One of the lessons I’ve learned over twenty years working with men is that frequently, the best way to reach men, is through women. I’ll fore-go the reasons for that and concentrate on results. In the interest of helping women to help men in relationships, I offer what I’ve learned about men’s relationship behavior. I have had great success helping men learn how to access their feelings, and then control them.
Perhaps the single biggest problem that women frequently ask me is why men aren’t better communicators, specifically, why men can’t talk about their feelings.
The good news is that men are eminently capable of sharing their feelings. The not-so-bad news is that it’s going to take some amount of working with your guy to achieve this. While I understand why women might feel put-upon, in terms of feeling obligated to accept responsibility for helping men learn this skill, I can assure women that the results will level the playing field that is your relationship. If emotional dialogue is what’s missing in your relationship, then helping your guy in order to achieve it seems worthwhile.
If you choose to move on instead, you’ll likely find yourself in the same position in your next relationship because most men suffer from the same dysfunction.
If you’re still reading, here’s the first exercise to do with your guy. The single most important piece of the puzzle for a man to share his feelings is that he must feel absolutely, 100% safe. That means that you have to tell him that whatever he shares, you won’t judge it, express an opinion about it, or offer him advice.
The reason for this disclaimer is that his feelings, just like yours, are his absolute truth and therefore are immune from comment other than a thank you for sharing. When a man expresses his thoughts, he is open to judgment and advice, because thoughts are just opinions, and are debatable.
I can assure you that the first time a man expresses his feelings, and you express anything other than your thanks will be the last time he ever gets into that arena with you, because he will know that sharing his emotions with you is not safe.
Incidentally, this is true for anyone expressing feelings. At the first sign of judgment or advice, whoever shared his or her feelings with you will put you on their no fly list, permanently. This is entirely about trust, and absent trust, there can’t be any love.
Okay, you explained the ground rules to him and now he feels more relaxed about opening his heart. The next step is to be patient. It may take a few tries before what he talks about are his feelings, and not his thoughts. Gently steer him back to his feelings if he wanders off into his thoughts. In this scenario, patience is a virtue.
Wait until he’s finished talking before thanking him and asking any questions. He may pause but not be finished with sharing his feelings.
Congratulate him, and yourself, for successfully engaging in your first of many emotional dialogues to come. Hopefully he will respond positively so the next time there’s a problem in your relationship you’ll be able to talk it out with him, on an emotional basis.