There seems to be no discernible cycle in a man’’s life. Are there any rhythms that are peculiar to men, that separate men from women? What is different about men? Do men have periods?
Is there a built in cycle to the life of a man? Do guys have periods?
All of life has rhythm, from the cycle of days, created by the sun, to the cycle of months, created by the moon. The seasons roll around from year to year, birds fly south, and back again, and the snows come and go. As humans we have a cycle of life and death roughly around the ‘four score years and ten’ of the bible. Even civilisations have their growth and their decline.
Women are well known for their menstrual cycle, men live with it and still cease to understand it and wonder, do men have periods? The cycle is governed by the moon and by proximity to other women. It creates an ebb and flow to female life, a way of measuring time going by. Men, of course, interrupt this by impregnating women but only during the cycle of child-bearing, after ‘the change’ that is all gone.
Do Men Have Periods? What’s The Truth?
But what about men? Do guys get periods? Through all this there seems to be no discernible cycle in a man’s life. Are there any rhythms that are peculiar to men, that separate men from women? Are there male periods? What is different about men?
I think there are discernible differences and that by coming to understand these we can grow as men and come to better understand ourselves. Once we have a better understanding we develop our strength and change how the world sees us. We may not answer the question, do men have periods, but we can move forward.
The Flow of In and Out
This is the most basic rhythm of all. It doesn’t denote the sexual act of in and out, although there are clear connections there, but the male characteristic of involvement and non-involvement. Men are ether in or out. They are either focused or in their ‘nothing box’, either attached or detached.
This is one of the great indicators of masculine strength, their ability to be totally there, completely present. Women know exactly when a man is in this state and they get very excited by it. They also know when men are not detached and they get very frustrated by it. They often cannot understand how a man can be so detached, so devoid of thought or interest. They cannot see how a man can be so empty, so uninterested. It doesn’t occur to them, do men have periods.
One of the distinctions between men and women is that women are all about filling up and men are all about emptying out, we see more about this in the next section. Women are constantly involved and thinking and caring and … men just can’t deal with it. They cannot see why a woman can’t just empty out and watch TV, or fish or …
This is one of my favourite qualities in men. We are able to focus and achieve precisely because we can completely empty ourselves and let it all go. Do men have periods, yes, periods of total inactivity!
The Sexual Rhythm
So, OK, there is a sexual rhythm of in and out, but that is a very simplistic view. The sexual rhythm follows the pattern; Interest, Arousal, Orgasm, Sleep. It’s a basic build up, empty out rhythm. It is associated with the flow of in and out but gets a little more complicated. I know men are supposed to be simple, but sometimes there can be a little complication.
This rhythm is definitely different from the female sexual rhythm which grows and builds and just keeps going. It causes no end of aggravation for many men who cannot cope the the continuation of the intensity. For men there is a finish and to go beyond that requires a lot of effort and strength. Do men have periods, yes, periods of intensity.
A man starts by being interested in a woman and the play begins. At this stage all options are open and the woman still has choices open to her. If she returns the interest a man can very quickly move on to the next stage, arousal. Now the woman’s choices are rapidly closing off. Many women miss this and still think a man is playing. By now he isn’t, he is on track. Arousal is the start of sex and often the start of a process that men are unable to stop easily.
Depending on the maturity and experience of the man it can very quickly lead to climax, the ultimate end of sex. This is the emptying out that all men strive for, ‘la petite mort’, the near death experience. This triggers a hormone shift that moves the man to sleep. He is finished, spent, done for. Sometimes the shift brings on a big yawn in me, then my partner knows it has been good. Do men have periods, yes, periods of sleep and nothing…
This basic rhythm also appears in relationships and marriages. There is interest that grows and peaks followed by … nothing. Women find it hard to understand, but it’s just a natural process and has nothing to do with them.
The Archetypal Male Life
This looks at the flow of a man’s life and has extraordinary applicability across cultures, which is why I am looking at it from an archetypal perspective. It has the following flow of archetypes:
Birth > Child > Predator > Warrior > Father > Saboteur > Elder > Child > Death
After Birth the Child is weak and defenceless. he is dependent on his mother and is building his reactions to men and women, more on this in the next section. He then reaches puberty and dramatic changes happen in his body, changes that he is not often equipped to deal with. These can turn him into a Predator as he tries to understand the strong sexual desires he now has. He hasn’t the strength or compassion to properly deal with them. Lust and dominance characterise this stage. He then moves in his Warrior. In some societies there is a formal move into this stage, a move that can help him deal with what is happening inside him. In western society this shift can be far more problematic.
The Warrior is able to show his strength and form relationships which enable his move into the Father. Here responsibility takes over. Other people crowd into his life in a way the Warrior wouldn’t have accepted. His wife/partner and children depend on him, he needs to keep working and earning money, the responsibilities crowd out his passions and desires. This shifts him into the Saboteur, classically known as the mid-life crisis. He is getting older and wants to return to the passion of his youth, either with a younger woman or a more exciting job.
This is, of course, just illusion and make believe. He is really growing through this stage. His children get older and leave home, his wife’s focus comes back to him, his job gets more important and suddenly he is the Elder, the Sage, the Wizard. His strength returns in a more mature way and he realises the responsibility was an important part of leading to this stage. Old age then beckons with the prospect of returning to the Child and Death.
Can men have periods, yes, periods of work and periods of… yes, you’ve guessed it!
The Myth of Oedipus
This flow can be seen as a constant struggle to acknowledge separateness and to bring opposites together. It is about the opposites of masculine and feminine and a boy’s struggle to deal with them. I am indebted to Peter O’Connor for his analysis of this in his book The Inner Man. He points out that there are three clear stages of struggle in a man’s life, the Oedipal Stage (5-6), adolescence (13-19) and mid-life (35-45). These stages are cumulative and each incorporates the former.
In the Oedipal stage the young boy becomes a rival with the father for the mother and experiences the threat of castration from the father as a punishment for his sexual longings. At this stage he represses his yearnings for his mother and lines his psyche up with the father, thus beginning the process of separation from the mother, or feminine.
In adolescence the boy is in a rage through estrangement, separateness and the feeling by the son of being abandoned, of having an unavailable father and most certainly the absence of an enabling one. The ego-inflated young man is pre-occupied with triumphing over the Great Mother, or inner world.
Mid-life is a psychological return to adolescence and a re-working of this earlier stage of psychological development. It is an opportunity of dealing with incomplete business, facing his unknown feelings that have been sacrificed on the altar of power, success and ambition.
There are greater depths to this Oedipal Myth and its applicability to the flow of a man’s life. It can illuminate his struggle with his masculine and feminine feelings, his feelings about his mother and father and his struggle with sexuality both with men and women.
—Photo naveen p.m./Flickr