Talking about feelings or expressing emotions isn’t man’s strong suit. It doesn’t matter what position of life a man is in – men just love to hide their feelings in relationships. I’ll even take it one step further: men don’t enjoy talking about feelings at all, whether in a relationship or not.
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 comatose state. The same kind of blank feeling you get when you realize graduating college didn’t prepare you worth a crap for the real world. You just kind of sit there, staring straight ahead…and probably not registering a thing she’s saying. Sorry women, no one said we’re experts at anything.
When your partner finally finishes discussing how their coworker wore the wrong color for the last 30 minutes, it’s your turn to talk about your feelings and your day. Suddenly, you hear the scratching sound when the record freezes. The kind you hear in movies. As you can imagine, you’re unprepared. It’s like you’re in a horror movie with a low budget that didn’t make it past the small screen; you want out. And you want out now.
There’s no place in a man’s mind to discuss emotions, feelings, or any combination thereof. We’re masters of disguise; we hide our feelings like Houdini.
When you’re finally forced to say something, it’s never really about how you feel.
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. The idea of putting ourselves out there and expressing our true feelings, only to get rejected, is a nightmare we’d rather avoid. So we avoid it like the plague. And thus, men hide their feelings.
Unfortunately, there’s no two ways about it; when you put yourself out there, you risk being shot down. Blaming society for allowing women the sole honor of discussing feelings gets us nowhere.
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 need to master the art of self-awareness. This means focusing on what’s going on upstairs (in their head), 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?
There’s a lot riding on the line if you change the game up. 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? What if you want to continue being a man that hides his feelings? Be my guest.
But I urge you to reconsider. 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.