Why Can’t Men Be Emotionally Supportive When We Need Them the Most?

The Question of the Week comes from Saira N. She asks: Why are men rude and try to ignore us when women need emotional support? Why they can’t be there emotionally when women need them the most?

Hi Saira,

Fantastic question. One of the biggest sources of frustration in relationships is the fact that men and women are very different (especially when it comes to communication and dealing with emotions), yet we expect one another to think, feel, react, and communicate in the same way we do. It’s almost as if we’re speaking a foreign language and expecting the other person to understand.

Now I don’t mean to over-generalize, and of course there are exceptions to every rule, but for the most part, women are emotional beings and men are rational ones. Here’s a little excerpt about that from my book, Dating Without Drama:

“Women are emotional beings. It’s our nature. We shouldn’t feel the need to judge, qualify, or change that fact. It’s what makes us wonderful friends, supportive partners, and nurturing mothers. It is a very desirable trait in long-term, committed relationships. HOWEVER… it is also a trait that can scare the bejeezus out of men in the beginning stages of dating.

Why?

Well, men, by their nature, are logical, rational beings. They’re focused on decision-making, problem-solving and getting to the point, not talking through things, sharing their feelings, or acting on their emotions. For a guy, dating can be confusing and scary enough… and when a woman says ‘we need to talk,’ ‘what are you feeling right now,’ or, God forbid, starts to cry, it can send him running for the hills.”

Saira, have you ever heard the phrase, “Don’t go to the hardware store for milk?” It’s an analogy for the concept that you shouldn’t look to someone to meet certain needs if they’re incapable of doing so.  As I mention in DWD, men are problem-solvers. They like to fix things. Often, when women (myself included) are feeling emotional or want to express their feelings, we aren’t interested in getting to the solution right at that moment. We want to talk, vent (I’ve been told by countless men that they don’t understand venting at all!), cry, and just get it out. When our partners start suggesting exactly what they think we should do about it, we tend to find it incredibly irritating and insensitive. We just want them to listen and empathize.

And, by all means, when you’re in a long-term committed relationship you should be able to get some of this support from your partner… to a point. But some onus is also on us to be realistic about how men are wired and instead go to the grocery store for our milk. By that I mean leaning on the women we’re closest with (girlfriends, mother, sister, etc) when we truly want someone to listen and give solid emotional support.

Keep in mind that when you really do need to figure something out – say, how to get that promotion at work or how to deal with a difficult friend, it’s a great idea to ask your guy for his thoughts. Men love to feel that their opinion is valued (who doesn’t, really?). He’ll most likely suggest an action plan and be very supportive as you follow through with it!

Good luck and keep us posted!

Your friend,
Paige

PS – Want YOUR burning dating/relationships question to be answered next week? Just go to my Facebook page any time Mon – Wed and post it there…I respond to the question with the most “likes” in my blog every Thursday!