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It’s tempting yet impossible to paint all members of a gender with a single brush as far as their behavior in relationships go.
Everyone is a complex confluence of nature and nurture, life experience, personal leanings, temperament, desire, aversion, and so much more.
However, there are behaviors commonly associated with men in relationships; behaviors that some of their partners may find confusing.
Hopefully the following examinations can help to decode a bit of this in order to make these partnerships run a bit more smoothly.
1. Some men compartmentalize their feelings and immerse themselves to distract themselves.
This is often utilized in order to forget/ignore those things others term as ughhh… feel..ings.
When faced with emotionally difficult situations, many men throw themselves into duty and in work.
By doing so, they create shields to hide their feelings from both their partners and the world at large.
They’re also shielding themselves from having additional issues tossed in their direction whilst they’re processing everything they’re thinking and feeling.
If you’re looking for a strong template from the past to relate this to, a good story is that of the knight Tristen from romantic Arthurian legend…
Since he was constantly torn between his love of home in a foreign land, and having to relinquish his love (Isolde) to the petty King Mark, Tristen developed a dark alter ego.
By day, he was the perfect knight: steadfast, skilled and courageous in battle and court. By night, however, he became obsessed with the idea of escaping his duty through death.
These tectonic emotional forces were literally tearing him apart.
He couldn’t reconcile the chasm between his emotions and his duty. So he partitioned and ignored his feelings, which drove him into ever more reckless battles and dangerous foes. What’s worse, the world applauded him for it.
They mistook his snowballing death wish for ever-greater acts of chivalry and valor. Only Isolde had some idea of what was boiling under the surface.
Some men loosely fall into this bracket as well. Taught from infancy to not express how they feel, they learned early that they needed to compartmentalize.
As such, they keep much of themselves locked away and tightly under wraps. Even from themselves.
Understanding men in relationships boils down to watching and analyzing their behavior – looking for the unspoken expressions of how they feel and what they think.
The further points below should shed more light on this.
2. Many men prefer to focus on the tangible.
Many men have minimal experience in analyzing and expressing themselves.
Have you wondered why a simple comment can bring on a seemingly childish outburst, or a face of thunder before they storm out to do battle with the nearest duty?
They have never developed, nor been given, tools to deal with or vent what’s going on internally.
They process emotive forces through working, conquering, fixing, and building – channeling what they don’t really understand into something that is concrete.
Emotions are messy, opaque, and fickle: the rules change constantly. But a car engine that needs repairing or a pile of wood that needs to be chopped make sense. The rod needs changing, the axe haft needs replacing: all of this is straightforward.
Men in general hold to the changeless, the logical, and the empirical. All of these can be relied upon to stay recognizable and comforting. The measuring tape is always faithful. The well-maintained watch always gives the correct time.
Understand this about men: they were raised to want worlds of order, reason, efficiency, control, and precision.
3. Many men have an aversion to confrontation (within a relationship, at least).
For many men, hearing phrases such as “you never talk about your feelings,” or “we need to talk about our relationship,” or even “I need you to tell me what you’re thinking or feeling” is enough to banish them back into the garage.
Of course, this is a generalization and there are some men who actually like talking about these things, but even then, it’s usually on their terms.
In general, being interrupted because their partner suddenly demands to talk about emotions is enough to shut most men down.
If you want a dramatic, destructive, explosive end to relations with a man, confront them directly and repeatedly over it.
Aggressively seeking to change people if you think they were raised incorrectly (such as in accordance with the current status quo) is just as messed up as raising a kid badly.
People are who they are, and men don’t like partners who want to change who they are any more than women want partners who want to change how they look.
A running joke or false stereotype is that women never know what they want. The same can be said of men not having feelings. Of course we do: we just haven’t figured out how to remove them. Yet.
If you feel like you’re not as closely bonded with your guy as you’d like, consider interacting and bonding by engaging in dynamic activities rather than static ones.
Sitting at coffee shops discussing feelings probably won’t put your male partner at ease.
Instead, going for a kick around the park, working out together, or engaging in a project that interests him would be much more effective for some to start opening up.
Most men love to display their skills and ability, it’s a form of courtship and expression of what interests them, thereby offering you the opportunity to bond.
Some, especially the engineers and heavily scientific types, will bond specifically through work. And even then, some may still find it difficult to spot that the bonding is even occurring.
Few of us are going to bounce around in glee like a Will Ferrell character because OMG! we’re having the best time and we’re bonding so hard.
Generally, you’ll know that your guy is feeling more comfortable with you when he opens up about something on his own terms.
One good example for how this can happen is when and if guys talk about what they’re thinking or feeling during camping trips.
Unless your partner is a die-hard city dweller who loses it if he gets a speck of mud on his shoes, camping is often an excellent way to bond and understand a man better.
