Ever noticed that a small hug, words of affection is enough to bring ourselves out of some of our biggest despairs? However, given the narrative which has been set up that men are supposed to always put a strong front has stopped them fully express their emotions. Resultant of this situation always drive them to be devoid of a channel through which they can express their feelings-love, anger, happiness or when seeking out help. However, psychologist Shruti N came across a heartwarming incident involving two men involved in friendly banter and she raised that this, sadly, is so rare.
Today as I drove back home from work, I noticed two men (one must be in his early 40s and another in his late 30s) most likely coming back from work, standing at the junction of the very busy RTC X roads having an animated conversation. They were completely absorbed in speaking to each other, blissfully unaware of the world around them. As I continued to observe, one of them got so overwhelmed by affection for the other that he pulled that fellow’s cheeks and constantly patted them. I couldn’t help but smile seeing two “men” being so overtly affectionate with each other, which anyone would agree is definitely a rare sight especially in a country like India. I really felt very nice seeing them like that.
This experience left me with deep thought. The psychosocial pressures plaguing male farmers sucked into the patriarchal world which imposes stoicism and self-restraint when it comes to expressing how they feel has a direct consequence on their psychological well-being resulting in an incidence of suicides being exponentially more amongst them than that of women. Not only farmers, in general, but all men I notice also aren’t really comfortable demonstrating their affection because of the well established social reasons they have been conditioned and compelled to accept.
In fact, recently I had a client who was just unable to break the ice with her husband when it came to making him understand what affection is. As bizarre as it may sound, he constantly kept rattling off all what he bought for her and how he had planned to surprise her for her birthday by booking an apartment in her name and how she is still so dissatisfied with him.
Non-sexual physical contact is the most undervalued concept amongst us Indians. We are conditioned to believe it isn’t our culture to do so. It is appalling how most of us grew up being deprived of any form of affection from our families. In fact, I have also heard some people ridicule anyone needing such expressions of love as silly, sentimental, weak and soliciting constant validation.
Some of us who have become emotionally aware over time are trying to change the equations but I still observe (as a mental health professional and as a person in general) that we have a really long way to go. Priorities and constraints surrounding career, academics, lack of time, ego, physical distance etc., tend to leave most of us humans parched and longing for this basic need to feel connected with our loved ones.
It is about time we really put in an effort to change our perspective and not feel embarrassed, awkward or silly in seeking/expressing affection. It would be so wonderful if we can evolve into a world where we can hug, kiss, pat more often and also don’t hesitate to ask for affection when we need it without feeling awkward, especially men. The onus is also on us women to ensure the men in our lives don’t feel embarrassed to expose their emotionally vulnerable sides to us. Let us speak more openly and acknowledge the smallest efforts they make towards nurturing relationships. Let us consciously stop making sexist remarks like “Boys don’t cry”, “Men are supposed to be strong” etc.,
Let us embrace them with all our hearts.
Today as I drove back home from work, I noticed two men (one must be in his early 40s and another in his late 30s) most…
Story by: Shruti N
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