The Sniffles

It is disheartening but all too common these days to hear talk of ‘Man-flu.’

You’ll be familiar with the scenario in which a man complains of a sniffle and the surrounding womenfolk all intone that he has ‘man-flu’ and begin berating him for his weakness when the stronger sex battle through daily life despite the loss of limbs, body-fluids and any form of support from men whatsoever.

I don’t want to suggest that there is some actual physical element that makes men suffer more from a cold than women but it may be worth considering why men complain the way they do of the sniffles. 

For the most part men are expected to work and, generally speaking, they have proven fairly reliable at this over time. Whatever that work may be for generations men have dedicated themselves to the patterns and routines of it. Does a cold virus represent an unacknowledged need to break this cycle and rest? Is it a cry to be considered as something more than a worker? Could it be that a cold represents the physical manifestation of a need to just stop? Is there a childlike drive to be nurtured again here, to retreat from the monotony of work and sink into a dreamy world of tv and for drinks delivered by a concerned mother figure who may not have been a very nurturing partner of late? 

Man-flu offers itself as a legitimate excuse not to go out dancing, pick up the kids or attend the mother-in-laws monopoly party. It also offers a reason for not working at maximum efficiency when the boss asks why x, y or z has not been completed on time.

Rather than berating men for their weakness it might be worth looking beneath the sniffles to find out what’s really going on. But you’ll have to try really hard. While a man can understand his condition from a medical perspective (he’ll have googled it before heroically submitting) the emotional root will be deeply buried. Getting to the heart of it might help break the cycle as well as making him stronger and even a valuable support.