top of page

The Silent Struggle: Men, Emotions And The Unspoken Impact On Relationships

This article explores the challenges men face when expressing emotions and the profound effects this has on their relationships.

Communication can be difficult when we don’t have the proper tools and spaces to do so effectively. Communication and vulnerability are essential components in creating deep and meaningful relationships, both personal and professional. However, many of us face unique challenges in these areas due to societal expectations, trauma, and other factors that often dictate that men must appear strong and unbothered. These expectations can leave some men feeling isolated and unsafe when it comes to expressing emotions and connecting with others. Let’s talk about the challenges men face that impact communication and relationships with self and others. These challenges with communication can be attributed to societal expectations, fear or judgment, and limitations with feeling and expressing emotions.

In childhood, many of us are socially engineered to be stoic, self-reliant, and unemotional. This leaves no space to connect to our emotional experiences which makes it challenging to really connect, deeply, with others. The expectations of society, family, or significant others, unintentionally, can make men reluctant to express vulnerability or communicate their feelings, as they fear it might be perceived as a sign of weakness. This pressure to maintain an appearance of strength can lead to suppressing emotions. This pressure can lead to core beliefs that sound like “I should always be in control.” As a result, many folks bottle up their feelings, which can lead to isolation, stress, anxiety, and other mental health challenges.

Oftentimes, men have limitations in connecting to what they feel and a limited emotional vocabulary. In an article, 4 Types of Communication by Alvernia University they give a breakdown of the styles of communication - Passive communication is a style that often acts indifferently, yielding to others. Passive communication usually fails to express feelings or needs, allowing the other person/party to express themselves. Frequently, passive communication lacks outward communication and can lead to misunderstanding, anger build-up, or resentment. Passive-aggressive communication is often subtle, indirect, or has a hidden undertone. They find it difficult to confront anger and use facial expressions that show how they feel and may even deny there is a problem. Aggressive communication often offers opinions. They don’t mind saying exactly what is on their mind, even if it hurts someone else’s feelings; sometimes masquerading as “keeping it real”. This style can be loud and demanding and tends to blame mistakes on others. Lastly, Assertive communication is thought to be the most effective form of communication. Assertive communication utilizes open communication while not being overbearing. Assertive communication can express needs, desires, ideas, and feelings, while also considering the needs of others. Assertive communication aims for both sides to win. The question to ask is “Which of these are my style(s) of communicating?” One way to measure a healthy communication style is by noticing communication patterns within your relationships. Am I communicating effectively or am I responding from a familiar place of feeling unseen and unheard?

The fear of being judged or misunderstood can cause men to be hesitant to share their emotional experiences. This lack of emotional safety can further isolate men and prevent them from seeking support when needed, potentially making navigating life feel lonely or even more challenging. These challenges can have a significant impact on personal and professional relationships. The inability to communicate and express vulnerability can lead to misunderstandings, distance, and a lack of intimacy. Men may find it difficult to connect with their partners, friends, or colleagues on a deeper level, which can hinder the development of meaningful relationships.

To address these challenges, we need to create spaces where we break cycles and reframe men expressing their emotional experiences as being human not as “weakness.” How do we encourage and empower ourselves and our community to embrace their emotional selves and recognize that vulnerability is not a sign of weakness but rather a sign of strength? Promoting healthy values around open communication and emotional expression can help create a safer and more inclusive environment for men.

These environments can be the space where men are allowed to see themselves from a more holistic lens and prompt them to grow as individuals. These environments can include therapy, support/community groups, or healthy friends and loved ones. Reaching out can be a crucial step toward addressing the challenges of communication and relationships not only with others but the relationship with self.

For over 10 years, as a behavioral health social worker, Hakim Asadi has been an advocate for mental and emotional wellness for the Black community. His efforts and intentions around healing include working with individuals, groups, and public speaking with a social justice lens as well as a spiritual perspective.


QG - Ernie Hudson copy 4.jpg
bottom of page