I’m a poet and am a very sensitive male. My female friends, and even past girlfriends when they first met me, complain that there aren’t many sensitive men and yet, I feel like they (or at least my exes) don’t actually like being with a sensitive man. Namely me when I’m feeling “sensitive” or emotional. What is going on here?

–Wondering What It Means, Really, to be a Man (United States)


This is an interesting question. You are witnessing the disparity between what people say they want (or think they want) versus what they actually want. This discrepancy lies in the stereotypical pictures of what a man should be. Sometimes people say they are looking for a sensitive man who feels and expresses emotions, but they can’t handle the reality of that, which truly does men (and women) a disservice. As a culture, our society tends to punish boys and men for crying or being too emotional, and then when some males accordingly shut down their emotions and expression of these emotions in response, how can they be expected to easily break through a lifetime of rigid and unrealistic social programming?

The reality is that all of us—men and women—run both male and female energies. Each individual may run different proportions of the male and female energies, which can fluctuate in each moment as well. To try to categorize any person and make them fit strictly into rigid gender roles is both ridiculous and impossible.

Just keep being the sensitive and emotional man that you are. And when women who say they want a sensitive man complain when you’re sensitive, just laugh and ask them, “Isn’t that what you said you’re looking for?” That will help them confront their own issues or pictures around what a man should be like and help them see the discrepancies between what they say they want and their responses to what they said they want in a light-hearted but very clear way.

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