Dec 03 2023

Being a man in the 21st century and what a man needs in a relationship

Published by under Thoughts

Since it is the end of the year 2023 when I’m writing this entry, a year in an age of insane political and social agendas, I unfortunately need to address certain topics around the actual subject first.

An introductory detour

Nature has designed our species to have exactly two genders: Female and Male.

Reports dating back to the Roman Empire, and maybe even before that, speak of an additional but very seldom phenomenon: The Hermaphrodite; a human who physically has both sexes, as in literally being born with both a functional penis and vagina. I’m not a biologist, but I presume this is caused by a very rare event happening during Meiosis – the process during the first two rounds of cell division, when the cells rearrange their DNA inherited from the parent cells and form four daughter cells. (In Gary Jennings’ magnificent novel Raptor the protagonist is a Hermaphrodite – read that book if you can still find a copy.)

But for what I want to talk about about, there are only two biological sexes, and each of us are born into one sex and its respective traits.

I don’t care about the woke agenda or gender politics. There are biological, natural differences between men and women, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with it. We are not the same by nature, and we shouldn’t even begin to pretend to be the same.

While there are natural differences, I do not for a second believe that one sex is superior or inferior to the other. If anything, I have had plenty of opportunity in my life to witness that in any given crisis, women are generally stronger than men and are not shaken as easily as men. To give just one example that for me spoke volumes: In the morning after the flood had hit the Ahrtal back in 2021, I saw grown men crying in desperation while the women were already working to clean up the mess.

For the record, I also do not believe that one race of the human species is genetically superior or inferior to another. But there are significant differences in our civilizations and cultures, which are both man-made things, to the point that they become completely incompatible with one another and that one civilization might attempt to politically dominate – or even eliminate – another. There are currently two huge wars raging that could both spark World War III exactly because of that.

I firmly believe in equal rights and equal status in society, no matter what sex or race anybody has. Injustices trouble me deeply. (There was a reason why I studied law until circumstances in life forced me to earn my living with work instead of studying.)

I have also learned to respect – and embrace – the differences, may that be gender or cultural differences. While we all ought to share the same rights and status in society, we are not born the same, and in a better world the differences would be what enriches us. But respecting, tolerating and living with those differences is something every human needs to learn – which, as it turns out, is a tough challenge for most people and our cultural backgrounds and upbringing do not make it any easier. As a species, we just have not yet evolved enough, so constant work on ourselves is required.

I know very well that everybody with a woke agenda will still find plenty of reasons to burn me at the stake or stone me to death for what I’ve said so far. That’s why I generally do not engage in discussions with that intolerant lot, because they don’t want to discuss – they only want to force their opinions on everybody else and they want to dictate and control what people are allowed to think and say. There’s nothing liberal about wokeness, it’s just as Ronald Reagan once said: “Should facism ever come to America, it will be in the disguise of liberalism.” Well, Mr President, you were right all along: Fascism has arrived in the disguise of wokeness, political correctness and so-called social justice warriors.

Back on topic

But now I’m going back to the topic I actually wanted to write a few words about: Being a man in this time and age and what men need in their relationships.

Brilliant women like Sarah Dawn Moore, Alison Armstrong, Emily W. King or Courtney Cristine Ryan have very interesting YouTube channels on that topic and as a man, let me tell you this: They absolutely get it. They get us men. So maybe you’re better off watching their content instead of reading the next few paragraphs. Courtney Ryan’s channel is better suited for understanding and giving advice to younger males under the age of, let’s say, 30 or 35. Sarah Dawn Moore’s content is more relevant for the ages beyond 35. Since I’m a member of Generation X and over 50, I can say with certainty that Sarah Dawn Moore really gets us middle-aged creatures – kudos to her.

Men are simple creatures. It doesn’t take much to make us happy – or unhappy. But just like cats and dogs have a very hard time communicating with each other because of opposing body language, men and women also fail to communicate with each other on a very basic level.

