Why Men Withdraw Emotionally From their Lovers.

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In a relationship, having your partner withdraw at an emotional level can bring confusion, pain and frustration. Here’s why men seem to pull back.

Women who relate to men that do this are often bewildered by why and how this happens.

Speaking as a man, and one who considers himself sensitive and emotionally available, there are particular situations and scenarios that cause me to withdraw. And I imagine that other men, regardless of how in-tune they are with their emotional nature, would respond in similar ways.

Just because a man withdraws does not mean he is withdrawing from you.

Disclaimer: In most cases when a man withdraws, it’s not about you

First, I just wanted to express that when a man seeks solace or withdraws from a conversation, it probably has nothing to do with the beloved. It has more to do with the emotional intensity and confusion around emotions than with any particular person. It just takes men more time to integrate and understand the watery realm of emotions. And understanding emotions isn’t something that happens for us spontaneously in the midst of a heated discussion.

We need space and time to figure out what is happening, both within our own self and with our beloved.

Men aren’t allowed the space to feel, or express feelings

Men have been discouraged from feeling emotional. We have been mocked, attacked, and belittled when showing emotions. Big boys don’t cry, toughen up, and bite the bullet are all phrases men grow up with. So when we are faced with emotional situations, we are total novices.

The biggest harm that is not recognized or appreciated for the depth of damage that it causes at the emotional level to a man is that men are expected to be tough, to protect, and kill to defend their family. Violence, and the expectation of violence, mandates an absence of emotional sensitivity.

It is a double standard to expect a man to be emotionally available and to have him be able to harm another human being.

Have compassion and understand the kind of conundrum that a man faces when being emotional vulnerable and awakening to deeper sensitivities. It is rare enough to find a man who wants to delve within and unleash his inner passion. It doesn’t mean that he is going to be masterful at it. For men to be comfortable in their own skin and accept their feeling nature takes a growth curve.

We want an intimate connection, it’s just that sometimes we don’t know how

A woman has a lifetime of experience navigating the oceanic tides of emotional states.

Women grow up with emotional states and are accepted as sensitive, feeling beings. She is able to observe, feel, recognize and better communicate her feelings than a man. Women are also adept at observing and recognizing the emotional states in other people. And when a woman finds a man who loves her, at some level, she feels a great deal of hope because she has found an emotional match, somebody who understands those hidden tides and influences.

Women will share all their heart and feelings, and not understand how this can impact a man. And when a man doesn’t respond as she needs, the feelings of being hurt or misunderstood arise. How those feelings are expressed matter a great deal.

The best men want an intimate connection with women, and often don’t know how to do that.

Men don’t fall short in the emotional realm because we are emotionally immature. We are emotionally inexperienced. Men face expectations and pressure about emotions that are confusing and contradictory. And when we find a woman who loves us and we love in return, it brings to life a living fire that had been suppressed for a lifetime. Yet fires burn, and the burgeoning sensitivities is akin to a child learning to walk. We fall down, we make blunders, and we are blind as to how to listen and communicate our emotions.

See also: Men Need Touch Too.

Men experience a learning curve when awakening to their deepest sensitivities.

And just as any beginner, they make mistakes. Sometimes the mistakes are colossal, and sometimes laughable. Men need an emotional example, how to be live with and operate with emotions in a healthy way. We also need to be accepted as we are, beginners with beautiful intention. To demand for a man to have the mastery over their emotions is an outrageous expectation. For most men, mastery over emotions means suppressing them, hiding feelings behind a mask of stoicism, or just turning off the emotions entirely. It takes time to even identify the subtle emotions, let alone to know how they function and their influence on our own self and those around us.

Any teacher knows that mocking a beginner or putting them down, criticizing them or their approach, will stunt the learning curve, if not completely stopping it.

Why communication can be tough, and men withdraw from the real work

The beloved woman becomes that guide into the mysterious realms of feeling emotions. When she expresses anger, puts down her man, belittles or mocks him, a man feels attacked. When she demands him to be sensitive, a man feels not good enough.

And when a man faces a woman’s wrath he will respond in the ways he has been taught to feel emotions since early childhood; with anger. Anger is one of the few emotions accepted in men because it is a necessary emotion to be a soldier-killer. Anger is a natural defensive response for men. And once we become angry with our beloved, there is a host of problems that arise afterwards. Guilt, shame, inadequacy, failure, and fear. These siblings to anger are inevitable when fury shows its face, especially when we know that our loved one has been hurt as a result of our anger.

The words spoken in anger harm the recipient and the speaker.

It takes time for a man to feel comfortable feeling emotions. After all, such a man is challenging the tenets and pressure of an entire society and its deeply ingrained training.

A man’s natural response when hurt or confused is to withdraw. Almost everybody knows about the masculine need to retreat to the cave. And whether this is physical space, or mental space, or even silence, the cave is an essential healing tool for the manly mind. The cave allows integration of the experience, introspection to see what is happening within, and understanding to know how to better respond in the future.

Women set the example and emotional tone that allows their partner to feel safe

When a man faces a woman who is emotionally stable, it allows him to understand his own emotions. The depth of understanding that the woman has with herself and her own emotional nature will give him the security to express and unveil his own strengths. The woman who is emotionally secure brings a presence of emotional security to the relationship. A well meaning man will appreciate this and do his best, and grow faster and reveal the depths of his spirit with increasing strength and confidence.

Granted, the ideal is that a man can figure out his emotional state and come into his own emotional maturity through his own self-generated willpower. Yet the reality is that teachers, guides and mentors accelerate this process and help a person navigate the confusing and mysterious realms of emotions. There are a great many pitfalls and bewildering mirages when it comes to the shifting sands of sensitivities. And as man learns his emotional state, he is also facing the additional challenges from his friends, family, and world that challenges that awakening at every step.

Insecurities can inhibit sharing feelings on both sides, and prevent intimacy

The woman who is insecure with her own emotions will see a man who withdraws as a threat and denigrate him and go on the attack. This is the antithesis of supportive behavior.

She may not realize that he is a man who is brave beyond measure to face his own soul and bare his spirit with vulnerable trust. When a man doesn’t respond as she needs and demands at the emotional level, lashing out will only cause harm. Gentle understanding and compassionate acceptance brings healing and deepens the relationship. One of the best qualities women have is the ability to nurture.

The power nurturing can have to combat a partner’s withdrawal

Nurturing is not aggressive. And with a man, directing aggression at him will generate an aggressive response. He will either fight or run. The flight or fight response is deeply ingrained into every human being. In essence, attacking a man who is opening his heart will trigger a survival level instinct. Once that survival level power fully awakens in relationship, the dynamics in the relationship changes and may never come back to equilibrium.

Nurturing is not forceful, instead it is accepting and allows for a natural growth curve. Be patient.

Just as a tree takes time to come into its fullness and blossom, a man who is learning to embrace his deeper truths will need time to fully ripen into his potential.

Appreciate the men who take the time to stand up against society to discover, feel, live and unleash their sensitive side. It takes a lion’s heart full of courage to face down societal expectations and programmed beliefs. Give him gratitude, honor his spirit, thank him for being available with his sensitivity in ANY way that he is able.

Such a person is one of a kind, a warrior in the truest meaning of the word.



Relephant reads:

 Men—Stop Going to Women for All of your Emotional Support.

Men Have Feelings, Too.


What to do when things get tough:

How to be a real man:



Editor: Rachel Nussbaum

Photo: elephant archives

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Keith Artisan

Keith Artisan believes each human is innately good and imbued with talent. Believing that life is a mystery, he feels it is his life purpose to inspire people to believe in themselves and live their truth. Living what he believes, Keith actively serves his community as an entrepreneur, artist, yoga instructor, musician, writer, and mentor. He is online at Facebook and his website, Living Artisan .

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anonymous Feb 4, 2016 11:28am

I don’t know why it’s automatically called ‘being sensitive’ when a man is experiencing his emotions. It’s not being sensitive, it’s being human. All humans have emotions, and it’s up to every single human to learn the best way to express them. Expressing every emotion that exists is something every human is entitled to, regardless of gender. But stop calling the expressing of emotions ‘being sensitive’. That just makes it seem like everyone who feels and expresses an emotion is a cry baby. It should be said, however, that males and females will always express emotions differently, at different intensities, and at different frequencies. To expect anything else is illogical.

anonymous Jan 3, 2016 12:31am

Everyone needs to quit blaming the other sex or our parents. We need to be responsible for ourselves. If we need something we need to take control and put on our big girl panties or big boy undies and ask our partners for it. Maybe if we all communicated better marriages would last longer.

anonymous Nov 7, 2015 6:27am

I enjoyed this article. My situation is interesting because growing up my father was the sensitive, emotionally open parent and my mother was the get-it-done emotionally unavailable one. As a little girl I learned nurturing mostly from a man. Not normal, I know, and I certainly wonder how that has affected me as an adult woman.
I think the thing to remember here is that the author is not condoning abusive or emotionally unhealthy relationships where the man needs the woman to 'fix' him. I'm in a very healthy relationship with a man who has just been through some heavy emotional grief by the ending of his marriage. He doesn't dump on me about it but he is used to dealing with things in stoic silence or by just not bothering people with his feelings because he was raised very traditionally. I care for him, and appreciate how he tries to be there for me emotionally and how difficult that is. I also honor his loss and trying to trust and love again by giving him the space he needs and being patient. Basically, we respect each other and are sensitive to the emotional differences and needs of the other. It's the healthiest relationship I've ever been in. This article was extremely relevant and fairly insightful. Thank you.

anonymous Oct 27, 2015 7:48pm

These men are afraid they are going to be eaten up emotionally… Remember women are in a vulnerable place as well… There are just way to many emotionally immature men to me its the same thing as inexperienced. How are you NOT experienced with emotion this place is ALL about emotions, your just not exploring them to the degree you need to. Women can’t sit here, and baby you all day, sorry you were not breast fed e.t.c. But if a women is offering her compassion time, effort, has patiently waited for you to express yourself, the least you can do is work with that and do your PART. She can’t spent a lifetime waiting she has a life too to live, its not fair to the other. Personally, I am tired of mothering people because they are wounded, and can’t commit, well guess what so am I, I need to know you are trustworthy as well… You have to take a risk there is not way around that…

anonymous Sep 6, 2015 10:34am

Spot on!

To all you women who have commented that you have your own needs, I agree. My wife and I have been married over 30 years. I have emotionally scarred her because, when hurt, I didn't understand how to react. It wasn't "manly" to show hurt and/or pain. So I lashed out in anger. Over and over. I'm finally learning that my learning, my teachers, my mentors were wrong. I was taught wrong. Every time I was belittled for showing hurt, or joy, or any other emotion that brought tears to my eyes, I was told to "man up" or "this is John Wayne country".

