To know us you’d think that we just keep the stiffer upper lip and plow on regardless. If you had asked me in the late 90’s if men were emotional, I’d have told you that all my emotions were beaten out of me as a kid. You must have been living on an island since birth if you haven’t witnessed a man trundle off into his cave to be alone when things get a bit too heavy for him.
Yeah, you’d be dead wrong if you wonder if we are emotional and think it’s not true. We feel, and we feel lots.
The stiff upper lip
Now I’d love to say that the reason why it doesn’t look as if men have emotions is because they haven’t been properly taught how to deal with their emotions, or that the lessons available to them during childhood were sadly lacking, but I would have to disagree with myself. Sounds weird, doesn’t it? Disagreeing with myself.
We feel big emotions.
You see over the last two years I’ve been on a journey to discover more about men. My history with my fellow males is few and far between; I was raised by my mother in a single-parent household, also by my aunties, and some other women. The influences I have had during my childhood and teenage years have been heavily guided by strong women. There have been very few strong male presences, apart from my friends, but no adults.
I grew up with the notion that men needed guiding and help to overcome their inherent toxicity, no, I thought we were bricks. This was the result of the strong female parent-figures and the bad male friendships I struck during my late teenage years and early adulthood. My mother would point out my father’s bad behaviors, and this was solidified in my head by the bad male friendships I formed.
In my mind, “men = bad” but surprisingly not me — I guess it was because when talking shit about the men in my life my family tended to exclude me from being one of the “bad ones” talked about.
And thus, the healing began.
Anyway. Long story short, I healed. And I’m still healing. Over the process of going on nearly 14 years I’m still on the healing train.
About 2-3 years ago I began getting to know more men. Just guys in general. Tall, short, wide, thin. I created a discord chat platform and just began getting them to share their stories and talk about life in a non-judgemental area. We’d just listen.
It was surprising to me how much men were able to share when they feel heard. But that’s not what I’m here to say. What shocked me was the number of men that I met that seemed emotionally, mentally, and physically healthy and were lovely to know. These were good people, loyal, open, honest — the sort of people that I’d love to have had as a dad when I was younger. Of course, yeah, there was one or two tearaways, but not the 50% I was thinking of.
Where had I gone wrong?
I was beginning to change my mind.
It caused me to reflect a great deal — in that perhaps the few males that I knew (because let’s be real I only knew a few before venturing out to meet them) I was applying the actions of those few men and applying them to the whole populace, and I was meeting similar men because this was the type of man that I expected to meet.
Also, attraction does exist; you receive what you give out, and because I needed to work on myself a great deal, I was also meeting similar men that needed to work on themselves. So, I ventured out of my comfort zone and met more.
One of my friend’s dad was going through a bad patch, and as the tears were streaming down his eyes, he wanted a hug from me, which I returned no problem. Another friend devastated over a breakup hugged me and sobbed his eyes out for a long period. I’ve had guys open up and talk to me about everything; about the pressures of life, what they’re frightened of, what they’re excited about, about everything. In the right setting, men will talk, they will open up.
It’s the same with women — they don’t just open up to anyone.
If you want to see the emotional man, then you have to understand that by telling them to open up just won’t work. You have to mark yourself as safe.
How do you do this?
When they tell you something you don’t judge them. My mother would have a horrible habit of wagging her finger at me whenever I had made a bad decision and the end result was that I would never tell her anything. People, particularly men, will only open up to you if they feel safe to do so. If they don’t feel safe showing that side of themselves then they won’t.
Not all men, of course
But look, I’m not talking about all men here obviously. Some guys, like me, have had their emotions particularly thrown around in their childhood (especially in the 80’s and beforehand) and it can be near impossible to get them to open up, even to a safe person. I myself had to have severe psychiatric intervention before I even dared open up to anyone.
Some are on their path to healing (like me) and may want to get all their buddies healed as they are. Sharing the love but not quite understanding that all of their friends don’t need any healing. And some men will just be like a rock.
But there are a lot of men out there that will show their more emotional side. Forget when you hear people say that men need to open up because those people need to meet more men and expand their circles a little bit. They need to meet more men.
Are men emotional? Yes. Particularly.
Previously Published on The Relationship Blogger