In relationships, these are the things that men absolutely require:

  • RESPECT. We feed off respect, as much as women need to be told that we love them, men need to feel and be treated with respect. If the women in our relationships no longer make us feel respected or if they regard and treat us like children or “one more thing they need to take care of and look after”, they will lose us. (This ties directly into the point VALIDATION AND AFFIRMATION below.) We will first become miserable and then withdraw from our partners – and then just watch the whole thing die without putting up a fight, because it isn’t worth it anymore for us.
  • INTIMACY. We need to be intimate with our women. It’s not just about sex or having orgasms. If anything, good men want the woman to have the orgasm (first), because this will make them feel masculine and it will validate their manhood. But there is one important thing in this context where I’m afraid that I cannot speak for all men, because this might just be me, so I use the first person for this next sentence: When a woman causes so much “gravitational pull” – attraction – that I seriously want to court her and regard her as a potential partner and mate, as contradictionary as this might sound in this context, I could not ever objectify or sexualize her; she’s too important and precious for me. Most men’s desire for intimacy is not as simple as most women might believe and it certainly is nothing like pornographic material depicts it. Being intimate with a woman is our way of staying connected to our partners. It is also our way of feeling validated in our relationships. It is how we communicate with our mates. It is what enables us to stay faithful and loyal. Withdrawing intimacy from us is the safest and fastest way to kill a relationship and lose us.
  • VALIDATION AND AFFIRMATION. We need to always know that we are your exclusive number one, that there is no other, that we are good providers for you and that you feel safe with us and trust us. When it comes to our role as providers, the male psyche is wired in a way that criticism and nagging will drive us away, it won’t motivate us at all to improve. Tell us we suck at supporting you in the household, and we will just drift away from you further. Instead of criticizing us, just nicely tell us what you need and want us to do and we will do it. Give us positive affirmation, and we will go out there and conquer the universe for you. This is what we do, this is what we are. We want to provide for you. We want to be your hero. But we certainly do not want to be your doormat or listen to your wailing and moaning how bad we are as husbands and housekeepers.

As far as males are concerned, I learned over the years that I am much more empathetic than most other men that I have met. I will not be able to tell you what clothes people were wearing when I was in a room with them, but I can tell you about their feelings at the time. I sense the emotions in a room. Which is a curse, because I also feel and experience those “third party” emotions myself and this has become one of the reasons why I tend to separate myself from a crowd of people very quickly – or I go and get a strong drink to numb that emotional perception; only with alcohol can I bear large social events.

But being empathetic does not mean that I can read minds. And that closes the circle to this specific point that I share with all other men: We generally suck at guessing what our partners want. We also suck at picking up on signals or female body language. We need to be told in clear human language what you need and want from us. Only when we know we can give it to you. And we will move heaven and earth to give our partners, our mates, what they desire. Because that validates us as men. Giving a woman what she asks from us satisfies our own needs, it makes us feel good about ourselves and successful as men.

A few examples that look simple enough on the outside, but can have the potential to ruin any relationship:

If you want flowers and we haven’t given you any in a while, it won’t hurt you to drop us a comprehensible hint. We don’t do things like this intentionally. We love courting our women, but once we’ve settled, our focus drifts to the bigger war that we’re waging outside of our homes. But when we then bring you flowers after you have given us the hint, don’t complain that you needed to tell us about it and that those flowers are now worthless to you because you had to ask for them. This makes us feel disrespected and rejected, and we will withdraw and never get you flowers again.

When we took the initivate to do some work on the house or its decoration, don’t immediately go and re-do it or re-decorate because it didn’t live up to your standards or taste. You do this once, and we will forever be discouraged and not ever do it willingly again. This, too, will make us feel rejected and disrespected and we will withdraw.

If we don’t do our own laundry, don’t do it for us and at the same time complain loudly that you feel like you have another child in the house that you need to take care of. This clearly means that you have lost any respect for your man, and to a certain degree also for yourself. When women enter that stage and tell their men things like this, they usually also stop being intimate with their men – and that will with absolute certainty bring about a slow and painful death of the relationship.

