To all the men I’ve known before: A love letter for Valentine’s Day

Share this

Dear men,

This Valentine’s Day, we’re thinking of you.

We’re thinking of the men who will feel love and who will show love to others today, but we’re especially thinking of the men who will go through this day and most other days feeling unloved, or like they have no love to give.

We’re thinking about the men who are seeking committed romantic relationships, but aren’t finding them, those unsatisfied with the instability of their relationships, those of you having a hard time making connections offline, and those who have given up on love altogether. Finding love is scary, sometimes it is disappointing, and most of all, it is hard, and it requires us to be vulnerable. Making meaningful and supportive platonic connections, or friendships, can also be just as hard. 

Equimundo’s mission is to talk about and research men and masculinity to advance gender equality, which has rightfully meant making life better for women and girls. Yet sometimes, men’s unique struggles feel overlooked and unseen and many feel attacked by feminism. Because equality has sometimes been misunderstood as a zero-sum game, it’s understandable that when women’s issues are talked about, some men think, “hey, I have problems too.”

We care about you. The pressures and expectations placed upon you can often feel overwhelming. Society’s rigid definitions of masculinity – what some call “toxic masculinity” – can leave you feeling confined and unsure of your place in the world, and we know they affect your ability to make and keep connections. The weight of expectations around manhood can be heavy, and it’s okay to feel overwhelmed by them. And we know that when men and boys are feeling isolated, hurt, and angry, the effects are felt by everyone. 

How are men in the US doing? We asked them, and it’s clear many aren’t doing okay:

  • 22% of men are either mostly not looking for a relationship or mostly unable to find sexual partners.
  • 13% of men report occasional relationships but are looking for something more committed.
  • 38% of men report being in a stable relationship and being mostly satisfied.
  • 46% of men have ever used a dating app; of these, more were looking for a committed relationship than a casual one.
  • 65% of men aged 18 to 23 say that “no one really knows me well.”
  • 53% of men agree that “in America today, men have it harder than women.”
  • Nearly half of men (48%) say their online lives are more engaging and rewarding than their offline lives.

It’s not easy to navigate the complexities of modern life, especially when it seems like genuine connections are harder to come by. Contrary to what patriarchy (or Ken) suggests, your vulnerability in admitting these feelings is a testament to your strength, not your weakness, and to your inherent, human desire to care and to love.

The weight of expectations around manhood can be heavy, and it’s okay to feel overwhelmed by them.

We know from our and others’ research that having meaningful connections just makes life better. Relationship quality is the largest predictor of happiness and has a huge impact on physical health, mental health, and longevity. Men who have and tap into these connections are more satisfied in their jobs, in their relationships with others, and in their overall life. They also have greater self-satisfaction, more gratitude in their lives, and a better sense of balance.

Contrary to what patriarchy (or Ken) suggests, your vulnerability in admitting these feelings is a testament to your strength, not your weakness, and to your inherent, human desire to care and to love.

Know that there are people who care about you, and who want to be cared for by you. Know that it’s okay to reach out to them for support and a caring shoulder. You don’t have to bear your burdens alone. There are people who want to listen, to understand, and to support you.

Some influencers on social media have speculated that many men will not be given their first bouquet of flowers until their own funeral.  They’re trying to change that.

Today, we want you to reach out to someone who cares about you. Check in with them about how they’re feeling, and be honest with them about what you’re going through. Remember that you are not the only one experiencing feelings of loneliness, and let them know you need connection. And if no one comes to mind today, spend some loving time with yourself: have a nice meal, take yourself for a walk, buy yourself flowers––do something that will bring you joy. Your presence in this world matters. You are worthy of all the love and happiness in the world, and we hope you never forget that. You’re not just Ken; you are Kenough. We’re happy you’re here.

Love,
Equimundo


In case you need support, please find below a list of resources. As an organization invested in men’s health and well-being, we’re sharing community mental and emotional health support for men living in the DMV, the broader United States, and online resources for everyone.

Washington DC, Maryland, & Virginia

United States

Online resources for supporting yourself or someone else

Translate »