Be patient with your man. Wives, you have girlfriends who are more than happy to let you cleanse your emotional souls. Husbands have you. Nobody else. If you don't help us navigate the emotional tides, we crash in the rocks and die.

My personal story of the emotional roller coaster can be found here: http://www.marriedheat.com/emotions-men-emotional

anonymous Aug 14, 2015 6:44am

Thankyou for the insightful article, Keith. I feel like this a safe and intelligent community to request some insight on a romantic situation. Although this article is more about men withdrawing in the context of a relationship, here goes…
I recently reconnected with a former lover. To keep the story as short and neutral as possible: we had dated briefly 10 years ago (I was also seeing someone else at the time and ended up choosing this other person for reasons I later came to identify as appeasing my ego and my idea of who I 'should' be with). Fast forward and whilst we’ve been social media friends for a long time, he recently messaged with an unexpected question, asking what I remembered about our time together.
Trying to lightly coax out the reason for the contact and cut through his slightly confusing and non direct message/s, I eventually suggested a catch up coffee. It went well, the chemistry and attraction was strong and mutual. He kissed me, I reciprocated.
He broached a second meet up, over the same medium, about ten days later. But not before we had an online chat about how he was ‘open to me, but with a mild degree of caution’ He wanted to reconnect ‘without us having expectations of each other’ and with ‘honesty’, and offered himself up as an‘open person who doesn’t mind being asked direct questions’. It all sounded very mature and self-assured so I was more than keen to go to dinner. The date was wonderful and ended in us spending the night together. The contact in the two weeks since then had been some light-hearted texting, and a call from me about suggesting another dinner (of which a date was agreed upon tentatively, then jovially rain checked by him)

I’m well aware of how juvenile all this sounds after a sum total of hours spent together. I realise I don’t know this person at all really, and I know I’ve actually loaded it with tonnes of expectation, as he’s always been someone I regretted breaking up with. So aside from myself obviously being rather insecure, what on earth would one make from all this? He was never available? My (faint) instinct from our first meeting was that he might not be in the best place at the moment. Why would someone seek out a former partner, share this intimacy and then withdraw?

anonymous Aug 5, 2015 5:00pm

Interesting article. I do believe that men and women are, through nature, wired differently and we are fundamentally different. In addition though, I believe my generation and my parents’ generation conditioned men and women differently. I’m 58 yrs old. I was raised to be the nurturer, a very traditional femele role while my brother was raised to be the provider etc. These stereotypes are no longer working, this the problems. I did not learn how to express my emotional needs to my husband, nor did he learn to express his to me. Our relationship ended in a disaster as a result. Male and female roles are in the flux of change. I have three sons whom I raised to value and express their emotions, particularly their softer ones. If I had daughters I would have raised them to express their emotions, again, particularly the softer ones. I know my counterparts who do have daughters have done so. What this means is hopefully the next generation of men and women are better equipped to communicate their emotions to each other in a more understandable way, without the old stereotypes. Therefore, I agree that when dealing with each other in my generation, we do need to allow for the way men and women were raised, with stereotypes and teach each other towards the changes that are taking place. It isn’t easy. I do believe that our children will have an easier time relating with the opposite sex, in terms of emotions, given that we are breaking down old stereotypes. It is important as parents…fathers and mothers that we teach our young the importance of emotional maturity and communication, without stereotypes…. Hopefully the divorce rate will go down as a result and they will be better at maintaing healthy relationships in the future. In the meantime, I am a teacher to the man in my life right now and I am happy to say he is open to learning and we are developing a new world, modern relationship of u detstanding and love.

anonymous Jul 26, 2015 9:56am

Beautifully said! Kudos to the author! This was insights that I required and am glad to now have . Thank you!

anonymous Jul 25, 2015 4:12pm

Interesting and this makes a lot of sense. With my boyfriend he has had an explosive temper since way before I met him so this tendency in him doesn't seem to be that reflective of a dynamic we have going. He claims to have improved in this area a lot by being around me and his friends said so too. But, still, better can still be alarming.

anonymous Jun 20, 2015 3:13am

Excellent read. It is awesome when a man gains an ability to verbalize well what goes on inside, because it helps other men be heard too.

Something I find myself thinking as I read is that, if men can understand and accept this about themselves, it might aid them to also understand women?

Because there's a learning curve for females too, they might have developed much skills in recognizing their own emotions (EQ), but there are other skills, (for example, in the area of IQ) that they might be still working on. They might not have much understanding of how a man's mind works. They make mistakes too.

But more specifically, I often meet men in discussions on gender conflicts who carry the accusation that when a woman is mad, she will "cut off his access to sex" (or give "the silent treatment") as if it is a punishment, consciously chosen to manipulate his behavior.

That is rarely true. Withdrawal into self and introversion after a painful or difficult event is often just what is needed to work out and digest emotions. They will do it for their self, not for their mate. Just as men do.

In either case, it is only if the withdrawal last a long time- weeks or more- that it is probably appropriate for the mate to begin asking them to come back out and share what they have worked out. Because we also help each other not to get lost in the process, so that they end up circling inside getting nowhere.

But time to withdraw is essential for us all, in learning to master our emotions!

anonymous Jun 19, 2015 3:46pm

As a nurturing, sensitive and compassionate woman I grow weary of always being the emotional role model. I'm in my late 50's and would love to meet a man who can share his emotions in a meaningful, evolving manner. I just ended a 3 year relationship because it exhausted me to see a hurt 8 year old instead of a nurturing, sensitive and compassionate man whenever emotional connections were expected. I've raised my children and I have no intention of raising my partner. Women are constantly being challenged to take on both male/female roles, come on men give us a break! Be our role models for a change.

anonymous Jun 18, 2015 9:00pm

Men might not be emotionally ready for what they’re feeling, , but there is also a point where they need to grow up and figure out what women need as well. They need to stop making excuses

anonymous Mar 15, 2015 7:11pm

This article is a painful read. The mind boggling percentage of woman suffering from mental Illness, substance abuse and depression continues to be shoved under the rug aka repressed. Assuming females are more “emotionally adequate” drives women to withdraw just the same. Feminism is not so much about power but a cry of demand for recognition based on fact and reality rather than old patriarchies.

anonymous Mar 13, 2015 3:10am

I would personally like to note that the picture that goes with this article on facebook is fanart of the Eleventh Doctor during a sad moment in his life. I suppose the weight of over a thousand years of love and loss did make him withdraw, if more into a mask of childishness than quiet reservation… Interesting choice.

Having read the article in spite of that picture misleading me somewhat, I would agree with many of the commentors–possibly helpful, overly generalized. This is helpful for good-willed women in a relationship of mutual encouragement and growth with a good-willed man who falls into this category. Plenty of men do. Plenty more do not–either because they are not emotionally withdrawn, or not in these ways or for these reasons, or because they are not good-willed. I think the article would have been better received on the whole if it had been pitched with as simple a modifier as "Why Many Men Emotionally Withdraw."

anonymous Mar 13, 2015 12:06am

Maybe people withdraw because they aren’t a great fit and it isn’t about some defect that needs to be cured by emotional shepherding. Who wants to be a sheep? This article has a bit of essentialism at its core — as if one side is naturally better and needs to help the other side like the latter was a remedial class. Go read some Nietzsche, drink a beer, make a painting, stop trying to reconstruct men as if they were the bad old South.

anonymous Mar 10, 2015 9:28pm

It's really very refreshing to see an article on this site written by a man for men. I want more of that, not only because I think strong, mature men need the same kind of guidance we women get but because I just love getting into the mind of my counterparts. I loved the article. It helped me understand better (because it was written by a man) just exactly how different my perspective on love and relationships are from man's. I spent a lot of time early in life not even comprehending that men and women are different.

The last 6 years, I've been gifted with a valuable perspective by an amazing teacher on the subject that women and men are indeed different. Not only in their communication styles, but in how they perceive the world in general. And what feels natural to a woman, i.e. expressing emotions and wanting to be helpful with comforting words when a man encounters problems, stress, failure, is actually the wrong way to react to the situation. Men are SO different from women. They need to withdraw, rejuvenate, and come up with solutions on their own, without help, but knowing their woman is waiting there for them after the fog passes. For us women, we want an emotional shoulder to cry on and somebody who tells us we're wonderful and ok. That's not a man's need. It took me many years to comprehend this (I'm still only 31) but it's so very important for all of our well-being that we nurture these facts and understand each other at a deep, deep level.

A man may be able to give a woman a deeply fulfilling relationship by being completely present and communicative and emotive, and a woman may be able to give that same gift to a man by honoring his need to withdraw, to let him know she's available for him when the time is right, and to approve of and support his goals whatever they may be.

This is a great article. I am so sick of hearing about mysogonist this misanthropic that. We are all PEOPLE. And if you're on this site, chances are you're an open, accepting person who wants to grow. Let's encourage the kind of discussion Keith has put forth. Let's talk and be open about understanding one another. Because, the way I see it, I am not a man and don't have any desire to be one, but I respect the hell out of masculinity. I wouldn't be able to feel feminine if there weren't a counterpart. So please, keep this kind of dialogue up. I promise you, curious women who respect masculinity and want to understand it at a deep level are listening.

anonymous Jan 19, 2015 10:09pm

This is pretty spot on for guys. I’ve been here a couple times. Ladies I understand you don’t want to be the teacher, but this is a great article. Expecting us to know what to do and then getting mad when we don’t? I feel this hit the nail right on the head. I will always try to listen and help my significant other, but being attacked does not help. Who wants to sit there and be betrated? No one.

anonymous Jan 19, 2015 9:13pm

Wow, seriously? “To demand for a man to have the mastery over their emotions is an outrageous expectation.” This has to be one of the most insulting things I’ve read in years. Maybe a boy masquerading as a man would have issue with his emotions, but a real man doesn’t. I’m not sure this author has ever met a man. The issue is that men deal with emotions differently than women. Women not recognizing this feel that men are inept at dealing because we don’t do it the way they do. Most of the confusion comes from the fact that we have different requirements for emotional security. Learn what your partner needs to feel secure. Tell your partner what you need to feel secure. If you can’t communicate your needs, you have a problem no relationship will survive. As for the teacher part, sorry but unless I want to be a woman, I’m not looking to you to teach me how to express my emotions. The only teaching should be telling your partner what you want and asking them what they want. Sorry if your man doesn’t want to share everything about his emotions 24/7, it doesn’t make him emotionally immature, it makes him a man. The caveat to all this is that all men are not the same. Communicate, if you can’t, stop trying to turn that boy into a man, that’s his responsibility not yours.