Without intimacy, men will not further invest themselves in a relationship with a woman, no matter how much they are still attracted to her or in love with her. From here on, it will only go downwards and the relationship will end in separation and divorce. Once a woman told her man that he is just something else she needs to take care of, he will never recover from that. He does not even want to get back from there. He will just wait for it to end and in the meantime dream of finding a new life somehwere else, with someone else who sees and treats him as a man.

If we don’t take out the trash, because we might have been overloaded with the demands of our daytime jobs and come home mentally depleted, don’t complain and critize, just drop us a friendly hint that you would feel better supported if we could take that burden off of you – and we will happily do it on top of the other war that we’re fighting outside of our homes.

Men don’t publicly speak about this anymore, but we cannot defeat instincts that are thousands of years old. Women ought to understand that this is how we really see the world and that going to work fundamentally translates to this for most men: War.

In modern Japanese culture, there is a phrase that Business is War. In our minds, hearts and souls, we men go to battle every single day.  Which is something we won’t complain about, because deep down, even in the 21st century, men know and feel that they were born to hunt, fight and provide and we don’t question that. In fact, despite the burden that it is, we love it. We might grow weary of battle with age, but in an ideal, intact, traditional world we will then hopefully be able to advice and support our sons in their battles while we look after our grand children and pass our gained wisdom on to the next generations.

We need our women to look deeply into our eyes and give us their heart-melting smiles when we come back home, and then we know that everything we did on that day was worth it. And we will happily get back into the fight the next day, because you will be waiting for us when we get home and make it all worthwhile.

I told you we are simple. And it really doesn’t take much to make and keep us happy.

I keep hearing and reading about so-called toxic masculinity. I still don’t know what that even is, and I also cannot say that I ever met a man in the real world who would even remotely qualify as having toxic masulinity. Yes, I’ve met braggers, big mouthes, roughnecks, men who love to pick fights in a bar and I have also met men that were generally very insecure and who tried to hide their insecurity behind extremely stupid things that came out of their mouthes or stupid things they did in miserable attempts to show off what they believed is masculine, what they falsely believed would make women and other men respect them.

Masculinity, in general, isn’t toxic. We do things to be respected and validated and to earn the privilege to be intimate with our women. Again, we’re simple. We don’t dance around the bush and hide behind secret signals or signs – we’re direct and we only understand direct communication, but get conditioned to read between the lines, interprete weird behavioural code and to engage in strange social rituals and we completely suck at that and usually fail, which then makes us appear awkward in modern society.

Men were not made for this artificially complicated code of conduct. We still just want to grab a battle axe and smash our competitor’s brains in so we can take our princess home. Then we want to roam through the early day’s mist and hunt to feed the family that we started with her while she keeps the children safe and the home welcoming. This is our true nature, and it just hasn’t caught up with all the artificially made-up first world problems. There really is nothing complicated about our main urges and drives.

At the same time, yes, maybe it is true that there is no easy or simple man or woman. But this then has to do with our personalities and characters and larger ambitions and interests, not with our basic drives that I am talking about.

It is true that many men feel insecure around strong, intelligent, independent women in leadership roles. Especially when these women also happen to be physically attractive and beautiful. I do not have that problem per se – only women that I am really attracted to can still make me nervous, and that only when I’m single, because being single means that I’m “on the prowl“, as my Irish friend would say. Maybe this is because I did not have a male role model dominating my world as a child, but was mostly raised by women alone, so I’m very used to that specific kind of female energy. But unfortunately, being raised almost exclusively by women has many negative side-effects on a man. Men badly need a father when they grow up, for reasons I will explain in a bit.

It seems to be a cultural consensus that men should not show their emotions in public. I do not believe in this. The metal band Accept have written a nice line of lyrics about this for their album Russian Roulette that has always resonated with me: “Are you man enough to cry?”

But unfortunately, most men have extreme difficulties showing and sharing their emotions, and unfortunately for very good reasons.

