Why do guys not have emotional feelings
"Men cannot show feelings"
Men have to be tough and have a shoulder for their women to lean on. This expectation has a long tradition. Men themselves should question this, according to the Hamburg couple coach Henning Matthaei.
Mr. Matthaei, it is said that women talk a lot about their feelings, but men don't. Is that correct?
Basically, men talk less about feelings than women, yes.
Why is that?
There are mutliple reasons for this. We still live in a patriarchal society in which expectations such as perseverance and assertiveness are especially placed on boys. Boys aren't supposed to talk about feelings, and they're supposed to be cool. They shouldn't cry either when they fall, true to the motto "an Indian knows no pain". Boys also often look at their father: If he shows no feelings, but the mother sometimes cries, then these behaviors show him: "If you want to be a man, you mustn't cry."
And what happens after puberty?
If there are new role models such as teachers, sports coaches or other men with admirable skills, then young men orientate themselves towards them. And they also learn from them that showing feelings is a woman's business. When a boy falls, a football coach will usually say, "Get up and keep playing."
That sounds like a vicious circle to me.
Yes, it's a cycle. You can only get out of this if it is okay for boys and men to be sad or angry and to cry once. Parents have a duty here: they have to allow their children - boys and girls - to let out feelings, especially at the beginning. When a child cries or screams loudly, it is often difficult for parents, and I know that from my own experience. If parents have the capacity to accompany the range of childish feelings without rejecting them, girls and boys learn to perceive and control their feelings themselves, without suppressing them.
Women often ask their husbands to talk about their feelings. Does this make sense?
In my experience, no. It is also the women who encourage the expectation of men that they should not show any feelings. Because most women want a man who supports them and has a shoulder ready to lean on. It would be better, however, if the woman would tell him: "I am insecure because I don't know what you are feeling" and then leave him up to what he makes of it. Another reason men show fewer feelings is that their emotions can be very violent. Anger, sadness, anger or envy can under certain circumstances be so great that the fear of causing damage by letting out the feelings inhibits the expression of them. This is also the reason why men should talk to men about their feelings.
So can't girlfriends or wives help their partner with emotional problems at all?
That sounds harsh, but usually not, no. Women shouldn't try to get their husbands to talk about his emotional life. If he's feeling really bad, she should tell her partner how difficult it is to put up with his unsorted feelings and suggest that he find a man to talk to. Men can learn from other men that it's okay to be angry or sad for once. We men are made lone fighters, for example at work. There is a lot of pressure there and everyone thinks: Everything has to go well, I have to be successful. When a man hears that others are having difficulties too and that life does not always go smoothly, it can help a lot. In group therapies I have already seen a group of men let out a flood of emotions. It can get pretty tough, but afterwards everyone feels better.
In your experience, do women talk about feelings more often?
Yes. Women talk to friends about their emotional states and exchange ideas with one another. They seem to realize that a suffering shared is often a suffering halved. Women apparently have a different problem-solving strategy: Talking about it releases the tension and enables them to find a way out themselves. In everyday life, men often lack the appropriate place to calmly perceive internal conflicts and to listen to an idea for a solution.
Henning Matthaei is a couple therapist and marriage counselor in Hamburg.
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