Do Men Have Feelings? 25 Myths, Why Men Act Indifferent & Steps to Help Him

Ever wondered, “do men have feelings?” whenever your guy isn’t as excited or as overwhelmed as you in emotional times? Here’s why that might be.

Do Men Have Feelings

Perhaps one of the world’s greatest mysteries, right up there with why we can’t seem to find our keys when we’re late, is this perennial question—at least for the girls: Do men have feelings?

It sounds like a question from a cheesy romantic comedy, but really, it’s something many of us have pondered while watching a guy maintain his poker face during a super emotional movie, or while he’s giving the world’s shortest answers to our ‘how was your day’ inquiries.

It’s almost like there’s an unspoken rule in the guy’s handbook: “Thou shalt not exhibit emotions.” But is this really true? Are men these enigmatic, stoic beings who go through life unfazed by emotions, or is there a whirlwind of feelings hiding behind that calm exterior?

Men are a different breed, because they were programmed differently than women. They were told by society not to show feelings and they were told by their fathers not to do what girls do.

Even though the line between genders is getting more and more blurry, many men still feel they have to behave a certain way in order to retain their masculinity. [Read: Why men feel so emasculated by the world they’re living in today]

The ‘Emotionless Man’ Myth

For the longest time, we’ve been fed a steady diet of stereotypes: girls are emotional, chatty beings, often seen shedding a tear or two over a cute dog video. Men, on the other side of the spectrum, are portrayed as these stoic, almost robot-like figures, who wouldn’t know an emotion if it hit them in the face.

But let’s dig a bit deeper here. Why is it that men often get cast in these emotionless roles? Do men have feelings, and if so, why the act?

Take societal expectations, for example. From a young age, boys are often told things like “big boys don’t cry” or “man up.” [Read: What is masculinity? 46 manly & toxic traits women love & despise in men]

It’s like there’s this unwritten rulebook that dictates that showing emotions is a no-go zone for men. This societal script plays a huge part in how men perceive themselves and how they’re perceived by others when it comes to emotions.

Now, let’s throw a bit of evolutionary psychology into the mix. Some theories suggest that, way back when we were all living in caves, different emotional expressions in men and women had their perks for survival.

Men being the stoic hunters, and women, the nurturing gatherers – sounds a bit like a prehistoric sitcom, right? While these theories are interesting, they don’t necessarily hold up in our modern latte-sipping, smartphone-tapping world.

And then there’s this fascinating concept of emotional intelligence. You know, the ability to recognize, understand, and manage our own emotions, and to recognize, understand, and influence the emotions of others. [Read: Emotional immaturity: How to recognize them & help them grow up]

Here’s the kicker: emotional intelligence varies wildly among individuals, and it’s not a gendered thing. A guy can be just as emotionally intelligent as any girl out there.

The Reality of Male Emotions

Let’s circle back to our main head-scratcher: Do men have feelings? Spoiler alert: Science says ‘Yes, absolutely!’

First up, let’s dive into the scientific evidence. Numerous psychological studies have confirmed that men experience the full spectrum of emotions just as deeply as women.

While there may be differences in the way men and women express emotions, these differences are often influenced by cultural and social factors. [Read: 34 secrets to get a man to open up, communicate & understand you better]

Studies have indicated that societal norms, gender roles, and upbringing play a significant role in shaping how individuals express their emotions. This implies that any observed differences in emotional expression between men and women are not solely inherent but are also significantly molded by external influences.

Then there’s the topic of emotional repression. This isn’t just about holding back tears during a sad movie; it’s about consistently pushing down emotions, which can lead to serious repercussions. Research in the field of mental health consistently shows that emotional repression can lead to increased stress, anxiety, and depression.

A study in the American Psychological Association’s Journal highlighted how emotional suppression negatively impacts mental health, proving that the ‘tough it out’ mentality can do more harm than good.