There is a very specific loneliness that all men feel throughout their lives. Frank Sinatra has frequently spoken about these lonely moments, especially in the morning, when men feel this very specific loneliness. He even wrote a song called A Man Alone about this basic truth about men.

The main job of any father is to prepare his son for this specific loneliness that all males experience and what it means to be a man in this world. It is the single most important thing a father must do for his son. Like many other men of Generation X, however, I grew up without my actual father, so I never received that essential preparation for what was to come. I had a grandfather who was wonderful to me, but when he and I actually bonded deeply enough, I was already too old for those lessons and he couldn’t give them to me anymore. I fully lived through my Sturm und Drang phase during my puberty and adolescence and got my heart broken very badly. Also, the relationship between my grandfather and I was not based upon words or talking – we communicated mostly without exchanging words, which was a wonderful, great thing in its own right. I deeply loved my grandfather and when I was 28 years old, it shattered my world when I was holding his hand while he took his very last breath. The year before that I had to organize the funeral of my biological father, who had only reached the age of 56. I barely knew the man and only had very few early childhood memories of him, but when I saw his body in the cooling drawer in the hospital and gently touched his chest, it deeply hit something in me and changed me.

We men might share parts of what we feel deep down with our very best and closest male friend. (Yes, usually singular.) Unfortunately, all men will make destructive experiences when it comes to sharing our true feelings with our female partners. Only very few women that we meet in our lives understand us. And even fewer will not at some point use it against us. We get conditioned to omit parts of our actual truth when we’re talking about it, to protect ourselves. Of course, this doesn’t make it easier for our partners and mates to reach and understand us.

I think the simple message to women is this: Don’t worry about your man’s specific loneliness or him not telling you everything that moves him – it’s part of being a man. Men want to provide for their mates and families. Give us your smile, respect, intimacy and validation and affirmation – and tell us in friendly, clear words what it is that you need and want from us and we will walk on our bare feet through hell to give it to you.

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Nov 29 2023

What to do when your life is in shambles?

Published by under Thoughts

Some thoughts and advice for those in their 40s and 50s whose lives have taken a deep dive, became singles again and now need a fresh start.


When a long term relationship ends, it’s easy to feel sorry for yourself and fall into a depression. In this situation, it doesn’t help that the world doesn’t just feel unfair, because as all adults should know, it actually is unfair. But the world literally is unfair to everybody, not just you. So that’s not even remotely an excuse for anything, let alone to let yourself go.

Yes, I know: What makes our own problems so much more important than those of others is that they are our problems. Many people try to look downwards, in the hope they can reassure themselves that they are still better off than other people. Personally, I hate looking downwards to make myself feel a bit better. I prefer looking upwards instead: Looking at things that you need to reach out for and put in some effort to get them. Struggling your way upwards is better than finding an excuse to remain stagnant and do nothing at all. Struggle makes life worthwhile. It gives things their value.

But first there is something that you actually need to understand and realize when your relationship of many years is over, because this has been a part of your problem and is the reason why this chapter of your life has ended: It takes two to build a relationship, and it also takes two to break a relationship.

You have been an equal part of the problem, and you have to take responsibility for your own contribution to the failure. You have to accept and come to terms with the fact that at least half of the things that have happened and that turned your life into a train wreck are your own fault.

Acceptance is the first milestone on your way.

The next one is to forgive your partner – and, as equally as important, to forgive yourself. Only then the anger that you without a doubt feel right now can leave your mind and body. And you need to let that anger and resentment go – especially the resentment you deep down feel towards yourself – if you want to move on with your life.

What helps a lot with that is trying to get back into shape. Because, let’s face it, unless you’ve been a fitness nut throughout your whole life, chances are that you have gotten complacent in your long-term relationship and let yourself go quite a bit because it was so comfortable to not be “on the market” anymore. But being in bad shape adds to your frustration, anger, resentment and generally bad feeling.

