Men have always been emotional, so it’s no surprise they will need your support at times.
By Kathryn Brown Ramsperger
Last updated on Sep 05, 2023
Photo: vladans, Marjan_Apostolovic | Canva
You and your man are watching a movie. He even agreed to watch a chick flick with you. But, as you lean in for the last scoop of popcorn, you notice tears are running down his cheeks.
What? Aren’t you the one who’s supposed to burst into tears during sentimental movies?
Welcome to the new normal man and a normal human relationship.
For decades (centuries, forever), our culture revered the strong, silent type … but men are finally waking up to a fact we already own (as women): stuffing our emotions — being told to feel nothing, express nothing — is TOXIC to our bodies and our relationships.
1. A man who starts expressing himself can take some getting used to.
We SAY we want a sensitive man but, what we really mean is we want a man who gets us and OUR sensitivity, who never fails to listen.
We want a knight who takes off his shining armor, long enough, for us to use him as a therapist. We want him to tell us how much he worships us, solve all our problems, and then shut the hell up and go slay dragons when we’re done unloading.
2. How dare he cry! Tell us what’s worrying him? Ask us to share his burdens?
Yet, the days of the “Wild West” are long gone, and asking them to remain silent men of steel is a HUGE betrayal to both our men … and our partnerships.
Men are human, just like us, who have been culturally shamed into disconnecting from their feelings — taught to keep silent emotionally. Suck it up. Toughen up. Man up.
So, if your man is finally starting to express himself, how do we as women show up for them in that unfamiliar territory? We certainly haven’t been taught how to handle their emotions any better than they have.
Here are 5 loving ways to support your man when he needs to let loose emotionally:
1. Acknowledge the ways you deny him his humanity.
Do you shut your man down when he tries to explain how he feels? Do you talk over him? Tell him how he feels? Twist his words until they, ultimately, become about you and your feelings, or about how he’s not living up to your expectations? If so, stop. And acknowledge that you’ve behaved this way and no longer wish to.
2. Stay feminine.
You don’t have to act more “masculine” just because your man is showing emotion. Expressing feelings and emotions isn’t being “feminine” … it’s being HUMAN. Men have ALWAYS been sensitive, but now we’re giving them permission and space to unveil that side of themselves, something most men do for us all the time.
3. Let him talk.
Above all, stop telling him to keep quiet! You don’t have to solve all his problems any more than he has to solve yours. Model and practice active listening. How would you handle the same situation with your BFF? If you don’t know, ask him what he needs. Maybe he needs a hug or just a little space for you to just listen.
4. Stop questioning his motives.
If he deals with a bad day by spending a night in his “man cave” playing video games … let him. Don’t take it as rejection. If we give men space to process their feelings, they’ll come back to us healthier — and sexier — than ever. And they’ll feel more willing to hear us out on our bad days. Support in relationships is a two-way street.
5. Realize men process emotion differently than we do, therefore they express it differently.
When difficult emotions come up, men don’t typically go eat a pint of chocolate ice cream while analyzing their problems from every possible angle. They’re much more likely to distract themselves or isolate. If he does come to you, be joyful, and open. Cut out the criticism or eye rolls.
If we know our men love us, and we know how to respond to their emotions, we may just learn to enjoy their sensitive side! And if we do, our 21st-century guy will be sitting right next to us, happy AND healthy, for a long time to come!
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Kathryn Brown Ramsperger wrote for National Geographic and Kiplinger before working as a humanitarian journalist in Africa, Europe, and the Middle East. She’s also an intuitive creativity coach and creator of Step Into Your Story! (TM), as well as the award-winning author of two novels, including her latest A Thousand Flying Things.