I go out with three men. This isn’t as exciting as it sounds. In real terms it means I meet and have lunch somewhere with three men friends individually and on a regular basis. One is a bi-polar Buddhist (perhaps I should say: ‘bi-polar and a Buddhist.) Another has had a couple of debilitating illnesses for many years and claims he is somewhere on the Asperger’s spectrum, although I find him kind, considerate, and a good listener which can’t be said of all people with that problem. The third is frankly weird. I think he is definitely on the Asperger’s spectrum, way up there. All three have been married and all three, I think I’m right in saying, find life on their own is just fine. One loved his wife very much but she died and a subsequent relationship went very sour; another had a marriage that broke up long ago, I’m not sure why; the third, unmarried and without even a proper girlfriend right up into his fifties, was suddenly engulfed by a German woman with a good heart but an over-bearing presence. She died and he went through a period of mourning which was at least 8 parts shock at having his life turned upside down to begin with, then into that shock crept real grief and painful sorrow as he saw his inadequacy as a husband. Once he got through that he became much happier and is able to acknowledge he prefers living on his own.
I write all this because I find men’s emotional lives don’t get much of an airing and they go through as much as women do, just in a different way. Sounds obvious, but I think it needs saying. The conversation is different too. With the women it tends to be about emotions, relationships, obvious stuff, which is OK by me as long as I get a chance to chip in. With the men it can be philosophy, religion, literature, or anecdotes from their past in occasionally bizarre occupations, traveling Europe, getting work as and when money became a requirement; traveling in India, South America, Norway; working for CERN; being a warden and guide for a Scottish castle, living on a small island on the West Coast of Scotland; becoming manic on one continent then waking in a psychiatric hospital on another continent with no idea how he got there, and so on. I enjoy this.