Talking about feelings or expressing emotions isn’t man’s strong suit. It doesn’t matter if they’re in a relationship or not – they just can’t get it together and open up.
We love to knock women for consistently breaking the “silence is golden” rule. Just hearing our partner talk about their day (or their issues) has men enter a sort of comatose state, the same feeling you get when you realize graduating college didn’t prepare you worth a crap for the real world.
When your partner finishes discussing how their coworker wore the wrong color for the last 30 minutes and it’s your turn, it plays out like a horror movie with a low budget that didn’t make it past the small screen.
It’s never really about how you feel, and you always end up forcing it in a sad attempt to avoid further questioning.
So why do men have trouble expressing themselves? And why do women have trouble getting men to open up? Why is every spiritual retreat or feeling-centric group dominated by women?
The Societal Gap in Men’s Emotions
Let’s start with the obvious. Society dictates most of our actions. What we see, we emulate. What we hear, we share. What we understand, we spread. What we think is right, is the model we follow. Therefore, since society has deemed women as the holder of all feelings, we let them take that role. No questions asked.
Opening up makes you vulnerable to others, and discussing your feelings is just a form of opening up. When you put yourself out there, there’s a 50/50 shot of acceptance or rejection. It’s no different than a coin flip; your result is literally half and half, and this scares most people. We want acceptance or a yes 100% of the time.
But it’s not an art, it’s a science. When you put yourself out there, you risk being shot down. Blaming society for allowing women the honor of discussing feelings gets us nowhere, though.
That’s why, for example, Tony Robbins seems to have cracked the code: combining a bit of spiritual flair with a mega dose of personal development. You can love him or you can hate him, but honestly, you can’t argue with someone’s desire to achieve self-growth or trying to better themselves. His client base is an even split down the line between men and women. How does he do it? That’s because men also want to get better at life and make a name for themselves, and Tony Robbins masks the idea of opening up under the pretense of business and professional success. Brilliant if you ask me.
If men want to get better at expressing themselves and talking about what’s going on inside their head, they’ve got to master the art of self-awareness. This means focusing on what’s going on upstairs, and making it a point to get out there and find like-minded people who share some of the same values you do. Those values could be the desire to be successful in a job, be a better husband, or really anything. If friends aren’t exactly the support network you imagined, you need to find people who will be.
Yes, you need it. Otherwise, you can’t expect much change.
The Burning Question on Feelings
One question will inevitably pop up: why should men get better at discussing feelings, and what’s the end game if they do?
You’ll experience better connections with others. You will find communicating becomes easier, and you won’t harbor so much resentment and anger because you no longer bottle your true feelings. You’ll find a renewed confidence in making sure people know how you feel. Your relationship with your significant other will deepen because women love a guy who can keep up emotionally. Yes, even the ones who love the manly men out there.
What if you don’t want to get into the habit of expressing yourself just a little bit better? Be my guest, don’t.
But at least transition into being a good listener, because we all love to talk about ourselves enough. If you can just flip the script a bit and be a good listener, you’d be amazed at what you can get out of it. People will begin to trust you more and rave about you, and they can’t even explain why.
The reason for this is simple; it’s not what you said that leaves an impression on people, it’s how you make them feel. So make them feel good by actually listening to them and playing into everyone’s desire to be heard.