Male Loneliness

baby-84639_640Recently, I was talking to some friends and we got on to the topic of male loneliness. It was interesting to note how we danced around our vulnerabilities as we spoke, but we spoke and it was good. That night the synchronicity happened. I was reading John O’ Donohue’s book, “Divine Beauty – The Invisible Embrace” and suddenly came across this:

“We begin in woman. To inherit the feminine is an invitation and challenge to each of us. For the little girl-child this inheritance begins with an instinctive, subconscious affirmation: this is what I have to become – what my mother is – I will become a woman. For the boy-child this inheritance gradually structures itself in to a negative: this is what I cannot become; though I have found form and dwelt within woman, it is impossible for me to become woman. This is perhaps where the silent lonesomeness of the masculine begins. The male child is thrown in to the aloneness of his identity. He must acquaint himself with distance. He has to journey outwards, across space to find the father, to learn the presence and art of becoming a man.”

These words touched me and gave me a lot to think about. I also began to wonder more deeply about the devastating impact of the absent father syndrome on the loneliness of this journey.

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About Don

I love life. Sometimes it makes sense, other times not. Discerning its underlying patterns and beauty always provides great reward and meaning and is a passion I ineptly follow. I feel deeply attached to nature and love the sea with its distinct moods and colour and find walking along its beaches wonderfully inspiring. Writing, sketching and photography is a sheer joy for me and the blog is one of the places I am able to express these pursuits.
This entry was posted in Differences between men and women, Identity, inspiration, Life, Male and Female responses, Men and Women, Relationships, Spirituality, Transformation and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

46 Responses to Male Loneliness

  1. Wow, Don. Very interesting point you have brought forward. Thanks for opening my eyes (and my heart) a bit wider.

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  2. Beautiful, beautiful quote, Don.

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    • Don says:

      Thank you. So glad you found it meaningful.

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      • This is one of my favourite websites: http://www.masculinity-movies.com/
        and I have recently reread a book King, Warrior, Magician, Lover: The Four Archetypes of the Mature Masculine by Robert Moore and Douglas Gillette. I think that if we speak of the return of the feminine, we must also give the masculine its proper place.

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      • Don says:

        Thanks so much for the link and the details of the book. The Website is outstanding and will certainly become a regular visit for me. I read the interpretation of masculinity as it is portrayed in the movie Gladiator – just superb. A lot of exciting reading there. I’ve also looked at some of the reviews on the book you mentioned. Looks very good. Really appreciate the information.

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      • Further to Don’s appreciative reply, add my thanks also for sharing a thoughtful and informative website.

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  3. Healthy A-Z says:

    A new perspective that touches me deeply. Awareness can create powerful change. This will forever be a part of me now.

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    • Don says:

      I admire you for your wonderful openness. As you say, awareness is such a profound gift. Like you, the insight has also enhanced my understanding and forms part of my perspective. Thank you for your comment

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  4. Makes sense to me. Im somewhat of a burly rough character, enjoy being tough … So it seems … I envy Woman how freely they can explore the soft fabric of life. How hard this is for everyone looks to me for inspiration to toughen themselves. Yet instead of the edge of a blade I would rather be a white dove in the air. but there is hope … giants are allowed to be gentle … And in this mode of human approval the man can explore his flowers.

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  5. I find that absolutely fascinating, given that I had two sons and two daughters. It has certainly made me think about the male psyche with another viewpoint.
    Your thoughts and the quotation have set me thinking too about the roles of women in some societies and that women are sometimes despised/feared by men. I am reading a novel set in Afghanistan and about the lives of five very different women. I shall be thinking about all this for some time.

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    • Don says:

      I wonder to what extent that despising and fear you speak about has much to do with the inability in many men to be able to integrate the feminine. The alienation and space is so great that the feminine becomes an enemy. Thanks for your comment Sally. Enjoy the book.

