Written on my wall since high school is a simple question printed on a label maker. “What Makes A Man?” it says. This ambiguous question, with no clear answer, is something that I come back to regularly as I contend with realities of the world. Hearing stories about what men are capable of both good and bad makes me question what type of person I want to be. Over the last several months I’ve been posing questions to people around me about their interactions with men. The answers I received were confusing and at points horrifying. I want to show you what it’s like for a regular guy out there in the world, one who doesn’t necessarily know if he is an outlier or the rule.
Sex, it always starts with sex. A stupid place to start but a grand motivator for most men. Guys will usually have a story about something they do or have done because of girl. I among them found my love of running because of a girl in high school telling me she liked guys with runners bodies. As I get older, this departs from the much more innocent motivations of young; a desire to get from point A to point B as quickly as possible is found. Guys are motivated by sex. I can’t honestly deny this, what changes is willingness fight against this all-consuming emotion to find a higher ground to stand on. In our mind, sex it presses up against us, invading our thoughts and without strong mental fortitude it wins out the day. It whispers fantasies and delusions into our ear, denying that reality in which we are for one that could possibly be if you were to play the game right. That is no way to condemn us to being sex fiends, but something we must contend with. That inner strength is what I find as being the man is all about. The ability to put these thoughts and feelings aside for something that is much greater than the hedonistic vices of sex can provide me.
It’s that relationship, though, between guys and gals that so intertwined with this dynamic that it becomes bogged down but the tension between friendship and sexuality. From When Harry Met Sally, a movie about a man and woman attempting to have a friendship that eventually turns into a romantic relationship, even the one of the protagonists clearly states that he doesn’t believe men and women can be friends because sex will get in the way. This idea was foreign to me, why can’t we foster and hold relationships with people of the opposite gender? It’s within the expectations that are held, the way we picture things when I say I have a relationship with a guy friend versus a girl friend. Not to mention the amount of narratives I’ve heard from women of always having to be wary of ulterior motives when entering a friendship with a guy. With all I’ve heard, the hesitation is warranted. Love is a drug, and we are addicts, so if you need a fix, you’ll try to get it from anywhere.
Do I believe we different from the previous generations of human beings in such a way that we can deviate from this cycle of sexual magnetism?
No, but I do believe in the human spirit, which can look create the world we want and I do believe in values and the ability to motivate ourselves to relationships that go beyond sexual attraction.
In this regard, I find to be the best way to end this conversation about being a guy in this sexual environment is talking about what I strive for. This comes from many hours thinking about the kinds of relationships I want to foster along with listening to troubled tales of the lost souls out there in the world. My truest goal is to find a place and strength to be able to say no to sex. With the ability to wait and find a sense of truth beyond the physicality of it all. Don’t get me wrong intimacy has a place in every adult relationship, but I don’t want to be under the control of these feelings. It’s not to deny them, but to find a way to curb them appropriately. The world does not revolve around sex and I shouldn’t either, I want to enjoy the world and people for who they are and not have this lingering thought in the back of my mind. It’s what I am working towards, and something I want for my relationships in the future…but hey, at the end of the day I’m “just a guy” right.