Mumsnet has not checked the qualifications of anyone posting here. If you need help urgently, please see our domestic violence webguide and/or relationships webguide, which can point you to expert advice and support.
Can some people (men) really live on a superficial level forever?(15 Posts)
Do you think some men just don't feel deep emotions and are able to live on a superficial level forever?
I'm just asking out of curiosity. I'm in my 40's, currently single and decided to leave my marriage because I just didn't want to spend the rest of my life unsatisfied and I've braved some devastating times to get out of just living on a 'superficial' level.
This last week though I've had conversations with two male friends (one at work, one socially), both in unhappy marriages but staying for the children. One is clearly unhappy, I was shocked to learn had been for 15 years (with no intimacy for that long) but otherwise presents as a happy person. He is just a friend so I believe he is entirely honest and he's quite a bit older than me so he knows there is absolutely no chance with me so his motives were not one of just wanting to share his experience of life with me.
Do you think some men just don't feel deeper emotions and really can just continue living life on the 'surface' or do you think that at some point their emotions catch up with them?
It depends on the person. Both men and women have the capacity to emotionally detach and stay in relationships that are less than satisfying for a myriad of reasons.
There was an article some months back in one of the papers about how the divorce rate had shot up in the sixty plus female population in the UK. Interestingly, the stats for men in that age group remain static.
We are all human though o/p and I think we all have a similar range of emotions. Men are taught from a very early age to hide them though and over time, they become very adept at that sadly.
You're right, we are all different. I really struggled when I turned 40 when I realised my life could pass by never having really experienced true happiness which was my trigger. I probably now think more deeply about life as part of my work is with people who have died so I'm hit with the value of life on a daily basis. I think that's why I've really struggled to learn that other people I know could actually life their whole lives in a state of dissatisfaction.
This is purely my own observation.
The patriarchal way in which our society is structured is seriously shit for women but it is also shit for men. They definitely benefit when they're young - they don't have to fear sexual violence or sexism, they earn more for the same jobs and being a parent benefits their career chances rather than damages them.
Because men are taught from a young age to expect everything to go their way and because there is no focus on them developing emotional resilience, as they get older and life gets more complicated they really struggle. Because women have to deal with difficulties from a very young age - from being taught to cover themselves up at age 9, to having to deal with periods at age 12, to dreading the threat of pregnancy from whatever age they become sexually active, to the threat of sexual violence from as soon as they're aware of it, they are simply more able to face a difficult situation and deal with it.
Men are taught to prioritise work. They don't carry children and they don't go through labour. They are not expected to take parental leave, or take time off for children. Men very very rarely are the ones who take on the life-changing challenge of dealing for hours upon hours with newborns. So many incredibly hard challenges that women routinely face are simply bypassed for men - there are very few times where their mettle is really tested. IMO facing these challenges matures women massively. Men may also mature but the effect isn't quite so rapid or pronounced I think.
So, life goes on. Women start to throw off the shackles of a sexist society and start to find their voice. Having faced so many challenges life starts to get easier. Many women will have been assaulted, will have had knockbacks simply for being women. They are resilient. Men on the other hand, find they're getting older. They haven't necessarily invested much in their family, who are carrying on happily without them. They haven't necessarily bonded very closely with their children, who look to their mother for help and reassurance. The riches they were promised by a sexist society no longer seem accessible - they aren't as attractive as they once were. Cue a midlife crisis, going for younger women, a desperate bid to get back that sense of being entitled to everything.
Men are prepared so badly for the reality of adult life. It brings such misery to so many families and is one of the main reasons for the extremely high rate of male suicide IMO.
Men are not emotionless. They feel everything women do. But they are told they shouldn't feel those things, they have no idea how to process it.
I agree entirely with what Sparrowhawk has written.
But I also know women who live on a superficial level, not just men.
With my ExH I laboured under the illusion that he felt things on a deep level - he was really good at giving that impression. Especially in public. He could talk the talk. But the reality is he didn't. Lesson learned for me.
In future relationships I need to make sure they are living on a deeper level. It's important to me. It isn't important to everyone though. There are plenty of couples where both are just keeping up appearances and are happy with that's. It's not for me though.
That's really insightful and I think true. I think in the past I too have lived on a superficial level (to cope) but didn't want to spend my whole life on that level. I think ideally you need a balance of superficial and deep or you don't get the most out of life.
Maybe some people really do spend their whole lives like that and I guess because of my work that is really sad to accept.
I've decided I'm not going to settle in the future for anything other than a good balance of emotions.
Alcohol and sport probably help deal with this type of existence but also might account for high male suicide rates.
Yeah, the men who talked to me about this both mentioned that they 'escape' with drinks out, TV and activities which I guess is all fine but not if it results in an unsatisfactory life. I guess if these escapes worked then they wouldn't be confiding in a friend about their unhappiness.
I think it's inappropriate for them both to be discussing their marriages, wives and sex lives with you and suspect that - whatever you might think about the age gaps - they both want to alert you to the fact that they are in unhappy relationships.
Unless you are very close friends who confide private details and support each other emotionally, I think your response should be : I don't think your wife would be happy about you discussing this with me, do you have a proper friend to confide in and what steps have you taken to improve things.
I'm touchy because this is the crap my ex spouted to the world when justifying his affair. It was news to me, I thought we had a close loving relationship and were happy.
After I threw him out it turns out he wasn't that dissatisfied after all, if the begging and pleading is anything to go by.
Don't get involved, there will be two sides.
The old 'my wife is cold, my marriage is sexless' routine....a classic
I don't see why having an unsatisfactory marriage equals superficial?
Some people have rich inner life, which surely cannot be measured by a happy marriage.
Genuinely in awe of SparrowHawk's insight; I think you're absolutely spot on.
I agree, I wouldn't say an unhappy marriage was being superficial. I had an unhappy marriage but wouldn't say I'm superficial. Due to various reasons for separating I would say that me looking a lot deeper led to our separation.
Neither will get anywhere with me and they know that and yes, they should be sorting it out with their wives but that's my point, they aren't. They are willing to tolerate unsatisfactory marriages and just function in them on a superficial level for years to come. It just seems such a waste of a precious life.
I think because I'm one of the last at work, my colleague got talking and then let the details of his situation out, I think, just to be able to talk to someone about it. I have found when people (including other women) find out I'm separated they tell me some of their marital problems, possibly because in meeting someone who's been through it opens up a door of conversation about it.
Well then I suppose both sexes are capable of tolerating unsatisfactory marriages for all sorts of reasons.
Children, financial security, marriage vows, fear of the unknown, sense of responsibility, enough good times to make leaving feel risky.
The knowledge that you could give up your whole, familiar life and find yourself full of regret in several months or years when you look around and realise that what you've got now is no better, or even worse.
You could leave your boring spouse and find yourself single for the rest of your life, realising belatedly that you didn't know what you had until it was gone.
You could fall for someone wonderful and wake up in five years realising you feel the same way about them as you used to feel about your spouse. Except you're poorer and only see your kids every other weekend.
Anyone sounding off about their miserable marriage - unless they are trapped by abuse or utterly financially dependent - is either too cowardly to risk leaving, too selfish or lazy to work on it, or exaggerating for their own reasons.
He is just a friend so I believe he is entirely honest and he's quite a bit older than me so he knows there is absolutely no chance with me so his motives were not one of just wanting to share his experience of life with me.
Join the discussion
Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.Register now
Already registered with Mumsnet? Log in to leave your comment or alternatively, sign in with Facebook or Google.
Please login first.