Ifat Glassman

Who has it easier to say what's on his heart

63 posts in this topic

I'm curious to get input about the question above (I'll repeat it here): Who has it easier to say what's on his/her heart, men or women? The context is a romantic relationship.

To give some examples of what I mean - suppose it is some emotional topic, like how one feels about the other, or about feeling disappointed by something (like, say, disappointed by something the partner did in relation to you), or even just how one feels about daily events.

Do men hide their feelings more than women or share them less? And if so, why?

(clarifying side-note: I think by "men" in my last sentence I can only refer to most men, not really to all men, because I don't think this is something men are born with, rather it is a psychological issue. But I am not sure about that).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I'm curious to get input about the question above (I'll repeat it here): Who has it easier to say what's on his/her heart, men or women? The context is a romantic relationship.

To give some examples of what I mean - suppose it is some emotional topic, like how one feels about the other, or about feeling disappointed by something (like, say, disappointed by something the partner did in relation to you), or even just how one feels about daily events.

Do men hide their feelings more than women or share them less? And if so, why?

(clarifying side-note: I think by "men" in my last sentence I can only refer to most men, not really to all men, because I don't think this is something men are born with, rather it is a psychological issue. But I am not sure about that).

Women ~ if they can keep the message down to under ten minutes as my attention span for this stuff is only so long.. :lol:

Personally speaking, I don't overtly hide feelings by and large, I just don't need to share them. There is also the social pressure thing. It would probably be hard to go to a woman and tell her about your feelings. After the initial five minutes of surprise, you can't help but wonder if she wouldn't be thinking

"will you just stop whining and man-up, its my feelings we need to talk about"

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think it is difficult for both and for (probably) many different reasons. I think the primary reason for men is that they might be afraid of being perceived as a coward or weak. I think for woman it is the risk of putting oneself "out on a limb" that might break and cause discomfort/pain. With that said, I have found that as I have gotten more confident and consistent on what type of virtues/traits I think I should be using and more comfortable with how to word uncomfortable statements, the difficulty has diminished.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'd agree with Ray that there are many possible reasons, but something I've noticed of many if not most guys is the idea that masculinity = insensitivity, both to pain and emotion. Guys generally do not admire the man with a rewarding, long-term relationship. The man they want to be is the one who sleeps with 100 women in a year and never feels a thing for any of them. To become attached is regarded as weakness and dependence. I've heard even friends of mine joke that it's "gay" to express feelings of love if it isn't done for sex. To do so means you're "whipped". And you have the very common perception that men are rational, women are emotional, reinforcing the idea that to share feelings is a sign of femininity. This is a serious psychological barrier for a lot of guys, because to share their feelings presents a threat to their self-image.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Guys generally do not admire the man with a rewarding, long-term relationship.

Which guys?

The man they want to be is the one who sleeps with 100 women in a year and never feels a thing for any of them. To become attached is regarded as weakness and dependence. I've heard even friends of mine joke that it's "gay" to express feelings of love if it isn't done for sex. To do so means you're "whipped".

Not to presume but perhaps you need better friends.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Well I mainly keep to myself nowadays. I can only speak from my own experience, which may not be the norm.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Well I mainly keep to myself nowadays. I can only speak from my own experience, which may not be the norm.

No, it's common (though not "normal", which is very different and unusual in the current culture.) Good, actual friends are hard to find.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I'm curious to get input about the question above (I'll repeat it here): Who has it easier to say what's on his/her heart, men or women? The context is a romantic relationship.

To give some examples of what I mean - suppose it is some emotional topic, like how one feels about the other, or about feeling disappointed by something (like, say, disappointed by something the partner did in relation to you), or even just how one feels about daily events.

Do men hide their feelings more than women or share them less? And if so, why?

My experience has been that men (in general again) focus on problems and try to deal with them. They tend to be less focused on peoples feelings. An example has occurred more than once with me. A woman I knew had some financial/people problems. She was upset, and I set to wracking my brains for the best solution out of the situation. Finally I came up with a suggestion, but was rather stunned at the reaction. Apparently it was not solutions she was looking for, so much as sympathy. She couldn't see that my 'solution' was inspired by sympathy.

