“The love that is trapped in men’s hearts is the most underutilized resource in the entire world.” — Lucas Krump
And the feminist movement simply took this idea from the experience of the male and smeared it across both sexes so that today virtually no-one knows love.
You so beautifully described why I, at the age of 50 and 20 years into my career and marriage and family, felt utterly cheated and defeated -- as if I had bet on the wrong horse my whole life.
The "reward" for such adherence to status quo was not forthcoming, and left me empty and alone and profoundly sad. Having done everything "right", but now discovering that the lie that I was sold made me as dead-eyed as the rest of the men that I dealt with daily.
I vowed then, even though I felt my horse's race had been run, that I would do something different and in the last 15 years have found love in myself and others that I had thought was out of reach.
Thank you for your beautiful self-discovery that so accurately describes my own experience.
I think defining love is pretty challenging, which is why you have things like the 5 love languages or books like John Gottman's principles for making marriage work. Many men grow up without words of affirmation from their fathers, so it's unsurprising that many of us (me included) experience love in the form of what we were denied. But for me it's not the "atta boy" that really communicates love. It's the deeper affirmation that comes from a conversation that takes me out of time. Sadly, I've only experienced this a handful of times in romantic relationships, but it is often the core of my friendships. Whether it's an email exchange that goes on forever or a phone call that tops two hours or a backyard talk that goes on after the sun sets and the street lights come on, that is what love means to me. It jives with Gottman's first principle for marriage, which is building "intimacy maps." There aren't many ways to do that without conversation.
Love you Bowen ❤️ keep up the good and honest work.