Why Men Fight Their Feelings and How to Get Him to Open Up

emotional man

Since the dawn of time, women have tried to figure out why men fight their feelings. They act one way and say something else entirely. Here’s an example of a classic male internal dialogue:

Emotionally Open Him: Oh God! She’s so wonderful. I love being around her…

Macho Him: Shut up! Don’t do it!

Emotionally Open Him: But I love her!

Macho Him: I don’t care. Just don’t do it! Run!

If you’re laughing right now, I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that you’ve dated guys that seem to have this conversation going on in their heads.

It’s dumb, I know, but often, men fight their feelings. They just don’t know what they want or need…and so they make things for you a lot harder to interpret.

In today’s video and article, I’m going to outline some key reasons why men fight their feelings, and help you figure out what to do about it.

Your Coach,

 

 

 

P.S. It’s hard to navigate men’s behavior without a map. Guess what I’ve created? The Male Mind Map, which does exactly that!

Introduction

So why are men so terrified of their feelings?

It may be because they were raised to not talk about them. In a recent study, researchers found that nearly half of men are unable to talk about their feelings and that 23% feel they have to be the strong, silent type.

It’s not necessarily their faults that they were raised this way, but the challenge is in hoping they will overcome this block.

When a man seems to be stoic, it’s easy to feel like he’s not sensitive, but let me assure you: most men are. They may hide it under a layer of macho, but they get their feelings hurt just like you. They worry about being vulnerable in a relationship, just like you do.

So let’s take a closer look at why men fight their feelings so that you can understand their crazy behavior.

Why Men Fight Their Feelings #1: He’s Been Hurt

Who hasn’t had their heart stomped on in a past relationship? Most of us have. It’s a big reason why men fight their feelings in relationships.

Back when I was a dating coach for men, I would talk to them about past hurts. So many men struggled to meet new women and trust them because they had so much baggage, whether a past girlfriend had cheated, or emotionally abused them, or whatever. They had shit to deal with that maybe hadn’t entirely been dealt with at that point that I was working with them.

I know there’s a lot of focus on how women struggle to get past challenges like these in their love lives but don’t forget that men have to overcome these obstacles too.

If you’re with a man who is fighting his feelings for you, it’s likely because he doesn’t feel safe yet in the relationship. He doesn’t entirely trust you yet. While that may be because of you, it’s more likely because he was hurt in past relationships.

What to Do

If you’re struggling to get a new man in your life to open up to you, give it time. The more time you spend together, the easier it will be to build that trust necessary for a solid relationship. You need to earn his trust, and he needs to earn yours. So roll slow and focus on building a solid foundation of friendship before you move too deep into the romantic stuff.

Talk a little about your past relationships and how you’ve been hurt to show him that it is possible to move forward even with past pain. This could open the door to him talking about his own experiences.

Why Men Fight Their Feelings #2: He Converts Feelings into Action

Here’s an interesting phenomenon: men are capable of converting their more vulnerable, mushy feelings into completely irrational actions. Men are good at taking feelings they consider feminine (you know, love and stuff) and translating them into something they perceive to be more masculine.

If a man feels hurt, rather than embrace and deal with that hurt, he will just convert it into anger.

She rejected me…fuck her!

If he feels embarrassed by something he did, he may just convert that embarrassment into pride for who he is.

[After trying to kiss a friend that wasn’t into it] Score! Yet another woman has rejected me!

I can’t say that this behavior is emotionally healthy, but it’s a fact, so you need to know that it happens as you go out into the big bad world of dating. Just know that if a guy you’re with has a surprising reaction to something, he may be fighting his feelings in this way.

What to Do

Don’t take his actions at face value, especially if they’re out of the ordinary. Ask yourself what he might be converting into action. Have you had an awkward conversation? Could you have hurt his feelings? Give him some space and see if he gets back on track in how he behaves with you.

