Do Men Have Feelings?
Largely thanks to the media, there are a lot of myths about men floating around out there, many of which guys really wish women didn't believe. Take it from a guy—we do have feelings, and most of us are capable of being really romantic (you'd be surprised!). Join me as I debunk these 15 common myths about men.
15 Common Misconceptions About Men
- Men don't have feelings.
- Guys don't want to talk about their feelings or problems.
- Guys are just in it for the sex.
- Guys want to do the chasing.
- Men are less romantic than women.
- Guys are "commitment-phobes."
- Men want to have sex all the time.
- Men are bad listeners.
- Physical attractiveness is more important to men than it is to women.
- Men don't care when you cry.
- Guys don't care about their physical appearance.
- Men don't like cuddling.
- Men don't try to understand women.
- Men are more interested in their jobs than in their partners.
- Guys don't love you if they don't love the same stuff you do.
Though there are definitely some guys who make the (mis)conceptions above a reality, continue scrolling to learn why for the most part, these myths are just that—myths!
Myth 1: Guys Don't Have Feelings
I call foul on this myth right away. It seems that decades of movies with macho male figures from John Wayne to Jason Statham have convinced women that guys don't have feelings. But rest assured that we do.
In fact, we look to the women in our lives for validation, love, cuddling, and support. The difference is, we're not particularly adept at telling you this. And we don't want anything to get back to our guy friends. So how do you get a man to show his feelings?
Here's a quick tip: Guys are, by and large, straightforward. We resent anything that feels like emotional manipulation. This means if we need some emotional support, make us feel safe, and we'll ask for it. But don't try to drag out an emotional response. If you "just know" something is wrong with us, you're probably reading too much into it.
Myth 2: Guys Never Want to Talk About Their Feelings or Problems
Well, that depends upon your definition of "talk." Ever seen how two guys share their hurts and disappointments? Bet you never did because it happened so fast you missed it.
Friend 1: "Hey man, my boss chewed me out me this week, my girlfriend is all hormonal about something (I don't know what), and I'm late with the rent."
Friend 2: "Ah, man. That sucks. That really sucks. I'm super sorry."
Friend 1: "But it's all right. You know?"
Friend 2: "Yeah, just hang in there, buddy."
Friend 1: "Yeah." (Maybe they shake hands or hug a real man hug.)
Friend 2: "So, the guys are getting together tonight for the game and some pizza. Wanna come?"
Takeaway lesson: Guys do talk about their feelings, just not in the same way women tend to. A guy will only share his troubles with someone he really trusts, and he'll do it in a way that doesn't make him look wimpy or lose face. Your guy will "talk" about his feelings with you. Just don't expect a Shakespearean monologue.
Even though his way of showing feelings might not match up with the emotional outpouring you're hoping for; it's important not to discount what he shares or the way he shares it. Listen to him carefully when he talks like this, and make sure he feels heard. Brush him off a couple of times, and he's not going to open up anymore.
Myth 3: Guys Are Just in It for the Sex
Wow, another ugly one. And it's so unfair to men. First off, some men really are sleazy, and you want to stay away from them. But truly, not all men are like that. Most men are looking for a fulfilling relationship with a wonderful woman; they just don't know how to get there. When guys hang out, guess who the hero is? "Man, how did you get such a great wife? How do you keep her happy?"
If you want to find a man who's about the relationship instead of the sex, slooooow things down. Demand commitment. Dress moderately. If a man doesn't feel pressured to have sex with you after the third date, you might be surprised to find what a gentleman he can be. The trouble is, our culture has convinced everyone that sex is way, way more important to a relationship than it is. Be open with a man about why you're attracted to him so he doesn't feel the need to seduce you.
Myth 4: Men Want to Do the Chasing
This is one myth guys really wish women didn't believe. Though there are certainly men who prefer to pursue women, there are also plenty of men who love to be pursued!
