WHY EMOTIONAL DISTANT MEN AREN’T YOUR PROBLEM
I got this, DJ. Step off.
When I first met my guy, I was thoroughly baffled at how he could be so romantic and lovely when he was not working, and yet so distant and humorless when he was.
Who was this guy? Was he bipoloar? Or had I done something to upset him? I was so confused.
Chicks are taught from an early age that crying works. Sure it’s manipulative and all, but so what?
So is cleavage.
Men are taught the opposite. Um, not the cleavage part – they’re hopeless when it comes to that, which generally works in our favor.
No, what I mean is they’re taught all that clichÃ© stuff like man up, be a man, men don’t cry. Right? Even now, in our more culturally sensitive atmosphere where we encourage boys to play dress up and give them dolls, the basic premise is that men need to act like men when they grow up.
Which leads me to my main point: men don’t mean to be emotionally distant pricks. And they’re not like that all the time. It’s just that well, they kinda don’t know they’re doing it.
It’s usually only when they’re in what I refer to in my second book The Mancode: Exposed as ‘guerilla-grunt mode’ aka when they’re working, that they become hyper focused on the task at hand. As they should– they ARE working after all.
But see, here’s the problem – we don’t get why (guys) can’t be sweet with us all the time like we are with them (except ya know, once per month when we will walk across their heads to get to the Nutella).
Women are generally nurturers (not all of us – we all know women who are decidedly missing that gene—not that there’s anything wrong with that). And there are lots of nurturing men. Most men can be sweet and loving. Just not in the middle of a workday when on the line with an important client.
So…when we text you sweetly and you don’t return it in kind, we get a little pissy. You have NO IDEA we’re even upset (though you’ll surely figure it out later when we give you the stink-eye). Or you do, but you’re just blowin’ and goin.
This right here is why men are from Seinfeld and women are from Friends.
I experienced this early on in my marriage of twenty years. It took me a long time to understand that my guy was in work mode during the day and sweet husband mode at night, just as it took him awhile to understand why I was standoffish to him at night when he had blown me off during the day.
What helped me the most? If you know me at all, you’ll know I’m not religious or new age-y. However, I read a book you may have heard of called The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz. Small book, easy short read. (There are obviously only four agreements.)
I really only remember two since I immediately put them to use with my guy and my writing life, but the one I’ll talk about today is crucial here:
Don’t take anything personally. I know. This sounds ludicrous. How, if you’re interacting with your lover, can you not take it personally if they blow you off, say seemingly mean things, or otherwise treat you without well, love and respect? (Great advice for social media and authors as well, BTW.)
Well, most likely they are caught up in their own world of issues and whatever is going on at that moment has absolutely nothing to do with you.
This one is on us I think, more than the guys. They are in work mode, making money, doing what society expects of them. (Not that we don’t um, work hard for the money, so hard for it honey. Don’t get me wrong. We’re kicking ass, too.)
It’s just that how we chicks are during the day to our loved ones is…different.
Chicks multi-task, which includes the lovey-dovey stuff (throw in kids and this post takes on a whole new level of nurturing and interruptions). Guys save it for after work, when they can shower us with their full attention, which is lovely.
Bottom line for chicks: don’t take it personally.
Which isn’t to say the onus isn’t also on the guy to step up and water your plant a little – not a euphemism for sex but could be if that floats you boat.
If it is, really, I don’t want to know.
Learning not to take my partner’s behavior has been a big step in my own personal growth. I’ve learned to depend on myself for my own emotional well-being.
Well, that and martinis. Or Nutella.
Oh shut up.
YOUR WOMAN NEEDS YOU
Women – you are NEEDY. Yep.
(Even you, Rachel)
Wait. Don’t defriend or unfollow me just yet, dear readers!
Your neediness is a GOOD thing. It’s how you’re wired, and apparently nature thought this to be best. But here’s the problem…
You have been conditioned by society, and especially the media, to disown your needs. A woman is a storm of feelings and chaos. She lives fully in this space, and it is a beautiful dance to witness. In order for you to feel safe to be yourself, you need to be with a man who can weather the storm of your emotions.
This does not mean the man is just “dealingâ€ with you. He is participating in your beauty, allowing you to be all that you are without shaming you in the process.
But, the message you’ve been receiving your whole life is, “You don’t need a man! You can do it all yourself!â€
And some of that is good, like in the business world.
But, I think you do need someone who can participate intimately in your emotional dance. Someone who protects you but also is present while you express yourself.
This is something as men we are not taught.
And we are too stupid to understand allegory. When my girlfriend IMs me at work and wants to chat, I am often too busy to speak with her. If I don’t acknowledge how nice it was that she thought about me, I run the risk of hurting her feelings.
Now, my girlfriend is not especially needy or insecure. She just wants to feel cared for and special. JUST LIKE YOU.
So, I have told her – instead of asking me about my day which I will interpret as “asking me about my day,â€ how about saying, “Hey D.J., I need to feel special right now. Say you miss me!â€
Now, I understand this is not terribly romantic. No woman wants to have to ask for something like this. And wouldn’t it be great if we men were just able to decipher womanspeak and respond with, “Hey honey, I really miss you right now!â€?
What’s been our batting average so far, ladies?
So, what’s the solution? First of all, women, you need to own that you need certain things from men and it doesn’t make you weak or pathetic. Asking for what you want from your man is a position of strength. And, if he doesn’t give you what you need? Well, at least you asked. If he doesn’t deliver you can re-evaluate the relationship.
Now men, I’m going to clue you in on a secret. When your woman says that you are being emotionally distant, part of what she’s saying is, “I want you to be emotionally present for my feelings.â€ When she’s bitching about you, she wants you to be there for her stuff.
As men, a woman’s emotional storms can drive us away because we don’t understand what you really need. We think, “Ugh, the wife is droning on about how I’m not talking enough to her and sharing my feelings. I just want to watch a dirty movie on Cinemax and pass out.â€
Also, don’t you remember that we took you to dinner last weekend like you wanted?
Well, first of all it was Applebee’s. Second, you had a coupon.
Men – repeat after me. If you don’t fulfill your woman’s needs, she will find satisfaction somewhere else.
I talk a lot about my feelings on my blog. It’s not a coincidence that most of my readers are female. And you know how I know men doing a shitty job at being emotionally present with their woman? Because women come to me and bitch about it! Almost every single day I get a comment or an email about a reader’s man and their emotional distance.
Now, I’m pretty great and all, but wouldn’t you rather your woman get her needs met from you?
Men, you also need to realize your woman’s darker emotional storms are not personal. Even if she’s screaming about how you’re a huge dick, you need to realize that she probably needs something you aren’t providing, and that she’s not saying. Call her out and say, “It sounds like you’re not getting something you need from me. What is it that I can provide? I’m here and dedicated to you.â€
Now, don’t say it like that. Go put your arms around are and give her what she needs.
And, if for no other reason than I’m sick and tired of reading on my blog about how you aren’t measuring up. Do it for me.
Rachel Thompson is a best-selling author, mother of two, and devoted wife for over 20 years. Delfin Paris has written no books, three magazine articles, and is divorced. Both are funny as hell.