Learning what many men wish women knew about them opens a whole world of ways women can better understand their partners.
All individuals are unique, of course, and while there are many similarities between men and women, there are also many differences that sometimes make communication between them confusing.
Our brains are wired differently, our hormones are different, and we typically have differing emotional needs.
And because we all approach the world unconsciously from our own perspective, men tend to do for women what men need, while women tend do for men what women need. As is human nature, we tend to give what we want to receive.
But in the case of relationships, do not do unto the other as you would have them do unto you may just be the best course of action to choose.
Here are 6 ways men often process emotions differently than women and how these differences can affect relationships.
1. Men need to feel needed.
Men risked their lives for tens of thousands of years, going out on the hunt, protecting their families from dangerous neighbors, handling emergencies, and so on. In those days, it was easy for women to appreciate men.
Today, women can have jobs and earn good income, society has police and a general sense of safety, and they can even hire a handyman. Women don’t need men as much. Men have sort of lost their “jobs.”
2. Men need to feel appreciated.
Deep inside a man is a need that what he does has a positive impact on a woman. A man needs to feel that what he does has meaning and purpose. So how can a woman help a man in her life in this area?
Showing and expressing appreciation for the little and big things a man does will go a long way toward making him feel fulfilled and loved in a relationship. You can tell him that you appreciate how hard he works or that you appreciate him raking the leaves.
Appreciation fulfills a man’s sense for meaning and purpose. When a man knows his efforts are appreciated, he’s naturally encouraged to do more.
3. Men need to feel that the woman in their life can count on them.
He wants to know that he’s a can-do guy. A woman can help by expressing confidence in her man, and letting him known that she knows he does and wants the best for her.
Criticism drains a man of feeling trusted. If he makes a mistake, for example, like forgetting to buy milk, let him off the hook.
4. Men need their alone time.
Perhaps this alone time means reading a newspaper, watching sports, or playing video games. Men reduce stress by forgetting about their problems for while. It’s sort of a mini-vacation. We all know how taking a vacation helps us forget our everyday problems.
Interestingly, women reduce their stress by talking about their problems. So women need to understand that men need to reduce stress in a different way.
Don’t take it personally when your man is in his cave. Remember, it’s his way to reduce stress. Don’t chase after him or he will retreat deeper into the cave. By being supportive, you put honey outside the cave and not vinegar.
With this support and understanding, a man will return and be more emotionally available, caring, and loving.
5. Men go through a normal cycle of getting close, pulling away, and getting close again.
This cycle is like a very hungry man eating a large meal and feeling very satisfied, and then not focusing on food until he’s hungry again.
Think of a man’s need for emotional closeness in this way. A man also has a strong need for goal-oriented independence. His independence and emotional isolation is what fuels his desire and attraction back to the woman.
Like a stretched rubber band, he will spring back.
6. Men’s independence and isolation sometimes leads to women feeling emotionally abandoned.
A woman’s primary emotional needs are caring, understanding and respect. A woman needs to educate the man in her life on what her primary emotional needs are in a positive way so she feels cared for and like a priority. It’s time spent together that’s often most important to a woman.
But most women and men aren’t clear about what they need and don’t know that their primary needs are different; this lack of communication and awareness can cause emotional resentment.
Women often feel that they’re giving and giving and giving, and aren’t getting enough back. They ask, “So why should I meet his needs?” Men often feel, “I’m doing so much for her and all she does is complain.” Men can then give up, believing that nothing makes her happy.
It truly is difficult to understand and accept our partner’s different set of emotional needs.
Men and women alike need education on these differences to help their relationships.
Men and women both desire to satisfy their partners, but when they miss the mark because of their differences, they can often end up in a frustrated state of resentment and feel stuck.
So if a couple is feeling stuck, and a woman is feeling emotionally abandoned, read or listen to couples self-help books together. If the couple still feels stuck, they should seek professional counseling.
Richard Drobnik, LCSW, DCSW, is the Director at Mars & Venus Counseling Center in Teaneck, NJ.