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nocountry2's avatar

Why does it seem like men are allergic to talking about feelings?

Asked by nocountry2 (3684points) November 14th, 2008 from iPhone

It seems like whenever feelings are brought about in conversation, most women can talk about them with ease, but men get very uncomfortable and resort to anger, defense, or belittlement. This is just bewildering to me and very frustrating to deal with at times – feelings and emotions are a fact of life, why try so hard to not deal with them??

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21 Answers

Siren's avatar

I’ll take a crack at it, although it’s a female opinion: Left-over traditionalist thinking that men shouldn’t display emotions? It’s kind of hard to be more emotive when you grew up in a household where the father kept a stiff upper lip. I guess it could be learned behavior.

I think also – and I’m generalizing here – that women in general tend to talk a lot more than men on any topic and are encouraged to do so more than men are, so they therefore don’t hold back as much as men. Any men care to comment on my theories?

cwilbur's avatar

It’s not all men.

But consider this: if you spent the first 10 to 15 years of your life being told that crying when you were hurt was girly, and if every time you expressed sadness, or confusion, or worry, you were told you were acting queer, would you be any good at talking about your feelings?

mea05key's avatar

Men are the breadwinner and leader for family since the dawn of civilisation. Mammals exhibit this sort of attitude as well in the animal kingdom. In theory, men are unable to show their weaknesses or else they will get bitten by the other since their priority is to be a dominator in any situation.

Agree to the above…not all man. I am not i try to express myself now. I guess i am moving away from being a true man

laureth's avatar

Some men don’t even know what their feelings ARE – like, it’s hard to access them through their wiring. This is not sarcasm. Everyone above me is right, too!

Whenever I ask my husband how he feels about something, I expect him to know how he feels – like I do – but he has to think a while before it comes to him, as if he were on a lagged modem. I think it’s that their wiring, their hardware, is different.

charliecompany34's avatar

i happen to be in touch with my sensitive side. yeah, i’m that guy. but then again they say pisces are very emotional. i will write my feelings or spark lively conversation based on how i feel.

wundayatta's avatar

With all this belittlement of men going around, I think my feelings are hurt, and I’m not gonna talk about it!

cwilbur's avatar

@laureth: it’s not that the wiring or hardware is different. It’s that, in general, girls are taught from an early age to think about how they’re feeling and encouraged to communicate about it, while boys are not. As a result, adult women have many years of practice at figuring out how they are feeling and putting words to it, while adult men, if they do it at all, have usually only come to it lately.

loser's avatar

Guys don’t feel emotions at the depth that woman do so it’s harder to talk about. Men feel physical stuff more than woman. Trust me, I have some unique experience in this area.

TheHaight's avatar

I 100% agree with cwilbur- a big reason could be their childhood and how they were brought up.

galileogirl's avatar

I think it’s partly biological but mostly learned behavior. Just like all human behavior it can“t be represented graphically as a line ie ranging from very open (female) to very buttoned up (male). I think graphically it can be plotted on a plane with the 2 dimensions of gender and openness. Actually if you can wrap your mind around it we can toss in a 3rd dimension-age.

Once you look at it this way you would see a clustering of women at medium to high around openness and a clustering of men at medium to lower. But there would be some men and some women points all the way from extremely high to extremely low.

Biologically we come somewhat hard wired in reference to how we solve problems. Some of us look inward for solutions and others look outward, all in varying degrees. This behavior can be enhanced by who raised us and learned problem solving skills.

If a woman is more of a natural extrovert and she was raised in an atmosphere of negotiated problem solving, she may think if he won’t talk to her it’s because he doesn’t care or there is something wrong with him. On the other hand he is naturally an introvert who was raised to think actions speak louder than words and he’s doesn’t recognize problem in her context. He may try and do something (which is not what she wants) or he may not recognize her concern as urgent and just expect it to go away (which to her is even worse)

The real problem is when people refuse to accept that both ways are valid and insist their partners think and feel the way that they do. BTW, I am a natural internal problem solver raised primarily by a guy who believed in getting things done without a lot of talking but there is enough of a feminine side to my brain that I can help others talk through things. However I do lose patience when others don’t wont listen to my advice and just want to blather on and on.

AstroChuck's avatar

What a very sexist and stereotypical question.

galileogirl's avatar

Chuck: I really think nocountry believes that talking about things is the right way to deal with them. You can hardly blame her, it is a societal bias. Men really don’t help because they don’t explain why they don’t need to talk. That could lead to this discussion:

Him: I don’t talk about things because I have other ways of dealing with life.

Her: Well you could, see you are talking to me now.

Him: (Deep sigh as he turns on the game.)

