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How Men Can Be More Emotionally Honest With Women (And With Themselves)

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Something that bothers women about men is the way that their behavior can be quite unpredictable. For example, a man and a woman are in a seemingly good relationship, and then out of the blue, he wants to end it, or she discovers that he’s been cheating.

Women are often confused by the behavior of the men in their lives, and they frequently find themselves wondering, “Where did that come from?” Men aren’t always clear about the motivations for their actions, either. In fact, many men today are lacking in emotional honesty.

A lot of men are out of touch with their real needs and feelings. That’s why their behavior can sometimes seem random and arbitrary. This disconnection from their inner world makes it hard for men to understand their own behavior, let alone be emotionally expressive with the women in their lives.

Emotional honesty doesn’t come naturally. It’s something that both men and women need to learn. Women usually pick it up from their mothers, but typically, in North America, neither parent tends to teach it to their sons.

Emotional honesty presupposes vulnerability, which is something many men aren’t comfortable with feeling. The idea of being vulnerable elicits fears of experiencing emotional pain or appearing weak.

For men to become more emotionally honest, they need to see that they’ll be able to withstand emotional pain as well as they do physical discomfort. Women can help by demonstrating their own ability to experience strong emotions without being overwhelmed.

To many men, being vulnerable calls into question their masculinity. Women can be supportive toward men who are honest and open, and help them see that they won’t be diminished when they share their feelings and needs. Women can show men that it takes courage to face one’s feelings, confidence to share one’s needs and self-trust to tolerate the possibility of hurt or rejection.

Emotional honesty involves looking inward and taking one’s own “emotional temperature.” When women do this on a regular basis and seem a lot happier as a result, men can begin to see it as desirable behavior. Unfortunately, women aren’t always as emotionally honest as they could be.

When women deny their unhappiness in a relationship or avoid confronting their partner about a habit of his that’s bothering them; when they minimize or justify mistreatment, or turn a blind eye to the signs of infidelity, they’re being emotionally dishonest.

When a woman isn’t emotionally honest, the man in her life stands to lose because he’s deprived of the opportunity to understand his partner’s feelings or meet her needs. Eventually, the woman’s frustration and disappointment will cause her partner to be unhappy, too.

On the other hand, women can show men the rewards of emotional honesty; how self-awareness brings greater confidence, and how sharing more openly leads to better relationships. Women can model to men how being in touch with their true feelings and needs will make for a happier life.

And if any woman is annoyed at having to carry the burden of teaching men emotional honesty, she should remember that she’ll benefit from this at least as much as the man in her life will.

Even if a man has never been good at knowing himself or being emotionally articulate to his partner, it’s not too late for him to change, as long as he’s motivated. The biggest incentive could be the understanding that developing emotional honesty could result in a happier life, and a much more fulfilling relationship.

Dr. Marcia Sirota is a psychiatrist, author and Huffington Post blogger. Her book, “Emotional Overeating: Know the Triggers, Heal Your Mind and Never Diet Again” will be available on Amazon.com at the end of August.
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One Comment »

  • robert smith says:

    Yes, the good doctor has informed us men can be taught honesty by
    the women in their lives-to be more specific, emotional honesty. I
    suppose there is a distinction between honesty and emotional honesty.
    The problem here is that emotions come and go, and how you behave in a
    relationship can be better served by accountability and trust than
    understanding your partners emotions from one day to the other. By no
    means are emotions unimportant, they need to be expressed and respected
    by each partner–but are ultimately the responsibility of the individual
    experiencing them to manage. The Doctor states that when a women isn’t
    emotionally honest, the man loses because he’s deprived of understanding her feelings or meeting her needs. If a man was preoccupied with a womans’ transitory and complex emotional life, he might just forget to
    take out the garbage or concentrate on his work so that he may contribute to the lesser needs such as food or shelter. Somewhere along
    the way, “meeting her needs” became a priority for men, forget
    that healthy adults are not emotionally dependent on another adult. Certainly the two together can be greater than the individual parts and rely on each other as a team, one taking up the slack if the other is
    momentarily weaker. Are we to believe that women find emotional
    vulnerability in a man to be a comforting and stabilizing influence in
    their life, “I’m sorry dear, but Bill hurt my feelings at work today,
    my emotional temperature indicates the couch and tlc instead of work
    tomorrow. yep.”

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