For the most part, if you give off vibes that you aren't into a guy, he's going to stop pursuing you, and if you give mixed signals, he might continue pursuing you, but he'll be anxious about it. So stop thinking men only like women who play hard-to-get. Guys are usually much happier when women forgo the games and give clear signs of interest.
What's more, men often love when women make the first move! It displays a confidence and self-assuredness that most guys find super attractive, so the next time you see a guy who strikes your fancy, why not ask him out instead of waiting around for him to make a move?
Myth 5: Men Are Less Romantic Than Women
Though the rom-com and romance novel market is almost entirely catered toward women, a study in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships revealed that men generally have a more romantic outlook on love than women do.
This study required men and women to answer questions related to the four beliefs that comprise the Romantic Beliefs Scale—Love Finds a Way, One and Only, Idealization, and Love at First Sight. Though it might be hard to believe, men outscored women on the Romantic Beliefs Scale by about 3 points, on average.
So the next time you catch yourself thinking that guys aren't romantic, think again!
Myth 6: Guys Are Afraid of Commitment
Baloney. Guys are afraid of entrapment. You see, most guys have a slightly different definition of commitment than you do. They need a lot more space. Like a guy told me the other day, "Oh, I was committed to her. I just didn't want to go out with her every single night."
Commitment shouldn't mean the guy cuts all his friends out of his life, trots dutifully after you to the laundromat, and stops calling his mom every now and then. Commitment shouldn't mean that you control every step and decision of his life from now on. If you try to do that, he won't think it's committing—he'll think it's controlling, and he'll be right.
To a guy, commitment is very simple: I choose you over every other girl in the world.
Myth 7: Men Want to Have Sex All the Time
While it's true that most men think about sex more often than women—60% of men think about sex once a day versus just 25% of women—that doesn't mean they want to have it all the time. Just because they think about it more often and tend to pursue it more actively than women doesn't mean they're perpetually ready to jump into the sack.
Though the male sexual appetite is certainly nothing to be sneezed at, plenty of things can diminish that hunger. For example, if you and your man have just gotten into a fight, his appetite might be spoiled. Then again, the same thing can happen if he's tired after a long day or just isn't feeling it at that moment. Whatever the reason, it's unfair to assume that your guy is raring to go 24/7. (Imagine if he were to assume the same about you!)
Myth 8: Guys Are Bad Listeners
This one is right up there with the old myth that all girls are good listeners. Guys are people, too. Sometimes we're tired, stressed, or just want to think about something else. We don't mean to brush you off. Remember, guys usually speak whatever is on their minds quickly and succinctly.
If you want to keep our attention, learn to speak our language. Break it up into bullet points. Don't repeat the same complaints every day. We heard you the first time. Don't always expect an immediate response, either. We might need time to think about it.
Myth 9: Physical Attractiveness Is More Important to Men Than It Is to Women
This ties right back in with the insecurities and misconceptions that lots of women have about men and sex. Does your guy like you to dress sexy, be hot, and wear nice clothes? Sure. But he understands that not every woman looks like a supermodel. Heck, as tech-savvy as he is, he knows how to Photoshop you to look like Megan Fox anyway.
There are many other things guys care more about than a woman's physical appearance. When it comes right down to it, if he's with you, then you are his queen. Relax and ignore the occasional pimple, extra pound, or whatever. When he says, "Uh . . . sure. Looks great," it's because it does to him.
Myth 10: He Doesn't Care When I Cry
Oh, tsk, tsk. He does care—a lot. But most guys just don't have the emotional tools in their toolbox to fix this problem. The truth is, most guys don't know what you want when you cry. So why not tell them? "Look, I am crying because my best friend from high school just left a nasty message on my phone. So please, can you hold me for 20 minutes, and then we'll go get dinner?" Wow. You've given him a way to fix this mess.
Myth 11: Men Don't Care About Their Physical Appearance
Though the pressure to maintain appearances is arguably much higher for women (or at least they feel it more acutely), this doesn't mean that men don't care about the way they look. Or at least not all of them. Plenty of guys take pride in dressing well and meticulously grooming themselves.
