For the longest time of my early recovery I wanted someone to love. I do not mean just to have sex with. My heart longed for connection. And I never thought I would find it. Once I started actually dating then I not only thought I would never find love but that, even if I was able to find it, I would ruin it. Somehow. Of course, I would not admit this to other men. I would do what we all did – just talk about getting laid or talk around the fear and insecurity without truly addressing it. Why do we diminish our desire for love and connection so often? Why do we avoid the hard conversations?
The Man Rules™ imply it is unmanly to admit that we value our relationships and want to connect with others, or that, God forbid, we need others in our lives. Yet there is an incredibly rich and rapidly growing chorus of scientists, psychologists, quantum physicists, sociologists, and others who are finding irrefutable evidence for how human beings are intended to connect to one another; that we are all wired for connection.
For years now, certain putative relationship experts have been calling men on the carpet on national TV and in best sellers for how we act in our relationships and our overall lack of relational competence. But what I almost never see is these folks looking at the man and saying, “You know, Dan, I understand that nobody sat you down and told you how to do these things. I understand that you are doing everything you have been taught to do. I believe there is a part of you that really wants to do things differently.” No, they are happy to put on a show, shaming these men, and playing to the anger and hurt of the women in the audience, with little true respect for either the men or the women. Rarely have I seen a genuine compassion and love in these so-called relationship experts’ diatribes against men. Why is that? It is a lot easier to complain about men’s disengagement from our relationships than it is to attempt to understand where it comes from and what else might be going on.
My work is all about how we find the tools to create healthy relationships when very few of us were given the tools we needed to succeed. Part of the Water is not seeing how men have ended up with these relationship challenges but rather judging men’s difficulty in relationships as an inherent – and even insuperable – deficit. God knows I will not win any awards for the relationships I work my ass off to foster and grow. I will never do it perfectly and the Man Rules can still often rule the moment for me – and maybe even the day sometimes. But I will never stop trying because I believe that the love I have experienced is what life is all about. I believe in that journey I will become the best man that I could ever be.