There’s consistent awareness encouraging men to open up more about their feelings with others, specifically with other men. But, for the men that have found the benefits of speaking more openly, it seems as though they feel more comfortable talking with women. But, judging by a Reddit thread, women don’t always want to play therapist.
A sub-reddit on the AskWomen Reddit thread, asks the question “When has a guy opened up to you about his mental health and how did it make you feel?” in support of November being Men’s Health Awareness Month. But it appears from the comments that, while some men have been willing to open up to their female friends, it either hasn’t always been with the best intentions, i.e. they haven’t fully understood what it means to be emotionally intelligent, or they simply haven’t considered how their trauma dump affects the other party.
The first comment on the post responds to the second part of the question, how it made them feel. The user, ‘MidnightFireHuntress’ says “Nervous, because it almost always ends in them confessing to me or asking me for sex.” She wasn’t alone, as another user added the man only opened to them as “a ploy to get me to come over.”
Whilst there is nothing wrong with having a casual relationship with someone, it’s a whole different board game to bait a woman into sex, believing that being open and expressing feelings makes you instantly more attractive.
Other women have commented on the thread saying they don’t want to be used as a therapist. One user, ‘TraditionalMethod955’ says, “Hot take – men should open to each other about mental health.”
“Men need to normalise talking with men.”TraditionalMethod955 (Reddit)
“A lot of men don’t have close, solid male friends. This makes them rely on women for the emotional support. I don’t let men use me as a therapist.”
“Let’s not fall into the trap of making it women’s responsibility. We already take on a lot more than half of the emotional and mental load, and this month should be about men learning how to care for each other, seek help, and be in healthy reciprocal relationships.”
“This month should not subtly or unsubtly suggest that women are the primary resource for men’s health.”
This reliance on women for emotional support is something Lifestyle & Mindset coach, Blake Worrall-Thompson has spoken about too. Taking to Instagram recently, Blake said, “One of the most common themes we are seeing is the struggle for blokes in their 30’s and beyond to make new friends and even more so than that, friendships with any real depth.”
“Blokes are lonely. Most won’t admit it… So who is suffering? We know blokes are, because they are killing themselves.”
Blake expanded upon this to DMARGE, saying, “This is massive. Loneliness is killing more people than anyone is prepared to talk about. Research shows that males have a lot less friends after 30 than women. And more important than quantity is quality.”
“People are likeminded, people that have you feel seen, heard and understood. Because you can be in a room of 100 people and not feel any sense of connection, and you could also be in a room with 2 people and feel incredible from having a proper connection.”
Indeed, Lifeline recently published some statistics that said 8.6 Australians die by suicide everyday in Australia and 75% of these are men.
Speaking to men who are in heterosexual relationships, Blake continues, “It’s the partners who are carrying a heavy load. The sole provider of proper connection, the sole provider of emotional support. And then she has to be the emotional rock for the kids as well.”
“That’s not fair.”
“You can’t be reliant on ONE person ton meet all your emotional needs. And if you’re doing that, don’t be surprised if your partner is exhausted and if they’re honest with you, maybe even a bit resentful and a little turned off.”
“Find a mate or a brotherhood that can support you and you can be accountable to. You owe it to yourself, your partner and your family.”Blake Worrall-Thompson
Blake further told DMARGE, that the practice of men unloading on their partner is “super common, from what I’ve seen. The biggest problem is their partner is their one and only outlet, which isn’t healthy.”
To remedy this, Blake says there are a number of other outlets men can find, even if it isn’t their mates.
“I think if you feel you don’t have mates that can ‘hold’ you in that, maybe it’s a therapist that you speak to regularly. It’s not great for your relationships to constantly have your partner as the dumping ground. Even though they love you dearly, it still starts to wear thin on your partner either way.”
“Your partner, too, can also find themselves guilty for starting to build resentment towards you.”
If it is your mates you’re wanting to open up with, but you’re still unsure as to how to go about it, Blake has previously presented an olive branch which he calls a ritual of connection. This, says Blake, is an activity that requires time to be dedicated to it, and revolves around connection questions. These can be super simple questions such as, “how are you doing this week?”
The idea of setting aside time to ask these connection questions can help guys to create a safe space, even if it’s just one hour a week, with no fear of judgement.
In Blake’s view, it’s not that men don’t want to talk, but it’s more of a case of they don’t feel they have a safe enough environment to do it. It makes sense, then, that men are most likely to turn to their female partners, but if they can start turning to their closest male friends instead, the same results can be achieved.
As for the partners bearing the emotional brunt, Blake offers some tips for how to tell the man they don’t have the space to listen to their problems.
“It’s a great skill to be able to check in with each other and see if each other has the ‘capacity’ at the moment to hold space for each other, it’s so rare but it’s such a good skill, even with friends.”
“It might look like messaging them before you call them to say, ‘Hey XXX, do you have the capacity/bandwidth at the moment to hold space for me?'”
“And for each other be ok with saying no and that not influence the relationship. Also, very few people have the skills to self soothe. Maybe if your partner doesn’t have the bandwidth for you at the moment, then you can self sooth knowing you’re not going to die from having to wait a few days to communicate your problems with your partner.”
Jamie Gonzalez, mentor, self help coach and founder of Limitless Living, has touched upon this subject with DMARGE before. He said that men “can be amazing at hiding how we are really feeling out of embarrassment and our own self judgment, but added, “When I have asked a mate how he’s really doing it has always worked out for the better; if anything it made our friendship even stronger.”