But wait, it gets more interesting when we look at cultural variations. A cross-cultural study in psychological science reveals that emotional expression varies significantly across different cultures.

In some societies, men are encouraged to express emotions openly, debunking the myth of universal male stoicism. This suggests that the emotionless male stereotype is more a cultural construct than a biological one. [Read: Gender stereotypes about males we need to let go of for good]

What Women Really Want…

When women complain about their man being too cold or indifferent, they’re not asking them to show emotion. They’re demanding that these men show affection.

There is an obvious difference between the two, yet men still get the reputation of being unfeeling mounds of stone. That’s because affection is, in itself, a show of emotion. If it’s not present, people immediately assume that the person has no feelings, whatsoever.

Just because someone is not willing to show their emotions does not mean that they do not know how to feel. The normal state of the human mind pushes us to show emotions because it aids in our survival. If a person is literally emotionless, they’re either not real, or they’re leaning toward sociopathic behavior. [Read: Am I dating a sociopath? 26 warning signs, effects & ways to get over it]

The truth is, men constantly express their feelings. It’s just not what women expect. Admittedly, more and more people are breaking the barriers and relieving themselves of the status quo, but the fact remains that some women are still wondering why they have to give it up—why can’t men just change, instead?

Why can’t they have romance, while still getting paid the same wage as men? Why can’t they get compassion, while still being hailed as an independent individual? Women want love, but men aren’t as willing to give it. [Read: 25 signs your man really loves you even if he doesn’t say it out loud]

Why Some Men Act Like They Don’t Care

So, we’ve established that guys are not some emotionless robots, programmed to shrug off feelings. The next big question: Why do some guys seem like they just don’t care? Is it an intentional act, or is something else going on?

1. Defense Mechanism Against Vulnerability

For many men, not showing feelings is like wearing emotional armor. It’s a defense mechanism, a psychological strategy to avoid the discomfort of vulnerability. [Read: How to be vulnerable in a relationship, open up & 28 secrets to grow closer]

Think of it like avoiding a difficult conversation. It’s easier to act like you don’t care than to open up and risk getting hurt.

2. Communication Styles

There’s often a disconnect in how men and women communicate emotions. While women might use words to express how they feel, men might opt for actions.

It’s like a woman saying ‘I love you’ through a heartfelt note, while a man might express the same through fixing a leaky faucet. It’s not that they don’t care, they’re just speaking a different emotional language.

3. Childhood Conditioning

How men are raised has a profound impact. as we mentioned above. Boys often hear phrases like “boys don’t cry,” leading them to associate emotional expression with weakness. This upbringing molds their adult behavior, making them less likely to openly express feelings.

4. Societal Expectations

Again, society often pushes the narrative that ‘real men’ don’t show emotions. This societal script, reinforced by media and peer pressure, makes many men feel that they need to live up to this stoic ideal to be accepted or respected.

5. Fear of Rejection

No one likes to be rejected, and for some men, showing emotions feels like setting themselves up for just that.

Whether it’s a past experience of opening up and being ridiculed or just the fear of it, the result is often a façade of indifference. [Read: Fear of rejection: 56 signs, causes & ways to overcome and get over it]

6. Past Experiences

Men who’ve experienced trauma or emotional hurt in the past might build walls around their feelings. It’s like developing a fear of dogs after being bitten; once hurt, they’re cautious about exposing their emotions again.

7. Alexithymia

This is a condition where a person has difficulty identifying and expressing emotions. It’s more common in men, as studies have shown. It’s not that they don’t have feelings, but more that they genuinely struggle to recognize and articulate them.

8. Conflict Avoidance

Some men prefer to keep emotions under wraps to avoid conflict. Imagine a scenario where expressing disappointment leads to an argument; it might feel safer for a man to say “it’s fine” rather than express his true feelings.