This myth tends to go hand in hand with another misconception about men—that they don't experience body image issues. While there is generally less societal pressure on men to appear a certain way, that doesn't mean it's nonexistent. Think about the ads you see; in addition to featuring stereotypically beautiful women (toned tummy, flowing hair, etc.), they also feature stereotypically handsome men (defined jawline, washboard abs, etc.). Men get just as insecure as women do; they just might now show it as much.
Myth 12: Men Don't Like Cuddling
This one is downright silly. Everyone likes to be a little spoon at least once in a while. Granted, guys might not love cuddling when they're actually trying to sleep (it can get unbearably toasty, your limbs might fall asleep before you do, etc.), but plenty of men still enjoy a good pre-sleep snuggle sesh.
Plus, snuggling can often take things to . . . ahem . . . the next level. What's not to love?
Note: Those who struggle with intimacy issues may genuinely dislike cuddling, at least until they're comfortable in a relationship. It's important to respect people's boundaries, so if your new SO tells you they're not into cuddling, don't force it. Hopefully, that will come in time as you two become closer.
Myth 13: Guys Don't Try to Understand Us
Correction: You don't try to tell us. Let me tell you—when guys hang out, the single most common topic of discussion is, "Hey, can anyone here tell me why my girlfriend/wife did this or that?" And all the guys chip in.
Truth be told, we're not good at sniffing out meanings in stuff. If you want us to understand something . . . well, tell us. "I'm mad at you because I found out you spent the gas money on World of Warcraft IV" is a lot more effective than throwing a pouting fit for three days and saying, "You're always spending money we don't have!"
Be specific. We guys are episodic in nature. We don't do long-term checklists. If you pull away and complain about unrelated things, we won't be spurred on to dig deeper and find out where we erred; we'll be confused, nonplussed, and—ultimately—angry.
Myth 14: He's More Interested in Work Than in Me
Once again, you need to understand a man's reasoning. Much has been written about men's need to feel affirmed by their job and career, so I won't go into that too deeply. Suffice to say, it's true. But it's also true that men have a hard time understanding when women say that a relationship is more important than a career.
Too many women ask their men, "Why is your job so much more important to you than our relationship?" To which the men are thinking, "Why not?" Unless you have a darned good answer to that question, don't ask it. You'll just push your man toward making the determination that his career is, in fact, more important to him than you are.
A word of advice—step away from the assumption that your position is morally superior. Trust me, that's a values judgment, and you're liable to lose. A man puts a lot of work into building a career, and he feels entitled to some payback. When you met this man, you knew he had a lot of goals, ambition, and drive. Unless your relationship has truly taken a back seat (e.g., you hardly see him anymore, and he's distracted when you do), learn to celebrate and affirm his career—not squelch it.
Myth 15: My Guy Doesn't Love Me If He Doesn't Love the Same Stuff I Do
"When we first met, he loved to do my thing with me, but now he just makes excuses!" Well, duh. As I mentioned before, men are episodic in nature. We like to do something, finish it, and move on to the next thing. We're not good with commitments that demand we be there every Friday at 4:30 p.m.
So he joined the drama club to be with you? Great! After a play or two, he'll be itching to move on to something else. It doesn't mean he has stopped loving you; it just means you need to adapt and join him on his next big quest.
Look around. Why are church ministries, PTAs, social groups, 4-H, and school boards mostly run by women? Because women take comfort in continuity and busyness. Guys are 100% different. Guys get restive when there's no end date in sight. And what about goals? A guy wants to be part of a thing that is going somewhere, and in his eyes, a new color scheme for the cafeteria is not "somewhere."
Give Us Guys the Benefit of the Doubt!
So what's the big picture here? Don't take the way men are portrayed in the media or what society seems to tell you about us at face value. While there are some men who only want hard-to-get women or are so job-obsessed they let their relationships take a back seat, they don't represent the gender as a whole. So until a guy has proven otherwise (which, hopefully, he won't), don't let the common misconceptions above taint your view of him before you give him a chance.
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