Ask Wayne: Man Hasn’t Had Passion for Anything in Years

by Brett on April 29, 2009 · 35 comments

in Dating, Marriage, Relationships & Family

askwayne1

Q:

I am 42, never married, in a stable job, and feeling crappy most of the time. I remember a time when I was very passionate about life. But it has been a long time since anything has excited me. I do not particularly enjoy my job. I seem to have relationships that last a year or so and then slowly fizzle. I have read many self-help books regarding finding your passion, self-esteem, and higher purpose. But I am still looking for the answer. Do you have the answer for me?

A:

Some might just diagnose you as depressed, refer you to the nearest pill pusher, and then call it a day. That ain’t my style. In fact, the only time I can support the use of meds is if you’re balled up in the fetal position and incapable of functioning. Granted, my perspective is not especially popular in this pharmaceuticals-knows-best culture of ours.

But if you’re functioning at home and at the job and are just stuck, unhappy, but willing to do some work to turn things around, I think there is a better way.

You need to take action and you need to stop doing it alone. And by the way, the answer isn’t another romantic relationship. The answer for you is meaningful relationships with men.

We have a few generations of men who have habitually sought out the feminine to solve their problems, to heal their wounds, to make them happy. However, after the short-term thrill has worn off, the men are just as miserable, maybe more so. Why? Because we need to fix our problems. By retreating to the feminine-be it serial monogamy, recreational sex, porn, hookers, etc.-we’re not fixing our problems, we’re just getting another “fix” for our addiction. So, we wake up the next morning feeling even worse.

What most men don’t know is that what ails them is a lack of connection with masculine energy, with the masculine within, with our fathers. That’s right, we are our fathers’ sons. And to be the man you want to be, one of your challenges will be to come face to face with that original relationship with a man, your dad.

What happens when you’re in the company of initiated men, men who are committed to your growth and theirs, and are willing to hold you accountable and be held accountable to a much deeper, trusting relationship-is you begin to get fathered by the other men. Eventually, you become more comfortable in your own skin as you find your place among the men. You also have the opportunity to learn the lessons from your father, so you can move forward into manhood.

This may sound a bit cryptic, but the process is quite natural when you’re with men who are tired of the superficial and are willing to admit that they also need help to be better men, fathers and husbands.

It’s with men-having fun, learning about each other, receiving and offering guidance, wisdom, experience and advice-that we can get help to discover how we really feel, and then connect with our passions and our higher purpose.

It’s difficult for most men to believe that what they need to be happier and more successful is the support of other men. After all, most men have never had that kind of support. It wasn’t taken away from us in our lifetimes. In fact, it’s been several generations since men were raised by men, in the company of their uncles, brother and neighbors, and taught what it meant to be a healthy men in their communities.

But once you discover the power of being in a circle of men, you’ll never want to be without it. It’s within that circle where you’ll find your answer, and so much more.

Got a relationship question for Wayne? Email him @: askwayne@bettermen.org

Wayne M. Levine, M.A., mentors men to be better men, husbands and fathers. See how you can become a better man at www.BetterMen.org.

©2009 BetterMen®

{ 35 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Jerrick April 29, 2009 at 5:56 pm

Great advice and spot on. I’ve seen it firsthand. Men need a core group of other men to share life with on an intimate, trusting level. Men to challenge you, make sure you toe the line, and support you. I’m not talking about beer buddies (although there is a place for that), but solid men who have core principles and integrity. Men that foster a deep relationship and manly bond.

I’m convinced that the essence of manliness is investing in other mens’ lives, and to be vulnerable enough to allow other solid men to invest in you.

2 David April 29, 2009 at 6:10 pm

Brilliant advice. The key is finding a group of men who understand that manliness and tender-heartedness are not mutually exclusive – without them slipping into sissified nancyness. It can be, without doubt, a chore.

Futhermore, lift your vision. Look beyond yourself to other guys around you who could use you as a mentor, friend. “I’m no good!”, you say. Well, neither are they. And they don’t really want you to be perfect, they want you to be authentic. Find guys who will challenge and support you and then find guys you can challenge and support.

It will change your life.

3 Hayden Tompkins April 29, 2009 at 8:01 pm

This is spectacular advice!

I would take it one step further. It’s one thing to hang out and talk with men, quite another to get out there and do with them. Not only is the masculine energy more vibrant (for some reason, I’m thinking of a whitewater of kayaking trip) but I’ve noticed that action tends to contribute towards a man’s well-being, even if it is only physical action.

