The relationship between men and emotion can be complicated.
Sharing emotion is confusing and frightening for some guys. It immobilises them.
A number of guys have expressed to me that “talking about their emotions is a bit like going to the dentist”. THE DENTIST!
Cue dentist rant!
I hate going to the dentist!
I can’t think of anything worse than having a latex glove shoved into my mouth let alone lots of shiny surgical instruments poking and prodding.
There’s the sound of the drill! It fills me with dread as it delves deeper in to dark cavities!
I have experienced too many latex covered hands wrestling with stubborn wisdom teeth, unreceptive rotting teeth and fragile broken fillings.
And then there’s the student dentist (unbeknown to me) who called his supervising professor because one of those shiny tools got wedged between two unwilling wisdom teeth!
I hate the sounds and smells of everything dentistry.
Dentists bring out the fear in me. This manifests in major avoidance and a high degree of melodrama!
At the risk of this post becoming all about my dental neurosis, the point is that many blokes have great fear and anxiety of emotional expression.
Why don’t men do emotion?
Forgive me in advance for stereotyping!
There are indeed certain masculine features when it comes to emotional expression.
What’s it like on the receiving end?
Partners of emotionally unavailable men express commonly held feelings about their relationship. Such as:
- Anger and sadness at being shut out by their partner.
- A deep sense of personal rejection.
- Feeling uncared for and invisible.
- Rising resentment and contempt for a man who has turned away from them.
- Feeling invalidated and dismissed when their partner focuses solely on solving problems without empathy for emotions.
Behind the mask
Men live a life of feelings about a wide variety of things. For some it’s an active yet hidden world of emotion.
Many blokes have become accustomed to masking their true feelings. The paradoxical effect of wearing such a mask means their feelings, and the emotions of others, can easily overwhelm them.
Fear can manifest in avoidance which prevent guys recognising the need for change or help. Similar reasons I put off a dentist visit!
More often than not counselling and dentist visits are rarely as bad as imagined.
Conquering the fear
Understanding blocks in expressing emotion requires :
- Normalising of fears
- The courage to learn new skills
- A leap of faith that emotional literacy improves mental wellbeing and relationship health
I admire dentists who do a job that is probably my worst nightmare (can you tell?) followed closely behind by podiatrists. Don’t get me started on feet!
I have huge respect for the guys who are working hard at changing their relationship with emotions.
The themes in this post are common amongst many men and counselling helps to overcome them.
If this post hits a nerve give me a call or post in the comments section below.