I know a lot of guys who say they are open about their feelings and guys who never (or rarely) talk about their feelings. That said, the title does not apply to ALL men.
I asked a small sample of men about their opinions about why a lot of men don’t open up. Collectively, most agreed on the following reasons:
- Some are afraid to get judged.
- Some men are quite sensitive, so they avoid opening up.
- Some were taught that vulnerability is weakness.
- Some blamed trauma from past experiences.
- Some prefer letting their actions speak for them than words.
What can we do to help men, in general?
Be There for Him
“One of the closest points in my life was when the person who I looked up to so much told me to kill myself (plus some other hurtful words). And I nearly did it. But I called my sister instead and I cried. I just cried for 30 minutes without saying a single word. After I was done balling my eyes out, she said to me, “I love you.” and I cried some more and thanked her at the end of it. That was it. That’s what I needed at that time. We never talked about it again. But that was what I needed.”
I wish more people understood this, especially most women. If you’re wondering how to be there for the men in your life, this is an example of how it’s done. And to simplify: “just be there.”
Listening and Compassion Go a Long Way
Men are not scared to express themselves. What they are afraid of is the reaction that follows. In our current society, most men are faced with hostility and intolerance for opening up about their feelings – as if they are not allowed to be human beings.
“For me, I just want someone to listen. Nothing more. I don’t want my girl to solve my problems. I just want a pair of compassionate ears. My ex would consistently turn the situation against me. I’d vent about my bad day at work and how it was stressful for me. The next thing I know she’s going on about how “I” should go and do something about it – like argue with my boss for giving me more work or be a jerk to a co-worker who I complained about. The situation with her just adds to my already stressful life, so I don’t bother opening up to her anymore.”
Just Offer Support
Sometimes it’s not saying anything at all. Maybe all he needs is for you to let him vent out his feelings and his soul. Let him put his head on your shoulder and tell him he’s going to be all right or that you appreciate everything he has done.
Tell him you’re proud, that he looks nice, or any other meaningful and genuine compliment. You know, these little things and sweet words can help build a person without making him feel vulnerable. That’s one step to making him feel comfortable opening up to you.
Also, a lot of women don’t realize that men rarely get compliments or encouragement.
If you’re a guy, can you recall a time when a woman gave you a genuine compliment? Tell us in the comments.
You’ll never know that one sweet and supportive compliment can make his whole month. Plus, it doesn’t take much effort.
More Importantly, Don’t Pry His Emotions Out of Him.
Don’t force him to confide in you. Instead, just be available when he needs you. Tell him you’re happy to listen to him and that you will NOT judge him for opening up (or don’t make him feel like he will be judged).
Lastly, NEVER bring it up or use what he said in confidence against him. Or else, it will be the last time he will ever open up to you – or anyone.
It’s not that hard to make a guy feel heard, loved, and wanted. What do you think? Would love to know your thoughts.