However, one of the most deeply held narratives inside the minds of some men is their need to dismiss and disapprove of their own, (and maybe their partner’s), vulnerability.
Men subsequently find themselves isolated at times in intimate relationships and become engaged in a tense battle within themselves.
From an early age boys are often taught by parents, unconsciously and sometimes explicitly, to hide their feelings. It’s how the ‘big boys don’t cry’ mantra develops and can be perpetuated by teachers, friends, society and popular media.
In some ways we are getting better at teaching emotional acceptance to boys/men. For example, developing emotional intelligence have become buzzwords in schools and workplaces alike.
However, there are still many men who have learnt to mask their emotional lives. It’s not that their vulnerability is absent, it’s just well hidden.
Sadly, some research suggests boys as young as 2yrs old adapt by hiding their emotions in order to seek approval from adult carers who themselves struggle to manage their own and their kids emotional experiences.
Boys grow into men relating emotionally the only way they know, which is to dismiss or disapprove of their feelings, or both.
The following are 21 ways in which men struggle with emotional vulnerability.
Men who are largely emotionally dismissive are certainly warm and loving guys. They may have grown up in caring families and have been taught to care well for others.
However, emotional self-care may have some distinct limits in relation to being open to expressing negative emotions.
Men who are emotionally disapproving tend to have a harsher more strict emotional landscape. It may be they grew up in an environment where emotions were punished as bad behaviour.
They are more likely to:
Dismissing and disapproving responses to emotion have significant negative effects on men and relationships. Certain behaviours and communication patterns often emerge within relationships forming the basis of major conflict.
Some relationships can become surface level, lack depth, intimacy and get stuck in negative patterns of relating. These relationships have:
Many guys can find better ways to understand their vulnerability.
Their opportunity is to learn to accept and share their thoughts and feelings at their own pace and time.