    anonymous Jun 16, 2015 9:24pm

    Thank you for this! I found myself making excuses for my verbally and mentally abusive ex after reading this article . I tried for years supportively explaining that i could see his pain, and wanted to love him through it. He said his only issue was being with me! He said i was trying to take away his masculinity, but quite the opposite, let him know his deep pain was causing him to have to be in control, always find every fault in me, but never acknowledge the good stuff or sharing ANY emotional intimacy. He’d vocalize the bad, and tell me i was needy for wanting to hear something positive every once in a while. I tried everything i knew. Gave him space when he needed it, tried to always be “on point” so he wouldnt have a reason to tell me who lac i was…but i never met his expectations or standards. I would stand up for myself and he would call me overly sensitive. Hed go away to gather himself or cool down, for a week or two, but he always woulf come back. And within days, it would be the same. Im not perfect, but i put so much love and energy into him. I can see he has issues woth processing or showing emotion, and muat jave a fear of rejection, inadequacy, or something-but if you ask him, he’s damn near close to perfect and that i should feel very lucky that he chose to be with someone on my level. Smh. Everytime i brought up all his food qualities, the. Mentioned what he could work on to make things more balanced, (along woth my own things to work on)….he would make fun of me and tell me im trying make him soft. Or call me “dr. Phil”. A man has to want it for a woman to help w that. He has to have a certain amount of humility and vulnerability. Without that,…. youll mourn him over and over again until you realize HE has to admit there is somethinghe needs to go within, face , and figure out.

anonymous Jan 19, 2015 3:21am

I love some of the comments here. Someone needs to write a follow up article to what they women are supposed to do. I’m 35 and I’ve been a teacher to men for all these years. When is my turn? I’m human and as a woman I have needs too.

anonymous Jan 19, 2015 1:13am

How do you suggest a woman nurtures a man who has gone quiet and retreated into his cave?

    anonymous Jul 26, 2015 6:00am

    You just wait until he comes out. He needs the time to figure things out for himself.

anonymous Jan 7, 2015 9:05pm

I like this article its actually really true and I love it. I have 3 brothers and most of my cousins are men too. When I was young I was brought up to be strong, men don't cry, suck it up, or stop crying or ill give you a reason to cry. Its how men are raised I was brought to believe. Yes the mother is there to nurture them, but the father is there to mentor is how society sees it and the child holds the father at a higher authority usually. I remember fracturing my leg in 8th grade and was told to suck it up so I did I bottled up my emotions and drove on to be strong. Its a messed up thing that happened yeah, I should have gone to the hospital but things happen. I saw asking for help or even excepting help was admitting weakness. Join the army and same thing is instilled in you going through basic training have to be tough have to be the best and push through any obstacle. So when I entered a serious and intimate relationship things were rough. I've been in relationships before but not as serious when your young. Started off normal very socialable then when I started to get seriously emotionally attached to her I had no idea what to do. I became distant I didn't know what to say or do. I was panicking in my own head because I never felt that way about someone before and I was angry with myself for not knowing what to do. I was struggling because to me I felt I wasn't functioning normally. And her not knowing what was going on because I had know idea how to express my love for her, she cut me off immediately and completely. It was the worst feeling in the world and I wasn't in a relationship for years after. focused on my military career as a way to cope. I still think about her every now and then but I think that time gave me some time to reflect and I learned more on how to communicate a bit better in emotionally weird(menwise) situations and more about myself in the process and what I actually want in life, a family I can love till the day I die.

    anonymous Feb 4, 2016 10:13pm

    This is the most beautiful and open and honest response I have read. Will you write me? I would love to talk to you.

anonymous Dec 4, 2014 10:40am

Both men and women are messed up! Neither in my experience are doing that great! Instead, we need to change society to make our lives go better. We are way more a like then different. You cannot really be yourself until we start to heal from the damage of the past. Let's face it. We all are terrified and show it in different ways, by withdrawing and feeling victimized. Most of us feel bad and need to stop blaming the other. It is all nonsense. Men need to work with other men to heal from these hurts. Women need to work with other women with their hurts. Then maybe we can get together and help each other out.

anonymous Dec 2, 2014 11:25am

While I appreciate the efforts to let us in and help us understand what we can do to help men come to more comfort with expression of emotions, I feel a major component is missing.

We all need emotional support from that person we call our boyfriend, husband, girlfriend or wife. Not just men, not just women. It is impossible or close to it to stay emotionally stable always. No one I know or have learned of has achieved that sort of grande plateau. My point is, it is not realistic to think a woman, the emotional being, can both be her naturally fluctuating, support and tenderness needing self while simultaneously being the teacher, lover, and patience holder in the relationship. Where does said woman turn when she feels unstable and the man can’t handle the possibility of lashing out or her being a bit insecure? Where does she turn when there is no patience in reserve, when it is her turn to experience the (perhaps) equivalent of a man cave, a break down an emotional spewing?

We are all human. We are all learning, and the curve is steep.

anonymous Oct 20, 2014 11:16pm

This article hits the nail on the head. Gonna print this one out and take it to our next marriage therapy session. Struggling with this and my wife now. I had a crappy childhood and it made me into who I am. When I try to open up to my wife, I get shut down or dismissed. And yeah – it hurts… and as a result, I put that brick back in my wall.

And ladies – guess what, while we may not show emotion, or externalize it, or otherwise share our feelings with you – that doesn't mean we're devoid of feeling or emotion, nor are we robots either. Deep down inside, we do feel pain, hurt, sadness, happiness, joy, elation, etc.

We're not your girlfriends, sisters, mothers, wives, etc. Don't expect us to be YOU. Be nice to us and we'll return the favor. Guys are more emotionally vulnerable than you think we are. As the saying goes – happy wife, happy life. Treat us like crap and we'll shut you out. Pretty simple. Listen to enough Dr. Laura and the some of the more common calls into her show are "I was a bitch to him and then he cheated on me and now I'm hurt." Well, duh. Not too hard to figure out why he did that now, is it?

    anonymous Dec 4, 2014 11:18am

    Oh dear.. you may not be aware of it sir, but it sounds like you are begin quite passive and shirking responsibility in your relationship. "I had a crappy childhood and it made me who I am..": Dear sir, it is *your* life, and you get to choose how to respond to what happens in it. If you were starved for something as a child, I am sorry. You are now an adult, and you get to choose who and how you are now. If you want love, nurturing, presence and openness, be loving, nurturing, present and open. You may have chosen a woman who reminded you of you mother in some way, as we all often seek partners that have characteristics similar to the parents we were wounded by and are trying to resolve issues with through our adult experiences of love. A word of caution to you: you really do sound like you are blaming your wife and your mother for all the problems you are having emotionally. I don't think things will go well for you in life if you are unable to take responsibility for your own heart and your own way of being. This is a developmental phase.. we are not suddenly "all growed up" when we have jobs and marriages and mortgages.. life offers maturational opportunities throughout, and they are choices. Problems and pain happen to draw our attention to things we need to change from within ourselves and translate outward. This is healing. You may find that if you take responsibility for yourself, your feelings, and your actions, that your wife begins to respond to you differently. You may find you are able to heal your relationship and save your marriage. I wish you the best of luck.. I'm sure you can do it.. I hope you choose to.

anonymous Oct 16, 2014 12:09pm

That's all well and good, but at some point us emotionally evolved women get tired and frustrated with having to constantly be the teacher. Our needs have to be met eventually, instead of being drained completely because the other person cannot face their emotions.

anonymous Oct 13, 2014 10:08am

WOW!!! Perfect and poignant right now . . . Thank You!!!!

anonymous Oct 13, 2014 5:41am

Well, I can say living this right now. It is a long painful road. After 15 years, 3 children and being his "rock". He has shut down and shut me and the children out completely. I must say my entire reality is fractured into pieces f what did I do wrong. And why won't God help us? The man… I knew.. I commit my life to.. Turned into a selfish ,cold, withdrawn monster. It's abusive behavior. If a man is ill-equipped he need to seek the resources and help. If his pride prevents him from doing so, he will hurt all who truly love him and have been patient. Pride goeth before destruction.

anonymous Oct 6, 2014 8:19pm

I came across this article because as a woman I'm the one that withdraws emotionally. Emotions are not easy for me, and I don't know how to express them, or even identify them, but I have to *think* about what's been said, what needs to be done to fix it, and how it can never happen again.

I know, I clicked one that said "why men withdraw" so I won't get into the stereotypes, but I did hope that you would have given a how not to withdraw, which is what I'm looking for. I'd love to know how to change my behavior, I don't expect my husband to do all this for me, that wouldn't be fair. I know I have to be engaged to even start a healthy dialog. You might want to think about a part 2 or something that goes into what we withdraw'ers can do to be present and not withdraw.

anonymous Oct 2, 2014 9:35pm

This dude's articles are nothing but apologetics for men remaining emotionally infantile. It is NOT women's responsibility to to teach men emotional awareness or emotional effectiveness, or to raise their consciousness–that is THEIR responsibility. The recent article on passive-aggressive acting-out of some men was equally immature. Get off the tit! You do men a major diservice by not encouraging them to take FULL responsibility for and become empowered in their own evolution as emotional, spiritual and connected beings. If men don't grab a clue soon, many will be left behind; we are getting tired of men being emotional children…..awaken, men, join us!

anonymous Sep 29, 2014 10:02pm

Thank you very much for this insight. It is important to hear things for a mans perspective. I am currently with someone who has told me that I need to be patient and that it takes him while to truely fall and open up. We have been dating each other for a little over 3 months. I have found that the emotional unavailability I am currently getting from him has made me emotionally withdraw to avoid hurt. I want to be patient, but it is hard when I am constantly second guessing how he feels about me, and if what he has to offer me is enough. I know I can't expect him to fall in love with me instantly, but how long do you wait for someone to start feeling strong feelings and start to fall in love with you?.. He is affectionate and kind, but struggles to open up with me.

anonymous Sep 28, 2014 6:19pm

Interesting and only scratches the surface. Generally I assume that most people seek an emotional connection with another human being. However, not only do we not know how to have one, we don't even know what stops us when we do know how. We move forward toward our connection and then a sense of panic overcomes us and we retreat without a clue as to what happened. And if we don't know, then our partner doesn't have a clue and can assign it either to themselves or to the other, blaming them for note being available, afraid of intimacy and just being a man. Perhaps none the above other than being a man is true. Perhaps it's ingrained from childhood, or even farther back, it's what the men or women do in your family. Like mother like daughter, like father like so… Or even the too close mother whose children take on her emotions as their own. Or the mother or father who do not give the child enough space to have their own feelings so when a partner shows up desiring some closeness, the actual cells in the body go on alert and the too closeness with the parent kicks into operation and the closeness doesn't have a chance.

