“Why won’t he just tell me how he feels?” “Why is it so hard to get him to open up?” “Does he have a genuine issue or is he just plain old stupid?” These are all questions I have received from frustrated women dealing with men who can’t seem to express themselves.
They feel like they are speaking to a brick wall and nothing seems to be getting through. This void of effective communication opens the door for a lack of trust, emotional neglect, confusion, and an overall unhealthy relationship. So what is really the problem? Why do so many men continue to struggle with expressing themselves? Here are some factors that contribute to this unfortunate issue:
1. Raised to suppress not express
A lot of men are taught at an early age to “suck it up”. Crying is unacceptable and expressing how you feel can be viewed as whining. They aren’t given a platform to speak on how they feel, but instead are quickly told to move past it and “stay strong”. This leads to many men only knowing how to throw their feelings to the side and act tough. Never truly addressing many of the issues within them and allow it to linger. When a man can’t express himself properly, in many cases his upbringing has a lot to do with it.
2. Negative backlash occurred in the past.
A man can act tough all he wants but at the end of the day he is still human. So despite how that man is raised, he will likely have a moment where the walls come down and he lets his feelings out. Unfortunately, that moment may be met with a “stop acting like a little b**ch”, “you’re so weak”, and other negative comments to belittle him and cause him to shut down. Aside from the attacks on his “manliness,” he may experience other negative results that cause him to regret ever being vulnerable enough to open up in that situation. At this point, he will create a bigger wall than before and the struggle to express himself will become much harder.
3. It may risk getting what is desired.
Instead of continuously telling a lie, some people choose to simply say, “I don’t want to talk about it”. Not that this always means they have lies to tell, but it is an effective way to avoid speaking a harmful truth. By avoiding conversation they can continue to act like no issue exists, which allows them to continue things in a way that is convenient for them. They know a full conversation can trigger some issues they don’t want to deal with. They will do what they can to run from it and hope it just goes away. The man who does this isn’t really struggling but strategically “managing” the situation to his advantage.