Everyone feels sensations in their bodies that they translate into emotions. Although the words “feeling” and “emotion” are often used interchangeably, they are not quite the same thing.
Feelings are the physiological sensations in our bodies that we translate into emotional labels like anger, love, joy and a multitude of others. (The word “feeling” means a lot more than that, but for the purposes of this article we’re talking about feelings and emotions.)
What two people feel sensationally in their body won’t necessarily be described or even experienced in the same way. For instance, it is the same physiological sensation in the body that some people call fear, and others call excitement.
What you label your experience has a lot to do with how you perceive your experience, which has to do with your beliefs, values, history, and your “story.” It’s a matter of interpretation.
Men and women both have feelings and emotions, but it often doesn’t seem that way. That’s because men and women have very different ways of dealing with the emotions they experience.
Gals, have you ever asked your man how he was feeling and had him tell you he was “fine,” and you knew that wasn’t the case?
- You sensed that something was going on, but you didn’t know what.
- You saw him fuming and knew he was holding something back?
- He didn’t want to talk about it?
- The more you asked what was going on, the more aggravated he got?
Women are biologically wired to sense what is going on in their environment because it keeps them safe. There was a study done recently about women and eavesdropping. It was practically impossible for a woman not to hear what was going on around her. Knowing what’s going on with the people in her life and in her environment helps her to assess potential challenges and dangers.
For a woman, an upset or angry man is a potential danger, so she tries to assess the situation by asking questions. Women try to figure out what someone is going to do based on what they are feeling, because that’s the way it works for women.
Women tend to act on their feelings because they trust them implicitly.
Guys, women always want to know what you’re feeling about something because women feel something, and then they act on that feeling.
On the other hand…
Men don’t trust feelings because they generally don’t act on them. In fact, men who do are often ridiculed.
An extreme example of this is a man in a battle, he may be afraid, but he’s going to do what he thinks he should do, not what he feels.
To be seen as a coward is a fate worse than death. It would mean he would lose the respect that is vital to his manhood.
So when a woman is expressing her feelings, he may try to be empathetic, but most often, he’s really looking for the point as a way of helping her solve the problem.
- Sometimes she’s just venting about a problem at work.
- Sometimes she’s angry about something that her friend did.
Guys, there have been times when you’ve tried to help and gotten reprimanded. Right?
- Sometimes she’s trying to get you to do something or change something.
- Sometimes she’s hurt by something you did or didn’t do.
- Sometimes she’s angry with you.
And if she’s upset with you, you’ll often see yourself as the cause of her pain. If it happens often enough, you’ll see yourself as failing at making her happy.
Gals, men will leave if they can’t make you happy. They see making you happy as their job.
I told my husband that it wasn’t his job to make me happy the other day, and he told me, “it works out better if I see making you happy as my job.”
It causes him to focus on doing things that I like and that make me happy, and he gets to be my hero, and then we’re both happy.
Now let’s look at how men experience feelings and what they do with them. They do feel, and they feel very deeply.
The way it generally works for men is that they feel something, and then think about what they are going to do with that feeling, and then they act on it.
Often what they do is totally contrary to what a woman would do given the same feelings.
The operative word is “think.” Men tend to think about what is logical to do in the face of the information at hand.
They think about whether or not it will help to talk something through.
If he doesn’t see an upside to talking something out, or sharing his feelings, he won’t.
Especially if he is afraid of something like not being able to provide for his family, he’ll keep it to himself.
In fact, for a man to share his feelings he has to feel incredibly safe with the person he’s speaking to. Men do not just act on a feeling the way a woman does.
Men don’t trust feelings.
- If he thinks you’ll be upset with him for what he’s feeling, he won’t share it.
- If he thinks you’ll think less of him, he won’t share it.
- If he thinks he you will overreact and do something like leave him out of anger, he won’t share it.
- If he thinks it might hurt his cause or foil his plan, he won’t share it.
Can you see how this dynamic might lead to immense challenges in your relationship?
For both men and women, it means the world to be accepted for who they are, but they go about it differently.
She reveals her feelings and he conceals his feelings.
The more she tries to pry it out of him, the more he clams up. The more upset a woman is, the more she tries to express herself.
When you have two people unable to share what they are experiencing, they begin to feel isolated in their relationship and their sense of connection deteriorates.
The way around this is to understand the the vast differences between men and women and learn to navigate those differences. The result is less time spent upset, frustrated and hurt and more time loving.
If you and your partner are having challenges connecting, it might be time for a Relationship Breakthrough Session. You’ll get focused one-on-one time with me and an opportunity to see what you can do to reconnect with your partner. There’s nothing to lose and everything to gain.
Relationship Navigation Specialist