Conference explores men’s feelings and relationships

    “Deepening Men’s Relationships,” a Saturday conference at Widener University, aims to explore men’s feelings and societal norms around what men should be and act like.

    Today’s men certainly seem more in touch with their emotions than their fathers or grandfathers were, and we have entered the age of the “bromance,” but psychiatrist Rob Garfield isn’t so sure it’s always the real thing.

    “You know, the guy says ‘love you, bro’ but he can’t say ‘I love you’ period,'” says Garfield.

    Garfield, who will host the conference, says many men are interested in experiencing and expressing their emotions more deeply. But many have not been taught how or encouraged to do so while growing up, he said.

    “Opening up, talking about stuff that counts,” said Garfield. “Learning to listen as opposed to solve problems and give advice, this is a set of skills, they are learnable, and men can do them.”

    Garfield says men’s roles in society have changed tremendously in recent decades. As women have gained more equality, men have been expected to shoulder more responsibilities at home, and be full partners in all aspects of life.

    He says that many men have the desire to express themselves more fully.

    “We want to be able to be more open,” said Garfield. “We don’t want the usual — limited to sports locker room, boys will be boys. We want to be able to be different than we have been in the past.”

    Garfield says this topic is of interest to men of different generations — those who felt they never really knew their fathers or were distant fathers themselves, and those who feel they have always hidden certain aspects of themselves from others.

    And yes, there are men who attend the conference because their wives asked them to go.

    “Deepening Men’s Relationships: A Conference for Men and Women about Men’s Relationships” will take place Saturday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at Widener University’s Latham Hall.


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