Why Do Men Hide Their Feelings?

Men aren't in touch with their emotions, at least not quickly, not clearly, and not for attribution.

Perhaps it comes from our evolutionary history: If your job is to kill and bring home an animal ten times your weight with horns and hooves and teeth, it doesn't behoove you to be too close in touch with your emotions. And let's not even mention going into battle to protect your tribe.

In those cases, the highest calling is just to solve problems and get the job done. Emotions interfere with that, so emotions are a problem to be solved.

You don't have to go along with the evolution argument. Boys are trained to suppress their emotions. Little boys are told not to cry: "don't be a cry baby," "grow up," "be a man." They are ridiculed when they show their vulnerability. By the time they grow up, they know better than to be express their feelings.

You can ask your man to express his feelings, but he can't do it. For one thing, he doesn't know what he is feeling at this moment; although, he may be able to look back, reflect, and have some idea of what he was feeling some time before. He also doesn't have the vocabulary to identify feelings. Since he has not been permitted to talk about them, he hasn't had a chance to learn their names. There were certainly no classes in school in identifying feelings.

And to the extent he could tell you about them, he is very reluctant to. The years of ridicule have taught him that although you may beg him for his feelings, although you may crave his feelings, if he divulges them, you probably won't respect him in the morning.

Emotional intimacy to a man is much like physical intimacy to a woman. If a man does divulge his feelings to you, you must never tell them to anybody else, no female confidant, no one. For you to exhibit his feelings publicly would humiliate him. It would be similar to him to secretly photograph your love making and then show the pictures to his friends.

When you want to talk feelings and he immediately tries to solve your problems, remember that, to men, feelings are problems, and he exists to solve problems and achieve goals. That is something he can do and feel good about. Naturally he will shift to that.

If you crave to discuss your feelings, it's best to go to a girlfriend. Guys make lousy girlfriends. 

You may want to share feelings to achieve closeness with him, but he is not in close touch with his feelings, so he isn't equipped to discuss them. He has certainly had no experience in sharing feelings. Having to do something he can't do well frustrates him. Men need to feel competent.

This doesn't mean he doesn't want to be close to you. It's just that the closeness allowed to a man is physical intimacy. It's quite a predicament: You need to share your feelings to feel close enough to have sex. He needs to have sex to feel close enough to risk talking about his feelings.

But it is possible, with care, to help a man share his feelings with you.


To get a man to share his feelings,

  • Try this:

  1. Build physical intimacy first in order to build trust. 

  2. Ask him what he thinks, not what he feels. He is much more comfortable starting there, and while he is examining his thoughts, his feelings have time to come forward.

  3. When you ask a question, wait for his answer. It takes men a while to gather their thoughts. If you speak while he is thinking, you will distract him

  4. Never betray his trust. He won't forget. He won't trust you again.

  • Try this line, "Feelings are data." This puts feelings in a category men can appreciate. 

  • To help put him in touch with his feelings, you can suggest he try this technique I learned from the late Rev. Mary-Allen Walden: "To help me understand something, I observe how I feel about it, and then try to figure out why I feel that way."