. 

When my clients tell me their husbands need a massage, sometimes the best course of action is to book it for them. A little push from their loved ones is sometimes all it takes to introduce men to the wonderful world of personal care. The truth is, some guy’s are just too stubborn to book it on their own.

-Julie


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