Why Men Fight Their Feelings #3: It’s Less Socially Acceptable For Men To Have Feelings

I touched on this in the introduction, but socially, men aren’t encouraged to express their feelings (unless they do it in a macho way, per #2).

Here’s what’s happening below the surface with a man:

Emotionally Open Him: I just feel like Jason is trying to steal the attention away from me on my birthday, and it really hurts.

Macho Him: DUDE! Shut up and stop being a bitch.

Now, that’s not what you’re going to hear him say. Here’s the reality of that internal dialogue.

Emotionally Open Him: Dude, Jason’s really pissing me off, man. I’mma effin’ kick his ass!

Macho Him: Hell yea! Do it!

On behalf of all men, let me just say that we are not encouraged by society to engage with our feelings when we are hurt by someone. From the age of four onward, feelings are not something we share. Throughout our lives, were are programmed to not engage in the deeper reasoning behind what we do. So it’s not as natural for us to explore the feelings that we have.

What to Do

Being a communicative, expressive woman, this may be hard for you to handle. You have to decide if you’re willing to work with this guy who may be a little emotionally shut down or not. There are strategies you can use to open up the dialogue, starting with not pushing too hard. I know, the more he pulls away, the more you pursue one of those “talks” that we men loathe. But realize that he needs to feel safe to open up.

Let him know that you understand his feelings (even if you have to guess what they are) and that you’re here if he wants to talk about it.

Why Men Fight Their Feelings #4: He Doesn’t Understand Your Feelings and You Don’t Understand His

Men and women are so different. It’s incredible that we are ever compatible!

It was a big transition for me, moving from coaching men on their relationships to working with women because what they need from me is completely different.

When it comes to communication and feelings, women tend to want to process their emotions while talking, whereas men will retreat into their mental caves to process things before they’re ready to talk about them (if they ever are).

So one reason why men fight their feelings is that they seem to be at odds with yours. You may show all signs of wanting to dive into a long-term relationship, and he may not be there, so instead of talking it out with you, he simply buries his head in the sand, dreading the day when that “where is this going” conversation comes up.

What to Do

You’re going to be at odds with how you approach communication and feelings with many men, so that’s pretty normal. But ask yourself whether the two of you are just so different that things can’t possibly work out. If you have “good communicator” at the top of your must-have qualities in a man list, and this guy completely shuts down whenever you try to talk to him, that fact isn’t going to change.

If you’re stressing about the vast difference between how you both process feelings, realize that it’s not your job to change how he is. Nor can you. Cut your losses and move on. A man who can deal with actual feelings is out there.

Why Men Fight Their Feelings #5. He Doesn’t Know How To Express His Feelings

The problem may not be that he’s fighting his feelings but rather that he doesn’t know how to communicate them. Maybe he thinks he’s being super clear about how much he digs you. After all, he changed your car’s oil. Nothing says love better than a smooth-running vehicle…am I right?

There’s a popular book that you might know called The Five Love Languagesby Gary Chapman. Just about every woman I’ve worked with — and a surprising number of men, too — have devoured this book. And for good reason.

The premise is that each of us speaks a different love language:

  • Words of affirmation (saying I like/love you)
  • Acts of service (changing that oil)
  • Receiving gifts (candy! flowers!)
  • Quality time (Netflix and chill)
  • Physical touch (massage, anyone?)

Each expresses love. However, if one person values one language and her partner another, things can get lost in translation. Let’s make a little scenario to understand this better.

Judy’s love language is words of affirmation. She’s been with Blake for three months and knows she loves him. She’s getting frustrated because he hasn’t professed his undying love for her…at least not in three little words. She’s constantly hinting around by saying things like, I just love spending time with you! but he’s not getting the hint.

Blake, on the other hand, values gifts. He’s constantly giving Judy tokens of his love…flowers, jewelry, clothing…and yet she never reciprocates. He’s about ready to throw in the towel.

These two people love each other…and yet they are speaking different languages, and so aren’t able to properly communicate their feelings.