A romantic relationship that runs into problems can end up the same way. One person looks for the underlying problem, the other wants assurances. It would be nice if that gap could be bridged.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I'd agree with Ray that there are many possible reasons, but something I've noticed of many if not most guys is the idea that masculinity = insensitivity, both to pain and emotion. Guys generally do not admire the man with a rewarding, long-term relationship.

This is probably more true of young men. The idea is out there generally, and no doubt there are older men who think that way. But I think this changes significantly for most men, especially when they hit their 30s.

The man they want to be is the one who sleeps with 100 women in a year and never feels a thing for any of them.

That's a pseudo-self-ideal. It's based on a false, concrete-bound set of premises about masculinity. I think it's mostly teenage boys and young men who think this way, especially those with little to no rational philosophical guidance or role model of masculinity in their lives.

To become attached is regarded as weakness and dependence. I've heard even friends of mine joke that it's "gay" to express feelings of love if it isn't done for sex. To do so means you're "whipped".

Yes, this is the flip side of the Casanova-ideal--if a person is only sleeping with one woman, he is attached, weak, dependent, even gay.

This being said, masculinity has been attacked by radical feminists, and I think there has been a pretty overt attempt to "feminize" men--to shape boys thinking and behavior to be more like females, particularly in terms of emotional expression. So, we now have very emotionally sensitive and expressive males. (As one piece of evidence for this, older players and coaches in both the NFL and NBA have remarked at how emotionally sensitive the college players entering these professions are, especially in the past 10-15 years. There is a real narcissism and inability to deal with criticism, and this has been facilitated not only by feminism but also the subjectivist/relativist philosophy that's out there. I have also seen this among liberal men, which there are a lot of in my field.)

I think that the male response to the focus on emotions has two extreme ends: hypermasculinity and hyperfemininity. The former idolizes and wants to be the Casanova; the latter wants to be loved and "connect" with others. To me it's similar to Miss Rand's description of the dichotomy that results from altruism: one extreme constantly looks to sacrifice themselves to others, the other extreme sacrifices others to themeselves. It's the same idea but as applied to an emotional orientation in relationships.

And you have the very common perception that men are rational, women are emotional, reinforcing the idea that to share feelings is a sign of femininity. This is a serious psychological barrier for a lot of guys, because to share their feelings presents a threat to their self-image.

I agree that it is a serious psychological barrier for guys. As related to Ifat's original question, I would suspect that women have an easier time expressing emotions than men, partly for these reasons. However, I also think it more appropriate for women to be emotionally expressive than men in general. I think women are understandably far more connected with their biological functioning, or at least have a completely different psychological relationship with their own physiology than men. Emotions are partly physical, and so one might reasonably suggest that women are, at a minimum, more in touch with the physical aspects of their emotions than men. Additionally, I see womens' ability to express emotion as a natural and appropriate compliment to the masculinity, which is not oriented to expressing emotion in the same way as women.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I think that the male response to the focus on emotions has two extreme ends: hypermasculinity and hyperfemininity. The former idolizes and wants to be the Casanova; the latter wants to be loved and "connect" with others. To me it's similar to Miss Rand's description of the dichotomy that results from altruism: one extreme constantly looks to sacrifice themselves to others, the other extreme sacrifices others to themeselves. It's the same idea but as applied to an emotional orientation in relationships.
That's a really good identification. I know many people think of relationships in terms of "power," of being in control of the other or being controlled. Since most of these people don't want to think of themselves as weak, they will seek to be in control, which means manipulating the other person. Love becomes a contest of wills, of conquering the other person, of conquer or be conquered.

By contrast, a person with healthy self-esteem is not afraid to trust another person who he's carefully judged and know well. He is willing to take a chance that this woman could hurt him, but views the odds of that happening as small and is not so dependent on her that his life would end if she didn't return his affection. His focus is on sharing a life with her. He takes pleasure in her happiness, and is proud of that, not ashamed.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I'm curious to get input about the question above (I'll repeat it here): Who has it easier to say what's on his/her heart, men or women? The context is a romantic relationship.

