Why are men so complicated when it comes to expressing their feelings? (no offense)Why are men so complicated when it comes to expressing their feelings? (no offense)

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Karen P.L. Hardison eNotes educator| Certified Educator

While I may have no answers to this question, I can say that such a question must be strongly qualified. Rather than "Why do men ...?" one must ask "Why do American men ...?" or "Why do Western nations' men ...?" There is no consensus that Indian and Bolivian and Japanese etc men have a similar difficulty with expressing feelings (they may or may not, but there is no body of research that indicates either way).

Additionally, you must ask "Why do men of the 21st century ...?" or "Why did men of the 20th century ...?" Further, unless you wish to prove that men like Dickens, Keats, Byron, Shakespeare, Spenser, Chaucer were aberrations, it is clear that Western men have not always found it difficult to express feelings.

In order to get your answer, you will need to look not to contemporary psychology nor to one single group of contemporary men, but to history and to many groups of contemporary men from Borneo to Norway and from Japan to Cairo to Mexico City.

clairewait eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I have to say, I completely agree with Frizzyperm.  The problem you have posed may have less to do with the men or the women individually, and more to do with the differences in how every individual communicates.  As a woman, I've met plenty of women who drive me insane with their inability to express how they really feel (my mother in law comes to mind), and just as many men who are excellent at verbal expression of what's on their mind.

Perhaps what you should really be looking at is the communication break down between yourself and the person (people) in question.  I very often find that a significant difference in intelligence is often a culprit.  I'm not saying this to sound trite, nor smarmy.  Differences in intelligence often manifest themselves in insecurity, which very often impedes communication more than simply being "unable to express" feelings.

wannam eNotes educator| Certified Educator
Men tend to have more difficulty expressing emotions than women for two main reasons. First, it is often culturally unacceptable. As an American, we often see emotional men criticized or put down for expressing their feelings openly. Culturally men have been taught to be stronger, not cry, etc. For years, we have raised boys to fill a certain cultural role which makes it difficult for them to express emotion. The other reason has more to do with biology than culture. Men actually have a different brain structure than women. Scientist have found that subtle differences in particular areas of the brain cause men to think differently than women. Men and women literally process certain types of information in different ways. It is currently believed that men may have more difficulty expressing emotion because of these physical aspects of the brain.
literaturenerd eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I recently had this conversation with a man. In reality, as brought to my attention, men do not have trouble expressing their emotions. They express their emotions just fine. Think about when a man gets angry. He, typically, has no problem showing those emotions. Unfortunately, the generalization comes into place given men's lack of more feminine emotions: sadness and love.

Therefore, men do not have trouble expressing their emotions, just the ones women deem necessary.

Sorry ladies! Emotions are not limited to only the ones we want to see.

Outside of that, wannam provides a wonderful psychological explanation.


justaguide eNotes educator| Certified Educator
Why are men so complicated when it comes to expressing their feelings? (no offense)

Why are men so complicated when it comes to expressing their feelings? (no offense)

None taken.

#3 and #2 make great points. There are many feelings which men can express in a better way than women and some that women seem to express in a better way. A lot of it is to do with culture. For example it would be fine if a woman cries to express grief, but men and supposed to be emotionally stronger and be able to bear it. Women on the other hand would not find it easy to show anger due to their cultural upbringing.

accessteacher eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Speaking as a man, I would advise you to be wary of generalisations and sterotypes. I don't necessarily think that this statement can be applied to every single male in the world. I also can see the truth of #3. Maybe, to be controversial, we have no problems expressing our emotions at all, but women express them too much in an Oprah-style splurge of emotions, thus women think that men can't express emotions!

litteacher8 eNotes educator| Certified Educator
I'd answer three reasons: partially anthropological, partially cultural and partially stereotypical. Evolutionarily speaking, it helped that men focused on strength and activities that need strength. Our culture also reinforces gender stereotypes, encouraging girls to share their feelings while telling boys to be tough. Some of it is just stereotype.
ik9744 | Student

Personally I keep my feelings to myself due to the fact of embarrassment. I don't like to have other judge the way I am currently feeling. It's a personal problem and personally I don't think people should get involved with things you want to keep to yourself.

kaldor | Student

Some of you, not all, but some are missing the reason men have trouble expressing themselves to women; Pride is a determining factor in how a man reacts to a situation: If a man has pride, he also has insicurity related to why he must need to feel so prideful. Depending on the way a man is raised, the events in their life beit good or bad, determines the initial way a man may percieve the world and the people in it. Usually, a man holds in very close quarters, the past events that have either made him veiw the people he meets as hostile or other until proven different. You see, its not as much, withholding their feelings as it is them protecting themselves from repeating or making a possibly emotionally damaging mistake. A man has no difficulty expressing emotion just as a woman would have no problem gaurding herself if she felt the need, its just the simply the way he chooses to gaurd himself if he determines whether or not he needs to when confronted with the situation.
If you want to have a man show delicate emotions, you must approach the cituation delicately, make him feel no need to gaurd himself; men are sometimes followers so you sometimes must lead by example if you want them to do the same. Basic monkey see, monkey do.

justaquestion | Student

because it is a feminin thing that only women do and thus they will feel less of a man when they express their feelings, they will feel less masculane.

meganp0504 | Student

Men just dont like to express how they feel...They do have feelings they just dont like to show ummm... heck my fiancee is a very strong guy whos gone through alot and i've seen him break down and cry... they do have feelings.... He's going into the marines hes already had training and hes afraid what happend in the song whiskey lullaby is gonna happen to us...... Men are actually very sensative they just try to be strong.....

freshondafield | Student

Men tend to be more straight forward in there conversations, but when it comes to feelings the corpus callosum comes into play.  This part of the brain is a lot larger in woman then it is in men causing women to thin and feel at a mental level at the same time which men have a hard tome doing.  Men naturally seperate there feelings from what they are thinking. 

frizzyperm | Student

I could trot out a lot of 'sexist' replies to this, but I won't. Writing 'no offense' at the end of an offensive question does not wipe away the offense...

"Why are women hopeless at logical reasoning" (no offense) ... see what I mean? My question is still deeply offensive.

Your question implies all women approach emotional discussion the correct way and all men approach it the wrong way. This is much too simplistic. I admit women are generally more emotionally introspective than men, but that is not the only parameter. Women are not perfect and men are not wrong.

Imagine if we changed the word 'men' in your question to the word 'asians' or 'muslims' or 'white peolple' then we can see it is a very dangerous question...

Shakespeare... man.

Mozart... man.

Tolstoy... man.

Van Gogh... man

Freud... man.



Men are not emotionally empty, nor are they incapable of expression. A relationship is a dance for TWO people and your partner's behaviour is inter-twined with yours. He responds to your attitudes. You are not a passive observer. You are responsible for half of the emotional landscape.

Question: How can you be sure the communication difficulties you experience are the fault of his emotional imperfections?

Emotionally, women are just as frustrating to men as men are to women. Your attitude attempts to dump the blame entirely on him. That is not a successful emotional approach to a relationship. He is not you.

elfgirl | Student

Actually, I have a different experience in my life. Men express their feelings in a very clear and easy way. But the annoying thing is, that they just want to say what they think and finish the subject. End of story. While women want to get into it for ever.

The middle ground would be nice to see.