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    Bleach vs. Battery Acid

           I’m told, by many women, that they like a man who’s confident. They also tell me that they like a man who’s connected to what he feels; that he’s honest with himself about his true feelings. And virtually every woman I’ve talked to says that what’s even more attractive is when a man shares what he truly feels with her. Because that promotes true intimacy.
           But what happens when a man’s confidence is at odds with what he feels? What happens during those moments, or hours or days, or longer, when a man doesn’t feel so confident, and he’s in touch with that. And instead of bullshitting his way through that with his significant other, he shares it.
           Does he become less attractive because he’s not so confident? Or does he become more attractive because he’s sharing this with the woman he loves? Or do the two cancel each other out, like battery acid and bleach, to produce a neutral emotional pH?
           Ladies and Gentlemen, step up to the plate on this and share your thoughts, feelings, and experiences.
           This post is all about what YOU have to say. Let's hear it. Post a Comment.

    ©2008 Clint Piatelli. All Rights (and zero to fourteen Wrongs) Reserved.

    Reader Comments (12)

    My boyfriend shares his insecurities sometimes. He is a pretty guarded person. I like when he does share, it makes me feel close to him and like he feels close enough and trusts me also.

    December 28, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterM

    Thanx M. I'm glad you brought up the trust factor. That's a big issue for lots of people. And it only gets built when you risk being yourself. When you dare to share what's in your heart and what's on your mind.


    December 28, 2008 | Registered CommenterClint Piatelli

    Confidence is appealing. A state of self awareness and acceptance is appealing as well. Sharing any and all feelings about self, and changes in them, is a positive thing too. We are not static. Accepting and/or expressing our frailties is ironically a sign of strength to me. Strength = confidence=appealing. Its all part of being who we are. In my book, there is no bad or good, or cancelling of opposites. Its all part of the package. Full disclosure ( uncensored criticism of others aside) is good, honest and intimate, and and hopefully begets the same.
    Be real. Its hard, but it makes life easier when there is no pretending.

    December 29, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterasven

    Thank you for pointing out the "hidden" polarization that I was trying to sneak into my question. And I agree that accepting and expressing frailties is indeed a sign of strength. I have never so openly and honestly communicated my vulnerability. And yet the very fact that I can do that is a sign of how much stronger I am today. I don't build walls anymore, because I don't need them. I can handle whatever I get without them.


    December 29, 2008 | Registered CommenterClint Piatelli

    As nurturers, many women want to "fix" their men. There's an element of it being almost like a project. Like a '69 Camaro just waiting to be lovingly restored by the right owner.

    The guy loves the attention and the woman may feel that she's starting from a blank slate. I think that the desire to start from a blank slate can be what some women find so attractive about the emotionally neutral or detached man, Also, let's be honest, who truly wants their guy showing deep emotion publicly? We want strength and stoic resolve... not weepy or giddy fluctuations.

    So, we're caught in this fantasy vortex of wanting the passionate and emotionally connected man while also wanting the steely resolve and stability of the man who's unaffected by the world around him.

    I think that this situation is at the core of the wife/mother-in-law tension that sometimes happens as any changes that the wife wants is in direct opposition to what the man's mother managed to accomplish.

    This question that Clint has posed has as many answers as there are women out there. Each one wants something a little different from their man. Unfortunately, most have not asked this question of themselves regarding what to do when they actually get it.

    December 29, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterBrenda


    Thanx for your very rich comment. You certainly took the question down a different, but equally compelling, road.

    I like your term “fantasy vortex”. And if I’m hearing you correctly, it sounds as though you struggle with the concept of a man being passionate and emotionally connected while also being strong and stable.

    I understand that apparent dichotomy. Both men and women have trouble with it, especially in our culture.

    I have learned that being a passionate, deep feeling man is not mutually exclusive with stability and strength. On the contrary, a man disconnected from what he feels, and therefore seemingly “unaffected”, is often afraid of his emotions. So he shuts them off. I know that man, and I have great compassion for him, because he used to be me.

    My strength and resolve allow me to put myself out there as much as I do. They afford me the confidence to know that, whatever life gives me from living out on this limb, I will not only handle, but grow from. The very name of this website speaks of having both strength and deep feelings. I experience them as complimentary elements of a more whole self, rather than polarized points on a "conventional" male continuum.

    And as for the question of a woman not knowing what to do when she actually gets what she wants from a man, how about an open and honest dialogue with him about that very issue: that she doesn’t know what to do? This sounds risky, but if he’s truly connected to what he feels, he will welcome this intimate foray. And as a strong man, he’ll be able to stand in his truth and simultaneously support her as she goes through the process of answering the question. For if there is conflict within her in the form of this unanswered query, a man like that will sense it. A man like that will want to share in the process of resolution. And a man like that, even if he truly loves her, won’t wait around forever for her to let him in.


