Men struggle with emotions because of societal expectations

Understanding the male psyche and behavior is something women have spent centuries trying to decipher.

It can be difficult to know why men don’t always express how they are feeling. But I know it can be even harder to help them change, and I’m sure men can say the same about women.

I have had many men in my life who always bottled up their emotions, and I have seen the mental toll it can have if they don’t find a way to let it out. I learned that it can be helpful to pinpoint why they may not want to show any emotions. But even then, it may not help them open up.

I have also known women who would often complain because they know men don’t show their true emotions. When he finally does open up, it’s sort of a rude awakening. Just like women, men’s emotions can be just as strong and confusing.   

Over time, people develop the notion that men simply don’t have feelings at all. The problem is that some women want men to be able to express their emotions. The truth is that men may have a hard time processing their emotions to begin with.

It has been proven scientifically that men tend to use the left side of the brain, where reasoning is, while women tend to use the right side of the brain, which is mostly attributed to emotion. So, to me, it’s obvious that men and women differ with regard to how emotions are expressed, or not. But I think the biggest difference is how we react to them.    

At a young age, boys equate emotions with weakness. They are taught that they need to be strong and confident at all times. This is what societal expectations have “taught” men, which is not to display any emotions. This is becoming a huge problem. Men are suppressing their feelings because they don’t have socially acceptable emotional outlets. I think that, mentally, this is doing more damage to our society than most of us realize.

Men are more resistant than women when it comes to expressing emotions and getting the mental help they may need. Because of this, suicide rates have been rising for middle aged men because they feel vulnerable and experience large amounts of stress or other strong emotions that are suppressed.

Society has created a “masculine ideal” that prevents them from being their true selves. There may be other reasons as to why men don’t feel comfortable sharing their emotions. It could be the fear of judgment, trying to maintain confidence, or because they don’t realize the importance of expressing emotions.

In today’s society, there are high expectations for men and how masculinity is defined. They are expected to have a job that makes enough money to support a family, to be physically fit, both mentally and physically tough. Even how men are supposed to behave is controlled by society’s standards.

For me, a man should be defined by the qualities he holds and by the lessons he has learned throughout his life. A man should be believed in, loved, listened to and supported emotionally by those around him.

Author: Kaitlyn Hyde

I am a Photojournalism major at SPC from the Houston area. Photo Editor for the Plainsman Press, this is my first semester working on the staff.

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