“Good communication is the bridge between confusion and clarity.”
~ Nat Turner
“Ladies, a man that is truly interested in you will never leave you guessing about the role he intends to play in your life. Good men pursue the women they want with upfront communication, genuine intentions and consistent effort” – author unknown
To me, this quote says it all. Men will show you how they feel with their actions. Often, men have a hard time opening up about feelings, so looking at actions is a good way to gauge feelings. There are, however, approaches that are more effective than others in getting men to reveal how they feel.
To really open the lines of communication or gain clarity in a relationship… use M.E.N.
M- MODEL openness.
Share your OWN feelings, and be direct about it! If you can’t be open about your own feelings, how can you expect your partner to do so? When you put yourself out there by saying how you feel, openly and without an agenda, your partner is more likely to reciprocate, (especially if the feelings are mutual)
E- ENJOY each other’s company (while) ELICITING vulnerable topics.
Spend time doing something together- ideally action oriented (hiking, walking the dog instead of sitting face to face on the sofa). When engaged in a shared experience, the pressure is off and you can start with a lighter topic (work, upcoming plans) before diving into check in questions about how someone is feeling.
When it comes to the specifics of what questions elicit responses you may be hoping to gain clarity on- keep them open ended:
“What are you looking for” or “what are your thoughts on our future” depending on how serious the relationship is at the time.
N- NOTICE and accept differences.
Men and women are truly wired differently. Generally speaking, men have a harder time processing feelings, and our society has a tendency to raise boys to think that talking about feelings is a sign of weakness… (“Boys don’t cry” “Take it like a man” “Toughen up”)
So, while it can be frustrating that a man may not be the open book you want, remember the ingrained messages our society sends boys and men.
Take notice of what your partner is comfortable with and try to work the conversation into his comfort zone.
If you try to force questions on him about his emotions when you’ve noticed that it’s really not normal for him to express emotions like that, then it won’t end well.
Pay attention to how he truly treats you and not just what he says.
Does he notice things that matter to you, make an effort to learn activities and hobbies he knows you love, care about getting to know your friends and family? The answers to these questions say a lot about his feelings.
So just remember, trust your gut.
Talking about feelings can be hard for men, but if you pay attention to his actions, model openness and thoughtful, vulnerable conversations, and notice his comfort levels, then you’ll know when it’s the right time to ask him how he feels in an open, non-confrontational way.
Jessica Miller, LCPC – www.perissostherapy.com
When it is time for a heart to heart, asking your man to open up and share his feelings can be tricky.
Many men, starting at a young age, are conditioned in our society to be the “Strong, silent types.” This implies that being open and vulnerable is a bad thing-that these traits would not be attractive to a woman.
Many women do wish their men would allow themselves to be more vulnerable and verbalize how they feel.
Since this lack of sharing can create frustrations and at times disagreements in a relationship it is important to do what you wish to see happen from your man. Use your own voice to explain how you feel and what you would like to see more of in the relationship-such as more honest, open discussions of feelings. Lead by example!
Tell your man directly but respectfully what you are hoping to have more of in this relationship.
Have this conversation when things feel neutral and calm between the two of you. It is better to use I statements, like “I would feel better connected and closer to you if you expressed how you felt more.”
Pointing a finger, shaming or being belligerent will only make him retaliate or shut down more. You don’t want to create a hostile space where he feels threatened.
Spending time for “couples chats” consistently can be healthy and nurturing for the relationship.
Perhaps once a week on a certain evening and time the two of you can set aside 30 minutes for both of you to express how you feel about a certain topic-even better if the topic can be about the two of you.
Perhaps you talk for 15 mins about the strengths and things you would like to see differently in the relationship and then your man could chat about his feelings on the same topic for about 15 minutes.
When one of you is talking the other is just listening with kindness-no advice or interruptions. No finding solutions or changing the topic.
If you both can set aside time to really hear each other out respectfully it can create an environment of safety in the relationship which will help him feel encouraged to keep sharing.
Your man is more likely to express his feelings if you do the same, ask for it nicely, and are willing to se aside the time to conscientiously listen to him.
