- When it comes to feelings, men get the short end of the stick; they’re expected to be strong and keep their emotions hidden.
- This is problematic, as both men and women experience difficult emotions that they need to process and communicate.
- The stigma surrounding men and emotions can negatively affect their romantic relationships; but there are tips for improving communication.
- First, men should position themselves next to their partner as opposed to face-to-face, preferably while in motion (while walking or driving).
- Additionally, men should analyze what they want to communicate before approaching the conversation and also trust their partner to be receptive.
- Finally, they shouldn’t shy away from sensitivity, and they should pick the right time to have the conversation at hand.
Sometimes, the feelings of men are undermined. Males are expected to be strong, to wear a suit of armor at all times that deflects difficult emotions—and if their armor fails, they’re expected to quickly build another wall, to at the very least keep their feelings to themselves. This is problematic, as men and women alike experience a range of difficult feelings that need to be released. And when another person and a relationship is involved, these feelings also need to be communicated. But because of the stigma behind men and their feelings, many men have a hard time opening up to their partners. If this sounds like you, here are 5 tips for communicating better in your romantic relationship:
1. Sit next to your partner.
First, a good practice for men is to sit next to their partner when they need to have a serious conversation. Licensed Psychologist Dr. Sherrie Campbell explains: “It’s best for men to sit next to a woman rather than across from her. Men go shoulder to shoulder in war to face their enemy. Face-to-face communication means litigation to a man. This is great in business but not in personal life. It’s even better for men to open up if they are side by side and in motion such as a casual walk, hike, drive, or bike ride. Side by side is less threatening.”
2. Analyze what you want to communicate.
Also, before you jump headfirst into the conversation, you should know exactly what you want to communicate. Psychotherapist Jacob Brown explains the process: “Ask yourself, what is it you’d like your partner to know about how you’re feeling? This can be a very simple statement (e.g., ‘I love them,’ ‘I would never hurt them,’ ‘I’m angry,’ ‘I’m hurt,’ ‘I’m disappointed’). Also, what actions have you been taking to try and communicate these feelings to your partner (e.g., ‘I work hard every day to support our family,’ ‘I haven’t been initiating sex,’ ‘I washed his/her car last week,’ ‘I took us out to something I thought he/she would enjoy’). Now, put those two statements together and write them out into a short sentence.”
3. Trust your partner.
Dr. Elayne Savage, a skilled communication coach, says it’s also important to trust your partner will be receptive of what you are communicating. “The secret to an honest expression of feelings is in trusting the other person to be receptive—listening and hearing what you are saying,” she explains. “Too often, the barrier to listening (reportedly, especially for guys) is when they think they have to jump in and ‘fix’ things. Instead of listening attentively, they’re busy strategizing: ‘What can I say in response?’ or ‘How can I make it better?’”
4. Welcome sensitivity.
Also, in addition to strength, men should tune into their sensitive sides. “Men should become okay with being a mix of both sensitivity and strength. Once they have gained this type of unconditional self-acceptance, they will feel more comfortable showing both sides (and their feelings) with the world,” Relationship Expert Laurel Steinberg explains. “Men can communicate better with their partners by first thinking about what they want their partners to feel around them. Then, they should craft what they say to best accomplish this goal using the particular language they think will work best.”
5. Pick the right time.
A final important tip is to pick the right time if you are communicating difficult feelings or something that needs both your and your partner’s undivided attention. “It may never feel like the right time if you struggle to share your feelings, but there are better times than others,” says Certified Mental Health Expert and Family Care Specialist Adina Mahalli. “It has to be the right time for you as well as your partner. This means that you may not be able to discuss whatever you want to discuss the moment it pops into your head. Choose a time when they’re not busy thinking about something else and they can give you their full attention.”