AstroChuck's avatar

Some men perhaps, but I could say the same things about my ex-wife.
I think media makes men appear more like this then they are.

nocountry2's avatar

@AC – looks like my question hit a nerve. Please note that I emphasized seem, as in it appears that way to me but is obviously not something I am applying as a fact to all men in general. In my experience, it seems like the men in my life have a very difficult time coping with their own and other people’s feelings, and because of this difficulty, as galileogirl noted, tend to invalidate the other person’s point of view. (I think the explanations above are all probably contributers, as our society projects a very limited and stereotypical view of what a “real man” can act like.) I find this approach very frustrating and I don’t understand how to deal with it, and I really wish I did.

galileogirl's avatar

Not to start an argument nocountry but I also said that people who think talking is the only method of dealing with emotions are invalidating the other point of view also. If a guy wants to work things through on his own, why not let him?

cak's avatar

I just asked my husband…read the question directly to him…and I quote, “I don’t have any damn feelings!” ;~)

Mine will discuss his feelings, but not at the first, second or third time asking…truly, he’s got to have a lot going on…which he normally does. He’s not afraid, threatened and he doesn’t think he’s not worthy to discuss things. He just says sometimes, when he has things on his mind – it’s far more relaxing to get lost in something, he restores cars, think it out and then mention something to me.

I can read him like a book and he knows it – so I stay aware of certain things and offer to listen, then wait for him to tell me. I truly think they just approach things differently – but it doesn’t mean they don’t need to talk – it’s just like us…on their own terms!

Nimis's avatar

Again, this is a generalization…but I think some women may seek some kind of emotional validation*. Men don’t seem to seek this as much. And if this emotional validation acts as an incentive to discuss said feelings…

* Like how some will want to talk to you about their problems, but will be upset if you try to solve their problems. They just want you to listen and validate them somehow I guess.

wundayatta's avatar

Not just a generalization, but a stereotype. I know some people around here who get terribly upset if you stereotype anyone else. They say that you’re judging folks, and you shouldn’t oughta do it. I don’t see them coming to the rescue of men. —[jab, jab].

Well, i don’t mind. We’re talking about men, on average. And whether it’s genes or culture (my bet is on both), men don’t like to cry, or show weakness. It’s a dangerous world. To dangerous to let your guard down. Even with a woman. For, soft and sensitive and caring as she might be, she can still do a lot of damage.

You’ve heard many truisms about men. “Men have fragile egos.” “Men don’t cry.” “Men only want to get laid.” “Men can’t commit.” “Men can’t be trusted.” “Without women, men would still be in the stoneages.” “Men don’t show their feelings.” They may not even know they have feelings.

I’ve said this before, elsewhere, and gotten trashed for it. Still, I’ll try again. I’m going to make some generalizations. Please do me a favor, and keep in mind that not all men are like this. I’m only talking about on average.

I think we do think primarily with our dicks. We’re pulled around the way a little boy pulls his wagon around. Our cocks (on average) make us do a lot of stuff that looks silly, because we want to get laid. There is nothing, nothing at all that is as incredible as having your cock surrounded by a warm pussy (unless you’re gay).

Now, my therapist has told me that there are men who really don’t give a shit about the woman. They just want to get laid as much as possible. I may be romantic, but I think that’s bullshit. I think there is a magic that happens inside our souls when we are inside a woman. It’s even better if she is a lover. But I don’t think you can have sex without feeling that tiny bit of relaxation and safety.

‘Cause I think the truth is that we all are big softies. Some of us have been abused or had a hard time in life, and this leads to mistrust, and violence, but absent that, I think we’re softies. We like love as much as women do. We’re romantic.

But since we can’t articulate it, we don’t get credit for it. Since we often so sensitive, we are afraid to truly trust, because when our hearts break, they shatter like delicate crystal goblets. I think we are desperate to connect, and scared to reach out, and some of us think we are ugly and undesirble, and in despair, we may seek to take, by violence, from the weak and inexperienced, that which we desperately want, but don’t believe we are good enough for.

Out of this inner fear, that we don’t even let ourselves feel, and we don’t admit to it’s existence, we become inarticulate. How can this be explained? It fucking can’t be explained! Even if it could, would a woman understand? I doubt it. It’s too far beyond her experience. In any case, she is wary, because being smaller, she feels it is far too easy for a man to overwhelm her. To understand how much power she really has… well, I’ve met a few women who can understand, but mostly, I think you have no idea.

I dunno. I think the guys will think I’m crazy. I think the girls will think I’m crazy. (I am, but not about this). But that’s how I see it. That’s the secret I think hardly anyone understands.

‘Course, it probably sounds like total gibberish, given how piss poor our emotional capabilities are. Right. Give me a fucking break!

nocountry2's avatar

You know what, daloon, I think that was the answer I understood the best. Thank you for helping me.

amurican's avatar

I can’t answer I’m to upset!

Siren's avatar

Hey, I agree with the men posting here. It is generalizing. Some men are actually better communicators than women. I think we’re looking at a cross-section of women who’ve had the experience of men clamming up. Perhaps the question could have been rephrased to “in my own experience” and “what do I do, or should I?”. Just my thoughts.

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