anonymous Sep 19, 2014 7:03am

Hello there,

Let me first congratulate you for this brilliant piece. Trust me, my comments would come out as too ordinary, but this is the only time I am posting my comments/personal views on an article. I had to, this time. It was refreshing and an Eye-opener. Turns out that I’ve been a woman with insecure emotions looking for that evasive emotional stability from my man of months. After reading your article, a newfound confidence in me tells me that I’ll not only survive in this relationship, but that I DO have the power to steer the relationship as I like it. My man tends to withdraw emotionally quite often, and though I had a hint of his phobia towards emotions, your article confirms it solo beautifully. I can’t thank you enough for giving me a new hope in my relationship. Best, Nancy.

anonymous Jul 20, 2014 9:35am

po wittle baby's! baby need's a pacifier and a blankie!!! ladies, don't be like i was, nurturing and coddling along a "sensitive" man for 10 years. they are EMOTIONAL VAMPIRES and will attempt destroy you from their overarching hate for their mommies and insane repressed jealousy for not being women themselves. leave them in their playpen where they deserve to be.

anonymous Jul 2, 2014 5:50am

Just read what KateBartolotta wrote, and I agree! There were bits in the article where I found myself thinking, 'But…*I* do that!" I definitely need time to process words and emotions. I'm a 'caver'. It will sometimes take me days to figure out how I actually feel about something, be that an event or things that were said. Still…a great article, thank you 🙂

anonymous Jul 2, 2014 5:43am

Thank you. Really, thank you. Ultimately, we're all just beings doing our best (I hope!) and flailing at times. And I do mean flailing, NOT failing xo

anonymous Jul 2, 2014 12:03am

I've read literally hundreds of articles here, and this is the one that first made me run for the tip jar. What you said about the double-standard our society imposes on men – expecting them to be killers AND emotionally available simultaneously – absolutely floored me.
I feel like I've spent most of my life being the rope in a tug-of-war between these two opposing forces, and I never really understood why.
You stated it perfectly, brother. Well done indeed.

anonymous Jun 12, 2014 8:51pm

I just want to share my experience with the world on how i got my love back and saved my marriage. I really love DENISE so much that i can not even do without. I was married for 7years with 2kids and we lived happily until things started getting ugly and we had fights and arguments almost every time… it got worse at a point that she filed for divorce… I tried my best to make her change her mind & stay with me cause i loved her with all my heart and didn't want to loose her but everything just didn't work out… she moved out of the house and still went ahead to file for divorce… I pleaded and tried everything but still nothing worked. The breakthrough came when someone introduced me to this wonderful man who eventually helped me out with spell… I have never been a fan of things like this but just decided to try reluctantly cause I was desperate and left with no choice… He did special prayers and used herbs… Within 2 days she called me and was sorry for all the emotional trauma she had cost me

anonymous May 30, 2014 10:15pm

Keith, I am surprised at the blow back from women on your article. OK, the fact of the matter is that we are yangy guys that biologically and sociologically have different skill sets. Yes, we won't be your best girlfriend, but that is not what we naturally do. Sure, we need some nurturing and training on broadening our emotional scope, but we are combating a couple thousand (at least) years of conditioning otherwise. If women, who biologically embody yin, receptive energy, do not want to assist in men's emergence, then the question is "why"? This should be a "win – win" proposition, but there seems to be a power struggle emerging. There has to be a balance of forces and I sense a struggle for yang (assertiveness). I have no problem with sharing, but I balk at total surrender. If you find men confused, it is because the situation is confusing. Blame us if you must, but we are only half the problem.

    anonymous Oct 16, 2014 3:54pm

    Fair enough John, however YOU as men are half the problem as well, and the issue is men are not taking accountability for their half. That's all we ask. Consider that please next time a woman gives you her all and that isn't enough to solve the whole problem.

anonymous Apr 20, 2014 2:53pm

So well said, I had to re-post:
"Interesting article, but yet again the woman is being made responsible for a man's behavior. While I appreciate that we can have an effect on a man's ability to open up, this isn't a one-way street. It isn't up to a woman to create an environment for the man to come into his own emotions! It is up to the couple, together, to create this. Women have their own societal pressures to live up to, one being the idea that we must always be "nurturers" and never express anger, frustration, or anything deemed "negative". How often do women get labeled as "too emotional" when we do? Men and women alike fair better when they are patient and understanding with each other, including during those times when are patience is tested, we've had a bad day, or upset with our partner."

anonymous Apr 16, 2014 7:30am

I just don’t recognize it. Being a man my experience is that, although women like to see themselves as the more sensitive kind, when it really comes to talking about their OWN feelings and anxieties, a lot of women become avoidant and turn the tables. Of course, every overgeneralizing is too simple to be true.

anonymous Mar 12, 2014 11:53am

I needed this, just what I was looking for, thank you. And so thankful for Emily’s comment too!

anonymous Feb 22, 2014 1:45am

Barf! Women aren't responsible for men's emotional growth. Adults are responsible for themselves. Using a woman to make you feel safe is treating her like a mommy. We're not your mothers. Get whole on your own, then come into a relationship as an equal partner, not a scared, pouty little boy.

anonymous Feb 14, 2014 9:40pm

I won't be holding my breath for when Mr. Unavailable decides to stop withdrawing. I decided that it is a very unhealthy thing for me to do as a codependent. I use to give people a second, third and fourth chance. I don't go chasing people anymore. If someone wants to be friends, great! If they want to do a disappearing act, then I don't need to be around someone who is that much in their own head. I really have zero patience anymore. I have been the supportive spiritual healing woman for all my life, and all it gets me is down. As an empath, I know better now that I have to shield myself from these brooding types..

anonymous Feb 13, 2014 5:41pm

Beauty and the Beast myth continues.
His emotional goodness is still up to her.

anonymous Feb 12, 2014 2:01pm

I appreciate this article, however, like some others in this thread, I do not believe these roles are always so gender specific. Being a woman I understand it is hard to see the male perspective and vice-versa. However, there are many other factors at play here besides male vs female – family dynamic, for example. My sister and I were raised by our mother with no help from any male at any point in our childhood. Our mother was very bitter about this so we grew up around constant male-bashing, misplaced and volatile emotions, and the constant reminder that we as women have to be "strong". Only after growing into an adult have I been able to separate what real strength is (trust in oneself and emotional security) vs false strength (or putting up walls to protect oneself). I still have a difficult time feeling through my emotions and trying to process my feelings, so I can understand where the male side is coming from. I agree with a lot of what you wrote about intrinsic differences between men and women, but there needs to be patience on BOTH sides. Not everything is so black and white.

anonymous Feb 9, 2014 8:32pm

This is THE most beautiful and profound article I've read on this site! 🙂
(maybe it's because I'm a man, too 😉
Thank you very much, and kudos for expressing our emotional complexity and turmoils so clearly.

BTW, I get that you aren't putting the burden onto the woman (as someone got), but you underline her responsibility / potential in helping this process – in a "It takes two to tango" point of view.

anonymous Feb 6, 2014 6:29pm

Emilyalp writes: "Some men are also weak in character." Yes! As a gay man, let me share a story: Last year I sent a long email to my older, macho-hetero brother, broaching the subject of his constant bullying during my childhood, which was not only verbal and physical, but borderline sexual. I finally got a response three days later, but not from him. Rather, it was from his wife, whom he turned my email over to for her to read, before asking her to respond on his behalf. As for the response, she angrily denied my claims, speaking with authority about stuff that happened between my brother and me that she was never privy to. Even though my brother had severely hurt and disappointed me before in my life, nothing prepared me for this abject bottom-feeder level of emotional cowardice on his part, not to mention his wife's perverted presumption. Hey, if Keith can help heterosexual men and women get their act together, more power to him.

anonymous Feb 6, 2014 1:02pm

It's true the average man is behind the emotional curve compared to the typical woman. It's more than we are emotionally inexperienced–we were never trained in Masculine Emotional Intelligence.

And it is also true women teach us much about emotions starting with our mothers… but if we are to be truly empowered around emotions we need to learn the last pieces from other men. Since we left the tribe 10,000 years ago women have stepped up to teach boys and men about emotions.

We now need men teaching each other. There is no better or cheaper way than a good men's group.

anonymous Feb 6, 2014 7:27am

Or, maybe women are emotional wrecks who need a strong stable man to be a shoulder to cry on when their hormones get the better of them. Please… stop with the generalizations. Men aren't emotional beginners, we've had them just as long as women have, and just because we tend to deal with them in different ways doesn't mean we're doing it wrong. We're not trained to be "soldier-killers" from youth. We don't need a strong woman to guide us through our confusing emotional journey. I have been on the receiving end of emotionally over-wrought women just as often as I've withdrawn to sort out my own feelings or blurted out something hurtful in an argument. Your advice implies a condescension that is not helpful.

    anonymous Feb 6, 2014 12:32pm

    Nathan, then you are fortunate to have grown up in a completely different way than a great deal of men in our culture. You do watch television, see the news, observe the violence and rape culture that happens, right ? Emotionally awakened men don't do those types of things.

    And yes, I have also been on the receiving end of emotionally distraught women ; what I present is an ideal.

    I'd ask you to consider why the concepts and ideal presented here triggers you to such a depth.

    anonymous Feb 22, 2014 1:48am

    Word! Exactly my feeling, and I'm a woman. Men aren't hopeless emotional wrecks needing a woman to be a guiding beacon. Terrible generalizations going on in this article. "Women set the emotional tone," wow, way to dump all the pressure on chicks, cuz dudes are so emotionally helpless? Ugh. Men should hate tis article!

anonymous Feb 5, 2014 11:28pm

I completely agree with @RYilovelife. There are some women who have worked in a traditionally male profession where expressing emotion is suppressed and discouraged. Anger is an acceptable emotion, which is immediately forgotten. No one carries a grudge. Many self assured, confident, successful women get turned upside down and confused when dealing with an emotional man. I agree that, if this article was gender neutral, it would be more reflective of the human response to complicated emotional situations.

    anonymous Feb 6, 2014 12:29pm

    Thank you for sharing, and I agree with you on all points.