If your guy knows that you tend to overreact or blow things out of proportion, he might choose to avoid sharing his true feelings to prevent escalating the situation. [Read: Tips for dealing with a non-confrontational partner]

9. Workplace Norms

Professional environments often discourage emotional expression, especially in traditional male-dominated fields. It’s like having a ‘work persona’ that’s all business, a mask that can be hard to take off even outside the office.

Interestingly, this norm contrasts sharply with the historical stigma that women were not suited for business or sales roles because they were perceived as ‘too emotional’. This old stereotype implied that women’s emotions would hinder their professional judgment, a notion that has been challenged and disproven over time. [Read: Gaslighting: What it is, how it works & 33 signs to spot it ASAP]

Today, we understand that emotional intelligence is a valuable asset in the workplace, for both men and women, and the ability to navigate emotions skillfully can actually enhance business and professional interactions. But yeah, that was the belief before.

10. Role Model Influence

Men often emulate their role models. If a father or mentor was emotionally reserved, they might mimic this behavior, believing it’s the ‘right’ way to be.

11. Mental Health Stigma

Societal stigma around men’s mental health can deter men from expressing emotions or seeking help. It’s a sad truth that in many circles, a man talking about his feelings or seeing a therapist is still frowned upon. [Read: Why we need to break down the stigma of mental illness]

12. Relationship Dynamics

In relationships where emotional openness has led to problems, men might shut down as a protective measure. It’s not indifference; it’s a learned response to negative outcomes from past emotional expressions.

13. Media Stereotypes

Media often portrays men as tough and unfeeling, which can influence real-life behavior. It’s like watching a movie hero who never sheds a tear, subtly suggesting that this is how men should act.

Think of the classic action heroes like James Bond or superheroes like Batman, who often epitomize the ‘strong, silent type.’ These characters rarely show vulnerability or complex emotions, reinforcing the stereotype that real men must always be in control and emotionally impenetrable.

14. Peer Group Influence

The company men keep can greatly impact their emotional expression. If their friends value toughness and stoicism, they might feel pressured to conform, acting indifferent even when they’re not. [Read: Toxic friends: 22 types, 54 signs & ways to end friendships that hurt you]

15. Individual Coping Strategies

Each person copes with emotions differently. Some men might process feelings internally, which can be mistaken for not caring. It’s like preferring to reflect quietly on an issue rather than talking it out.

What Can You Do to Deal With an Indifferent Partner?

If you’re already dating a guy who’s reluctant to show his emotions, here are your options:

1. Discuss the Need for More Openness and Communication

Recognizing and discussing the need for more openness and communication is the crucial first step in this process. By addressing this openly, both partners become aware of what they’re trying to work on.

This mutual understanding sets the stage for growth and improvement in the relationship. It’s about laying the groundwork for a partnership where both individuals feel heard and valued, moving beyond surface-level interactions to a deeper, more meaningful connection.

It’s not going to be easy, especially if they’re used to being stoic and apathetic, but you should be honest about your needs. [Read: 42 secrets to communicate better in a relationship & ways to fix a lack of it]

2. Know When and What Questions to Ask

Just because your guy isn’t expressive does not mean that he won’t answer your questions about how he is feeling. Let him know your relationship is a safe space.

Asking open-ended questions can be particularly effective. These types of questions encourage a more detailed response, inviting him to explore and express his feelings more fully.

Instead of yes-or-no inquiries, try questions that start with ‘how’, ‘what’, or ‘why’. This approach not only shows that you are genuinely interested in his feelings but also provides him the opportunity to communicate in a more expansive and reflective manner. [Read: 250 fun, deep relationship questions for couples to feel closer & more loved]

3. Don’t Pry

If you don’t get the answer you’re expecting, it simply means that your guy doesn’t know what to say or how to explain his feelings to you. Respect his privacy, and move on with your day.

Prying and insisting for your man to express his feelings just for the sake of getting a response isn’t going to solve things. This approach can actually build more walls than bridges.

