The #MeToo movement caught fire nation-wide with stories of high-profile men accused of violent crimes. Harvey Weinstein quickly became the poster villain, with big names in the entertainment industry to follow. The revolution then spread through every industry as stories unearthed about abusers in organizations of all sizes, in all corners of the country. Now, with increased exposure, the conversation has shifted from household names tied to violent offenses towards the everyday woman and her experiences in the workplace. These conversations have opened even more doors to shed light on abuse women face in every aspect of life, from work to dating.
While Harvey Weinstein’s offenses sparked national outrage from men and women alike, the accusations against Aziz Ansari generated split reactions. The setting was familiar to men and women of all ages - a dinner date followed by a retreat back to the man’s home. And what unfolded felt familiar as well - an awkward first sexual encounter fueled by alcohol. But, the story sounded familiar to people for different reasons. Some men pictured a scenario where their date eagerly and voluntarily came over post-dinner for a nightcap and consensually participated in sexual activity. Others saw themselves in the woman’s shoes - as someone who found themselves pressured, coerced, unheard, disrespected, and treated like an object. So how can one story that seems so commonplace create two starkly different interpretations?
This is where the #MeToo movement becomes more relevant to each of us. Thankfully, most of us will not commit or experience rape; yet, most of us will find ourselves on a date at some point in our lifetime. The movement has prompted dialogue about the more nuanced situations and questions that arise in dating culture. Where’s the line between exhuding dominance and manipulating someone? What happens when our date tells us they feel disrespected, hurt, or even abused?
These are just some of the questions men are working through in a #MeToo world. I see clients struggle with realizations that they’ve caused someone discomfort or pain, physically or emotionally. For some, it’s a one-time experience. For many, it uncovers a pattern of cheating, lying, ghosting, or general unhappiness in dating life. While every client’s experience is different, it’s important for each and every one of us to start with honesty. It’s easy to react defensively, discounting the other person’s feelings. Most of us don’t want to admit when our actions have hurt someone, especially if we don’t believe our actions were wrong in the first place. But this is where we need to set our egos aside, listen, and reflect. Only from becoming vulnerable, honest and reflective can we begin to address these questions and become better.
More often than not, you’ll find that you are NOT a sociopathic monster. In fact, many times our feelings and actions stem from shame, insecurities, or resentment.
Shame: As men, many of us feel shame at even having certain emotions. For example, have you ever felt vulnerable about how much you like someone? Does that make you feel less masculine? Have you found yourself pushing these emotions down and instead “manning up” with dominance and numbing yourself to possible rejection? If you don’t open yourself up to the vulnerability that comes with treating your partner equally and expressing your honest interest and respect, then the rejection will hurt less, right?
Insecurity: We’ve all been through the awkward years. Sometimes years or even a lifetime of insecurity can fuel our need for validation. Hooking up with women can be exactly that - the more women you “conquest”, the more validation you receive.
Resentment: Most of us have been rejected at some point. Sometimes rejection can breed resentment or even anger. These emotions can make us seek ways of humiliating or punishing women as a way to make up for prior rejections from other girls or women entirely.
All of these traits are deeply innate for the average person. Everyone can experience shame, insecurity and resentment. The challenge becomes how to recognize these feelings and how to love yourself in spite of them. Exuding dominance, conquesting women, or humiliating others only serve as band-aids. After we can honestly acknowledge our feelings, we can then hold ourselves accountable and change our actions.
If you would like to discuss your own personal experiences, please contact me for a free phone consultation.