To give some examples of what I mean - suppose it is some emotional topic, like how one feels about the other, or about feeling disappointed by something (like, say, disappointed by something the partner did in relation to you), or even just how one feels about daily events.

Do men hide their feelings more than women or share them less? And if so, why?

My experience has been that men (in general again) focus on problems and try to deal with them. They tend to be less focused on peoples feelings. An example has occurred more than once with me. A woman I knew had some financial/people problems. She was upset, and I set to wracking my brains for the best solution out of the situation. Finally I came up with a suggestion, but was rather stunned at the reaction. Apparently it was not solutions she was looking for, so much as sympathy. She couldn't see that my 'solution' was inspired by sympathy.

A romantic relationship that runs into problems can end up the same way. One person looks for the underlying problem, the other wants assurances. It would be nice if that gap could be bridged.

It's funny -- I've observed the same thing. Women treat men more as a sounding board than do men treat women. Their focus seems more, as you note, on airing problems to elicit sympathy than to mutually work out a solution. I wish this weren't the case, and I suspect that the reason is more cultural than anything, but I've learned to adjust to it and not resent women for it. There's a bit of an art to reading someone's complaining to determine whether they actually want your help or just want to "vent".

You know what the gap is? It's the Is-Ought gap. When guys hear a problem stated, they're more likely to think, "Okay, what should be done about it?" I've seen lots of women react very hostily to this, saying, "I don't want you to tell me what to do about it, I just want you to listen!" It's hard for any rational person to sit there, knowing that there is a way out of this problem, yet keep it bottled up. Again, I wish women were more interested in solving their beefs than merely airing them, but it makes me appreciate all the more the women who don't want to wallow in misery.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
By contrast, a person with healthy self-esteem is not afraid to trust another person who he's carefully judged and know well. He is willing to take a chance that this woman could hurt him, but views the odds of that happening as small and is not so dependent on her that his life would end if she didn't return his affection. His focus is on sharing a life with her. He takes pleasure in her happiness, and is proud of that, not ashamed.

That's a really good identification, too. Man, that is sooooo imprtant.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
By contrast, a person with healthy self-esteem is not afraid to trust another person who he's carefully judged and know well. He is willing to take a chance that this woman could hurt him, but views the odds of that happening as small and is not so dependent on her that his life would end if she didn't return his affection. His focus is on sharing a life with her. He takes pleasure in her happiness, and is proud of that, not ashamed.

That's a really good identification, too. Man, that is sooooo imprtant.

I agree with both things you write about Ed's post, Kurt.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

As others have alluded to, the real issue here is the dichotomy between repression and emotionalism. In an effort to be "manly", many guys have taken the repression side of it, while the females have taken the emotional side. Modern culture has made it harder for a man to share his feeling, but I see no reason why it should be that way. The one who should have an easier time sharing his (or her) feelings is the one who is more philosophically intelligent and has a better grasp of what thoughts are motivating his feelings. I know I'm preaching to the choir here, but it's important to remember that feelings are simply thoughts in action: they are simply an automatic response to one's philosophy. The better the grasp you have on philosophy, the easier your feelings should be to understand and express (assuming you've integrated properly).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
It's hard for any rational person to sit there, knowing that there is a way out of this problem, yet keep it bottled up.

It is hard for a man who won't accept what a woman needs to understand the value of being a sounding board. If one really "gets" that women feel validated by simply being heard, it makes the task easier. If a man is involved with even a semi-competent woman, she already knows what she needs to do to fix her situation. As a matter of fact, the more I've come to incorporate this in my thinking, the more I find myself doing what they do. I already know how to solve my problems, but I want to complain about it, frankly. It's venting, an emotional tirade, a rant...call it what you want. It feels good to get it out and to say it to your SO and be empathized with.

When my gal is rambling on and I'm tempted to cut in to change the subject, I remind myself that this is important to her, so it is important to let her speak her piece. I do, however, let myself keep an eye on SportsCenter when she's being especially longwinded :lol:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Who has it easier to say what's on his/her heart, men or women? The context is a romantic relationship.

