I wrote this article for the Good Men Project. It got 1.5 K shares as of March 31! It’s clear this is a key topic for men concerning women.
I used to spew my feelings all over my partners, making them feel, well, really bad. I thought it was my right — and that how those feelings came out of me was inconsequential. They were feelings, after all, and feelings had to be felt, to be shared, right?
So what if my “feelings” were a little ugly and stung a bit? If a man loves you, isn’t he supposed to be there for you when you need to toss that emotional bucket? Isn’t he supposed to care enough to endure what you feel? To help mop up the mess? And why does he want to pull away, drop into silence and become unresponsive when the sharing gets good? Is it that he can’t handle a true woman’s feelings?
Well, not exactly.
It turns out that tossing a man a bucket of negative emotion doesn’t make him feel empathy for you. What it makes him feel is fear or something else equally negative. He feels the negativity because a woman is making her emotions his responsibility. That’s a big job, even a second career. What man has time for that?
It turns out that this kind of emotional dumping, without filtering, is not productive or responsible. In fact, I can tell you from experience, it’s quite damaging both for the man and the woman.
A man wants to be with a woman who takes responsibility for her feelings, who can be trusted to share feelings in a mature and sensitive way. This means that a woman actually has to own what she feels. Then she needs to be with those feelings and make sense of them, before she decides to share them with her man.
When she does talk about feelings, she wants to do so as the rightful owner, as someone who is well-acquainted with those feelings, who can offer them as a gift, as a part of herself. There is an ok time for “dumping” unprocessed emotion — if you ask a man for permission and you do it with the intent to be emptied, and, you can actually do it productively. To do it productively means that you do it with purpose – to let go of a story or whatever emotion is holding you hostage. It’s key to get to a point of release.
But most dumping just circles around feelings, circles around productivity and makes a woman feel worse. It can also make her man feel hopeless and worn out. The woman that a man appreciates can share feelings from a deep place, can even move him with her depth and insight — because of her connection to herself. That can only happen when she takes responsibility, when she goes deep within to make meaning of what she feels. And when she knows unequivocally that her feelings are hers to feel and to process.
Lastly, feelings and judgments are very different things. A woman has to watch using “I feel” as a opening for unleashing all the negative judgments she has about her partner and the world, and learn to bring “I feel” with love, wisdom and feminine sensitivity. This is what makes a woman emotionally attractive to a man and inspires his admiration, support and love.