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  6. I have many wishes for mankind, a few that are unique to the male gender. One of them is a wish that we would (note: not could) openly embrace our vulnerable self and be who we authentically are. I’ve had similar conversations and extended exchanges with less than a handful of male friends. And they are permanently etched in my grateful heart. The quote is magnificent, Don. Thank you for sharing it along with your warm perspective.

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    • Don says:

      Glad you enjoyed the quote Eric. I’m with you in your wish for the male gender. So much in life that litigates against the male embracing his vulnerable self. It takes a lot of courage and I have a deep respect for those who do. Thanks for a great comment.

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  7. ptero9 says:

    Hi Don, followed you over here from Monika’s blog. Lovely post and blog. Great topic too. Having been a fan of James Hillman, Michael Meade and Robert Bly (all of whom were involved in the “Men’s Movement” back in the 80’s and 90’s in the US) for a long time, the topic of how girls become women and boys become men fascinates me. Since early childhood I have had a very smeary sense of identity, which I found later to be in large part a reaction to my not wanting to be like my mother. Once it’s on the table, and I was able to differentiate myself from her, I stopped resisting my feminine nature and have come to appreciate the many wonderful gifts of being a woman.
    I do agree though that men, perhaps even in the best of circumstances have more difficulty crossing the threshhold of boyhood to becoming a man. Michael Meade has written extensively about initiation rites in different cultures and to this day works with at-risk-youth, believing that men in our modern society suffer very much from the lack of these old ways of being welcomed by the elders into the society of men, especially because modern culture has been very sensitive to include more of the feminine into the world.
    I know somewhere there is a balance and believe we are now in a position to find it.
    Thank you for sharing your insights here!
    Debra

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    • Don says:

      Hi Debra. Thank you for your meaningful comment and your affirmation of the blog. I really do appreciate it. I like the way you’ve put another slant on it in that your journey was not wanting to become like your mother. Thank you for sharing that. May I celebrate with you in having made that tough journey to the point where you are now appreciating and affirming the gifts of being a woman. I think that’s wonderful. I often think that, because of what was said in the post, women have a far more difficult time in differentiating from their mothers. That’s not to say that men don’t at times have that problem, but it seems to me that it is more prominent in women. Hope it doesn’t sound like stereotyping – perhaps I’m wrong – just a feeling I have.

      Yes, I like what you say about Michael Meade on initiation rites and you make such a good point of us now being in a good position to find the balance. The difficulty is always having to redefine these rites because too often they seek to instil a form of masculinity which is not helpful, even destructive in many cases. We have this problem in our own country which tends to be highly patriarchal.

      Again, thank you for your comment and your likes. so appreciate them.

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  8. josna says:

    Beautiful post (with beautifully tender accompanying photo), and as always with your posts, one that provokes reflection. While I can see that a man may feel more alone in the terms that you describe, I would tend to think that this loneliness is part of the human condition. As the baby loses that early feeling of oneness with its mother, it starts to feel insecure and profoundly alone. As the person becomes an adult, that feeling feeds on itself and the culture promotes a cult of individuality which makes a person feel even more deficient. While it may be up to each of us to make what we will of our lives in a seemingly indifferent universe, I would suggest that as we grow up and become more and more individuated,we lose sight of the truth of our interconnectedness, our “we-ness.” In truth we need never feel alone.
    But back down to the man feeling particularly alone, in a competitive society and one in which gender roles dictate what it is to be a “real” woman, women too may feel excluded from the maternal. A woman who cannot conceive for example, or in other respects does not fit in with the gender norms, is also shut out from that maternal embrace.
    I think of the song, “Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless Child”: surely we’ve all felt that way?

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    • Don says:

      Thoroughly enjoyed your response Josna. Individuation is a lonely process, and as you say, knows no gender.I suppose it has to be by it’s very nature. Differentiation is not easy. But I like what you say about the culture of individuality and how it tends to tip the scales and take us in to unnecessary halls of loneliness. I like the examples you give of how women too can experience loneliness. Once again, Josna, thank you for such a challenging and extensive comment. Always enjoy them..