4 Cameron Sharpe April 29, 2009 at 8:25 pm

Nice Blog
My pleasure to come across your blog and read it, keep posting.

5 Anthony April 29, 2009 at 11:49 pm

“In fact, it’s been several generations since men were raised by men, in the company of their uncles, brother and neighbors, and taught what it meant to be a healthy men in their communities”

- I guess that’s a consequence of the staggering divorce rates our country seems to suffer from. American families – many of them at least – are broken families.

6 Jacob Smith April 30, 2009 at 12:16 am

As always, good advice. I think all of the readers here would agree that developing good man friendships, with men that will test us and hold us to our values, can be a path to fixing many of the problems modern men deal with.

That said, I think there’s more to be said on the subject. I’ve met many people who are somewhat depressed with their circumstances, and one common link I find is that they have become depressed to the point of inaction. Once they reach the point of depression they stop trying due to their mind perceiving things in the worst light.

I read once that happiness is a habit borne of repeated practice, not a reward or windfall. I’ve always found that when I start to lose enthusiasm for life the best remedy is to try whatever activity or hobby is available. Even faking interest seems to work. Simply building the habit of asking questions and acting interested allows you to stop thinking about how somethings looks, and instead experience it. Your mind is able to focus on the solution rather than worrying that something might be boring or frustrating. Tieing in with the article, it also allows you to meet enthusiastic people, people who are working to improve and fulfill themselves. You begin moving again, rather than worrying where the road might take you.

7 Jim April 30, 2009 at 3:32 am

You guys are just starting to scratch the surface on some ideas that are very important, and needed in our society today. It’s not just about learning that the HEART of a man needs to be free – but what to do with it afterward. Our strength as men (and I don’t mean physical strength) is to be used for others – to be better husbands, fathers, and friends.

If you are interested on the topic of this blog post, I highly suggest that you read a book called “Wild At Heart” by John Eldredge. He explains that we were created with passions and sense of adventure deep within us, and he explores how to get your heart back as a man!
Here’s the link to the book:

http://www.amazon.com/Wild-Heart-Discovering-Secret-Mans/dp/0785287965

8 Curt Weil April 30, 2009 at 5:41 am

I was delighted to read Wayne’s comments on this, my 65th birthday. Having been part of a men’s circle (team) for 15 years, I endorse what he said with all my heart. I’ve been in the place of no passion and it sucks.
Among the comments posted, the one about being in action – kayaking, for instance – works really well; for me, being in service AND action – working with Habitat or Rebuilding Together – works even better.
The one thing that hasn’t been offered is a way to hook up with other, like-minded circles of men.
Here is one site: http://www.nom.org – my home group, non-sectarian, non-political. Here is another: http://www.ebnom.org/about/circles.html – our brothers in the East SF Bay, writing about a Circle of Circles.

9 Joe Lon Mackey April 30, 2009 at 6:43 am

This advice is right on the money. I truly believe it. Think about the great guy friends you had in high school, college, etc. How much fun you had, the camaraderie. Where’d they all go? How many of us have that sort of circle of friends now that we’re married and/or with kids? It’s hard for a man to find a little guy time outside of the immediate family stuff. I know personally, there’s just simply too much going on in life with either me or my friends for us to get together much anymore. And that is depressing for sure.

10 MisterFox April 30, 2009 at 6:57 am

It’s almost shocking me that I would read this today, out of all days.

Recently, I spent every lunchbreak with my female colleagues and although it was fun, I felt something missing. By coincidence, we ran into one of the women’s boyfriend and I suddenly felt something close to a relief if you will. Felt like I could talk more and also more freely – and I did.

So not only do I follow this article and try to live by it, I’m also already convinced by hard proof, so to speak. Still, thanks for confirming my suspicion.

11 60 in 3 - Health and Fitness April 30, 2009 at 7:14 am

When I went through my divorce, my first thought was “must get into another relationship NOW!” but the reality was that I needed to reconnect with friends, find new hobbies (I picked up gardening) and figure out what makes me passionate. Friends, especially male friends, helped a lot with that.

Gal

12 Charlie April 30, 2009 at 7:46 am

Great piece. What is meant by this:

“In fact, it’s been several generations since men were raised by men, in the company of their uncles, brother and neighbors, and taught what it meant to be a healthy men in their communities.”