    However, it was about men and masculine emotions. There is no way to be gender neutral about that.

    anonymous Sep 19, 2014 1:01am

    I am sent this article from the man I am seperated from with only the comment that it was true for him, which part I am not sure. My challenge is that he has complexPTSD after 20+yrs with a Boarder Line Personality Disorder wife, a mom who lacked nuture and a demanding religious father. While I am an encouraging nurturing person by nature, the emotional cost to support this man through his challenges proved too costly. I appreciate the article and ensuing comments, many thought provoking ideas/insights. My heart bleeds for the damage to his heart and soul yet I felt he needs more than I can ever give for him to heal. I am curious LivingArtisan what your take on this type of situation would be.

      anonymous Dec 4, 2014 10:59am

      You bring up an extremely valuable point Gigi. I too, perhaps a great many of us, have found ourselves in relationship with a man who has deep emotional wounds, done some time trying to help him heal them, but finding ourselves inevitably projected upon as the reflector for whatever injuries or dynamics he may have in his relationship with his mother. It's a conundrum, and very sad, when there is real love and attachment there as well. I had to cut loose from a man when it became clear that he would continue to cycle through his mother wounds with me (and drive me nuts in the process). While I loved him, I knew it would not be a happy, healthy or satisfying relationship for me, so I returned him to his own path of healing. I think especially when young, prior to the long term commitment of deep self-work, both men and women may not have the capacity to refrain from projecting their wounds onto each other. Thank goodness for the maturation process. Some of it will happen organically, but we all need to self-initiate into that process as well, and if someone is too emotionally defended to go there, and that work is always left to the other, then that other partner has to figure out if they're willing to wait, indefinitely, for that to happen. I think it cases like that it's good to impose a time limit on a situation.

anonymous Feb 5, 2014 3:59pm

". . . men are expected to be tough, to protect, and kill to defend their family. Violence, and the expectation of violence, mandates an absence of emotional sensitivity. It is a double standard to expect a man to be emotionally available and to have him be able to harm another human being."

I agree that expecting and valuing certain emotions and not others is harmful—people should be able to express all of their emotions freely. (Yes, in an ideal world.)
But I don't agree that violence and emotional sensitivity can't both exist in a person. Violence is a necessary part of us—we need to be able to defend ourselves. I'm a very sensitive, emotion-based person. But if someone were to threaten me, my family or my friends, I would be prepared to clonk them if need be. (Thank you, boxing classes.) The two qualities—emotional sensitivity and the ability to become violent if need be—can and do exist in people. In fact, I think that the more emotionally aware people are, the more judiciously they employ violence. Let's not allow emotions to fall into the either/or trap.

    anonymous Dec 4, 2014 10:45am

    Good point, Elie C.. when I held that piece in the article, I was reframing it to say that the same states can perhaps not exist in someone concurrently at the same moment in time. It is literally different brain states that are involved with aggression or anger and love and tenderness. There does seem, to be a "shutdown" valve on the heart space when the ego has been insulted somehow and anger rises, but that reconnection could be established once the anger settles.

anonymous Feb 5, 2014 8:40am

"It is a double standard to expect a man to be emotionally available and to have him be able to harm another human being."
So frikkin true. Thanks.
Although I feel like there is no "one size fits all" I do think you got the crux of the issue. I was much worse when I was young. As I get older I withdraw less. I think it's because I believe more in the now and less in the yesterday or tomorrow. My identity is less attached to outside influence and more to what I experience every morning in meditation.

Kate Bartolotta Feb 5, 2014 8:14am

Thanks for writing this! I didn't always understand it, but now I really respect and value the fact that the men I know do this for themselves. I think it also is true not just in the male/female realm of things, but also introverts/extroverts. I know I often need to withdraw for a bit to process things that are intense. Maybe that's why I don't take it personally when others do it.

    anonymous Feb 6, 2014 12:28pm

    Thanks Kate, I really appreciate the perspective that it also occurs with introverts / extroverts. That is very true. It also causes me to think that people of various depths of sensitivity will respond differently. Always appreciate your insights.

anonymous Feb 5, 2014 6:12am

Thank You 🙂

anonymous Feb 5, 2014 1:44am

this article brings out feelings of anger in me… interesting when that is exactly what a vulnerable author writing about nurturing emotion would not want (or avoid) ! I

Let me approve: I liked this: " The reality is that teachers, guides and mentors accelerate this process and helps a person navigate the confusing and mysterious realms of emotions." Seems about true in my experience.

It is my opinion that an end/ed/ing relationship can be a good/painful/wrenching teacher – reactions of withdrawl and anger at that withdrawl – if they are what that person is feeling can be welcomed! Held in loving kindness. If a woman is insecure – like most people are – its legit! You unveil that men learning about their emotions are insecure. that makes me feel happy. It is likely my own lens of judgement that sorts the words 'insecure' and 'unsupportive' into the 'bad' category and 'secure' and 'nurturing' as 'good.' Thats the part that twists my insides. Perhaps because this was the cultural imprint left on me 'cus of my lady parts. Culturally I would like some maitri balm for this conundrum. it'sok to feel what you feel even if its angry and you are of woman type or angry + anything other than angry if you are of man type. Thanks for sparking the discussion in me!

    anonymous Feb 6, 2014 12:27pm

    I can face anger, and have faced some amazing rage in my life ; I think that women have been mistreated by men for generations and anger is to be expected.

    It's my belief that the man who is awakening on an emotional level will accept, embrace and likewise nurture a woman emotionally … the self-healing happens through allowing and being present as the other heals.

    Forgive me for not communicating that very well.

anonymous Feb 4, 2014 9:28pm

Sometimes men…..and women……withdraw emotionally because they are preparing to leave and end a relationship. Relationships do end, usually because one partner or another wants it to end. And emotional withdrawal is always a precursor.

    anonymous Feb 6, 2014 12:25pm

    Very true ; and that is a completely different subject. Thank you for the insight. 🙂

anonymous Feb 4, 2014 9:20pm

This is a very interesting article and while I agree (and applaud) much of it, there are a few things I would like to suggest.

First, I don't believe this is just a “man's issue.” I am a woman who was raised to be strong, fearless, and independent. Life on a farm meant you ignored both physical and emotional pain and did whatever you had to do to get the work done. While this creates a strong work ethic, responsibility, determination and other desired characteristics, it also has a detrimental affect on our ability to quickly process those emotions that we have spent a lifetime learning to ignore. I believe this is the same message that men receive from our society throughout their lives. My point is I believe this is a learned behavior that is completely non-gender based.

Second, I believe everyone wants an intimate connection, not just the “best men,” but all men… and all women. If sex were only about orgasm, no one would have sex with another person. We seek intimacy (emotional and physical) because what we really want is to experience that human connection. It is an inherent part of the human condition, to be loved and accepted. It lies as the core of all our behavior.

Which brings me to my third point. Love is the foundation on which all human behavior is built. Every behavior we engage in, if microscopically explored, can be traced back to love; a desire to be loved and accepted, a fear of losing love or being rejected. We are social creatures and our survival depends on it. Once we realize this, it becomes much easier to see a previously hurtful or threatening behavior as a cry to be loved and accepted. The same holds true for “The woman who is insecure with her own emotions will see a man who withdraws as a threat and denigrate him and go on the attack.” (except for the “woman” part). Experience has shown me that anyone who is insecure and fearful of rejection can turn their fear into rage, anger, and even violence.

If I were to read this without a gender reference, I would say you hit the nail right on the head! Thanks for a great article!

anonymous Feb 4, 2014 6:03pm

Your article seems to be written with the best intentions, but these are generalizations (which, as stereotypes, hold some truth, but have too many contradictions to be taken objectively). Growing up in the care of my [pissed-off-to-hell] hard-working and stressed out single mother, I was certainly not encouraged to show weakness or femininity. It took years of growing into my own person and plenty of hard work to come to grips with my own emotionality (as well as that of others) and to embrace my feminine side. If you would have omitted the sexist stuff, I could probably agree with you entirely.

anonymous Feb 4, 2014 5:22pm

"It takes a lion’s heart full of courage to face down societal expectations and programmed beliefs."

-hear, hear! for anyone!

anonymous Feb 4, 2014 4:44pm

Thank you for this perspective. I have a very sensitive, soulful brother and even after being raised with him, I still forget how tender men can be. It is valuable to consider this in my communications with men, especially when it's time to deliver feedback.

However, like many others, I am troubled by the initial impression I gleaned from this piece- that the onus is on the female partner to provide the male partner's emotional education and container. That is a great burden to put on one person. Maturing into an emotionally stable, intelligent human being did not come naturally by virtue of my gender. I had to do a lot of conscious work, seeking out the professional guidance of healers and teachers of all kinds. Yes, it is more socially acceptable for me to display emotion, but there is no inherent emotional education. We each have to seek that out on our own. We teach each other so much in partnership, but our role is not teacher, our roles are equally supportive, loving partners. We ought to come together to offer our richness to one another, not to have one person fill the deep, fundamental need of another while being offered little in return. This is codependency.

But I get it. In an *ideal* world, the man is sincerely working towards his own emotionally intelligent excellence and this is good insight for his female partner to support him in that. The trouble is, far too many women stick around in unfulfilling relationships because they've been programmed to believe that it's their role to nurture and heal. Some men do lack good character, some relationships are codependent, and while this article isn't about them, you run the risk of fanning the flame in the minds of women who already think, "If I can only find the right thing to do or say, it will make everything right." It's not anyone else's job to heal our minds and hearts except the people we pay to help us in this endeavor. And sometimes the only "right" thing to do in a relationship is to leave.

My favorite article from last week, If I Can't Accept You at Your Worst, Then Maybe You Should Stop Being So Horrible: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/matt-walsh/if-i-can

We could all stand to gain a better emotional education and mastery of healthy communication. We all have work to do, and we're each responsible for our own personal development. Do your own work and offer your partner your richness, not your need.

    anonymous Feb 6, 2014 12:24pm

    I am sorry for giving the impression that the burden of responsibility is on the woman ; that is not at all what I was trying to communicate.

anonymous Feb 4, 2014 4:42pm

So insightful, honest, and realistic! Thank you and please keep writing and sharing things on how the male brain works.

anonymous Feb 4, 2014 2:07pm

Interesting article, but yet again the woman is being made responsible for a man's behavior. While I appreciate that we can have an effect on a man's ability to open up, this isn't a one-way street. It isn't up to a woman to create an environment for the man to come into his own emotions! It is up to the couple, together, to create this. Women have their own societal pressures to live up to, one being the idea that we must always be "nurturers" and never express anger, frustration, or anything deemed "negative". How often do women get labeled as "too emotional" when we do? Men and women alike fair better when they are patient and understanding with each other, including during those times when are patience is tested, we've had a bad day, or upset with our partner.

    anonymous Feb 6, 2014 12:24pm

    No, the woman is not being made responsible for the man's emotions ; she is being asked to be present and honor and own her own emotional state.

anonymous Feb 4, 2014 1:02pm

I am just now coming into this knowledge. In my relationship, I try to maintain stable support for him. He has a very stressful occupation and everyone in his life before I came alone saw him as the rock, so he was depended on to handle every situation. He assumed this toll with me in the beginning because it was what he knew.