Now I’m not saying “go to the gym”. That might be great advice for folks in their 20s and early 30s, maybe. But when you’re older than that, you need to be careful because your cardiovescular system might not be able to take such a change, at least not in the first weeks or months. I also fully get it that it will make you even feel worse to go to one of those places and watch athletic young people do their thing while you’re struggling to even breathe. It’s certainly not the kind of downer you need on top of everything else.

But what you can and should do is reprogram your mind and go on a healthy diet and start walking. Here the old rule applies: Slow and steady wins the race. Don’t kill yourself by overdoing it. Your body needs to get used to these new demands. But it will be grateful for the change and you will quickly begin to feel better.

Putting your body in motion helps releasing anger and stress and also helps clearing your mind. Your synapses might be firing relentlessly all the time, thoughts might be chasing one another at the speed of light. Eat healthy and less than before. Walk more.

Now this is not some esoteric nonsense, but something that can have a huge impact: At bedtime, try (guided) meditation. You probably won’t succeed in the beginning. But keep trying. It might take a while, but (guided) meditation will help you. It will help calm your mind and open yourself to new possibilities.

Look for new perspectives. And by that I don’t mean registering on a stupid dating app or website – that will not help you, it will only add to the frustration. Sooner or later, a new partner will appear in your life, but it will happen through natural attraction – not through reading dating profiles and hurting yourself even more by meeting strangers that are hunting unrealistic illusions and who will only give you the feeling of being even more of an unattractive failure.

The perspectives you should be looking for should evolve around the questions what it actually is you’re looking for in your life. What interests you? What motivates you? What dreams have you lost over the years that at some point in the past had been important to you but that you let go and now you don’t even know why or how it happened? What is it that you always wanted to do but never got around to doing? What makes you feel better with yourself?

You might want to start with this seemingly simple one: What is fun for you? 

You might not be in a stable enough situation to think about settling down again, but you are definitely free to look for and do something new that you couldn’t or wouldn’t do while you were in a settled life. Instead of focusing on what you no longer have, maybe focus on something that you never had but can now get or do instead.

Try to bring some pleasure and fun back into your life. And with that I don’t mean (meaningless) sexual intercourse, but other fun activities that make you feel alive.

Yes, back into your life. Because, let’s face it: The last weeks, months or even years of your recently ended relationship most likely had been constantly overshadowed by the fact that you and your partner had been growing apart for quite a while already. You have always sensed it, but you have also always denied it. Long-term relationships never end over night. It’s a slow and painful process. There most likely was no room for pleasure and fun during that time. It’s highly likely that most of your entertainment could only be found at the bottom of a bottle or through unhealthy eating habits or porn websites.

Making sense of everything is hard. Building something new with all the Lego bricks that you now have lying on the floor and that don’t seem to be fitting together at all is also hard. And it always seems that one of the most important pieces is missing now: A partner.

I heard this advice very often over the years, and I agree with it: Do not believe that you need a partner to be happy again. A partner can only add to your happiness, but can never be the (only) reason for your happiness. A partner is not what makes you whole again and a partner is not responsible for your happiness.

Happiness is something you need to be able to find within yourself. Just like a change of scenery will not make your unhappiness or problems go away; your problems have a tendency to follow you wherever you go – you carry them within, so you must look inside yourself for the solutions as well. Again, meditation and long walks help.

Keep working on yourself. Learn to like and accept yourself.

Life is more beautiful when you share it with someone, I fully agree. But don’t make the mistake of handing the responsibility for your happiness, dreams and goals over to somebody else because you’re incapable of finding these things by yourself and living on your own. That is unfair to your next partner. And it can only lead down the exact same road that you’re currently trying to leave behind.

As hard and as impossible as it might sound right now, but finding your own purpose and fulfillment in life really is solely up to you. You’re not meant to live someone else’s dreams and hopes or to only pursue someone else’s goals. You must live your own life to the fullest. And to do so, you must spend time with yourself, get to know yourself – and find yourself.

Still, while all of the above is true, I also believe that it’s okay to invite someone else into your life and fall in love again – at any given time, simply because there is no schedule or deadline for that and there probably also never is a right time for it either.

