The Problem with Men and Women

Why Straight Relationships are Doomed. And how to fix it.

amelia brie
12 min readAug 24, 2023
Photo by Steinar Engeland on Unsplash

The problem with men and women is that most women are raised like fragile vases while most men are raised like unfeeling rocks.

It’s not just about how we were parented, but with the media we consume.

On the parenting side of things:

“…girls and boys are viewed and treated differently by their parents, particularly their fathers. Boys are thought to be stronger and are treated more roughly and played with more actively than girls as early as birth. As children get older, girls are typically protected more (physically and emotionally) and allowed less autonomy than boys, and girls are not expected to achieve as much in the areas of mathematics and careers as are boys. ….” (Coleman)

Women with overbearing parents grew up thinking that they were fragile and always needed someone’s protection. Women are more social by nature(as a protective mechanism in the olden days, “strength in numbers”), and they rarely learn how to be comfortable on their own.

I mean, in general, most of us have a hard time being alone:

“All of humanity’s problems, stem from man’s inability to sit quietly in a room alone.” — Blaise Pascal

But I think women have a harder time being mentally independent of others, whereas men have a hard time being physically on their own. The reason for women’s intellectual or emotional dependency on the external world is that society has always overtly or covertly been telling women how to act or behave — from adverts using our insecurities to sell products, to “friends” gossiping and threatening us with social exclusion, to family pressuring us to get a good, stable job so we don’t have to become trapped in a marriage…

there’s always something vying for women’s attention.

Always being surrounded by friends and family makes women dependent on others’ attention and approval, making them more prone to seek external validation as adults(that’s probably why it’s predominantly women who post a lot on social media platforms like instagram). Being sociable is a good thing of course, but attention-seeking can become problematic if not addressed.

Meanwhile what I’ve observed with how most boys are raised is that they’re left to their own devices. It’s not that they’re neglected(or maybe they are), but they’re not given much attention in regards with how they behave, as opposed to their female counterparts.

Further, research has indicated that many parents attempt to define gender for their sons in a manner that distances the sons from femininity. Emily Kane, professor of Sociology and author of The Gender Trap, found “the parental boundary maintenance work evident for sons represents a crucial obstacle limiting boys’ options, separating boys from girls, devaluing activities marked as feminine for both boys and girls, and thus bolstering gender inequality and hetero-normativity.”34 Parents provide messages regarding gender and what is acceptable for children’s gendered selves based on their sex category — messages that are internalized by the developing child and translate into adolescence and adulthood. However, their sex role stereotypes will be well established early in their childhood.”

-Coleman, Parental Behaviors Toward Boys and Girls

They’re wrongly told that “boys don’t cry” and what other crappy ideas of masculinity people have. In school, they get bullied for looking weak or coming off as girly. They learn early on to keep their vulnerable sides to themselves and to repress any feminine trait they might have.

…Ward wrote of the “misogyny paradox,” which refers to boys’ and mens’ struggle to appreciate and respect women in a culture where they’re also applauded and considered more masculine for hating and objectifying women.

-Naftolin, “Why Straight Relationships are So Bad For us”

These days, I think that parenting is becoming more balanced, and no longer as gender-based as before. More and more parents are opting for neutral-colored clothing, and telling their little girls they can be as strong as men, and validating their little boy’s feelings. The media is the same. But, for older generations, we know how faulty the media’s messaging has been in the past years. And how its influence has affected us all(e.g. the male gaze).

With the action or superhero movies we grew up with, which is the common type of entertainment men consume, the male protagonists are usually portrayed as aloof, unemotional or basically like unfeeling rocks. Some of them have little to no personality, and they keep to themselves and aren’t allowed to show emotions or vulnerability. The only form of intimacy they’re allowed to have is being in a relationship with a woman.

That’s why we see so many men who go through problems alone. That’s why so many men are touch-deprived. And that’s why men are more prone to suicide than women.

On the other hand, the movies that are created to cater to the masses of women are romcoms, wherein the heroine — because she needs an obstacle to overcome — is often going through a turbulent divorce or breakup that involves her being cheated on in some way. This is a common trope that has been overplayed and overused, even though men in married relationships only cheat 7% more than women do. And among married adults, aged 18–29, women are more likely to cheat.

It plants this seed in the women watching that they should always be on guard, or else they might get cheated on too.

