If you’ve ever perused the self-help section of your local bookstore or online mega-retailer, you’ve probably noticed a glaring omission. There are plenty of titles aimed at women with titles such as Women Who Love Too Much, Men Who Hate Women and the Women Who Love Them and He’s Just Not That Into You but virtually nothing specifically for men. That’s because the multi-billion dollar self-help industry knows guys aren’t buying them. In 2006, of the 13.5 million self-help books sold, women purchased a full three quarters, according to book consumer trend tracker R.R. Bowker. Let’s face it; one reason we men aren’t investing in ourselves is because most of us are cheap. Oh, sure, we’ll stand in line for a new iPhone or plunk down big bucks on a BMW 5 series (women accounted for only 16.5 percent of BMW 550 purchases in 2011), but when it comes to icky stuff like “feelings” and “emotional growth” you can count us out. Or, then again, maybe it’s just the ridiculous titles. The other problem is, for a lot of guys, the words “male” and “self-help” are redundant. Although things are beginning to change, many of us were taught from a very early age to pick ourselves up by the bootstraps, dust ourselves off and to “stop your whining, Mike, or I’ll give you something to cry about!” It still hurts.
When Traditional Self-Help Isn’t Helpful
Entire generations of men have been encouraged to conceal their true feelings in the interest of “being strong.” Soldiers returning from World War II—collectively known as “The Greatest Generation”—were expected by society to “put it all behind them, forget the war, and get on with their lives,” according to the National Center for PTSD. Consequently, many vets did just that—only to find themselves dealing with delayed onset PTSD years or even decades later. Old habits die hard and, even today, men are far more resistant to turning to self-help books or talk therapy than women are. Men often avoid discussing personal issues with anyone in their lives—perhaps especially their significant others. Unfortunately, most women have been encouraged to behave in exactly the opposite way when it comes to their feelings. That means that when a woman wants to discuss problems in the relationship with her spouse, she is often met with silence, resistance or conflict. In the end, the “suck it up” form of “self-help” isn’t very helpful at all—especially when it comes to relationships.
The Cost of Being Manly
According to the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), men turn to alcohol and drugs at twice the rate of women. In addition, men are more likely to experience anxiety disorders such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Although studies show that depression is more common in women than men, many researchers think the numbers are misleading. The belief among many scientists is that men may simply be “less likely than women to recognize and seek help for depression.” Men are also more likely to deal with their depression in unhealthy ways. In addition to self-medicating with substances, depression in men can manifest as frustration, anger, discouragement, irritability or even violent outbursts. Although women attempt suicide more often than men, men are four times more likely to die by their own hands than are women. One reason is that, while women prefer pills to opt out, men are more likely to grab a gun. Clearly, whatever it is that we men are doing in the interest of our own mental health isn’t working and it’s taking our relationships with it.
Relationships to the Rescue?
The good news for men is that when we go against our propensity to turn inward, we can often turn our lives around for the better. In fact, relationships themselves can be the key to good mental and physical health for men. According to research:
- Married men are more successful at their jobs, receiving more promotions and higher performance appraisals than their single counterparts. They also miss fewer days at work and are on time more often.
- Married men live longer on average than single dudes—a lot longer. Mortality rates for single guys are 250% higher than their betrothed brothers.
- Married men report lower levels of stress and depression and are half as likely to commit suicide as swinging single men are. Plus, 40% of married men say they are “very happy” with their lives (as opposed to 25% of their uncoupled brethren) and, overall, married people were half as likely to say they were unhappy as singles.
What’s a Boy to Do?
Since the self-help industry shuns us and our inclination to be cheapskates goes against our best interests, we men have found ourselves in a bit of a conundrum. That’s where Tokii can help. “For the first time, men have the opportunity to access self help resources for strengthening relationships on their terms in a way catered to them” says Tokii founder Karla Tolstoy. First, the tools on Tokii are completely free. And, seriously, we love free stuff. Next, because the site features conversation-starting quizzes and games, it doesn’t feel like work. In fact, it’s the opposite of work—many of the communication tools on Tokii are geared toward subjects men find interesting such as sports. Surveys show men find Tokii more engaging and interactive than other self-help resources and, because it is something they can do with their partners, they feel it has the potential to make a positive difference for both themselves and their mates. So what are you waiting for? Quit your whining and get busy fixing both yourself and your relationship. After all, it’s free and you’re totally worth it.
Try These DiscoveryGames – discover yourself and your partner on a sexual, emotional and intellectual level and have fun while doing it.
Tantalizing Tokii Reads – to make relationship work into fun.
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