Heather Petitpas, MEd, LMHC – www.tissuesfortheissues.com
Getting to know a potential partner can be fun, but it can also bring on pressure and self- doubt.
You may be left wondering how the other person is feeling, what they’re thinking, what they want. You want to have “the conversation” but you may be afraid that it will push a man away.
You may get caught up in stereotypes:
“Men are bad with feelings”, “Women have too many feelings”, “Men don’t want you to be needy”, “Women loved to be chased”.
These ideas are unhelpful and often untrue. Let’s talk about how to turn feelings into empowerment, instead of a weakness.
There are two concepts I often discuss during therapy that may help simplify this process for us.
First, let’s talk about core-beliefs.
These are the beliefs you hold about yourself and how the world works, they shape the way you perceive and interpret the world.
If you are feeling unlovable or that your feelings are shameful – you may view the actions of your potential partner through that lens. “Of course he doesn’t want to be in a relationship with me, I’m too ______”.
How would you handle these thoughts if you felt confident and worthy of love?
Perhaps you would more readily accept what serves you.
Rather than focusing on all the parts of yourself you want to tone down to be in a relationship, focus on your strengths, what you bring to the relationship, what you want to be celebrated for. You are worthy of a partner that shares those sentiments without convincing.
A true potential partner will ideally be open to talking about how they feel about you.
Do you want to be with someone who you have to walk on eggshells with? Someone who cannot give and take feedback lovingly?
If a conversation about feelings turns toxic, it’s a big red flag that this is not the person for you- and you deserve the chance to know that.
The next concept I want to discuss is catastrophic thinking.
This means that you think of the worst possible outcome and you may actively try to avoid it. You may think that asking a guy how he feels may lead to rejection, so instead you avoid it- but you’re sitting with doubt and creating pain.
Asking a man how he feels could bring rejection, but it can also bring clarity, insight and connection.
Your happiness is worth taking that risk. If the worst possible outcome is being rejected- then you can rest assured you will overcome it.
With closure comes clarity, with doubt comes fogginess.
There is no magic formula to “the conversation”- bring your feelings, wants and needs to the table unapologetically and the right person will take your order.
Mitzi Martinez, MS, LMHC, BCaBA – www.mitzimartineztherapy.com
It can be hard to tell others how we feel, but even harder to ask them how they feel about us – in both cases, we are showing vulnerability, and the chances of getting hurt are significant.
When it comes to romantic relationships, the anxiety in such situations is very real.
What if I get rejected? Or find out that we are looking at this relationship in a drastically different way? What if it means the end of it?
Here are a few things you could do, and also some things to keep in mind, when asking your romantic partner how they feel about you and your relationship:
Make a plan.
Think ahead of what you would like to say, in what way, and in what circumstances.
Consider choosing a private setting, but ultimately, whatever setting you are most comfortable in.
It helps to write down what you would like to say and ask, because in the moment it might be hard to find the right words.
There is no need to memorize it or read it to them, but it will help you have a clear idea of how to start the conversation, and what you would like to discuss.
It may sound like a cliche advice, but nothing beats breathing when it comes to dealing with anxiety in the moment.
When we get anxious, our breathing becomes shallow, and as a result, our brain does not get enough oxygen and can’t perform at its best. Taking a couple of deep breaths can be enough, just don’t forget to exhale fully as well.
Remember that no matter the outcome, what you did was incredibly brave.
It takes guts to put yourself out there like that, and it shows courage and authenticity. We can’t build meaningful, fulfilling relationships without clear communication and understanding each others’ goals and plans. It will hurt much more to waste time on something that is not going anywhere.
Other people’s feelings do not determine your worth.
I hope in my heart that you hear exactly what you were hoping for. But in case you don’t, I want you to remember that sometimes, people just don’t share our feelings. That’s normal, and it happens quite a lot. It does not mean you are not good enough.
It also does not necessarily mean the end of the relationship.
You might have a slightly different idea of what you have, but you could reconcile it and agree on a common vision. However, if this does not happen, please know that you are worthy of a great partner, and this person was just not it for you.
I hope you have a good friend and maybe a good therapist or coach to support you through this time.
Mariia Bondarenko, MA – www.mbpsych.com
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