It might seem strange to say, but I have never really felt like a Man.

I am a man. By biological, cultural, and gender identity perspectives.

I’m also (as far as I’m aware, I haven’t really explored but am never closed to exploration in life) fairly firmly heterosexual… so I am a straight, white, cisgender man — which my internal critical voice says makes me “The worst type of human and not entitled to any sort of opinion about anything, especially not about gender.”

I am a man.

But I’ve never felt like a man.

Instead, I have long believed (ever since I was a small child) that humans are equal, regardless of gender. I have long believed that the differences between individual people are bigger than the differences between genders.

As I child, I remember hearing a Billy Connolly stand-up comedy routine where he said, “Men and women are just different!”

I remember hearing this and being angry.

“They’re not different!” I said. “They’re the same!”

I have held this belief all my life.

I think it has helped me to become a very understanding and compassionate person.

I love the person I have become as a result of this egalitarian belief.

But is my belief a lie?

I usually feel more comfortable around women than I do around men.

I often talk about the fact that I grew up as the only boy in a community of 6 girls my age. I wore a dress when I was a young child. After all, everyone else was wearing a dress!

Men are often a bit repellant to me, particularly classic “Men”…

I dislike their inability to talk about their feelings deeply. Their lack of self awareness.

I hate their competitiveness in life and, particularly, around women.

I despise their views on women as sexual objects.

But I am a man.

And I also have aspects of this “masculine” within myself.

As a result, over the years, I think I have developed an internal hatred of those parts of myself that I view as masculine.

This dynamic has caused me to develop an unhealthy dislike to parts of myself…

When I am attracted to a woman, my critical voice berates me for being a “creepy man.” I avert my gaze and hide instead of making eye contact, smiling, and making a connection.

When I have a desire for sex or pleasure, my critical voice (fueled by years of hearing this message from women and media) says “Men always want sex, so you are wrong for wanting it.” As a result, I have completely devalued my own pleasure for years.

When I have thoughts or beliefs about anything related to gender or sex, I shut up. Because “I am not entitled to have any opinion on these because I am a man and therefore bad.”

Nobody has actively told me these things, I don’t think.

I have built these beliefs about myself slowly, piece by piece, over time. Built from lots of little comments I have absorbed from the world.

Has my aversion to the masculine aspects of me been influenced by spending a lot of my life surrounded by women? Possibly.

Why am I talking about this now?

This whole thing is currently causing me some issues around dating and attraction…

For the first time since I was a teenager, I am single and exploring dating.

I have been learning about the idea of “polarity” — the concept (based on the Chinese Yin-Yang) that there are masculine and feminine “energies.”

Everyone, the theory says, has both masculine and feminine energy…

But for sexual attraction to be strong, the theory says… there needs to be a strong pull between them. One partner needs to be more “in their masculine” and the other “in their feminine.”

Gender identity doesn’t matter here. A woman could be strongly “in her masculine” and a man “in his feminine”… and it would still work.

The problems come when people are too much “in the middle.” Neither strongly feminine nor strongly masculine.

This is the theory of polarity. Regardless of whether there are any real biological or neurological bases for this theory… I think it’s useful to help me cast light on a current problem I’m having with dating and attraction…

I am too much “in my feminine” and I’ve actively supressed my “masculine” for years.

My knowledge of my own feminine energy is quite strong, I think. I am very in touch with my emotions, I have strong compassion, nurturing, creativity, and flexibility.

I am proud of my connection to my feminine energy. I think it makes me a very kind person.

The problem is that “the feminine is attracted to the masculine.”

I am often attracted to feminine women… but I am not comfortable with (or even aware of) many aspects of my own masculine energy… so feminine women don’t find it so easy to be attracted to me.

To be attractive, my masculine energy needs a boost.

This is a scary prospect for me.

It means connecting deeply with Men for the first time since I was a child… when my only memories of males were that they bullied me for my whole childhood.

In my previous very-long-term relationship, I think my partner took many of the roles of the masculine.

I often joked that she was the man in the relationship and I was the woman… well, it looks like that might have been true… and it doesn’t feel like a joke now.

It seems bizarre to me that I am 36 years old and only just learning that I need to embrace the fact that I am a man.

I feel a great sense of “grief of what could have been” if I had embraced this aspect of myself fully before instead of actively avoiding it.

I feel like I have lost so many years feeling ashamed of something that is a core part of me…

I am a man.

What does that mean for me now?

It means stepping into a part of society I have avoided for years… the society of men.

Can I learn to access my masculine energy while preserving the compassionate, emotional, understanding person that I have become?

I really don’t know. I hope so.

I’m scared I might “harden” and lose my gentle essence.

What I do know is that I can’t stay as I am.

Because who I am right now is someone who is afraid of Men… and I am a man.

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