On Emotional Integrity For Men And How Saying I Missed You To My Friend Was A Pretty Cool Thing
Written by Dr. Larry
Me: “I missed you, man.”
Jake: “I missed you, too.”
I hadn’t seen Jake in a while, like weeks. He’s probably my best friend right now—we met as random Craigslist roommates in Venice Beach years ago and have been good friends since. Even took an epic trip to Colombia together last year. I had been a long time since we’d lifted at Golds together or gone out, so when he was having a BBQ at his new place, I had to make it. When I got there, I just felt like saying the above.
VULNERABLE WORDS CAN CONNECT
When I told him I missed him and he reciprocated, it was a really cool thing. My “manly” hands have trouble typing this, but the most accurate word is joy. It was a joy to express and share that emotion to my friend.
Now this may sound basic and obvious to you. Like, duh. But I don’t think I could have done this 10 years ago, maybe even 5. In other words—I don’t think I was experiencing the richness and joys of this kind of connected, emotional life, with those close, certainly not the men (family, friends, colleagues) in my life.
And now, it feels wonderful to be able to experience that. Or in XY speak, really fucking cool, man.
IT TAKES MASCULINE COURAGE TO EXPRESS HOW YOU FEEL, ESPECIALLY TO ANOTHER MAN
I will admit, it took some courage for me to say that. I think in any relationship, when you put yourself out there (there’s that word again—vulnerable), there is a risk of rejection. Of someone not reciprocating, whether it be to a parent, partner or friend. And then we might feel foolish or bad when we are emotionally hung out to dry. On this occasion, I felt this fear, for sure.
There is also, and still, homophobia among men today. The fear that if I say “I love you” to my buddy Tom, he might think I’m gay. And for a heterosexual male in a time when I believe it’s ok to be gay, that would still be the worst. It can be very shaming. Or, along similar lines, he might think that saying these things is not manly, that I’m girly or weak or whatever the opposite of what men are supposed to be. What’s wrong with you as a man?
When in reality in my experience, it takes far more courage and strength as a man to say these things. To express these feelings. And what you get to experience when you do—is far worth the risk.
EMOTIONAL INTEGRITY IS A THING
I’m going to call this emotional integrity for men. I don’t know if this is a thing or a word, if not I’m making it up. If it’s Freud’s—I concur with him. I understand integrity primarily to be matching your actions with your beliefs. Outer life congruent with the inner life. When your words and actions align with your inner beliefs. I believe service is important, and live this belief working as a doctor taking care of the sick.
Emotional integrity, then, would be living on the outside congruently with your inner emotions. I love my friend, so I’m going to express that emotion. And when I do, I not only live what is true for me on the inside, I get to experience the goods internal to friendship—like the joy of connecting with him.
Emotional integrity. Along the lines of the 5 Love Languages (great book, check it out if you haven’t), there are more ways to express love than words. Actions, material things, time and touch, for example. And I’m not suggesting that to live in emotional integrity with those you love, you have to always be verbally expressing it. There are many ways for us men to express our love for the other men close in our lives. Have you tried it lately?