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3 Reasons Why Men Struggle With Expressing Themselves

couple upset on couch because men struggle communicate

“Why won’t he just tell me how he feels?” “Why is it so hard to get him to open up?” “Does he have a genuine issue or is he just plain old stupid?” These are all questions I have received from frustrated women dealing with men who can’t seem to express themselves.

They feel like they are speaking to a brick wall and nothing seems to be getting through. This void of effective communication opens the door for a lack of trust, emotional neglect, confusion, and an overall unhealthy relationship. So what is really the problem? Why do so many men struggle with expressing themselves? Here are some factors that contribute to this unfortunate issue:

1. Raised to suppress not express 

A lot of men are taught at an early age to “suck it up”. Crying is unacceptable and expressing how you feel can be viewed as whining. They aren’t given a platform to speak on how they feel but instead are quickly told to move past it and “stay strong“. This leads to a lot of men only knowing how to throw their feelings to the side and act tough. Never truly addressing many of the issues within them and allow it to linger. When a man can’t express himself properly in many cases his upbringing has a lot to do with it.

2. Negative backlash occurred in the past. 

A man can act tough all he wants but at the end of the day he is still human. So despite how that man is raised he will likely have a moment where the walls come down and he lets his feelings out. Unfortunately that moment may be met with a “stop acting like a little b**ch”, “you’re so weak”, and other negative comments to belittle him and cause him to shut down. Aside from the attacks on his “manliness” he may experience other negative results that cause him to regret ever being vulnerable enough to open up in that situation. At this point he will create a bigger wall than before and the struggle to express himself will become much harder.

3. It may risk getting what is desired.

Instead of continuously telling a lie some people choose to simply say “I don’t want to talk about it”. Not that this always means they have lies to tell but it is an effective way to avoid speaking a harmful truth. By avoiding conversation they can continue to act like no issue exists which allows them to continue things in a way that is convenient for them. They know a full conversation can trigger some issues they don’t want to deal with. They will do what they can to run from it and hope it just goes away. The man who does this isn’t really struggling but strategically “managing” the situation to his advantage.

It is never easy to deal with a man who doesn’t express themselves to you. Taking time to understand why this issue exists may help you find effective ways to overcome it. Always be mindful to create a loving and positive environment that encourages communication. Discuss the experiences that may have occurred in the past to cause this man to shut down or never truly learn how to open up. Last but not least make sure you are giving the openness you desire from him. If you hold back that will only make it easier for him to do the same. If their continues to be no progress whatsoever you should always fall back on your intuition and do what is best for you. Because sometimes you already have the answers you need even without him ever saying a word.

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37 thoughts on “3 Reasons Why Men Struggle With Expressing Themselves”

  1. KAlexandra

    I needed to read this!! At the beginning of our relationship, it seemed like all my boyfriend did was listen while I poured out my soul- it was great to have a listening ear, but I felt alone in my feelings, not to mention self-conscious in my honesty. I realized that he had a big problem with expressing himself, and more importantly, had issues with people he could trust genuinely listening to him. So I slowly but surely stopped talking, gently but firmly called him out on his communication skills, and started listening when he wanted and NEEDED to talk. We’ve been together a year and it always brings a smile to my heart when my good man thanks me for helping him to express himself. While we still have our ups and downs, I realize that it wasn’t just about my man opening up, but also about me allowing my ears, mind, and heart to open up as well. Thanks Stephan for that reminder!

  2. Jack

    I think it’s more about trust than not being able to express. Men talk to me men totally different than they talk to women. When talking to your bros it’s solid and not leaving the room, when talking to a female your talking to at least four of them. Her sister, best friend, Mom, and co-worker. And it’s not their business.

  3. Lisa

    I’m going through this shit right now! I’m with a man that been in the street life and he was always a playerish pimpish type of guy. Been on his own since since he is grown..he is 32…I’ve been with him for 3years and he shows no type of affection and never tells me how he feels, and it’s hurting our relationship…but when I explain to him , he thinks I’m starting an argument…and which leads him to loose interest in me and shows me no type of love and affection…I’m fed up…I’m ready to walk away..

    1. I understand you 100% afterwhile it is annoying because you have tried everything but cheat on his assume hoping he changes.

    2. Hannah

      Don’t walk away baby doll. Be his support and love him. It’s okay, just take my words for this. He needs a comfort, a happiness. You are so much more to him than you can imagine. He needs you. You love him, keep him. Understand him. Be tender hearted towards him. He needs you baby girl❤

  4. I really thought I was going crazy this exactly how I be feeling, I had a problem like this with my recent ex he just wasn't a good communicater it got under my skin

  5. Hope Floats

    I so needed to read this. THANK YOU!

  6. Tamu Tamu

    Unfortunately this is so true, again thanks million you are a God sent.

  7. Monika Szabo

    I'm going through it right now. Caught him on lies confronted him after waiting weeks when he's ready to communicate

  8. Deirdra Johnson

    I dealt with this for 6 years.