That’s why many of us are so anxious. I went on dates recently where all five of the guys I dated reported that their exes were all paranoid about being cheated on, even if they had no substantial evidence to suggest that their current partner was going to cheat on them. I wholeheartedly blame this on the local television soap operas in my country: the female leads are always being cheated on or victimized in some capacity. I used to be one of those paranoid women myself even though I believed I consumed a healthy amount of romcoms. It was still enough to have given me trust issues.

Even some of the heroes in men’s media are portrayed as a macho guy who only uses women for pleasure. That’s why we have such a mistrust or hatred for men, the men in these movies are total assholes who don’t give a shit about you as a human and only date pretty/sexually-provocative women, basically. I can only imagine what message this sends to young boys who are watching these shows.

As for the young girls watching:

“Socioeconomic mental conditioning of women during upbringing has another major role to play… Fairy tales, bedtime stories and mainstream media drill in the ‘Damsel in Distress Complex’ among girls from an early age. Society prefers women to pursue finer arts more, than engineering and sciences. Girls are presumed to be inclined towards doll play, than take active interest in adrenaline driven sports or self defense activities.

Women are brainwashed to believe that they are physically weaker to men always.Touted as less adaptable to physical stress, harsh environments & anywhere where brain & bran matter. Even though they are endowed with the potential to do equally well in adverse conditions of distress with their ‘presence of mind’ & ‘physical resilience’.

Women, often grow up measuring poor in self sufficiency skills as their male counterpart is more likely to be coached on how-to-change-a-flat-tire, how-to-replace-light-fixtures-at-home and how-to-ignite-a-small-fire-in-wild, than them. The activities that are more relevant in the world outside, and hone a human’s problem solving aptitude, team work, survival skills and solution-oriented-mindset, are classified as a man’s job.”

-Mahopatra, “4 Reasons Why Women Subconsciously Seek Validation From Men”

So the media has taught women to be anxious and to always look pretty and act feminine and never grow old or else they’ll be cheated on with someone younger, and the media has taught men to hide away and repress their emotional sides, or their “feminine” sides, and to always present themselves with a sort of bravado.

But, the thing is, femininity and masculinity don’t really exist.

It is all a social construct.

Whenever you’re repressing your feminine and masculine side, whatever you’re repressing is simply your humanity.

In the natural world, you don’t look at a peacock’s feathers or a male seahorse birthing his young as “feminine,” or the black widow being more dangerous and bigger than their male counterparts as “masculine.” No. There is no such thing as feminine or masculine. They only exist in the realm of discussing gender identification/discrimination.

Photo by Ivan Botha on Unsplash

It wasn’t always this way

Through her research, Ward found that the concepts of heterosexuality and homosexuality came into existence in the 19th century. Before then, people didn’t consider the gender or sex of the person they were having sex with as way to label themselves.

“Before then, people engaged in homosexual sex acts but it was just considered an act, not a type of person,” that you had to label, Ward said. When a person had sex with the opposite sex it was for reproductive purposes, for example, while sex with the same sex was pleasure-based and not for reproduction.

But everything changed when Hungarian journalist Karl Maria Kertbeny coined the terms “heterosexual” and “homosexual” in the 1860s. Psychotherapists began to suggest heterosexuality was a superior “type” because it allowed for procreation, while homosexuality didn’t have the same utility, BBC previously reported.

Thus a romanticized narrative of the gender binary, or idea that there are two genders of man and woman, was born. This story taught people that opposite-sex attraction, love, and family planning was the most natural way to do things, and it endures to this day in the form of straight rituals like the gender reveal party and lavish wedding ceremonies. -Naftulin

And personality isn’t fixed. Personality depends on the context. For example, a single mother will have to rely on her more “masculine” traits to provide for and protect her child. But around a partner who can take some of the load off and help to do those things with her, she can feel more safe to rest in her vulnerability. So can a man. When his wife helps him to provide, a man can be free to focus his energy on being a good caretaker for his children. In this case, a man needs to be more “feminine” and show his emotions more so that his kids, especially his daughters, don’t grow up believing that men are incapable of being emotional and caring.

In order to survive in this world, we need to gracefully switch between our masculine and feminine sides. We need to be flexible and to adapt.