What to Do

If you want to know how to get a guy to express his feelings, start by assessing what seems to be his love language (or better yet: ask if he’s read the book and ask him, point blank, what his language is). If he’s constantly giving you backrubs and holding your hand, it’s likely physical touch. He may have trouble with the words, but if he’s expressing his feelings in other ways, be reassured.

Conclusion:

Men are, by nature, problem solvers. Your guy may need some space to process what he’s feeling. Give it to him. Crowding him and trying to force him to express his feelings or share what he’s mentally struggling with will almost never get you the results you want.

That being said, you do need to make your own needs about communication and emotional expression known. If it’s driving you batty that you can’t have an emotionally-centered conversation without him shutting down, express that. Ask how he would be more comfortable talking about these things. Maybe he’d rather write you a letter or email than have a conversation face-to-face. Maybe he needs a few days to process before opening up.

Honor his request. Solid relationships are about “give and take”, so realize that talking about feelings can’t be your way or the highway. He gets input into how you approach certain subjects, too.

So have you had experience with a man fighting his feelings and not opening up to you? Dish! Share your story with other Sexy Confident women in the comments below.

And if you want to dive deeper into the male mind, download my Male Mind Map to learn the seven things men deeply desire from women.

emotional man
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Adam LoDolce

Love Strategist

My true passion in life is transforming your love life by giving you specific tools and techniques that you can use to attract long lasting love. I got started when...Read Adam's Story

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Jane Dominguez
2 years ago

Adam, thanks for your advice & the way you approach situations with incredible humor and insights full of wisdom. I think as one gets older, one gets more “real” and my approach to this has been to be candid about things in myself, which kind of allows the man to let down his guard a little bit, and then he starts to open up with his feelings too. I guess being more grounded and upfront with one’s thoughts and feelings is one good thing about getting older! (I’m 50)

Christina. Morley
2 years ago

Adam. Your fresh sincere , open approach to help men and women understand each other is wonderful. I am 60. Thankfully I look barely 40. So you can guess men around my age are very reticent and hesitant. With huge trust issues. I am a healer and nurturer. I don’t need to save anyone Especially a man but with your incite and guidance. I am able to navigate the dating scent with more ease. I married my first boyfriend. So I really didn’t date and this is all so new for me. And scary. And strange. The guy I am… Read more »

Courtney
2 years ago

Been in a relationship for 4 years now on and off, up and down. Currently on day 10 of no contact. My man now tells me he can’t get comfortable with me so he says we need time apart for him to work on his demons. He’s very insecure with himself and says he’s not ready for marriage (already been thru 2). BUT he’s also recently told that he does love me (1st and only time he has said it) and he also told me the only time he felt secure was with me. What is up with all of… Read more »

Kristen
2 years ago

Your post has your answers…he feels insecure, he has 2 divorces, therefore he feels he sabotages something, aka demons. Men are hard wired to work, he gets his balance from work; task given, task done, task rewarded with pay. Balance; it seems to be a filtering process that allows them to make a decision or a plan to get results. He expressed he loves you, translation he doesn’t want to create unhappiness cares about what happens to you. He doesn’t know what to do.,..his attitude toward life may give you a clue. I can’t handle the emotional restraint of the… Read more »

Courtney
2 years ago
Reply to  Kristen

Wow that was written so well. Pointed out things that make total sense yet hadn’t come to mind. Thank you.

Kristin
9 months ago
Reply to  Courtney

I could surely use some great advice if anyone could email. My head’s a mess as well as my heart. Just a char session maybe from someone with similar experiences of my off and on again boyfriend kf almost two years we get along great but when we fight it’s like a war zone, he will shutdown avoid everything and I haven’t gotten to the point where I have also. Any help would be so awesome

Jenay Sanchez
1 year ago

I’m dealing with a man who doesn’t know what he’s feeling or what he wants. Advice is much appreciated please, I’m in a real stump. He says he doesn’t deserve me, and how he’s trying to deal with his demons before committing 100% to me. He’s been hurt in the past with his 7yr ex. I’ve expressed what I want out of a relationship & it’s fully known but he insists on seeking professional relationship help so he can talk & deal with his issues. I think as a woman I tend to want to fix him & be there… Read more »

