What do I know about being a man? Nothing, absolutely nothing
Date: June 29, 2020
Author: CAS MASTRONE, RAMHP Coordinator
What does a 42 year old woman know about being a man you might ask? Nothing, absolutely nothing. However I have spent most of my career working with men, of all shapes, sizes, cultural backgrounds and socioeconomic status. I’ve also had a few relationships with men too. What have I learnt about men is probably a better question. Especially when it comes to supporting their mental health. In that realm I’ve learnt lots, but the two significant things about men I’ve learnt (that are appropriate to share here) are:
- Time and again I have seen, heard and experienced that men tend not to talk and think at the same pace as women. As a woman I can safely say that at times we women can talk too much; particularly in relation to emotional content. Sometimes we lose the ‘less is more’ awareness we have when talking to the men we love. I’ve worked (therapeutically) with many males who breathe a sigh of relief and feel understood when I acknowledge this and share a story of my ex-husband saying to me, “Cas I’m at least 10 minutes behind where you are in this story…this is why I walk away from you”… “Oh!”…That was a tough lesson for me to learn as someone who thinks very quickly and feels compelled to share many of my thoughts! As an aside he learnt he needed to come back when he caught up and finish the conversation. Understanding from communication; we got there eventually!
- The other life changing thing I learnt from observing men (at work and in my personal relationships) is how men approach other men to strike up a conversation based on something tangible. For example, my former husband could strike up a conversation in a bar or restaurant with any musician playing there. He too is a keen musician and I watched him many times strike up connection with men based on a shared love of guitars and music. Some of those people he has formed lifelong friendships with and it started over a guitar!
I then observed my former boyfriend (I’m not selling my strength in relationships with all these formers) do the same thing; but his love is vintage cars and motorbikes. As he and I toured around Tasmania on his Triumph motorcycle I watched as men would approach to chat about the bike. Whether we were stopped at a lookout or on the Spirit of Tasmania I watched as men would be drawn to each other about the bikes they loved to ride or one day hoped to own. It struck me how often I had seen men do this and for the significant men in my life how easy it was for them to approach other men when they had commonality standing between them.
As a woman who has men in my life – my father, sons, my brother and friends, I know the power these items (guitars, bikes, vintage cars, golf clubs, sheds etc) have on men’s social connection and ultimately their well-being.
For example the value that Car Clubs, the Men’s Shed, jamming sessions with mates, footy clubs and the golf course play in men’s well-being, both physically and mentally cannot be overlooked. They may start as places that men go to through a common interest; but the opportunities to connect to likeminded men (who may talk and think in a similar fashion) and over time establish support networks are part of the fabric of well-being and their value cannot be underestimated.
If you are worried about yourself or a man you love please contact your local RAMHP Coordinator for information and referral options. www.ramhp.com.au