But life has a way of throwing curve balls, so he was taken out of his element by circumstances beyond his control and I had to assume his role with his family and colleagues. He was injured in an accident and in a coma for almost a month. When he awakened and found that things weren’t as far out of place as he expected, he realized that I was someone he could share his weakness with and feel safe doing so.

Our relationship has grown to such depth now that we weathered that storm. There is a calm now that we never knew before. He is comfortable showing his emotions to me and I am completely relaxed and sure that we have a true and solid connection. In a way, that tragedy made us grow into what each of us needed from the other. Now neither of us can see our lives without the other in it. We have what each of us dreamed of as a true and solid relationship and we are each thankful for our blessings.

anonymous Feb 4, 2014 12:40pm

Loved the dialogue between Emily and Living Artisan – very important and real – thank you guys and a great article to get talking about this.

anonymous Feb 4, 2014 11:41am

I am reticent to give this article carte blanche on the architecture of men's emotional world. I do echo some of Emily's sentiments but also think there is a pointed emphasis on men getting a free pass on accountability. Certainly there is some socialization at play in American society that teaches boys or men not to emote. However, girls and young women are not particularly trained or socialized to be in touch with their emotions or how to express them effectively. There is an assumption made that we almost have a kind of psychic ability to detect others emotions and our own that is simply unfair and inaccurate. Further, the statement "The depth of understanding that the woman has with herself and her own emotional nature will give him the security to express and unveil his own strengths." is like the female emotional Unicorn. As a result, an unfair expectation is established that women will shoulder the burden of communication as it relates to sharing and expressing emotions. The only persons behavior you can control is your own. Men and women need to take responsibility for their emotional development and desire to connect with the opposite sex. Assuming a woman is going to provide a virtual emotional womb for which you can grow etc. is placing an unfair responsibility on another person for your emotions and perhaps outsourcing blame and accountability. I think perhaps a follow up article about how men can open up emotionally or test the waters might be prudent. As a side note, I think that in order to echo Emliy's sentiment (if I am interpreting correctly) we do have to take into account what men or a particular man wants. Overall, I think men and women have been socialized to treat each other like transactions. Due to social media and online dating we find the quickest way possible to get the product that we desire, ergo sex, financial support etc. I think this overarching theme impacts the sexes desire or pursuit of intimacy. Why make the effort to be emotionally vulnerable and perhaps feel pain and take risk when you can get all the other "stuff" by simply logging on throwing out some compliments and voila! I think children growing up today are being socialized to not even have a solid understanding or feeling of intimacy. Without a frame of reference or knowledge that intimacy is possible nobody can get what they want or need.

    anonymous Feb 6, 2014 12:23pm

    No ; it isn't a carte blanche pass for men and their emotions ; it is a call for understanding.

    anonymous Feb 6, 2014 5:33pm

    Owl I agree with you specially when you say “Men and women need to take responsibility for their emotional development and desire to connect with the opposite sex.”.

    In the situation I’m living right now I perceive that sometimes he seeks his development but sometimes he just assumes that’s the way he is and accountability is done. And I carry the burdens.

    I’m really trying to be supportive and to understand his reasons but when the situations is passing over us it is difficult.

    anonymous Oct 4, 2014 10:39am

    Thank you Owl for this response. I agree completely that this article brought up a lot of gendered stereotypes about women and men that was not helpful. I notice that the author did not source any studies about emotional expression in genders to back up his views. I too, felt that this was outsourcing blame and responsibility to women. One truth I've found is that we cannot control how other people respond to our emotions. I am the only person responsible for my emotions. We are each only responsible for our own emotions. I think that telling women how they must respond to emotions from men is telling us that we cannot be authentic people in our own right and I don't see how that furthers a relationship in a healthy way. Trying to control the responses of others to our emotions can be a sign of codependence. Expressing emotions is a risk and sometimes we don't get the response we were looking for and that goes for whether you are cis-male, cis-female, transgender or genderqueer. I would like to see what this article would have been like with less of a gender binary and backed up with some psychological research.

    anonymous Oct 16, 2014 3:43pm

    You're awesome. "female emotional unicorn". So true… emotions are tough for BOTH men and women to navigate. This is not a cake walk for anyone.

anonymous Feb 4, 2014 10:54am

Amazingly insightful… thanks!

anonymous Feb 4, 2014 9:47am

This is a really interesting perspective. The fight or flight is universal to both sexes. I spent a lot of time wondering what I could have done differently, how I could have nurtured more. Lots of therapy etc both couples and singular. When there's narcissistic tendencies and lies, I don't know if you can really tip the balance. I'm working on forgiving myself and opening my heart to the future. Violence is never ok.

anonymous Feb 4, 2014 7:11am

Great writing, but please please stop propagating myths about women. Your assertions that women tap into emotions more so than men is false, as women are perceived and trained this way. We can pat you on the back for being graceful about the topic, but you are doing the same thing. Please don't be one more man who makes assumptions about women and their emotional state!!!! Think about that, please, no matter how nice you are in perpetuating it. As a woman, I'm so tired of that.

    anonymous Feb 4, 2014 9:35am

    Every woman I know has explained their emotional nature and how they work with it and express it. Perhaps its just common in the circle of people with whom I communicate ; artists, musicians, writers, spiritually minded, nature loving, dance and adventurous types. That could definitely give me a skewed perception.

    Yet I do hold that there is a societal portrayal of women as being more emotional, sensitive people in general … though, I completely agree that women are also shut-down emotionally in our modern world and that we all have a lot to remember about being authentic.

    anonymous Feb 4, 2014 10:51am

    Shea, while it is true we are socialized into traditional male/female roles, if you watch young children you will observe there are intrinsic differences between female and male childrens' behaviors beyond our social training. We naturally embody yin/yang energy (receptive/assertive) and, yes, male children tend to be more assertive and females more internalized and receptive. These innate tendencies have been incorporated into our social fabric and heightened to ensure survival in harsher times. Keith has brought up the very valid point that men, both due to biology and psychology have a handicap to overcome when dealing with emotional issues. Keith's call for compassion and patience is realistic and sincere in bridging the gap between natural gender energetic differences and vive la différence!

      anonymous Feb 5, 2014 12:18am

      Yes, let's celebrate the difference as it is a way to learn Who We Are within a relationship situation and we get there faster when we acknowledge what our requirement is of ourselves rather than what we wish for from our partner.

anonymous Feb 4, 2014 6:36am

Thanks for sharing this. I do wonder if it is more of a societal human issue rather than just a male issue; as a woman I have felt that society also tells me not to show emotion because it makes me appear weak and vulnerable. And in fact it seems to me that strong men are given permission to express their vulnerability more. Of course the key there is that they have to have already proven themselves to be "strong" to get to that point, and that is another paradox.

At any rate; a thought-provoking and appreciated piece. Thank you.

    anonymous Feb 4, 2014 8:54am

    Jennifer, I agree with you ; and do think it is more of a societal issue. Yet there does seem to be the idea that women are more emotional than men, and for women to express there emotions is more permissible. And the paradox of strong men and strong women is another valid point ; thank you.

anonymous Feb 4, 2014 6:25am

For the record, I realize (and encourage other women asap to realize for their own good) that, as a woman, I have a long learning curve, too! Learning how to temper emotions and use the more powerful aspects of my femininity in a way that you describe (minus immediate gratification and plus a much deeper satisfaction in knowing I am helping someone else, loving someone else in a way that goes beyond codependency). Thank you for an article that forwards this idea. Lots of shifts in gender roles can complicate this, but it's really great you are bringing this fundamental notion of emotions and expression to light. Okay, I'll let you get on with your life now!! 😀

anonymous Feb 4, 2014 6:13am

I loved this article, but you left out one VERY important influence and THE teacher in a mans life, and if she was a good one then the mans emotional awakening may not be as traumatic, his mother. How he was raised can determine his out look on emotion and connection to others. Granted the relationship is very different, but still vitally important to how emotions are expressed later in life.

    anonymous Feb 5, 2014 12:13am

    Agree Vicky – if a man's mother is not safe to talk to then how can he feel safe to talk to his partner? When a mother demands a young and sensitive boy to 'man up' all the time, then when will he even get a chance to express how he feels. If his mother did not do enough nurturing, how can he trust the nurturing of his female partner.

    We are told that men are the protectors and so cannot feel. How can he protect me if he cannot feel? For a women it is as though he does not feel but he feels in a totally different way. I have seen women being fiercely protected because of the feelings men have about her safety – a man's natural and anthropological hard wiring is to ensure his partner and children's safety. It's set up that way and though in this modern day and age the whole thing looks archaic, it is to ensure continuance of the species.

    When a woman wants a man to understand her and she wants to know what he is feeling then she needs perhaps to look at what is going on for her. This is her requirement because her closest ally was in all probability her mother who would spend time talking about feelings. That, or she has never been given the opportunity to be heard and understood or given the life lesson to hear and understand herself without needing validation. Sure it would be nice to have a man tell you what his true emotions are but to tell you the honest truth I don't want a wimp around full time. When a man cries it is the most alarming experience for a woman if you are not prepared for it. I sense also that if he does cry, it's a betrayal to his sense of being male – he must be tough. And not necessarily because he is 'a man' but because his very essence is about being strong and courageous.

