It is common knowledge that women have built up a reputation of being more emotional than men are. Some believe this is because we have to balance each other out in relationships- one being emotionally strong and one being weak- and in most cases women are the “weak” ones. During a fight between a male-female couple, the woman can go on an emotional rollercoaster of disappointment, sadness, anger and hopelessness, often resulting in tears, while the man may just express some anger, annoyance or even indifference to the situation.
But, a study done about this matter showed interesting results. Men and women were shown movies of people in distress. The men seemed like the distress didn’t bother them as they showed little emotion, whilst the woman expressed feelings of genuine concern. While they watched the movie, however, their physiological reactions (like heart rate and blood pressure) were also measured, and they showed that the men were actually just as affected as the women were. The men just didn’t allow their emotions to be expressed, whereas the women were open about their feelings.
The truth is that men and women experience very much of the same emotions, but boys have been trained from a very early age that expressing your emotions in front of people is very “unmanly” and therefore a taboo. This explains why men are much less likely to seek help when dealing with emotional issues.
One emotion that is socially acceptable for men to express is anger. This may be why men and women react differently to situations like betrayal, where women feel sad, hurt and disappointed while men just get angry. Men direct their anger outwards, which is why they are four times more likely than women to become violent in the face of life crisis. A lot of men also struggle to have close, satisfying relationships because they can’t express their feelings.
Maybe society should just stop expecting men to be rocks all the time, so they can get their true feelings out and stop suppressing them.
Source: K Grieve, V van Deventer, M Mojapelo-Batka, A Student’s A-Z of Psychology, 2005