Toxic masculinity is justifiably villainized. It is so often the cause of physical abuse against women, problematic behavior in the workplace, powerful men refusing to listen, and a general culture of patriarchal aggression.
Less commonly discussed--but also extremely troublesome--is the way that toxic masculinity actually victimizes the men who perpetrate it.
Too many men do not feel they can safely discuss their internal feelings without losing power, standing, or reputation.
A recent Reddit post aimed to change that in its own small way. Men, empowered by the mask of internet anonymity, were asked to share their biggest difficulties.
"Only one of my friends ever contacts me unprompted, whether it is via text or a quick drop by. I would never hear from the others again if I didn't message or call them first."
"This isn't as bad as some of the others here but it has been bothering me for a long while."
An Unsustainable Act
"I'm tired of pretending everything is going well. I lost all motivation and drive to do well in life. I keep telling myself it will get better but nothing is going right."
"I just want a hug from someone who really cares about me and tell me everything will be okay. I want to drop out of school so badly to recover but that's not possible. :("
Physical Affection that Feels Inaccessible
"I really want a hug. I haven't been hugged in so long. It would be nice I think." -- Saaacy-K
"i actually sat and thought about it yesterday and i haven't had physical contact with another human (other than perhaps brushing a hand from someone handing me change or rubbing shoulders in the street) for around 3 years" -- Goibhniu_
"I act indifferent and have things under control but in reality I'm terrified of the future. I think about 100 what-if scenario a day. I don't like to talk about myself Cuz I feel like I'm not interesting or people don't care about what I have to say about my life."
"Thank God I have good friends but those things not even them I can share with."
A Delicate Ordeal
"My wife is currently having an emotional affair with a coworker, and shows no remorse. Her family and friends seem to support her. I had some serious anxiety about a year ago for a handful of months, and my wife found someone else during that time."
"My whole world is destroyed. I feel like a loser, I'm too embarrassed to admit it to my friends, and I don't know how I can continue on."
"She starts individual counseling tomorrow, and all I can hope is that she at least realizes how hurtful she has been."
"I can't imagine being with anyone else, but having your wife tell you that she thinks she may be happier with another man just sucks all of your self worth out of you."
"I distance myself from everyone in my life emotionally because the feeling of being vulnerable and truly opening up to people scares the sh** out of me."
"It always seems to come back to bite me in the a** when I leak a little bit too much information because I just want to be alone and forget about everything."
"I wish I could live alone and have very little interactions with everyone, it's always so draining to be around people day in day out with little alone time."
Struggling With Step One
"I don't want to accept the fact that I'm depressed because if I do then it'll be harder for me to overcome it" -- plocjohn
Just To Be Affirmed
"Give us a pat on the back and ask us how we're doing every now and then, as small as it may seem it can mean the world to some." -- JustLeeGuy
"I think society has just accepted the archetype of the silent unsharing male. It doesn't occur to them that we have feelings until we share. It's a vicious cycle." -- TheRealXiaphas
Don't Know Where to Start
"It's one of those things where you don't know what is wrong with you" -- completeuttera**face
"I'm really hoping therapy will help with this." -- plsacceptmythrowaway
"As a woman, I can't tell you how much it helps to talk things out. Even when you have no idea what to say, just talking about your feelings and having them heard is half the therapy."
"I feel sorry that men have been conditioned to keep their emotions hidden. It's such a sad and lonely way to be. I hope more men feel comfortable talking about their feelings every day." -- KetordinaryDay
Slipping Out of View
"I'm super lonely. I work 50-60 hour weeks because I can't stand to be alone in my empty house."
"Every attempt I've made at a relationship has failed and I'm starting to think I will never find love that goes both ways. My last 'relationship' ended when I found out I was the side guy."
"I don't have any close friends because I can't trust anyone anymore. Every person I try to open up to ends up using it against me in some way. I'm emotionally broken and don't know how to make connections anymore."
Sometimes Awkwardness is Truly Painful
"That I love my parents but I feel super shy telling them "I love you". That's all." -- umotex12
"I'm not a man but I feel the same way. I'm 21 and my parents are getting on a little bit now. I want them to know how much I love them, but I can't bear the awkwardness of actually saying it because we're not an affectionate family."
"They would think I was dying or something if I just said it out of the blue." -- lizdogga
Mourning At Your Own Pace
"I cry every morning and every night because I miss my step dad so much."
"I cry because I took him for granted and never realized how much I loved him and how happy he made me and how I'll never be able to tell him all these things."
"My mother and sister don't understand my feelings and my brothers make fun of me and bully me saying that at least I had a dad. My friends don't get it either as they've never had this kinda of hurt."
"I feel nothing in life, I'm just drifting through each day at the moment - my biggest downfall is that I'm able to convince everyone that I'm fine and act like one of those people everyone assumes is happy, because I'm afraid to talk and feel like a downer to everyone around me."
"I have kids that are amazing and genuinely keep me going, but I hate everything else, I hate my job but it enables me to not do very much and stay at home, and I know I'd hate any job so I have no idea what to do..."
"...I feel like even if I won the lottery I'd just go 'oh cool' because who even cares"
Trouble Accessing the Internal
"I don't even know how to reach out to my emotions except in extreme cases. I refuse to be vulnerable even in front of my partners and I'm unable to understand why."
"This was partly why my relationships have all been utter failures."
"I don't think I'll ever be able feel love."
"I thought I made a good friend. He said he was a hugger and touched me a bunch of times. I touched his back some. He thanked me."
"Then two days later said it was creepy and I couldn't come over anymore."
"Then I made a new xbox friend. Super clingy. Then he got mad at me for some small thing said to a friend and said rude stuff and blocked me on everything."
"I need hugs, touch, loyal guy friends, and not to act like I'm trying to get with you for wanting it."
The Rule of Sixes
"... I feel invisible, because I don't have the 6 figure job, 6 pack, I'm not 6 feet tall, and I don't have a phallus longer than 6 inches."
"I haven't contributed anything significant to society and probably never will. I'm one of the ones that will be forgotten. No legacy."
"My eating disorder has gotten bad again. I'm extremely lonely and isolated. I've lost friends just by being 'independent and confident' and not texting and call first so now I'm nearly alone."
"I'm petrified about the future with a million paths and no direction, and I'm so stressed that I can't get a good pathway started."
"I'm terrified of dating because I still feel extremely insecure about my body. Tonight my first day off in while I woke up jerked off, binge ate junk food threw it up and started drinking and now I'm on reddit so yeah."
"I'm so depressed and anxious I don't know why."
The Desire to Dissolve
"I want to be free. I want to be free from nations, systems, norms, and ages. I hate feeling and thinking."
"This is a really beautiful planet but a really sad world."
If you or someone you know is struggling, you can contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).To find help outside the United States, the International Association for Suicide Prevention has resources available at https://www.iasp.info/resources/Crisis_Centres/