    December 30, 2008 | Registered CommenterClint Piatelli

    here's another thought on the strong/tender man dichotomy. I was married to a wonderful man. He was manly and strong, and also gentle and loving. But he had no real ability to express his deepest feelings. So he stuffed them. For over 20 years. And got more and more unhappy. And when he finally expressed them to me, they were very painful, but I was actually pleased and relieved to have had him be honest about how he felt. Even though it ended the marriage. I respect that he was finally able to share. That's as far as he got. He still is unable to work through the feelings as far as I know. And I do love him still, but move on without regrets.
    Almost immediately I met a compelling man who is both strong , passionate, and incredibly in touch with his feelings. He ponders them, shares them, asks me about how i feel about his feelings, my feelings, our relationship. A lot. I was not at all used to this type of dialogue, and found it completely remarkable, refreshing, honest, intimate and exhausting. I learned how to share my feelings too, something that previously was not well received, except in short, highly condensed sound bites designed to make a point before my husband got overwhelmed and left the room.
    This verbal intimacy was amazing for me, and I actually had to set boundaries in the discussions because i was being pushed beyond the rusty gates of my self analysis. Like the tin man, I got rusted shut emotionally in my marriage and needed a little oil to get moving again. By accepting his openness, it opened me too. Which was scary, but ultimately very rewarding. I didn't admit it what was missing from my marriage until I found it there in his big heart and honest words.
    Now I see that there is an ability for men to exist on the strong/tender continuum. Its very intimate, freeing and surprising. Imagine that, not having to guess how your man is feeling. They just tell you, or you ask and they tell you. In a kind and honest manner. A unicorn/centaur blend. It exists. Embrace it. More power to you John.

    December 31, 2008 | Unregistered Commentermargaret

    I think this feeling/strength dichotomy could largely be a product of early conditioning. Little girls tend to become swept up in (what I'll call) the "wedding fantasy" and little boys can become swept up in the notion of controlling their surroundings with strength and power. Obviously I don't mean to say that this is inevitable, but it does seem to be very prevalent. Just watch 15 minutes of any kid's channel and watch the toy commercials. They mirror this dichotomy almost perfectly.

    Fast forward a few years and you can have VERY young adults making life-long decisions (such marriage and family) with HUGE shreds of those romantic notions still driving them. Sometimes this naive time in our lives is even calibrated by those older as "cute" or "beautifully ideological." It's often seen as mean-spirited to attempt to introduce reality into this mix.

    I agree with Clint's concept that men can represent both worlds of feeling and strength. However the deck is stacked against them unless they have very progressive role models who educate them regarding this.

    Clint's recommendation for an open discussion between the two parties is fantastic. However, often the two parties don't even know that such a discussion is needed until it's too late. Again, this comes down to tremendous role models clearing the path for the younger ones to walk.

    Great post Margaret!!!


    December 31, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterBrenda

    Well I finally got to read the infamous post. Brenda and Margaret have very interesting posts here. I don't have this long term relationship to draw from in terms of marriage or live in. I have mixed feelings on this topic. Dunno. Feel this is a pretty complex question that cannot be answered to anyone's satisfaction but interesting point for discussion. Congrats to Margaret for finding such a man. Bravo.

    January 2, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterEr-EEEEE-Kaaaaaa

    All of you, thanx for your insightful comments. You've sparked some latent ideas inside of me. Look for a post within the week where I share about some of the very issues you raised.

    Brenda, you're obviously very intelligent and insightful. However, I couldn't disagree with you more and I challenge your position that it all comes down to what you got modeled growing up. If that were the case, I would never be doing this website, and I certainly wouldn't be the man I am today.

    Although I love my parents very much, and they gave me much to be grateful for, they were anything but "progressive role models", especially when it came to how to do intimate relationships. I, like many others who seek change and growth, have had to emotionally clear my own path, figure it out for myself, however you want to put it. I'm certainly influenced and shaped by my upbringing, but I'm not limited by it. Unless I choose to be.

    Which brings me to your other point about it being "too late". I'm not sure what context you're putting that in, but that position is often just a roadblock to resolution, especially when it comes to intimate relationships.

    And it all reminds me of an old proverb that says something like "Whether you think you can, or whether you think you can't, you're right."


    January 4, 2009 | Registered CommenterClint Piatelli


    In the first paragraph of my 12/31 post I tried to say that these gender roles aren't inevitable. My unschooled (seat -of-the-pants) thesis has simply been that the deck is stacked against boys becoming highly feeling. They can certainly break out of this and countless often do.

    If at 44 years of age you're beginning to delve into these issues, then I think that my hypothesis may have merit. Not that it's correct, but that it may have a grain of truth.

    Think of where you might be today if you made these beautiful personal observations and breakthroughs at 18.


    January 4, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterBrenda

    If your hypothesis is that how we are raised has a gigantic impact on who we become, then I think you're absolutely right. I wish more people were conscious of that, because it would give them vast insight into who they are now. All I'm saying is that we aren't trapped by that. It takes a lot of work to change, but as you say, countless do.

    I've been delving into myself since before I was 18. It's taken that long to get me to where I am today. Although I've experienced tremendous breakthroughs in the past seven months, I've been moving down a path of growth for decades.

    A very wise friend once told me that awakenings are like births. The actual birth itself is explosive and sudden. But the nine months of gestation before that are an essential part of the process. I think growth, at any age, can be like that.

    By the way, you never told me what you thought of Halmut Newton...


    January 6, 2009 | Registered CommenterClint Piatelli

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