All of these are simply human traits. And we need to stop feeling threatened when a woman is more masculine; likewise, we need to stop “emasculating” men who present more feminine. Because none of these things really exist. And we are only feeding into harmful gender stereotypes if we continue to view people through this lens of what’s acceptable as “manly” and “feminine”, and if we allow ourselves to be defined by these things as well.

A Proposed Solution

It’s deeply ingrained in us women to become anxious. Meanwhile for men to be avoidant. So how can we try to erase the effects of the media on us?

For those of us with this problem, I think the solution is simple... wait for it… self-love! But with a twist.

There are different ways to grow your self-love, the most commonly-known one being reparenting yourself, wherein you imagine yourself as both the parent you wish you had, and the child who didn’t get adequate love. And you begin loving your inner child in the ways you’ve always wanted and needed.

However, I don’t think it’s a common concept yet to give yourself love as your own, romantic lover.

I had this epiphany when I started online dating a few months ago. I met this guy whom I thought I could do anything for. It’s funny, because when it came to myself, I didn’t have the same motivation. I was procrastinating on my dreams at that time(amongst other unhealthy habits), meanwhile here I was thinking I could do anything for someone else?

I think that the idea of doing something for someone else is so much easier to imagine(commonly for women) because, thanks again to the influence of the media, we always see what it’s like to be the lover — the one giving — so we know how to romantically love others, but we don’t have an adequate example of what it means to love ourselves. In movies, the object of one’s desire is always idealized and put on a pedestal, meanwhile the pursuer views themselves as less than or unworthy, so they try to do their best to become worthy of the love and they give their all for the love to be reciprocated.

Why not instead of giving your all in a relationship, why don’t you put that into yourself? That’s how I came up this idea. Why can’t I be my own lover whom I’d do anything for?

So, imagine yourself being loved by the most perfect mate already. What do we do when we really love someone? We do what they ask us to do because we want to show our love through acts of service, we want them to know we’re always there for them, and we want to motivate them to reach their dreams. So do those things for yourself. This is in line with Law of Attraction, yes. But also imagine yourself being that perfect mate. You can put any face on this imaginary person so long as you’re not attached to how they look, because you will never be able to perfectly curate the person that’s divinely meant for you.

What happens as well in other media like pornographies and chic lit smut is that these create unrealistic expectations. We all know there’s no such thing as perfect in real life. The only thing we can hope for is that, if you’re looking for someone to settle down and have kids with, is a partner who’s kind, reliable, and hard working for your family— so that both of you work hard together to keep the relationship and your family alive.

But then, because of the media, we have all these other added expectations to the list which drown out the essential things we should value in a relationship.

So, imagine only the essentials in your partner: that they’re kind and caring, validate your emotions, etc. And that you’re already loved so perfectly by them. At the same time, it is you loving yourself perfectly in this manner. Kind of like it’s a male/female version of you(only in spirit). Envision yourself in first person POV viewing your significant other and how they love you, at the same time, it’s also you viewing yourself from their eyes and seeing yourself in all your loveableness. I hope this makes sense. This exercise, personally for me, really makes me feel whole and loved, and like I don’t need anyone to give my love to, because I’m already giving it to myself.

What this does is, with women, it helps you rely on yourself more, it makes you believe that your feminine is already protected because you have a divine masculine within you already. With men, it helps you know how to nurture yourselves in the way you want to be nurtured, and in the ways you probably weren’t given simply because of being born a boy.

By practicing this exercise, when the time comes that an actual partner walks in your life, you won’t be having these pressurizing expectations for them to love you a certain way — you’ll be able to accept their love as is because you yourself already know how to perfectly love yourself.

Of course, compromise will still be needed in some instances, and if they’re willing, your partner can always learn to love you in the way you want to be loved. But it won’t be this straining thing anymore, and you can accept them as they are; conversely, you can also easily let them go if they don’t add to your life in the way you want. You won’t be clinging and looking for love in all the wrong places anymore because you know you already have this love within yourself.

In conclusion: We’re all capable of exhibiting feminine and masculine traits. These are all only human. The divine feminine and divine masculine are already within us, we just need to learn to tap into it.

Hi, I’m Amelia, a highly sensitive person, sharing my insights on healing from narcissistic abuse, having better relationships, and gaining sustainable productivity.

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amelia brie

Sharing my insights on how to have better relationships, healing from narcissistic abuse and body image issues, and sustainable productivity as an HSP.