What are men’s emotions? Do men have emotions? How do men process emotions? Why are men afraid of showing emotion? What do men feel? How can I become a more emotional man? How can I express my emotions as a man? This article is for you if you are looking for answers to one or all of these questions.
I am Sean Galla, an online men’s group facilitator with more than 10 years of experience. For many generations, men have been made to believe that leading a happy, social life and being open about their feelings is a sign of weakness. Men’s groups work to ensure young men and old, regardless of orientation, or occupation, have access to a social space where they can exhale, enjoy good platonic male company, and even pick up a variety of social hobbies, even as they learn and understand men’s emotions and healthy expression.
In this article, you will get all the information you need to understand men’s emotions and why men need to learn how to express them.
Table of Contents:
Men and Emotions
Generally, society holds different gender roles for men and women regarding feelings and emotional expression based on gender differences. Women are seen as sensitive, which makes it socially acceptable for them to express their emotions and feelings. On the other hand, men are associated with stoicism and fearlessness, using expressions such as big boys don’t cry or man up to discourage men from openly expressing their feelings.
These gender stereotypes and cultural norms have been prevalent for generations, even though they encourage toxic masculinity. The idea that men should not show emotion and that expressing their feelings makes them weak is why most men find it harder to seek mental health support even when faced with life-altering male health issues, including anxiety and depression.
Why Are Men Unable to Express Their Emotions?
According to new research, from a young age, boys are introduced to a narrower range of emotions than girls, of which negative emotions such as anger are mostly emphasized and, some would argue, groomed.
Traditional masculine norms discourage men from learning, feeling, and expressing emotions that are seen as vulnerable. Instead, they are taught how to repress any ‘unmanly’ emotions. This removes their ability to feel and express different feelings, making it hard for them to grow into emotionally available adult men.
While numerous cultural and social factors make it harder for men to express emotion, some are more common than others. Some of the reasons most men prefer to bottle up their emotions include:
Generally, studies show that people with extroverted personalities are usually more open about their feelings than introverted personalities. Highly social men are more comfortable sharing their feelings since they are naturally wired to be comfortable in situations requiring them to disclose information about themselves. If a man is more reserved naturally, they may find it hard to express their emotions, even to people close to them.
They fear looking incompetent or weak
For centuries, the male identity and values have been wrapped around their performance in life. This includes their ability to get and keep a job, provide for their loved ones, make money, and care for those around them. They are expected to do all these things with unwavering strength and zeal, even when faced with great adversity. A show of emotions in their life journey is seen as an unacceptable character flaw. Men learn to get things done without showing weakness to ensure they are rewarded for their hard work.
Attachment issues are closely linked to trauma. If you suffered trauma in the past, it is hard for you to form healthy relationships with others, making it harder to express your feelings. Not being able to create attachments to others makes it harder to trust people, affecting your ability to open up to them. These insecure attachments make people hesitant to express their feelings for fear of rejection or being misunderstood.
Men are not taught how to feel or show emotions
When they were less than a year old, most men were surrounded by fathers, older brothers, uncles, and teachers who never showed emotions or talked about them. This way, most men lacked a role model to show them how to express their feelings or be emotionally fluent.
Sometimes the story you want to share as a way of expressing yourself may be linked to a big emotion, which makes most people hold back because some experiences are too traumatic or painful to express. Most people fail to express themselves to try not to burden the listener with their emotions. This makes it harder for them to share their feelings. Sometimes, trauma makes it difficult for people to understand or describe their feelings.
In some cultures, and families, including the social media culture, men are not allowed to be their authentic selves. Instead, they are expected to fit a specific norm, making free emotional expression difficult. This forces them to put up a front showing that they have it all together, as the person feels sharing their honest and uncomfortable thoughts and feelings may not be socially acceptable.
The Consequences of Suppressing Men’s Emotions
The ability to feel and process feelings are part of what makes people human. When happy, it is normal for people to want to smile and display excitement, and when angry, the body tense up and voice levels rise, while sadness naturally makes you want to cry.
Ignoring or avoiding these emotions can lead to many physical and mental health issues. Depression and anxiety have been strongly linked to emotional suppression, especially among men. It increases the risk of substance use, social neglect, and even suicide.
Other side effects of suppressing men’s emotions include:
- Strained relationships – inability to express your feelings causes issues in romantic and family relationships. People find it hard to understand you if you always hide your feelings, causing conflict in relationships.
- Disrupted communication – hiding or avoiding emotions prevents clear communication with the people in your life. This makes conflict resolution harder since you cannot work through your feelings.
- Emotional buildup – Holding back your feelings only intensifies them. For instance, suppressing anger only makes it build up and will eventually cause an anger outburst.
- Health risk factors – suppressed emotions increase stress levels, linked to various health conditions such as heart problems, high blood pressure, sleep issues, and diabetes.
How to Express Men’s Emotions
The only way to do better when it comes to expressing emotions for men is by allowing themselves to be vulnerable and to express their feelings freely. Some of the steps men can take to become more emotionally available include:
Accept your feelings
Part of the reason most people have a hard time expressing their negative feelings is that they have difficulty accepting them. It is essential to understand that having negative emotions is not wrong. What is primarily wrong is the behavior that follows whenever you have these feelings.
For instance, men experience anger as a natural human response to different situations. However, it is wrong to express this anger through violence. Acceptance is an important part of learning how to better express and manage feelings constructively.
Research studies show that men are less likely to seek therapy compared to women. This is due to the negative notion that only weak men seek help or experience mental health issues. Contrary to this popular belief, seeing a clinical psychologist is ideal for men to learn how to overcome alexithymia or other issues with emotional expression. Therapy creates a safe space for men to learn, explore their emotions and show vulnerability without judgment. You can learn how to understand your feelings and emotional expression through therapy.
Practice expressing your feelings
The best way to learn how to express your feelings is through practice. While it may feel awkward initially, consistent practicing makes it easier. With time, it becomes a natural part of your everyday life.
When verbalizing your feelings, you also need to share your underlying feelings, not just the surface ones. While the surface emotions may be anger, the root cause can be embarrassment or hurt, which also needs addressing.
Join a support group
If you find it hard expressing your positive or negative feelings to your family members or loved ones for fear of judgment or being misunderstood, a self-help group can be a safe place to do this. An emotional support group is a safe space where men go to talk, share, and express their feelings in a non-judgment environment and in the presence of fellow men who understand.
If you are a man looking for a safe place to learn emotional expression, Men’s Group is a men-only online support group where you can freely share your emotions and thoughts.
More About Men’s Group
Men’s Group is an online support group for men. If you are a man in need of emotional support, being part of a men-only community is one of the best ways to ensure you get personalized help for your needs.
This community of men is dedicated to supporting each other through life’s challenges and changes. Being part of a men-only support group ensures you get a free space to share, vent, and learn about men’s emotions in a safe space without fear of judgment or being misunderstood.
Meetings take place online, making it accessible from anywhere, be it New York or London.
The Bottom Line
To live a happy and complete life, learning how to be in touch with your emotions is essential. By following the tips highlighted in this article, men can have an easier time understanding and expressing their feelings to the people around them. Emotional support groups like Men’s Group offer a safe place for men to learn how to express their emotions and channel their feelings positively.