If there is one relationship flaw almost ever man gets tagged with it’s how he doesn’t talk. And by talk I don’t mean a discussion of golf handicaps, the stock market, or Sports Illustrated swimsuit models. I’m referring to revelations of his inner workings, what’s going on within that masculine mind of his, what he’s really feeling.
I’m not quite sure if every human male is inflicted with this malady or just the stars of sitcoms and feature length relationship dramas but evidence abounds that men keep their emotional cards close to the chest. And in almost two decades, which involved several committed relationships including marriage, I must admit I’m as guilty of this unseemly personality trait as the next Joe.
But in that time I’ve come to understand, through my own experiences and talking with and listening to other men, what I believe are the handful of reasons so many of us almost seem allergic to opening up with the women in our lives. I don’t have a PhD in Psychology, only real world experience and Southern common sense – plus I’m pretty good at figuring out why I do what I do, not to mention I’ve dealt with each of these at some point in my story.
He doesn’t think you’ll listen – Some of the poorest listeners I’ve ever known are women. The inability to be a good one is not a man-only problem; women are just as focused on getting their point across – and just as quick to hurry the other person along so they can. Plus many women I know have the habit of taking another person’s issue and using it as a launch pad to talk about their problems, which are invariably worse than everybody else’s. Men know women don’t need them solve a problem – just listen. The thing is, that works the other way just as effectively.
He’s afraid you’ll judge him – The most fragile thing God ever created was the male ego. Never lacking in its need for stroking and boosting, the slightest criticism can send most men into a three-day drinking binge. I should know this has been my Achilles’ heel throughout life. What’s the point of explaining why we’re unhappy, depressed, or angry if we’re just going to be reminded that “I told you so” or “You should have known better”? We already feel stupid; we don’t need to be told we are.
He needs time to process it – The human female tends to communicate unfiltered. Whatever happens or runs through her mind immediately gets discussed. Men don’t normally work that way. The Queen knows if I’m faced with a crisis I need to take time and process it, look at it from other angles, and get my T’s crossed and I’s dotted before I open up. I was laid off from a job in the spring of last year, the moment I found out I called the Queen yet before launching into a myriad of questions she gave me the rest of the afternoon to sort things out and get my bearings straight. I sincerely appreciated that.
He’s scared you’ll be disappointed – Research indicates the one thing that men worry about more than anything else is not being able to provide. But we don’t want to share those fears and worries with you and for good reason. There’s not a man I know whom at some point hasn’t wondered, “What would she think if I told her how I felt?” It may surprise women to know that it matters to men a great deal what they think, regardless of how they may act on the contrary. Men want to appear as the hero and if sharing our fears, mistakes, or those thoughts that keep us up at night could mean we’re no longer your knight in shining armor – we won’t.
He doesn’t respect you – As harsh as this is going to sound it is an absolute reality. I know lots of men and most of them will only talk about personal problems or issues with someone they completely respect, absolutely trust, and fully admire. A man will not reveal his inner workings to someone he doesn’t respect, no matter who they might be including a spouse. My ex-wife is one such example. There was little I shared with her about my feelings or the personal problems I faced, instead I chose the help of a therapist and a prescription of anti-depressants.
It’s a myth that men never talk about their feelings. I know countless numbers of them who do because I’ve often been privileged to be a part of many of those conversations. This male image of a Marlboro Man who keeps everything under his worn out cowboy hat has disappeared along with the Wild West. We understand just as much as anyone how important it is to talk things out and tell others what is going on inside. And believe it or not we want to, we just need some assurances to get us opening up. But don’t take my word for any of this. If the man in your life isn’t talking to you, I’m willing to bet he will – if you let him.