Geo
1 year ago

I’m a 27 year old male. I am currently in a relationship with a wonderful woman. Times have been really hard for us. She has a daughter from a previous relationship where she was abused and neglected and discarded. Given that she has a lot of problems with anxiety and post traumatic stress. We had a child two years ago. With a lot of the issues coming up like going to court for child custody of her daughter, dealing with her daughter acting out and possibly having psychopathic tendencies, her leaving the work force to raise our children, me leaving… Read more »

Steph M
1 year ago
Reply to  Geo

Hi, I read your comment and I don’t want to read and run. Do you have anyone to help to help you with your little ones? Even for a while so you and your wife/girlfriend can go out just the two of you, so you can sit down in a non children environment and have a serious conversation? You mentioned money problems, maybe you can do a surprise for her that’s not too expensive. A picnic maybe? With her favourite food? If you find it hard to open up, maybe write her a letter? Read it to her or let… Read more »

monkeyGoApe
1 year ago

I think she’s putting on you a little bit much. She clearly has problems but they are hers and she needs to own them. Dragging you into dialogue about it isn’t going to solve them. Some people think talking about problems and how it makes them feel will relieve the situation. Ive met persons who talked of the same problems for years and I was a listening post. They never changed so I had to get clear of it. I thought I was helping! But I clearly wasnt and it seemed they got high on having a listener.You sound like… Read more »

Mila, 42
1 year ago

I got myself in a horrible mess. HELP! I have been married for over 20 years to an amazing man who loves me as much as I love him. Unfortunately, we are polar opposites. I found myself doing most of the compromise for most of my marriage. He’s simply not interested in the things that I am into and refuses to meet me halfway. I am the breadwinner of the family while he stays home to take care of the household chores although I do put in my fair share, including kid duties, cooking, shopping and all the social stuff… Read more »

Nela
1 year ago

Great!!! Hahaha sometimes man act like little boys it is very interesting how little by little we discover their s soft part about feeling, of course if they are not an evil one, but is true we want to go fast and they are very careful and hide theirs true feelings until until they see they are going to lost you .. I like your videos but I want to open his head wright now clean it and make him commit, it is so hard ‍♀️‍♀️‍♀️‍♀️‍♀️‍♀️

1 year ago

HI all! I was in a 3 month relationship that was going amazingly well and the man just up & bailed on me two weeks ago. Our kids loved each other, he was all over me attentive, giving, loving – said things like “I’m all yours, Christy I’m all in, You are all I want…” on & on – took me to a wedding where I met his entire family then told me how much his mom liked me repeatedly. His ex wife cheated on him, and he ended a 2 year relationship with a woman a while back who… Read more »

Casey
1 year ago

I been dating this guy for a year now and he just recently went cold on me. I haven’t saw him in 3 months but he has been calling and texting faithfully daily. Then he sends pictures whenever he is out with his bike club or when he on the road. He drives trucks too. He got hurt really bad in the past. Every time it’s getting close for us to see each other he backs out! What I need to do?

John
6 months ago

“He’s fighting his feelings …” Ummm, yeah. You can file that under “bullshit women tell themselves to protect their pride”. Chances are he doesn’t have feelings for you and he’d like you to leave him alone. Men go after what they want, so if he isn’t going after you he doesn’t want you. Just accept it and move on. No means no.

Ash
3 months ago

I think I fell in love with this guy since I laid eyes on him, there was that mutual attraction and understanding, something I still can’t describe. But at the time I wasn’t prepared to stay and he moved on. Later I came back and it felt like he only needed to know I was staying before he made his move and he did. Of course, not being in a relationship before and perhaps too eager, I pushed. Things fell to pieces and I hurt him. We tried again when I recognised what I had done but we didn’t see… Read more »

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