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  9. ladyfi says:

    A thought-provoking piece. I’ll have to drink some coffee first and then think about it.

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  10. katy says:

    Life, emotions, fears, feelings. This life can be a struggle can,t it? We can pretend we have it all together but underneath we all have the
    same fears. – Don,t quite know why we find it so hard to open up and “spill the beans”

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    • Don says:

      So much easier Katy to open up, hey? There’s a freedom in that. I suppose one has to be careful where you “spill the beans.” Spilling them in the wrong place can bring a lot of pain and anguish. Thanks Katy.

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  11. Terry says:

    Beautiful peace Don, so thought provoking – thank you for a completely different perspective on masculine loneliness – and here I was thinking it was only once ones long time partner had passed away. I am so glad I am back to reading your posts – and will go back and read the ones I missed. As someone said above, worth a ponder over a cuppa and even a discussion or two with my two girls – Donne my oldest being pregnant now will certainly add to our discussion.

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    • Don says:

      Thank you Terry. I’m so pleased it has offered a different perspective. I suppose gaining different perspectives is what life is all about. Wow! How time flies. Hard to believe that you have a daughter who is now pregnant. Hope you have a great discussion and thank you for dropping by again. Always good to hear from you.

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  12. darrelhoff says:

    wow Don this is heavy. yet so true. 🙂 we must have a catch up soon. i need to plan a trip to Toti sometime.

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  13. Hudson Howl says:

    I can agree with, even embraces ‘We begin in woman’, everything thereafter befuddles me. I’ll leave this one alone for the big brains; that is not to say I have not tackled it on occasion. The comments are interesting and I my stumble back here once I have had to time mull it over.

    Big GRUNT on the post Don, its a bit of a pot stir’r, to which I am fond of.

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  14. Dianne says:

    HI all
    This is indeed and interesting idea on the development of self-identity and has many implications. A study on women as national leaders found that, in the same way as many forceful male political figures have had strong identification with their mothers, so too have most women leaders had very strong bonds with their fathers.

    But this is very ‘head’ orientated.

    Moving toward the ‘heart’, and self-esteem. There is much that can be said about women, created in the image of God, having only a God perceived primarily in male terms as a ‘reference point’, and the implications of this. The Catholic church’s emphasis on Mary has been seen to provide some kind of ‘balance’ but Protestant churches only speak of Mary at Easter.

    Forgive me if this sounds confrontational or changing ‘the thread’ – it is not my intention. I just find the ideas on the development of self-identity very interesting.

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    • Don says:

      Dianne, it doesn’t sound confrontational at all. You make a real point. I was unaware of the study you made reference to in your first paragraph. I find that extremely interesting. It’s been my experience (limited let me say) that males who have had an over identification with their mothers have struggled in their lives to express assertiveness. So what you say here really interests me.

      There certainly is much to be said about women and masculine perceptions of god. May I be so bold as to say that I think many women are on profound journeys of differentiation from these masculine perceptions of the divine. Isn’t it strange how after what you said about the Catholic church and the role of Mary, it still remains so unbalanced when it comes to gender.

      Having said all this I’m convinced that growth in to wholeness always requires both Feminine and Masculine. This interconnection, or dance between the two lies at the heart of life. Thank you so much for your challenging comment.

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  15. cindy knoke says:

    So intuitively brilliant. Kudos~

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  16. Don, you are both wise and perceptive to ponder the impact of an absent dad on a son. Studies have been done on this very subject. Most (almost all) men in prison had absent or abusive fathers. The high percentage negates the potential for any other more significant cause…

    Blessings ~ Wendy

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    • Don says:

      What you say, Wendy, is both enlightening and of deep concern. So very sad. I suppose we’d never be able to assess the impact of this on our communities.Thank you for your comment.

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  17. Amazing excerpt, Don.
    I’ve heard the same basic sentiments expressed before, but never in this remarkable, touching way.
    Thank you for sharing this.

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  18. Dani Lynn says:

    Wow. Thank you for sharing. That’s very beautiful.

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