- Some people falsely believe that men don’t have feelings—or that they don’t experience feelings to the same degree as women.
- This, however, is not the case: we all experience a wide array of emotions, and it’s important we talk about them.
- That said, men are less likely to talk or open up about their feelings; first, because they aren’t encouraged by society to tune into their sensitivity.
- Additionally, men tend to “brush it off” when they experience difficult feelings because they don’t see an immediate solution.
- Finally, they see multiple obstacles standing in their way of opening up: they have to acknowledge a problem, admit to it, and find a new solution for it.
There is a common misconception that men don’t have feelings—or, at least, not to the same degree as women. In reality, we all experience a wide range of feelings. We feel happy, sad, angry, frustrated, heartbroken, scared, betrayed, the list goes on. However, men are often less likely to actually talk about these feelings, which begs the question “why?” Here are a few explanations from Tara Vossenkemper, Licensed Professional Counselor:
1. They aren’t encouraged to tune into their sensitive side.
The first reason is simple: men often aren’t encouraged to talk about their feelings. In fact, they’re sometimes discouraged from doing so. Additionally, men often tend to shy away from vulnerable conversations. “It’s a little social, but it’s also a little biological,” Vossenkemper explains. “On one hand, men are less socially supported when it comes to talking about their feelings. Little boys are given less metaphorical space to explore and share their feelings (i.e., less time to cry, less tolerance of ‘pansy’ feelings, more picked on for being sensitive), and so they grow up not learning *the skill* (it is a skill) for discussing and navigating their feelings. On the other hand, and probably somewhat a byproduct of social norms, men generally get more physiologically overwhelmed when discussing hard things. Hard things can be raw and vulnerable conversations, like sex and love, or hard things can be feeling discouraged and defeated. That physiological overwhelm can be stopped if the person ignores the topic, and so they’re less inclined to dive into the world of feelings. I can’t emphasize enough that these are broad brush strokes. Of course, there are men who don’t fit this bill.”
2. They tend to “brush it off.”
Men also get into the habit of “brushing it,” instead of facing difficult feelings. Vossenkemper explains: “Men are more solution-focused. This is basic psychology, but it’s still important to point out. Men tend to be more solution-focused. In general, for females, discussing a problem (without jumping to a solution) is relieving and makes the problem more manageable. Men tend to be the type who hear about a problem and jump in with an answer to fix it. This isn’t inherently wrong, but when it comes to feelings, there aren’t really answers, per se; there are just feelings to experience and articulate. So, when faced with a feeling and no immediate solution, men try to compartmentalize it or brush it under the rug (i.e., ignore it).”
3. They face multiple obstacles that prevent them from opening up.
Finally, men have to successfully complete a few steps before they can have a productive conversation about their feelings, as explained by Vossenkemper. “First, they have to acknowledge that it’s a problem or that they’re struggling. This is hard enough in and of itself. Second, they have to admit out loud that it’s a problem, which is even harder than admitting it to oneself. Third they have to combat the shame that comes with not being man enough to handle it on their own. Fourth, they have to learn a new way of thinking, feelings, and dealing with something, and in a way that they haven’t had to previously. All of these things are difficult, and in combination with a general societal judgment for men who admit weakness, it’s a recipe for ignoring and hoping the problem goes away.”
Keeping difficult emotions in can be detrimental to your health. Doing so can lead to or exacerbate stress, cause headaches, and even trigger your sympathetic nervous system’s fight or flight response. Do your best to accept whatever you are feeling, release those feelings, and move forward.
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