Men are 7 times least likely to open up about their feelings; Image via AdvantageCare Physicians
- How toxic masculinity prevents men from talking about their feelings
- How avoiding emotions can affect the relationship
- Tips to get your partner to open up
Have you ever seen your dad cry? Not in the a-tear-slipped-while-watching-Titanic kind of way, but the full-on emotional crying? No? What about your partner? Has he shown you his vulnerable side? Has he told you his deepest fears and talked about the days he can’t even get out of bed?
It’s uncommon in the human male species to be completely honest with their feelings towards another person; most times, they probably aren’t even honest with themselves. While women find it easy to share their thoughts and feelings, men are the exact opposite. It can be frustrating, especially when you’re trying to have a serious and honest talk with your partner, but every word coming out of his mouth is barely touching the surface.
Men typically suffer in silence to avoid judgement; Image via Bonobology
Why Don’t Men Talk About Their Feelings?
Toxic masculinity plays a huge role
For men, there’s a cultural norm that prevents them from showing emotions. When young boys trip and scrape their knees on the sidewalk, they’re told, “boys don’t cry”. When college guys choose not to drink at a party, they’re called “a wuss”. When men in their 30s talk about how stressful work can be, they’re told to “man up”.
Toxic masculinity truly doesn’t discriminate according to their age, and it has placed an enormous strain on every man’s mental health throughout their lifetime. All these instances are society conditioning men into thinking that tears, fears, and sadness are un-manly. Which is absurd, don’t you agree?
But for real, boys should cry; it’s a completely normal bodily reaction to pain, sadness, and even joy that deserves no judgement whatsoever. According to this study, crying releases stress, boosts your mood, and soothes one’s self. In addition to that, crying releases oxytocin and endorphins, which are essentially happy chemicals. Knowing these great benefits, tell me again why boys shouldn’t cry?
Dear men, it’s okay to cry; Image via Talk Space
Men resort to a physical action to release emotions rather than verbal
Men aren’t used to saying “I love you” to another person. Instead, they buy flowers, check your car’s engine before you go to work, and hold open the door for you. They put more effort into their actions than their words, and it’s the same on the negative side of things.
While girls cry and rant when they’re unhappy, men shoot zombies in video games and play a round of hoops to release those negative emotions. For some, they prefer drinking and smoking, which can be an unhealthy route that leads to substance abuse and serious illnesses.
Not opening up about your feelings can lead to a dysfunctional relationship; Image via Insider
How Can This Affect Your Relationship?
Sadness turn to anger real quick
Remember the previous point on how men tend to be more action-based than verbal? Well, here’s how things can go sideways. When a man chooses to actively avoid “unmanly” and “touchy-feely” things, he internalises the negative thoughts and feelings. Constantly battling with his own self will make him easily irritated and short-tempered.
The intensity from within him will keep boiling until a dangerous explosion occurs. With no healthy exits, he’s more likely to lash out in aggressive ways like sexual assault and domestic violence. Unfortunately, this situation always affects the partner.
Place an emotional burden on the partner
If you’ve ever found yourself constantly having to check up on your partner’s mental well-being and going through your days wondering if he’s happy, it can fill your days with dreadful anxiety. For you to take up the majority of the emotional labour by acting as his therapist can suck the life out of you. We completely understand the toll it would take on your mental health.
When your man is not taking the needed steps to care for his emotions, it affects you as well. As both parties are unhappy, we can conclude that avoiding your feelings will put a dent in your relationship in the long run.
Baby, let’s talk; Image via Bonobology
How to Encourage Your Partner to Open Up
Share your feelings first
Some people are unaware of what a healthy discussion about feelings can look like, simply because they’ve never been exposed to it. If this is the case, you can take the first step by sharing your story. Make sure not to hijack the conversation and only focus on yourself. We know it can be easy to just go on and on, but remember the purpose of this conversation is to get him to open up.
Create a judgement-free, safe space
Sometimes we tend to react instead of listening intently. We’ve all unconsciously made a face when told about something unpleasant, so it’s important to reel in those judgemental reflexes, so your partner can keep sharing without fear of being scolded or judged. It can also be helpful to remind him throughout the conversation that you love, care, and value him, so he’ll feel safer.
Give him time
Everyone is built differently. While you may find it easy to share like you’re a toddler finally learning to talk for the first time, your partner may need some time to process how he feels before saying them aloud. Let’s practice some Buddha-like patience, and let him come to you.
Don’t go too hard too soon
Asking open-ended questions can help encourage your partner to open up. However, don’t interrogate them by blasting ten questions in a row. This will only overwhelm him and make him defensive. Also, avoid kicking off with some really personal questions. Start off with something light and easy, and work your way to those deep stuff.
We hope that this article has been helpful in navigating your relationship with an emotionally-closed off partner. Let us know in the comments what you think.