Ok. Picture this. Your man has just said something that has upset you in a big way. He might not have meant to do it but he did. You throw your dishtowel at him, burst into tears and rush out of the room.
What would you like to have happen next? Maybe that he will follow you out of the room, curl you up in his arms and soothe you with words of love and regret. That would definitely make you feel better.
And what does he do instead? Nothing. Nothing.
Twice in the past week I have had conversations about this topic with men and I learned that when we get upset or angry, our man doesn’t rush to help us not because he doesn’t want to but because he can’t.
Why can’t he? Read on…
#1 – His mind goes blank.
Every man I talk to says the same thing: When she is upset my mind goes absolutely blank. Blank.
This surprised me. As a woman, when faced with someone’s emotions, I can literally feel the gears in my brain turning, quickly, searching for the right thing to say or do and, usually whatever I decide happens almost instantly.
Not so with guys. Apparently, when faced with an emotional woman, men truly have no idea what to say or do. That is why they just stand there, paralyzed and not helpful, in the face of our tears.
So, next time you are upset, pause for a minute (if you can) and see if your guy is standing there with a blank expression on his face. If he is, know it’s not because he doesn’t care. It’s because his brain has literally stopped working. At least for the time being.
#2 – His heart races.
When faced with an emotional woman, men can actually have a physical reaction.
Much like when they are watching an exciting football game where their team is winning with just a few seconds left but the other team has the opportunity for a field goal, a man who is faced with an angry girl has a racing heart.
When the heart races it’s because the adrenaline has kicked in. And when adrenaline kicks in our instincts are instantly primal, not logical or emotional, as we might like them to be. And for a man, when his adrenaline kicks in, his tendency is not to sit and cuddle.
So, even if we would like our guy to overcome his physical reaction and be there for us, he just can’t.
#3 – His flight or fight instincts kick in.
Another thing that kicks in with the adrenaline is oldest survival instinct: the fight or flight instinct.
When faced with a life-threatening situation, our ancestors had a choice: to fight the wooly mammoth or flee. This instinct kept human beings alive and evolving into the creatures we are today.
Part of our survival is that flight or fight mechanism and, for men, when faced with a woman’s emotions, it’s often flight. To get away as quickly as possible.
Think about the last time your man fled your anger. Did you follow him to the next room and continue to be angry? What did he do? Did he just take it or did he fight back? He had tried to flee, but couldn’t, and then he fought back. Hard.
Maybe letting him flee is a good idea. Give him a chance to figure out what to do for you.
So, when your man tries to run from your emotions, understand it’s not that he doesn’t love you. It’s his human instinct, caused by the adrenaline, that is making it happen.
#4 – He just wants to fix you.
One of the most frustrating things for women is that, when they are feeling upset, their man just wants to fix them.
What we women want when we are emotional is to be listened to and have our feelings validated and to be hugged and kissed and made to feel loved.
Yeah, well, if that’s what you want, that’s why you have your girlfriends. It all seems so easy but for men it just isn’t.
A man’s first instinct, when given any problem, is to just fix it. To take whatever the issue is at hand and do whatever it takes to make it better. Unfortunately, when it comes to emotions, men don’t have a lot of tools in their toolboxes to fix their women and they are lost.
So, understand that your guy’s efforts to fix you are out of love – he just doesn’t know how to do it any differently.
#5 – He feels helpless.
To many men, emotions are super scary. Their minds go blank and their heart races and they know that they just can’t fix whatever is happening.
They feel totally helpless in the face of what you are going through.
What I have done with my guy is to tell him, when I am not sad or angry or emotional, exactly what I need for him to do. I need him to acknowledge my emotions and be able to sit with it, not trying to fix it. I need him to hold my hand and tell me he is there and not run away until I am better.
We all want our men to instinctively know what to do when we are sad but their instincts are different from ours. Tell your guy what you need, what tools he should keep in his tool-box, so that he doesn’t feel so helpless next time.
For us women, emotions are something that are familiar – not scary or off-putting.
For men, it’s different. Emotions are a scary thing that make their minds go blank, their heart race, their fight or flight instincts to kick in and something that they just can’t fix.
Going forward, try to understand that our men, as much as we would like them to be, just can’t naturally react to us the way we want them to when we become emotional.
Teach them what you need from them, be patient that it might take them a few minutes to implement those things and understand that he really just wants to do his best when you need him.
Really, he does.
Is your man’s inability to handle your emotions starting to affect your relationship?
Let me help, NOW, before it’s too late!
Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and let’s get started!
I am a NYC based Certified Life Coach and mental health advocate. My writing has been published on The Huffington Post, Prevention, Psych Central, Pop Sugar, MSN and The Good Man Project, among others. I work with all kinds of people to help them go from depressed and overwhelmed to confident and happy in their relationships and in their world.