I would say men. At least I have never found it difficult to say what's on my mind (and therefore, on my heart), and sometimes it's only after the fact that I realize it would have been more "tactful" not to say it. And it's usually some women who get offended when I am too open about something--most men will take anything in a stride (although there are exceptions among them too). But, since the context is romantic relationship, let me note that these easily-offended women automatically lose my interest as ponential romantic partners. I think a real woman is someone whom you can talk to honestly.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Women deal with their emotions by venting. Almost immediately after we "get it out" or "talking it over" we feel better and ready to deal with whatever gave us the trouble. There is no or very little desire there for others to sympathize. In fact, often an expression of sympathy triggers aggravation (Did you notice?). Empathy -yes; sympathy - not so much.

It is not always true that a woman does not want a man (or another woman) to offer solutions. When a woman is upset and venting that is not the time to offer advice. It is the wrong timing that creates aggravation. It is not being respectful of this process; it is using your offer of solutions, in essence, to cut short her venting (that is what gets men in trouble...). When a girlfriend is listening to another we just hear the other out. We save our advice for after she is done. Just as noted above, most often than not, she will already have the right answer. So it is better to first ask: So what do you think you will do about this?

This may come as a surprise to some (because they have not been making an equivocation between the two) but men are not much different. Wives hear their husbands out, without interruptions, all the time. First, what the problem is and then how he will solve it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Women deal with their emotions by venting. Almost immediately after we "get it out" or "talking it over" we feel better and ready to deal with whatever gave us the trouble. There is no or very little desire there for others to sympathize. In fact, often an expression of sympathy triggers aggravation (Did you notice?). Empathy -yes; sympathy - not so much.

It is not always true that a woman does not want a man (or another woman) to offer solutions. When a woman is upset and venting that is not the time to offer advice. It is the wrong timing that creates aggravation. It is not being respectful of this process; it is using your offer of solutions, in essence, to cut short her venting (that is what gets men in trouble...). When a girlfriend is listening to another we just hear the other out. We save our advice for after she is done. Just as noted above, most often than not, she will already have the right answer. So it is better to first ask: So what do you think you will do about this?

This may come as a surprise to some (because they have not been making an equivocation between the two) but men are not much different. Wives hear their husbands out, without interruptions, all the time. First, what the problem is and then how he will solve it.

I could have done with this good advice years ago.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
This may come as a surprise to some (because they have not been making an equivocation between the two) but men are not much different. Wives hear their husbands out, without interruptions, all the time. First, what the problem is and then how he will solve it.
Both genders have a need to vent when stressed or angered. In the case of anger, there is a sense of injustice involved, and it really does reduce that sense when we can experience another person understanding the situation, agreeing with our assessment, and sharing the emotional response. That kind of psychological visibility is important.

After the venting/ranting is over, our emotional state returns closer to normal, and it is easier to focus on thinking and planning. However, trying to jump the gun and cut off the venting too early doesn't work as a short cut, but rather is often interpreted by the venter as a failure to acknowledge and validate his feelings. It actually compounds his sense of invisibility, further frustrating him by making him feel more isolated from the world and from a metaphysical sense that he can achieve some positive outcome under the circumstances.