  9. Jacci Calloway

    I dealt with this as well and it is so vividly on point.. Eventually, I had to walk away to save myself.

  10. Suzette Demcantbreakme Mclachlan

    This is very frustrating when you're very expensive and he's not…brings me to tears at times because I feel I work too hard at trying to pull information out of him….sigh

  11. S Ann Johnson

    This is true…I’ve experience this last year (2013) for the 1st time ….I understood him & I did all that I could come up with to try to get him to understand that I knew & it was going to be ok…he just needed to trust me by opening up to me…I needed & wanted that communication & connection that him & I built in friendship…I went to him & he had out right refused to see Mr so we could have talked…it only went downhill from there. …I’ve forgiven him a while back because I needed my peace & my happiness back….

    1. I had a similar experience… Only in my case, I’m saving my my love for a mature man who would be committed to our relationship, not wasting it on someone who would treat me so badly.

  12. Chris Thompson

    Very timely article!

  13. Elizabeth Dwarika

    All a man need is a listening ear,not an advisor or problem solver ….when we ladies start being that our men run away to there man cave

    1. John

      No the bitch no one runs away to man cave u just gives lactures all the time…

  14. Derland Da Eagle Jackson

    i so agree with this here man.. i have to admit i can get real shy about my feelings at times this here is something i'm definitely working on

  15. Iyanna Wickham

    So true after 12 years still going through it

  16. Oby Odeh

    My man falls in category 3. When I ask twice or thrice and he gives no answer I've learnt to let it go. He won't tell a lie that I know, so he say a thing if it's going to hurt me or make me worry.

  17. Trish Long

    I just want to share that your coaching, wisdom and knowledge has helped me tremendously… I have read your book, "God Where is My Boaz".. Which was very refreshing to me… Being a Godly woman, I especially was grateful for all the biblical scripture to back up your lessons… I just have come out of a five year relationship with one of my best friends, I thought, since the eight grade.. I am 52 yrs old… Very hurtful…… And frankly, very confusing…. Your helping me move on, with lots of prayer… Thanks again…

  18. I recognize what you've written as truth. The problem I have us that it is extremely hard to create an open and supportive environment with someone who makes you feel alone, drained and unloved. It's a vicious cycle that is quite difficult to break. Women who feel neglected and unloved have lost the trust it takes to continue to be open with a man who has shut down. #thestruggleisreal

    1. Ada

      No truer words have been said, The key to any successful relationship is effective communication, the more this is delayed, or ignored the more detrimental it is to any relationship

  19. Excuses! They simply need to grow up & understand that the success of their relationship lies in effective communication. When you are a child, you act like one & when you become a man, childish things should be put behind you. Shutting down, not communicating for the betterment of your relationship & your partner’s well-being, is extremely childish. Women have our own issues, but you don’t hear us justifying them. The focus for both parties ought to be, if this is detrimental to my relationship, how do I overcome it?

    1. AzDolFAN

      He needs to grow up? not wanting to talk about how we feel isn’t childish, I think most men got burned and yes we put our walls up (thanks to women) but over all I think Men are way more logical than women. We see a problem we fix it…we don’t sit around having crying sessions about how it made us feel because that’s not EVER going to solve the problem. we apply that same logic to our personal relationships. Women need to communicate and need that shoulder to cry on and Men are fine with that ( we deal with it) but for you to be mad at your man because he doesn’t need a shoulder to cry on or a chick flick to try and relate your personal relationship to is selfish. Why try and change a man into a cry baby, Most of us are hard wired not to be a chick and if you want someone to cry over communication and feelings then maybe you should try switch hitting and find yourself a chick.
      Just saying. Men and Men if you find one that likes to cry and talk about feelings then great, but don’t tell me that he is being childish for simply being a MAN.

      1. Ada

        Please read Y’s comment again, not only are you missing the point, you are contracting yourself. If men take the so called “fix it” approach to issue, why not adapt that approach to their communication issues.

  20. Absolutely true, always keep in mind that past experiences and past environments leaves some type of impact.

  21. "there might be a another rare reason why some can't come to conclusion n express, as maybe this reason is very few thinks, As some put them selves into someone shoe n think, for example, if I put myself as father, defiently I want my daughter to get married with financial stable guy,

    main reason is not a perfect men to drag someone's daughter into such situation, where he can't even take care basic needs at least decent comfortable life, as when he became a fatherto a daughter then maybe he might knowns what I am saying…

    I knowns what situation, struggles my mother went through….

    This view, thoughts are been stored in mind n this is very rare mindset…

    ok for now…

  22. Bre M.

    I talk to this guy we been talking for about 2-3 months now and I really want to be there for for him because I know he have been through a lot with women in the past however he is really closed he don’t express himself about how he feels I tell him everything about how I feel but he don’t tell me nothing and now his ,mom is in the hospital and they are really close and I really want to be there and a shoulder but he not telling me nothing he only says “I’m okay” and its frustrating because I’m trying and he not seeing it and you know as a woman you can feel when someone you care about isn’t okay at all and its beginning to push me away I cant deal with not knowing or not being able to help

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