Toxic Masculinity: A Closer Look
Are you fighting with your partner all the time? Has all the spark and romance gone out of your relationship? But you don’t know why. Many men are their own worst enemies when it comes to relationships.
If you can’t put a finger on exactly what’s wrong in your relationship, it could be related to your behavior patterns. You might be suffocating your love life with toxic masculine habits that cause you and your partner to drift apart slowly every single day.
Do you know what toxic masculinity is all about? Well, here’s a quick overview. Toxic masculinity is a pattern of thinking and acting based on harmful and outdated gender-based traits. Toxic masculinity dictates that you “suck it up and be a man”, “stop acting like a little bitch”, and it makes you believe that “you’ve got to take charge” of everything.
It’s exhausting, restrictive and traumatizing for both you and your partner. It’s not all your fault though. Society, family, and cultural expectations have glorified toxic masculinity for decades. We’re only just breaking out of it now. So, maybe you’re caught in a pattern of toxic masculinity and it’s hurting your relationship. Check out these toxic masculine habits and see if anything rings a bell.
Six Behavior Patterns That Are Ruining Your Relationship
1. Being Too Jealous
A touch of jealousy can be healthy for your relationship. It shows your partner that you care enough about them that you acknowledge the pain it would cause to lose them. It makes your partner feel wanted.
However, jealousy can turn ugly when you’re constantly looking over your partner’s shoulder. You might be worried about their social media habits or get antsy when their phone alerts go off. Some men even go so far as to try and prevent their partner from interacting with other people.
When you’re being too jealous, you’re exerting a level of toxicity that seeks to control your partner out of fear. You start to imagine and project all sorts of scenarios in which your partner might be playing you false. At some point, you have to trust them in order for your relationship to thrive.
2. Playing the Blame Game
Arguments are the grand stage for toxic relationship habits. One of the worst is playing the blame game. This is when you attribute all your problems to something that your partner is doing. It’s never your fault, it’s always something that your partner did or said that led to your bad actions.
This is a reactionary behavior that is steeped in toxic masculinity. It is the need to always be right and the inability to ever see fault in yourself. It could be true that something your partner did or said triggered your reaction, but improving the situation rarely comes from blaming others.
Some men fall into this pattern as a way to win every argument. Relationships are an exchange between two people, two imperfect people who often make mistakes. So, it’s imperative that you focus on things that you can change within yourself. This way, you aren’t trying to win an argument, you’re trying to win the relationship by keeping it stable.
3. Being Emotionally Unavailable
It’s no secret that men often bottle up their emotions. Most men don’t think that anybody wants to listen to how they feel so men are ill-equipped to even describe what’s going on under their skin. You might’ve been taught that emotions and feelings are for women or weak men.
This couldn’t be further from the truth. Your partner wants to know how you feel whether it’s good or bad. You shouldn’t feel the need to keep it all to yourself. This can result in a pressure cooker scenario in which you just explode one day.
Try to connect more with your partner. This doesn’t have to always happen when something is going wrong. Practice it while things are going right. Spend quality time with them and enjoy being in the moment. You’ll find that your partner will respond favorably to sharing emotions. So, even when you experience negative emotions, you can feel safe in sharing them and getting help to deal with them.
4. Being Too Clingy or Controlling
So many men become clingy with their partners when they begin to feel insecure about their relationship. There might be a problem in one area, and your default response is to exert a greater level of control over the whole thing.
You might start calling them on the phone too much, asking too many questions about their activities, or becoming too needy when it comes to physical affection. These are all symptoms of insecurity and can lead your partner to become frustrated and overly taxed by the relationship.
You should never make someone your everything. They need to have their own space and you should, too. This creates healthy boundaries and reinforces the powerful push/pull dynamic of wanting and needing one another.
5. Holding to Strict Gender Roles
When men grow up in an old-fashioned household or when they have certain cultural, religious, or societal influences, they often demand strict gender roles in their relationships. Men are supposed to do this, and women are supposed to do that. This line of thinking completely ignores the evolution of society.
Women don’t belong in the kitchen and you’re not always expected to bring home the bacon, so to speak. In today’s society, nobody should be forced to perform certain roles. Women can earn more money than their spouses and men can manage a household. Breaking free from archaic gender roles is no knock on your manhood.
That’s not to say that traditional gender roles are bad. It’s just important to choose them consciously and not to get pigeonholed into them because of what you deem to be the expectation of your relationship.
6. Being Overly Transactional
One way in which men ruin their relationships is to become too transactional. You might not even notice it, but it reduces your relationship to the level of constant transactional business. Managing your relationship is not like going to the supermarket and buying a loaf of bread in the sense that you give your partner this and in exchange they have to give you that.
Toxic masculinity dictates that you took her out to dinner and now she owes you sex. You pay the bills in the house so she must do everything that you say. You gave her gifts for Valentine’s Day so she should be happy. The problem with this level of transactional exchange is that it cheapens the relationship.
You’re in a relationship with a human being, not a vending machine. You do not have to always give something to receive something. That’s the old way of thinking; that’s toxic masculinity at play. Break away from that line of thinking and try to be less transactional in your exchanges.
Here's How to Move Forward
Men often fail to recognize these signs of toxic masculinity in their relationship even as it slowly poisons them. That’s because manhood has been thought to be all about these exact behavior patterns.
Yet, your manhood is not connected to what you do or what you say or how you treat others. It’s an intrinsic quality of your existence. You are a man even if you cry or show emotion or have a partner who earns more money than you.
It might be difficult to change all these behaviors and thought patterns if this is all that you’ve known your whole life. The easy way forward is to become more mindful of how you think and how you act. Recognize how your behavior affects your partner and avoid blaming them for how you act. Internalize your thought processes for self-analysis, but don’t internalize your emotions. Feel free to break away from toxic masculine norms and find a path forward that works for you and your partner.
Next Read: Lessons About Power in Relationships