Men and Masculinity Issues

by San Diego Psychologist Stephen Brewer, PsyD

 

Dr. Steve is a San Diego Psychologist who helps men develop strong masculine identities and healthy relationships with emotions.


Although emotions are a natural part of the human experience, many men don't have a clue where to start when trying to verbally or even nonverbally communicate emotions. This is because in American culture, men are not given a vocabulary with which to communicate their emotions and at times are discouraged from experiencing emotions altogether. Often, the only emotion that men are allowed to and even encouraged to express is anger.


Many of us can remember the small, emotionally sensitive boy on the playground who was labeled a “cry-baby” every time something bad happened to him. Perhaps you were that “cry-baby.” This shame and aversion to emotions that is built into our culture encourages men to keep their feelings to themselves and inevitably leads to what psychologists have labeled with a fancy technical word: Alexithymia, or the inability to communicate one's emotions.


By continuing to ignore or suppress your emotions, you will continue to keep others at an arm’s distance. Many men might read this and say “Feelings aren't for guys. We just get shit done.” Believe it or not, research has found that having a healthy relationship with emotions is often linked with an increased sense of well-being, physical health, and decreased substance abuse.


If nothing else, having a healthy relationship with your emotions will help you make sense of your partner’s emotions, instead of dismissing their behavior as “irrational” or “stupid.”