I thought in previous generations men were even more remote than they are now. Maybe I’m thinking about that wrong, though – you’re referring to, say, the Ward Cleaver school of parenting?

13 CS April 30, 2009 at 7:50 am

Very, very true words, great post! I’ve been struggling with depression for several years now. One thing that has helped me is getting involved with my parish’s Knights of Columbus council. I think it’s a great outlet for the Catholic man, much like Curt was discussing above. We participate in community events as well as having our own social gatherings. I agree that action brings out the best in men, especially when it is action informed by faith.

14 Suze April 30, 2009 at 8:28 am

This article was a great wake-up call for me. I love my husband and don’t get to see him as often as I’d like, so when he has free time, I tend to get possessive and want him to spend all that time with me. But I can tell there’s something lacking in his life and that he really needs that masculine energy you talked about. This article really helped me see that letting my husband spend time with his guys will make him a better and happier husband so that when we do spend time together it will be even better.

15 William Unkel April 30, 2009 at 8:49 am

Women go shopping or “do lunch” not for the named activity but to bond and work out their concerns.

Men go bowling, hunting, boating, to the club, or whatever to do the same.
Only good male friends can really keep you on a straight track when problems start to take their effect on you. The women are important but they want you to be a man and (within limits) act and think as one. If they wanted a woman’s advice or help they would ask another woman.

As for the fellow with the problem, Get out and do something that you have always wanted to do or experience. As you find a reason to get up and out you personality will brighten up and the ladies will notice your self confidence.

16 Roberto April 30, 2009 at 10:23 am

I agree with Wayne response. I am 30 years old and at different points of my life I felt this lack of passion for life as well (which I do not at this point). What I usually self-diagnosed with was alienation or existential crisis or something along those lines.But as we know just pointing out what is wrong with something does not make it right.
Great article as usual!

17 Brucifer April 30, 2009 at 1:37 pm

Great advice. We’ve been too brainwashed into seeking our validation as men through sexual encounters and/or relationships with females. I know too many men (and FAR too many women) who don’t feel any sense of self-worth unless they are in a relationship.

Heck with that. Go out and find an interesting hobby or activity and be an interesting and self-validated chap to both women and men as a result

(That we’ve also been far too brainwashed into getting our validation as men through identification with sports and sports teams is another sad story.)

18 chris April 30, 2009 at 5:15 pm

The only way to true happiness in anything is through Jesus Christ. Not to say that will make all your problems go away by no means, but does make the road easier if you have a relationship with Him.

19 Tim Cosgriff April 30, 2009 at 6:12 pm

Reading this made me think of the book/movie “Fight Club.” There is a line where Tyler says “We are a nation of men raised by women, I dont know if another woman is what I need”
This was a great read and I’m glad I took the time to take a look, I will now be trying to take some more time to take a look at my relationships with my male friends and see if they are up to par with what you have written.

20 Hugh April 30, 2009 at 7:09 pm

I agree with Wayne too. I know I feel the lack of men in my life and wish I had a better way to meet and bond with other guys. I live in south florida and haven’t noticed any real man groups around here. :(

21 Jacob Smith April 30, 2009 at 7:38 pm

Just a short anecdote on the above response:

Listening to the radio on the way home from work a few weeks back, there was a tongue-in-cheek piece about one of the producers having met another guy at the beach, and ending up going back to his place for a beer. The hosts were implying that the other guy was most likely gay, but the producer maintained that they were both just men who had the common ground of having lost touch with their male friends. The following conversation and calls from a few listeners resulted in the creation of a Facebook group specifically for guys in Perth that wanted more male bonding. Last I heard there were a few hundred members.

While maybe not the best way to build lasting man friendships, due to a possible lack of common ground, I still thought it was promising to see men willing to do something about their concerns.

22 Le dauphin April 30, 2009 at 7:39 pm

~ Uzz!

I feel you, compañero- Suss the NWTA- The New Warrior Training Adventure, where I was initiated into manhood in 2001 (man- no question about it… & there about 25 of us initiates & another 30-70 initiated men from all over the world [!]with us, at the right moments, along the week-end- awesome).

Brought my blahs (for example, me mum’s decade of alcoholism brought all kinds of violence & degradation- oof.. a lot to snap out of lol) and was not only challenged & supported in my work, but also took-on major skils which I still use & am developing today. Even the people I meet have grown from being around this stuff. Huge.