    I would say that when you allow a man to be who he is, he will appreciate it and walk into a woman's heart knowing he is acceptable and appreciated for his way of being. When I have attracted men who cannot say they how they feel it is because I had stuff I wanted to impart and it was about me, not them. Truly, we bring to ourselves that which we most need to learn. My father was passive and withdrawn and when I knew why, it was understandable. His Mother died when he was 10 years of age and he had no true parental models as his father had to leave him with resentful aunts and women who were assigned the task of caring for a young boy when they could hardly take care of themselves. My handsome 6 foot 6 father had feelings. Deep feelings. Unknowingly my mother would want him to express his innermost which only created more withdrawal.It made her frantic and arguments ensued. I learned this pattern, and until I unlearned it, I kept attracting passive and withdrawn male partners.

      anonymous Dec 4, 2014 10:28am


      Firstly, thank you for sharing your thoughts and experiences. I'd just like to pipe up here as well and share that it is not alarming for me if a man cries, and my experience of it is relief in a sense, relief that he is in there and that his heart is strong enough to allow this natural expression to occur. I also don't feel that it makes a man a "wimp," rather, it show's he is strong enough, alive enough, and invested enough to be vulnerable. That old tenet "boys don't cry" needs to be tossed out, in my opinion, because it is one of the pressures I believe men feel to suppress their true feelings, which, I believe, is unhealthy and leads to problems in relationship. Stoicism is a noble intention, but can be connected to emotional constipation as well. Thanks again to the author and to all here.

anonymous Feb 4, 2014 5:40am

Thank you for hearing me out. Yeah, I was hurt but a full life embraces both hurt and pleasure as part of learning and growth. So I know, big picture, I've learned a lot and I was the one who gave, so what have I really lost? I have learned. Thank you for your addendum here–it's key I think … men and women are truly different and have SO much to teach each other. This whole conversation excites me more than anything and so I'm glad you see where I'm coming from: not to bash what you are saying at all but to clarify based on what you are already very aware of, judging by your response.

I already do feel better–it's a ferris wheel and age grants us a chance to get closer and closer to the center of it so we can eventually just merrily run along 😉

    anonymous Feb 4, 2014 6:16am

    Emily, I think that your type of response helps all of us men and women move forward to greater depths of comprehension.

    Its my opinion that you set a great example for how to dialogue and express your emotions and experiences.

    Some of the women who have responded in the comments on facebook have been derogatory and mean-spirited. And those kinds of comments do nothing to further the cause of improving relationship between the sexes.

    Its my opinion that this is a very important topic, and a very sensitive one. All the men who have responded have been grateful and appreciative for this article.

    It goes to show that men have a really difficult time identifying, and then expressing these subtle aspects. Even with the best of intentions we fall short and have a big learning curve to go through.

    And I am glad to hear that you feel better. 🙂

    anonymous Feb 6, 2014 5:13pm

    Thank you Emily for sharing your thoughts on this matter, I couldn’t agree more with you. And thank you Keith for this great article and for your responses.

    I’m living right now this kind of situation and although I try to be patient and supportive it’s been difficult. I’m really focused on being that supportive woman because I think this is the way it should be and I’m really willing to learn something from the situation.

    But the most difficult to me is to perceive when it is a matter of inexperiency or of immaturity. In my case I think it’s the first, but sometimes I think he just uses the inexperiency as an excuse and abuses of the situation. I’m trying to be supportive but he is passing over me and this is not fair.

    This is such a difficult issue! Thank you so much for the comments and Keith for the article.

anonymous Feb 4, 2014 5:03am

This is a good article and good perspective. However, I want to add something in the name of caution. Many women DO nurture, DO have patience, DO give and show compassion, DO feature stability. But before we do this, we deserve to know if the man is truly of good intentions with us. Some men are also weak in character. These men will find a way to be ambiguous in terms of expressing emotions and consciously or unconsciously use this posture to keep a woman in a 'giving, waiting, patient' mode.

We may be emotionally stable before we meet men like this, but a relationship is a close dance in which energies can shift and security and stability are a bit more subject to that circumstance. I've been with men who inspire deep levels of security within me and those who gradually eat away at my sense of it and my self esteem with their own insecurities and a mastery of how to bring a woman down to their level just because she finds him attractive–feeding that attraction line and starving her of any sense of her own alluring qualities.

I just finished 11 months with one such person. That person has trouble expressing himself and even feeling, in general, according to my (increasingly hindsight) observation. When he did show progress on these fronts, I was very supportive and compassionate. When he was slower or reticent, I was patient and understanding. But when I finally asked, please, can I know how you feel, he flipped it on me to express myself more and remained a locked vault. I walked away explaining that the scale was too off and I was feeling belittled. He reeled me back in months later and the same dynamic ensued. When I pulled away again and more certainly, he REALLY expressed how he felt: nothing in the first place. I had just been a tool and he was QUITE a good actor.

I get what you are saying. But I caution women: we already are programmed to nurture quite a bit and sooner or later a man has to man up and say: I feel this way or I feel another way and either move forward or let you go. To not know and to drag someone along and directly or indirectly use this 'emotionally inexperienced' excuse, well, it's tricky, trickery, selfish and, at one point, abusive. In the end, I literally said my prayers, saw the writing on the wall and cut the guy all the way off (no yelling, no putting down, no blaming, no name calling–just block, block, erase, block, lock, gone).

    anonymous Feb 4, 2014 5:32am

    Ah Emily, great feedback and I totally agree. Perhaps I'll write a follow-up on how this dynamic works.

    I would make the distinction between men who are emotionally inexperienced, and men who are emotionally immature.

    The inexperienced man wants to go deeper, work with their emotions, and makes strides and efforts to understand and master their emotions. This kind of relationship dynamic can improve and richen.

    The immature man couldn't care less ; will not listen, will not grow, and can cause a great deal of harm. Tolerating this kind of behavior only prolongs the agony.

    It comes down to personal responsibility, the first type of man will accept and embrace, taking action ; the second time will be blind and be neglectful.

    The feelings of nothing are a numbness that happens in states of overwhelm ; and at that point there is a great deal of work for the man to do where he has to face himself and go within. No amount of love, nurturing or support from his beloved can help ; the disconnect is internal and can only be taken care of with deep introspection.

    Sorry to hear that you were hurt ; I hope that you feel better.

      anonymous Aug 5, 2015 4:07pm

      Totally agree with Emily . I've had similar, and worse,even, experiences myself .I find that ,more often than not, women spend WAY TOO MUCH time being understanding and nurturing and compassionate and …..and…….and ………hoping that if they (sincerely) offer men all of the above they will eventually get the connection they want with them and get them to feel comfortable enough to open up about their feelings. What happens in the end? In most cases ,you come to realise that you've wasted another chunk of your life on an emotionally mature or worse, emotionally unavailable , or worse still, some narcissist/sociopath/psychopath who knew very well what to say and do to manipulate you into believing that he's either in the " learning process",( so be patient, understanding), or "victim" of some previous situation…..(so be patient , understanding some more)…..or you're expected to be patient and understanding for whatever other reason they come up with……Women are humans just as men are, and have their own issues that should be equally respected and accepted. So i don't see why the woman should always be the one expected to understand /accept /forgive/ set the good example etc etc on the grounds that men have "societal expectations and programmed beliefs". It sounds like a relationship between a wise, experienced adult and an immature child.Is this the case?!

    anonymous Feb 4, 2014 2:18pm

    Thank you Emily. I completely agree. This really needed to be said !!!!

    anonymous Feb 5, 2014 12:26pm


    Beautiful article and i read your response to the article. I can't express how i agree. I too was with an emotionally immature individual who expressed he loved me, but in essence his manly urges took the best of him and would rather see the goods than establish something concrete. When I refused he ran away, disappeared and became the macho alpha male that his friends look up to. I know his secrets, and his fears and i know how deeply rooted his issues go. For this reason i TRY not to think it is me.

    anonymous Apr 15, 2014 9:50pm

    Emily brilliant !!! I spent 20 years of being patient with someone who is great with animals and relaxed but weak and selfish . Patience and nurturing was a daily challenge when they don't feed your soul!

    anonymous Sep 5, 2014 12:59pm

    I know women do something like this… it is not wrong at all assuming it is 100% the way u perceive it to be…. but sometimes it is not… in fact sometimes women become very emotional and overcommit when in fact they cannot handle some1 like that…
    Like this guy mentioned I was a very sensitive person who was trained to supress emotions. I had wanted a sister all my life but was without siblings or even female cousins… when I was doing my PhD I met a girl who I thought was a perfect little sister. She e1 called me a brother hugged me.. I made all the stuff I wanted to make in childhood….etc. etc. we risked a lot when time came…just for each other….. I never knew there was so much love inside me…. But as i discovered my sensitivity suddenly…. I also strated getting hurt easily…. and then she found it increasingly hard to deal with me…. I had no real friends at hand at that time(new to institute) so it became worse….

    when she failed deal with this….then she just cut me off … perfectly reasonable since she has her own life…. but this resulted in me almost commiting suicide…
    In our country sisters tie a thread on the wrists of brothers… when my sister-in-law did so and she somehow understood it…. she suddenly came back to me with a torrent of apologies…. I am always a nice guy and immediately forgave her….. next day she cut me off again….. I think if she had to cut me off she should have done so without coming back….. anyway I love her truly and deeply still and I feel like expressing it and now she is gone -_-…. nvm … sad for her (raspberry)
    But…. positive side… I am so close to my family now and I can respond to their love with love from my side…. and they are so happy now…so much better
    And I know the solution to my pain… I will give all the love that's bottled up for my little sister to a little daughter… i f i don't have one I will adopt a baby.
    There's no way I am entering into any friendship soon… but I know I got to be strong for my daughter's sake….
    Relations are real complicated!!

    anonymous Sep 18, 2014 5:26pm

    Thanks for sharing your experience, I'm going through something similar and trying to find the best way to quit and I agree with so done below who says that it is better to delete delete delete. There is no words with which I can express to him how I feel because if he has not listened after almost 11 months he will not do it when I say goodbye. Thanks to the author and to everyone. I long to find that relationship when the man will appreciate my patience and my nurturing self. Cheers to everyone!

    anonymous Oct 2, 2014 8:21pm

    … "but what about the wimmenz?"

    anonymous Oct 2, 2014 10:46pm

    I agree to a point . This was a great article, but for those of us who are stable, patient, and nurturing… how long are we supposed to wait? At some point, the lack of reciprocation (in whichever form it will take) begins to stir feelings leading to emotional instability in the very person who had it to begin with. As mentioned above, a relationship is a dance with exchange of energies and never is it on one partner's shoulder to handle all of any aspect whether emotional,physical, spiritual, monetary, etc. Yes, I understand most men may need nurturing to feel safe to explore these emotions, but women need security in knowing their investment is going to reciprocate. At some point, one has to realize it is ultimately up to their partner to open up or not and make the effort to do so.

    anonymous Oct 7, 2014 5:56pm

    Very good strong brave and accurate! I am in the soup right now. Good woman to stand and tell our truth .
    I blocked him from e-mail 4 days ago yet it went thru I think by his responding to a former e-mail with a RE:,…….
    He is fun and sweet and then all the other things we marked as negatives above in your great post. Alcoholic and a charmer in a sweet humorous way and very sexually charged toward me.
    I have been in a dead ish marriage to someone who refuses to mature emotionally. He represents life to me. I feel so alive-BUT he is classic for addicts -to keep relationships vague and retreat after getting close is a sweet way.

    anonymous Oct 13, 2014 12:39am

    Sounds like you dated a psychopath. You described one perfectly. Glad you left.

anonymous Feb 4, 2014 4:53am

Thank you. Just thank you.

anonymous Feb 4, 2014 3:46am

This is a great article that defines the challenges men face in expressing feelings. By talking about this with other men you can get the support needed to expand your awareness and ability to express your inner self. Thank you for sharing – I hope this gets shared to let men (and women) know that it takes courage. My own experience has deepened based on on participating in a local men's group.

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anonymous Feb 3, 2014 11:27pm

One of the best and enlightening articles I’ve ever read. Thank you for sharing. It helps me to remember this so that I can interact with compassion, acceptance and understanding.

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Nancy Wooder Nov 5, 2018 3:46am

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Anthea Peter Jun 24, 2018 7:42am

Beautiful article. Thank you for writing this.

Adeleke Adebola Jun 9, 2018 11:27pm

My boyfriend says he doesn't want to trouble me with his personal issue and sees it as a burden but tells others. Does he really loves me?

Adeleke Adebola Jun 9, 2018 11:16pm

My boyfriend says he doesn't want to trouble me with his personal issue and sees it as a burden but tells others. Even when he is sick. Does he really loves me?

Caitlin Little Mar 12, 2018 1:36pm

I have been patient. I’ve been calm and nurturing and compassionate. I put everything I had into being patient, and when that reserve of energy ran out, I kept going beyond what I thought was possible... My entire being shook. I put everything into creating a sacred space for us and he still ran. But I remained gentle and patient... until I couldn’t anymore

Caitlin Little Mar 12, 2018 1:34pm

I have been patient. I’ve been calm and nurturing and compassionate. I put everything I had into being patient, and when that reserve of energy ran out, I kept going beyond what I thought was possible... My entire being shook. I put everything into creating a sacred space for us and he still ran. But I remained gentle and patient... until I couldn’t anymore.

William Francis Levy Jan 31, 2018 12:02pm

Raise a generation of men to be like women and all you'll get are women. It's more difficult being a man than a woman and women just don't respect that. Withdrawal is a natural response because revealing emotion is a weakness that can and is exploited. If the man you're with withdraws you have no one to blame except yourself because you didn't gain his trust. If he doesn't trust you that just means your behaviour was threatening and not nurturing/encouraging. Also experiencing emotional trauma from a girl (yes, this does happen) who's betrayed the man's heart WILL make the man close it for years if not forever! Many men are even willing to die to protect their emotional state of mind.

Katie Mack Oct 4, 2017 7:37pm

I really appreciate the time and the specific details / information that this article offers. Men and women do approach emotionally interactions from different angles and backgrounds. Gender roles are changing and being kind and patient with your partner is extremely important. The challenge I am having is that this isn't really equitable on an emotional level. Yes, women are more used to dealing with emotions. Yes, women are more nurturing by nature. Yes, women are more patient and don't go to anger as quickly as men. However, we do have these qualities as well. And we do appreciate and deserve emotional support and kindness, patience and nurturing. If I am supposed to be patient while my male partner learns his way into emotional maturity, maybe male partners could be more communicative about this process and also be patient when women, specifically their partners, are having troubles processing their emotions. What is your advice to that? Are women supposed to continue to be patient and understanding to our partners, excusing their lack of communication and emotional understanding? This can easily turn into more imbalance, increased frustration, and possible resentment. "He is allowed time and space, but I am not." It's a tough and complicated conversation. Personally I find it very difficulit to navigate. If my partner needs time to process, then simply tell me that and I will be okay with it. If my partner doesn't communicate that with me, I am left feeling hurt and insecure, like I don't matter. I feel good that I am being supportive of the emotional needs of my partner, while in turn I am not being supported my by partner. I'm not sure what the conclusion is, but I am open to thoughts. There has to be more emotional equality in all relationships, not just heterosexual romantic relationships, but all relationships

Mark LaPorta Jul 28, 2017 3:01am

Not bad, but it feels like something is missing; some dimension. Oh, like the woman (this can go either way) pushing the other party away or creating a hostile environment. And then not being willing to look at it and even (italics) consider (close italics) personal accountability. And remember -- look it up -- our DESTINY is an external manifestion of our internal SUBCONSCIOUS conflicts. (CGJ) BE SURE to learn the simplest version of the KARPMAN DRAMA TRINAGLE, because like it or not, you're in it, And how to meditate. Lastly, it doesn't matter which gender, or straight or gay. PS>> I enjoy being a sensitive and supportive male -- for as many people as I can, all around me. But I do NOT become part of the pathology.

Renea Holman Mar 26, 2017 2:55pm

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Donna Thomas Jan 4, 2017 3:58pm

"Ive seen my partner disappear over issues as small as a request to put a baby gate on the stairs." LOL I knew it. I guarantee you're just another nagging wife. Never happy. Probably started feeling 'lonely' so you started talking to another guy on the side who 'understands' you.

Linda Wisz-Lisowski Dec 17, 2016 4:36am

Thanks for providing an explanation and opening my eyes and ears and heart. Will be far less quicker to judge and react and keep open the possibilities that there is something else happening and offer understanding

Lynne Nel Nov 3, 2016 7:19pm

Well said. That article basically endorses emotional abuse!!

Faye Bourke Oct 17, 2016 4:53am

If only I had read that 4 weeks ago ....too late now.

Lyndsay Head Oct 16, 2016 4:59pm

Jeff Caplan sorry! Whats simple about 'dont invade but dont linger' and dont leave him alone. Theres not many options left for us women are there? If it was that simple everyone would happy in their relationships right? Its called having your partner walk on eggshells and its not fair or healthy. We are not cave men and women anymore. Men have jobs and roles in society where they show their ability to express themselves and get what they need in return. Couldnt they employ these skills at home too?

Maria Grace Oct 16, 2016 8:58am

Hello Thank you for a very thoughtful and descriptive article. I wish I could have read it many years ago - it may have gone a long way to saving my marriage. Don't forget women may also be inexperienced with men - so it can be a recipe for disaster. Thankfully time can bring experience, wisdom and information (such as your piece ) that will help future relationships.

Wise Rose Womban Sep 7, 2016 3:37am

I love everything about this article because it is helping me understand men more. The only part I don't care for even though I know it is true, was where the author states "a woman's wrath" as a reason a man will shutdown. This does happen in real life yet this article gives the subtle inference that it's a woman's fault or responsibility when he shuts down after she has expressed her anger. Women have a right to have their anger validated as it is the one emotion that MEN will NOT allow in Women whereas society has of course denied ALL emotions in Men BUT anger. It really is a dynamic that speaks to who is allowed to have more power and whoever has less is expected to have more empathy. As a Woman, I can respect a man's need for space and promise to do my best to not act out or take out my anger on a man. However, in exchange I ask that my reason for being angry is validated and understood. That my desires are respected and that if I am expected to have empathy and be the emotional rock for him, the least he can do is return the favor. And Women often feel anger when our needs and desires go ignored or denied considering we give SO MUCH of ourselves in a partnership.

Lyndsay Head Aug 12, 2016 8:46pm

Oh gosh this article got me fired up. The author has chosen a pertinent subject. Im happy to see articles that approach what has been a bit of a taboo. Ive found comfort in social media which has supported me while my other half is in his man cave. Hopefully he is in there reading up on emotional availability too! Although sadly i dont think it is. So i accept some men and some women need to withdraw but i have some questions as to how that should work in a healthy relationship. 1. How long should it last? Should the duration be related to the complexity of the issue at hand or how much the partner can reasonably be expected to bear? 2. What circumstances warrant a withdrawal from your partner? Ive seen my partner disappear over issues as small as a request to put a baby gate on the stairs. He has opened up enough to explain its HOW i approach things that sends him to his cave. Which leads to question 3. 3. How do you bring things up without causing your partner to withdraw? Ive tried many ways but all of them have been wrong it seems. Lighthearted or serious, with humour or without, explaining my concerns at length or keeping it short and snappy, assertively 'i need x, y and z' . Or more passively so it looks like his ideas.calmly or angrily ( not the first 20 attempts). When? Before, during or after work, sleep, food, football, sex? :) face to face, phone, whats app, letter or facebook status ? Joking! During a row, just after, after a cooling off period of a day to 5 years? 4. What should withdrawal look like ? Avoiding the issue for a while? Small talk only? No date night? Reduced contact like phone calls or messages throughout the day? Silence at home? Hanging out in different rooms? Them avoiding home? 5. How should withdrawal be discussed? Or not discussed at all. Can it be plotted on a line graph 6. How can the partner differentiate between healthy withdrawal and gruesome silent treatment. 7. How little emotional availability can the average emotionally resilliant female be expected to thrive on? When does said female give up? (I have been told when floored by post natal and breast feeding hormones, and new mum anxieties and exhaustion in tears on the floor that my husband couldnt meet my request for a hug as he couldnt 'cuddle to order'. Which surprised me as i thought i had married a homosapien and not a penguin. He definitely has two arms and i know they extend and open up and wrap round things as ive seen him pick up boxes. Just saying! All advice welcome. I will try anything.

Lyndsay Head Aug 12, 2016 5:00pm

Cont...my bottom line was i wanted some, ANY conversation in the evenings. I got to writing myself lists of possible topics for the evening! Heartbreaking when it led to talking to the back of someones head. Especially when they are known as the life and soul of the party in other circles :(

Lyndsay Head Aug 12, 2016 4:57pm

I think an important point raised here is that gender roles are changing. The situation today for women looks like this : women work more and increasingly are the main bread winner, they still shoulder the lions share of the child care and they invest many valuble hours second guessing whats going on with their male partners and what they have done wrong to be ignored after a day at work and putting the kids to bed. ALL vital in running a family and relationship. While plenty of men are withdrawing further into their caves greiving their dwindling incomes i know plenty of men who dont seem to mind the woman carrying the burden. Somethings got to give somewhere cos i see a lot of strong women surviving rather than enjoying their lot. Any suggestions?

Lyndsay Head Aug 12, 2016 1:16pm

If i had gone on a first date with my husband and he said 'lets get married and i will withdraw from you and make you feel lonely for the rest of your life' , i would have ran a mile. But he didnt. He was open, emotionally available, supportive until oh after the wedding. Funny how it all plays AFTER the deal is done. If you cant connect emotionally lads MAN UP and be upfront about it! Or stay single in your cave. And when you tell your mistress your wife doesnt understand you, ask yourself why instead of saving your best self for everybody else but your wife! Grrr