We menfolk usually respond well to the outdoors, and being physical out in nature can help us lower our walls. We understand nature, we respect it, and there’s something very primal about gathering wood, cooking over flame, staring up at the stars, and bracing ourselves in case we need to wrestle bears or wolves.
Let silence speak. Some men enjoy silence, and are content having several hours of it at a time. Sitting in companionable silence often leads to a deeper understanding words cannot express, if you’re willing to pay attention to the unspoken, rather than endless chatter.
4. Many men get weighed down by the expectation to perform.
Many of us were taught that the absolute fundamental of a man’s purpose is to perform and provide. Feelings and the expression thereof weren’t even on the syllabus.
This expectation to perform happens in the bedroom as well as the workplace.
Just because a man is hard, doesn’t mean that he’s happy. Often the assumption in the bedroom is that if a man wants sex, then he’s content in the relationship overall. Or that intimacy will pacify a troublesome situation.
Most men are not that basic, and sexual intimacy used in this sense is an investment in future long term damage. We all love to fulfill fantasies, deepen relationships, play, and express our inner selves. This completes a myriad of functions too numerous to express here.
The assumption that hardness = happiness is armor for both parties. On the masculine side, we must perform. Being vulnerable and asking for something different or even (heaven forbid!) rejecting our partner’s advances implies that we are unable to do our manly duty. Or that we lack potency or are no longer interested in our spouse.
In actuality, we may be just doing the job, trying to enjoy ourselves and not analyze too deeply about why we are unhappy. Perceived failure on our part may not be about you at all.
Sometimes we’re unhappy or hurting, yet we still feel that we must perform. As women undoubtedly do in other situations. The assumption that we’re always stoic and have stone instead of feels is exactly that: an assumption.
The modern sexual dynamic in this sense can be a catch 22 for everyone. If we are offered sex as a placating tool, we cannot turn it down. If we do, we are perceived as rejecting our partner or having a low sex drive. So the alternative is to take the bone and everything remains unresolved… and ever-increasing resentment bubbles under the surface.
Remember that many men consider sex cathartic. After all, our bodies have strong, almost perpetual impulses to procreate. Women may get irritated when and if men mock them for feeling maternal, or cooing at babies or small fluffy animals. We are hardwired differently, and shouldn’t be put down for our own natural leanings either.
5. All men like to express themselves on their own terms, in their own time.
Without clear indicators or statements, it’s easy to assume someone is one way when they’re actually the complete opposite.
A lot of people project assumptions onto others based on things they feel themselves, or things they’ve been programmed with via various types of media.
A classic example is that meme where a man and a woman are lying in bed at night. She’s worried about what he might be thinking, and has all kinds of worst-case scenarios going through her mind, ranging from him being involved with another woman to wanting to break up with her. Meanwhile, he’s trying to decide the pros and cons of the next gadget to get.
You may be upset because your guy doesn’t post a lot of photos of you online, while your Instagram is plastered with images of the two of you.
This is likely because most men don’t post loads of photos on social media – at least, not as many as the average woman.
Doesn’t mean he’s not into you, nor that he isn’t serious about your relationship: he just doesn’t understand the need to broadcast the details to complete strangers.
Trust that he’s showing people he cares about photos of you (and the two of you together), but privately, on his own terms, and his own time.
Additionally, remember that what they’re feeling may be a mystery to even them. If you genuinely care about them and the relationship, then give them time.
When someone is asked to improve at communicating their feelings, they need some patience in order to learn how to do exactly that, right?
Ask yourself why it’s so important to know what it is he’s thinking or feeling all the time? Does this come from a place of actual care and consideration? Or are you feeling insecure and you need/want constant reassurance that all is okay?
The best person to figure out is yourself, otherwise you’ll strike the same emotional stumbling block time and again.
We all need each other to develop and grow, but modern life makes interpersonal situations into awkward guessing games. No-one dares say how they really feel or what they truly want as doing so promotes feelings of vulnerability.
With the right person, however, clarity, and earnestness are the bywords and seeds to beautiful relations, regardless of outcome.
Don’t mess around. Say it like it is and how you feel. Don’t waste time. You’ll find the ‘right’ man faster.
Lastly, remember that there are no absolutes when it comes to men and relationships. Many of the behaviors discussed here can also be exhibited by women who have a more rational or masculine mindset.
And some men are more emotional by nature, so many things said here won’t apply to them either. As always, the exception is usually the rule with individuals.
When in doubt, ask. Ask your partner how he communicates best, or even whether he wants to communicate how he’s feeling.
If he’s a good egg, then be patient with him. Rather than having expectations of your man based on your own wants and needs, work with him to figure out how the two of you can communicate most harmoniously.
The whole “you’ll never understand me because you’re a man” adage is just as null and void as “you’ll never understand me because you’re a woman.”
With the right amount of patience, communication, and plate throwing, people can understand each other just fine.
Still have questions about your man and how he thinks or act? Chat online to a relationship expert from Relationship Hero who can help you figure things out. Simply click here to chat.
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