lou walsh, lcpc

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Ask What He Thinks

If You Want to Know How He Feels

Men today have greater skill and social latitude than ever in expressing their emotions.  Tears, for example, once interpreted as a sign of weakness in a man, are now acceptable expressions of unabashed joy, sorrow, and everything in between for males as well as females.  In fact, in some ways intimate communication between men and women has never been better.

Still at other times, getting a man to admit what he feels seems like pulling teeth.  Why is that?

In  Stiffed:  The Betrayal of the American Man, Susan Faludi describes the uncertain footing of some males in emotional terrain.  She notes that various men’s groups have shown that men can reveal much of themselves within an enlightened environment.  But let’s get real:  Although we are all made of both masculine and feminine energies, the emotionality most women are familiar and comfortable with is a minefield for many males.

Women have harnessed their masculine energy at work to conquer every conceivable professional arena, yet have not relinquished ownership of the feelings-oriented side of intimate relationships in the least.  On the flip side, all men feel, with just as much intensity.  However, even a feminine energy man may be better off staying either rational or emotional, rather than switching back and forth as quickly as women do.

Therefore, women who call upon most men to share their feelings will be stonewalled a large percentage of the time, and perhaps rightly so; a man’s emotional firewall is one of the last bastions of maleness that is partly biological in nature.

Yes, that is correct.  Unlike women, who use both sides of their brain at once, most right-handed men, who generally do better in one brain lobe at a time, do not simultaneously think and feel, unless it’s “I feel like I want a pizza” or “I feel like I want to watch TV”.  On the other hand, we sensitive, feminine energy types (whether male or female) must secretly admit to ourselves that we take pleasure in the predictability of this usually humorous difference between Us and Them.

You want to know how he feels, but asking him never works.  So, what do you do?

It may be more efficient to volunteer your feelings.  “I feel (emotion) about (subject).  What do you think?  This opener is less confusing to a masculine energy man or woman than our request that they vent their soul, only to watch us immediately shoot back to our own feelings.  Once you hear, “I feel” from your partner, hang onto your own feelings without jumping in.  Bumping a masculine energy person from one side of their brain to the other without warning is not going to work.

Does it matter who is primarily masculine and who is feminine in this scenario?  Not when the lines of communication are open.  In an equitable, sharing relationship, these energies flow back and forth, moment to moment, beginnings and endings are unrecognizable, each person gets to lead a little, each person gets their feelings placed first a little.  A relationship is a dance between two people, not a forced march in only one direction.

Masculine energy men and women are highly capable of sharing their feelings in an atmosphere of trust and caring, although they may use different words for the process.  So, enter through a familiar door for our partner.  Ask what they think or want, and you may find them talking (at last!) about how they feel. 

Intimacy is the goal, so remember to be the protector who places the feelings of your loved one before your own, without editing or confronting.  In our turn at the emotional helm, we must treat our masculine mates and their newly emerging sensitive sides with tender care.

Article sources:  Stiffed:  The Betrayal of the American Man by Susan Faludi and Staying Married and Loving It by Pat Allen