Chances are that you’re ready for something new faster than you might have thought. When a long-term relationships is ending, with sufficient experience and age or maturity, you might have seen it coming for months, maybe even years. And since you’ve long seen it coming and only waited for the inevitable, on a certain level you might have been prepared and ready for something new for quite a while already but just hadn’t acted on it before your separation from your partner was official.

But still: Make sure that you’re not handing the control over your life unconditionally over to someone else just because you cannot stand being alone or, even worse, are afraid of being alone.

Side-note: What can keep relationships alive on the long run is not moving in together. Stay in separate places and do not see each other every day. It keeps the tension and the longing alive. The best phase I ever had in one of my relationships was when she and I were living in the same apartment building, but in separate apartments. We had our individual privacy and kept our own space – and had fun with the game of asking whether we would meet at her or my place. We should have kept it that way – we might still be together if we had.

When you’re actively looking for a new mate, do not chase. It is true what they say: Chasing something means that it’s running away from you.

Don’t pass up a good thing either just because you might have fallen into the trap of chasing an illusion and now are about to ignore a person because she or he does not match some unrealistic criterias of yours. People that have been single for too long tend to develop delusional ideas about what their next partner should be like – and have developed a checklist that not even the Olympian Gods could fulfill.

There is no perfect match for you or anybody else on this planet. There never was one, there never will be one. Look for someone real and accept flaws – after all, like everybody else, you have plenty of those yourself.

From my own experience, I can assure you that even finding what you know with absolute clarity to be the love of your life is no guarantee for a “happily ever after”.

My personal immensely great, deep and all consuming fever dream – that’s what it felt like for me – was not meant to last. Things of that dimension are never meant to last. They are just too much. Live it when you are lucky enough to find yours (because the vast majority never will), but don’t desperately cling on to it when the moment has passed. Move on. There will still be wonderful “normal” love even after you have found and lost your personal all consuming fever.

The beautiful thing about real love is that it won’t be playing any games with you: It wants to be found and captured. It won’t run away from you. It’s also not desperate. It patiently waits for you because it wants to be with you. And you might find it exactly when and where you least expect it. It might be someone you would never have thought could be it. Maybe someone who doesn’t match your usual “scheme of prey”. Physical limitations aside, age is just number: Maybe it will be someone older than you. Maybe someone much younger. Maybe it will be someone who doesn’t even speak your language yet and you cannot yet properly communicate with. The one certain thing here is: You will just know when it happens. Don’t overthink it.

I am saying this because despite all my sarcasm, cynicism and anything that has happened in the last 53 years, I am still a hopeless romantic. But being a romantic complicates things quite a lot when you’re in need of a fresh start of your life:

I have never hunted for meaningless sex or one-night stands. When I’m intimate with someone,  I pour my entire soul into it. That kind of intimacy is dangerous and requires a lot of unspoken trust and it  cannot happen with a person that is not my exclusive mate. Such trust only comes when I’m in love. I still believe in love.

I also still believe in love at first sight. I couldn’t say anything other than that, because I married a love at first sight.

It might not be actual love that I feel right in the moment when I see that special person for the first time. But several times in my life, I have felt a very specific sensation of absolute certainty that the person that I was seeing right in this very moment for the very first time would without a doubt become very important for me in the future. That specific feeling does not occur often, it’s actually quite rare, but it always feels the same and it has never been wrong. It doesn’t mean that I will always enter a romantic relationship with the person that triggers such a feeling in me, but it is a matter of fact that the truly important relationships in my life have always begun with this specific feeling. Without exception.

While feeling things like this significantly complicates matters, that special moment will nonetheless come, it always does. Until then: Stay positive, look forward, keep working on yourself and try to have a good and fulfilled life alone. And do not forget to have some fun on your journey.


It’s a fine time to fall in love with you,I ain’t got a single thing to do.It happened before I knew what was going on.I fell out and knew that I was gone.Stages keep on changing,stages rearranging love.

ZZ Top, Stages

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