Ain’t too much I’m still into, some eight years down the line- My squeeze, skiing, biking and my MISSION ‘to heal & empower myself & others through care, education & encouragement’ have stuck around haha ; )

Anyhoo, men are waiting!

In service,

Ze Dauph ~ (‘Alpha Wolf’)

P.S.: Living my mission really gets me going:
“Today, I live in service
by modelling clarity, ferocity & efficiency;
Integrity -through accountability- without apology.”

lol Yalla ciao : D

23 canyon289 April 30, 2009 at 9:51 pm

I truly wish I could be a part of a group of males like this but the problem lies in the fact that girls manage to tear it apart.
From my limited experience in college whenever a group of guys gets together the bonds are always broken by whatever attractive female that notices a bunch of guys are hanging out. Either the girl makes herself a part of the group or another guy introduces her in. And the worst part is none of the guys can just take the fall if they lose the girl. Most of them aren’t good sports and tear the group apart because they are angry that they themselves couldn’t get the female.
Did any of you have a similar experience and did this change as your peers got older?

24 lando May 1, 2009 at 11:17 am

Interesting article. I must say that being somewhat of an introvert I tend to avoid such social interactions. But I do remember at some point in my life where a true male bondship with a group of friends was both appreciated and rewarding . But I have also made the mistake in the past of picking friends who were poisonous to my character. In such that excessive drinking and skirt chasing greatly mixed in with vulgarity and obsceanities was the order of the day.
I have pretty much given up trying to locate like minded inviduals and am content to find wholesome hobbies and activities to pass my time. But to those who have a core group of like minded friends who can both cultivate and soothe the mind as well as the body, then cheers to you.

25 Runandbike10 May 1, 2009 at 2:47 pm

Good article. It’s hard to find websites out there that offer this kind of forum. Maybe I’m just not looking hard enough.
Anyway, it’s tough finding good guy friends nowadays. I’m in college and you’d think it would be easy. I think maybe I’m a little bogged down with all my school work, but it would be great to find a good group of guys that actually stands for something more than just your “typical” go out to the bar and drink. It’s alright, though, maybe there’s more variety when I get out into the work force!!

Thanks for the post though! I’m always checkin’ back for more.

26 Mark May 1, 2009 at 11:04 pm

I’m completely with the writer’s opinion on pill taking, and I’m glad it was mentioned, but I’m apparently going to be the first non-spam response to speak against the answer given on the whole. I’m not saying the advice was wrong – it’s something I believe is very true in every aspect, as is also the case with the many comments. What I’m here to question, however, is the singularity of the answer.

If this was a question submitted by a real person, than why is the answer so absolute in seemingly knowing what the problem is? The question does not mention male relationships at all, and the fella may very well have great male relationships. There are number of factors that help form a man, and a number of other factors that make him feel fulfilled – God, family, children, a wife, responsibility, artistic expression, athletic accomplishments, a social duty, etc.. Perhaps he has no strong male relationships in his life, it is of course a possibility. Perhaps, though, it is something else. He once was passionate about life, as he states, yet it makes sense to me that by this point in his life he could simply be worn down from an ongoing unsatisfactory existence. A woman isn’t always the answer for someone’s unhappiness, but by age 42, it certainly shouldn’t be ruled out.

I can give a personal account for this, as well. Since before I can remember, I have related and connected better with gals than guys. I have guy friends, and I wouldn’t trade those relationships for anything in the world. Still, though, I truly value the friendships I can form with women. They are different. I’m far from the average guy, and I have always been able to relate much easier with women than most men. Too often I hear comments that seem to proliferate the idea that somebody needs one sex more than the other, while I beg to remind people that while male relationships are sometimes overlooked and are very important, it is easy to stray too far in one direction to imagine that this is the key to problems. By segregating the sexes in this way, I think it can be detrimental in some cases. Men are different than women, and vice versa. I’m no unisex-promoting feminist, however we are all people – and I would much prefer a strong relationship with a person with whom I connected, than someone I didn’t. So, in my case, more often than not this is going to be with a woman. I realize I’m in the minority, and again.. I do have a couple of great male friends, my best friends, but this is still just part of one potential answer to the original question posed.

So, again, I think the answer was very true in everything said – it just sadly omitted the chance to touch on anything else.