I try to be considerate when someone rants, but I certainly do my share of cutting people off too early. I find when I do that their anger can quickly shift to me. Even if I really do understand the issue and agree with their anger, I try to bite my tongue long enough for them to get through the anger and calm down some.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Women deal with their emotions by venting. Almost immediately after we "get it out" or "talking it over" we feel better and ready to deal with whatever gave us the trouble.
Why is this? Why do you think it is necessary to share the emotions rather than just deal with the problem?
There is no or very little desire there for others to sympathize. In fact, often an expression of sympathy triggers aggravation (Did you notice?). Empathy -yes; sympathy - not so much.
Could you please explain how you're using the terms "sympathize" and "empathize"? As I thought I understood it, sympathy is feeling some sort of pity for someone and their situation, while empathy is understanding what they are going through. The distinction has not been very clear to me, though, as there are often situation (in my opinion) where it's impossible to empathize without feeling sorry for the person. I'm also wondering how sympathy would cause the reaction "Did you notice?".
It is not always true that a woman does not want a man (or another woman) to offer solutions. When a woman is upset and venting that is not the time to offer advice. It is the wrong timing that creates aggravation. It is not being respectful of this process; it is using your offer of solutions, in essence, to cut short her venting (that is what gets men in trouble...).
Again, I'm curious about why I should be respectful of this process. It sounds alot like complaining and/or whining...
When a girlfriend is listening to another we just hear the other out. We save our advice for after she is done. Just as noted above, most often than not, she will already have the right answer. So it is better to first ask: So what do you think you will do about this?
Okay, now this I find good advice. Instead of volunteering a solution, we should ask if she already has one, right? But wouldn't it make sense to start a rant by saying something like "I already have a solution, but here's this stupid problem I have to deal with..." That's what I usually do if I have a solution and just want to rant about the stupidity of the situation.

But all of this is off the original topic. Until someone offers some evidence to the contrary, I'll stick by my conclusion that the one who is more philosophically advanced will have an easier time identifying and communicating his emotions.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Ed, that was a very enlightening post. I think you answered many of my stupid questions. I wasn't trying to be belligerent, I was just trying to understand why people do this, and whether it is valid. So now my question is this: What's the difference between this "venting" and just plain old complaining?

And Sophia, I'm still curious about sympathy versus empathy.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Ed, that was a very enlightening post. I think you answered many of my stupid questions. I wasn't trying to be belligerent, I was just trying to understand why people do this, and whether it is valid. So now my question is this: What's the difference between this "venting" and just plain old complaining?

Hey, I wouldn't call them stupid. I wasn't born this smart, ya know. :lol:

Anyway, one way to think of the issue is to put yourself in the shoes of the venter. Have you ever had a need to just express your anger over something? For instance, I get angry over politics (very easily these days) and sometimes just shoot my mouth off for a minute. Just that act alone makes me feel a bit better. (If things get worse, I may do something crazy like toss tea into a harbor somewhere.)

I don't have a good answer to differentiating venting and complaining, other than venting tends to be more of a stress reliever. Anyone else have thoughts on his question?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Ed, that was a very enlightening post. I think you answered many of my stupid questions. I wasn't trying to be belligerent, I was just trying to understand why people do this, and whether it is valid. So now my question is this: What's the difference between this "venting" and just plain old complaining?

Hey, I wouldn't call them stupid. I wasn't born this smart, ya know. :lol:

Anyway, one way to think of the issue is to put yourself in the shoes of the venter. Have you ever had a need to just express your anger over something? For instance, I get angry over politics (very easily these days) and sometimes just shoot my mouth off for a minute. Just that act alone makes me feel a bit better. (If things get worse, I may do something crazy like toss tea into a harbor somewhere.)

I don't have a good answer to differentiating venting and complaining, other than venting tends to be more of a stress reliever. Anyone else have thoughts on his question?

Generally, I think a complainer (that is, someone who constantly complains) sees himself as a victim, whereas a venter does not. If the venter's words could be turned into action, he might be having a fight with someone; if the complainer's words were turned into action, he would be huddling in a corner somewhere. Though obviously, this does not apply to all cases of complaining.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

How is "venting" different from expressing emotion? I see a possible false-dichotomy here, since the choice is not between unthinking emotionalism and repression. It's important to release strong emotion, because this relieves stress and helps you to think more clearly, although the form of release can be different from person to person. And it's also important to then resolve the conflict causing the pain. It's best to do both.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
How is "venting" different from expressing emotion? I see a possible false-dichotomy here, since the choice is not between unthinking emotionalism and repression. It's important to release strong emotion, because this relieves stress and helps you to think more clearly, although the form of release can be different from person to person. And it's also important to then resolve the conflict causing the pain. It's best to do both.

Yes, I think you're right. "venting" is just a handier term than "expressing emotion".

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites