As men, being in touch with our emotions is critical. It can be the deciding factor between success and failure for yourself in the areas of relationships, friends, dating and marriage, career and personal health and happiness. Unfortunately, there are still barriers to men becoming more emotionally aware and available.
Dying are the days of the “men don’t cry” culture: too many men are struggling too much in order to keep those outdated masculine fronts going these days. I think more is required from men in these harder times, especially in the realm of intimate and business relationships. Men’s poor mental health is driving a lot of men into depression and suicide, more than in the past. Romantic relationships demand that men be able to be more “emotional,” far more than relationships of the past, and soft or “social” skills are now expected of modern workers as jobs become increasing more phased out and more specialized.
For the emotionally available man, he is able to deal with and slay this stigma that he can’t be emotional or “feel,” because he’ll not be accepted or be ostracized. He doesn’t have to hide himself just because his friends or family do it that way, and can trust himself that his emotions can lead the way to a happy and authentic life. He can tune out other dissenting voices, like the media or other guys, if he knows what he feels and can act based on mindfully dealing with his emotions. An emotionally available man doesn’t need to run from his negative emotions, but can turn, face them, and deal with the world by harnessing them.
What characterizes an emotionally available man?
- A guy who can feel his feelings and not run from them
- A man who isn’t afraid to be vulnerable, and feel afraid, inferior, powerless or other vulnerable feelings
- Someone who doesn’t have the answers all the time
- Men who don’t have to resort to anger, rage or violence to deal with their emotions
- Guys who don’t have to resort to drugs, alcohol, work, other women or other escapes from their feelings
- A guy who can risk communicating his feelings and deal with the fear of rejection or failure
- Men who can “lose the ego,” not posture, and be authentic when dealing with others in their life
- Men who can do more than “intellectualize” their feelings as mental concepts – that can actually feel their feelings as they are rather than analyzing them
This is a demanding list, and there are plenty of factors that will certainly get in the way of being able to be all of these ways. But, I think these are the traits of an emotionally aware man.
Hiding Emotionally, and the Problems It Creates
Women want men to be emotionally available to them. They suffer when their men hide out and stuff their emotions away. Done consistently, it damages relationships and marriages way more so than if men were to express themselves emotionally.
Sometimes guys hide out emotionally because they’re afraid of conflict if they were to express their emotions. Either, we’ll run from our emotions, and not deal with them, or just bury them for years to come and never working on dealing with them. They don’t go away, as much as we’d like them to, so they sit, ferment and create problems on other problems. Men will often hide out in work, alcohol, other women, to bring the comfort and the distraction we need to keep avoiding those painful emotions.
Soon, it’s difficult to see how you got to a certain place in life, when decision after decision has been based on avoiding your problems. Bad decisions come from other bad decisions, and a pattern of emotional avoidance is almost always a culprit in this poor decision making process.
Many men don’t know their feelings, and can’t communicate them. Some are caught in the trap of “intellectualization,” where they stay stuck in their heads trying to mentally understand their emotions, or their origin, and never actually feel them. I talk with a lot of men that are so busy trying to figure out how to solve their problems, rather than considering that the way to actually fix relationship problems is to connect to themselves emotionally, and then connect with their partner.
Working through a problem emotionally, rather than rationally, is a surefire way to repair relationship damage, although it runs counter to how guys usually think the fix comes. Getting in touch with whatever feelings were triggered by a certain incident in a relationship, and then communicating it, will ensure a new way to repair and rebond after relationship conflict or damage has happened.
Learning about your emotions is critical to a happy and authentic life. It can make or break huge decisions in your life, including negative ones you won’t recognize you made if you’ve been avoiding your emotions. Developing emotional awareness is one way to achieve good decision making, satisfying relationships with others, and a positive self-esteem and relationship with yourself.