27 Mike May 2, 2009 at 11:48 pm

I joined the Freemasons last year and I think it provides a great way for men to be men and help each other lead better lives. There’s an emphasis on charity, brotherhood, virtue and leadership that I don’t think you get in many other places in the modern world. Most of the guys there are your grandpa’s age, but there are a few younger men now coming up in the ranks and hopefully today’s lost generations will see it as a way to become men again…

28 Daetan Bayar Huck May 10, 2009 at 12:34 am

I strongly agree with Wayne’s suggestion that the man in question reconnect with his male companions. In my experience, forming close bonds with men has bettered my relationships with BOTH sexes!

Before I was in high school, I was very socially awkward around women my age and going into high school I focused very intently on my relationships with my female peers. In the end, relationships (casual and romantic) became natural and easy for me, but I neglected my relationships with men — even after becoming a fraternity man in college.

In my sophomore year, I was plagued by a depression that I thought was attributed to Seasonal Affective Disorder and I slowly withdrew from the social sphere of my life. Thankfully, I was withdrawing directly into the welcoming arms of my fraternity brother with whom I lived. Quickly (unexpectedly), I began to feel more vibrant, more aware, and more empowered.

It took me a long time before I formed relationships with men again, but when I reconnected with my biological brother and fraternity brothers I felt much more content and I felt whole again. And it wasn’t until I read an Art of Manliness article that I consciously realized that I had been missing the essential male bonding.

Try re-connecting with male relatives, forming friendships with co-workers, and pals you meet on the street. Manliness and manly activities are gathering points for males across the bounds of religion, politics, and identity!

David’s comment that the “[key] is finding a group of men who understand that manliness and tender-heartedness are not mutually exclusive – without them slipping into sissified nancyness” is spot on! Hahah, “sissified manliness!” I’m going to remember that!

29 Phililp June 15, 2009 at 11:32 am

For once I fully agree with Wayne. He needs to be part of something bigger, have a strong group of peers to be part of. Join a softball team, hit the gym, go golfing etc. I don’t think “masculine energy” is the solution for everything, but having a strong core of friends is good.

30 Shane July 29, 2009 at 9:13 am

Nice advice. Just got me motivated to do another guys night out with two of my best friends from high school, good buddy from work, father in law and wife’s uncle. All men that certainly have added to my life the last few years.

31 Seth August 1, 2009 at 12:53 pm

Speaking as someone who’s actually taken some psychology classes: if a person is “balled up in the fetal position and incapable of functioning”, then they should have been on meds a long time ago. Socializing might help someone who’s simply stuck in a rut, but if that doesn’t help then it’s time to see a psychologist. Not doing so is how people end up with treatment-resistant depression – they wait so long to get help and in the meantime their brains get chemically “hardwired” into having these depressive and self-defeating thought pattens that are difficult to shake off.

I’m sure there are lots of people on medication who don’t need to be, but I’ve met a lot more people not on medication who probably should have been, and it’s precisely because of the dismissive attitude that so many people have toward mental illness – there’s no shame in getting a cast for a broken leg or taking insulin if you have diabetes, but if you take a pill to help with depression then people assume you’re lazy, weak, or making it up.

32 mark July 9, 2010 at 6:35 pm

There is a glaring problem with your analysis, Seth: antidepressants do not survive placebo controlled trials. Furthermore, the whole neurotransmitter/depression vehicle is a jalopy, a bucket of bolts, a basket case. “Blaming the Brain”, by Valenstein, is a good book to start the disabusing with.

33 Rohit Ramachandran August 5, 2013 at 5:46 pm

Hmmm. Makes sense.

34 Tommy August 19, 2013 at 6:22 pm

I’m so thrilled I came across this site. I have been reading and enjoying all these articles, many of which have hit home for me. Thank you for your contributions.

35 Derek March 1, 2014 at 1:01 pm

My mother raised me. My dad is a good man but time with him was intermittent. And now he lives a state away. I’m 47 now. For the past 4 years, I’ve been in the funk described. My hobbies are long gone. I have been drawing closer to my wife to fill that void, but what is said here seems to be true. My question is that when one is feeling this sort of anxious, depressed funk and (therefore) diminished and lacking some of the better social skills, how do you crawl out of that pit to begin building these kinds of friendships/relationships? And being authentic with other men seems to cross some invisible manly line: men usually don’t want to admit that they have issues. How do you get past that?

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