It’s about understanding that everyone has their own pace and comfort level with sharing emotions. Pushing too hard can lead to resistance and discomfort, hindering open communication rather than fostering it, and that’s the opposite of our goal here.

4. Reflect on Your Own Emotional Responses

Understanding your own reactions to your partner’s seeming indifference can be insightful. Sometimes, our emotional responses to a partner’s behavior can tell us more about our own needs and expectations than about their feelings.

Reflecting on why you feel a certain way when your partner appears indifferent can help you identify what you truly seek in the relationship. This self-awareness can guide you in communicating your needs more clearly and understanding your partner’s perspective better. [Read: 25 honest, self-reflection questions to recognize the real YOU inside]

5. Encourage Emotional Literacy

Helping your partner become more aware and articulate about their emotions can be transformative. Emotional literacy involves understanding and being able to express one’s emotions effectively.

This can be encouraged through shared activities like reading books on emotional intelligence or even watching films and discussing the characters’ emotional journeys. Studies suggest that increasing emotional literacy can significantly improve relationship satisfaction.

6. Observe

Even though guys don’t express themselves the usual way, they do so using other outlets:

a. They convert their feelings. For example, instead of being sad, a man might express it as anger or testiness.

b. They put their feelings into other activities. It can be sports, hobbies, or even just going out for some air.

c. Their emotions can manifest as physical pain. Sometimes a headache or a backache can be caused by stresses that guys can’t express verbally. [Read: How to be a good girlfriend – 10 things you HAVE to do]

7. Use Positive Reinforcement

When your partner does open up, even in small ways, it’s important to acknowledge and appreciate it. Positive reinforcement can encourage them to share more in the future.

In fact, a study in Behavioral Therapy highlights the effectiveness of positive reinforcement in changing behavior patterns. This can be done through verbal affirmations, expressing gratitude, or other gestures that show you value their emotional sharing.

8. . Accept it

You cannot change a person. You can urge them to make a positive shift in their interactions, but there’s no guarantee that it will work.

For now, you can comfort yourself with the fact that your man does feel something. He just doesn’t know how to show it.

9. Seek Professional Help

If the emotional disconnect in your relationship is significant, considering couples therapy can be beneficial. A trained therapist can provide tools and strategies to improve communication and emotional connection.

Research in Journal of Marital and Family Therapy shows that couples therapy can be effective in resolving emotional disconnects, helping partners understand each other’s emotional needs and patterns.

10. If You Can’t Accept it, Do the Honorable Thing and Stop Dating Someone You Can’t Connect With

The first thing that you should consider is dating a guy who doesn’t care about what other people think. And when you do, make sure that you’re as open as you want your guy to be. It would be hypocritical of you to demand vulnerability, while remaining hidden, yourself. [Read: Relationship compatibility: What it is, 40 signs you have it & ways to improve it]

So, Do Men Have Feelings?

So, the age-old myth that men are as emotionally responsive as a brick wall? Yeah, it’s time to toss that out with the VHS tapes and dial-up internet. We’ve all heard the jokes and seen the memes about men being from Mars when it comes to feelings, but let’s get real here. The truth? Men do have feelings – they’re not emotional cacti, after all.

The world of ‘he loves me, he loves me not’ can sometimes feel like trying to solve a Rubik’s Cube in the dark. It’s no wonder many women find themselves scratching their heads, wondering if their man’s emotional depth goes beyond his favorite sports team winning. The most echoed request in relationships is like a hit pop song – it’s everywhere: “Show me more emotion!” [Read: Plutchik’s Wheel of Emotions: How to read & decode your emotional wheel]

So, drumroll, please… do men have feelings? As sure as your smartphone is due for another update, the answer is an emphatic yes. Men are full of feelings, just packaged in their own unique, sometimes baffling, occasionally cryptic ways.

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Preeti Tewari Serai
Preeti Serai
Preeti, the founder of LovePanky, is an eternal optimist and believer in the beauty of love and life. With an exhaustive experience in love, relationships, and ...