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Men who cannot express their feelings

"Did you miss me?" I asked merrily. A man of few words, whom I have dated on-and-off for three years, stopped by.

Inevitably, I get frustrated by his poor communication skills and break it off. He is unable to talk about his feelings.

"When you are gone, there is a hole in my life, and a hole in my heart," he replied.

That was poetic. I don't want to read too much into his words. Some may guess he loves me. I assume he's lonely.

His actions do not show that he cares about me. He often disappears for weeks on fishing trips, and doesn't call or reply to my texts. Radio silence. That feels awful.

That's the trouble with men who can't express their feelings. You're left guessing.

Why do I keep trying? I have a high libido and he is an extraordinary lover.

"This is against my better judgment," I said with a grin, crawling on top of him naked. He laughed. Then all hell broke loose.

LiterateHiker 9 Oct 8

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"When you are gone, there is a hole in my life, and a hole in my heart,"

I would say that is an expression of love and in no way confusing.. I'm not understanding your issue?

I prefer not to speak on her behalf, but from how I read it, because he wasn't able to express his feelings before, this sudden, rather extreme confession of feelings is oddly out of place, and therefore can't be completely trusted. Basically, at least how I read it, it looks manipulative.


His actions do not support the idea that he loves me.

We give messages with what we say and do not say, what we do and do not do.

@PolyWolf Word

@LiterateHiker " His actions do not support the idea that he loves me.".

sorry, your original post never explained that.
.. if the chemistry was there.. you would know. Maybe you guys simply don't have chemistry together, forcing it won't make a difference.


Everyone has positive and negative qualities.Nobody is perfect, especially me.

He is also kind, generous, appreciative and an extraordinary lover.


In all fairness, the problem is not unique to men. Women, who communicate what they want/think/feel are just as frustrating. A number of years ago, across a period of a few weeks, I had first dates with two women. One wouldn’t date me again because I did not try to kiss her at the end of the date. The other wouldn’t date me again because I did make an attempt to kiss her at the end of the date. Very frustrating.


The question “Did you miss me?” isn’t about feelings. He can like or love you and still enjoy or need time away. It’s also a Yes or No question, which boxes someone in to trying to guess what you’ll consider the correct answer.

UUNJ Level 8 Oct 9, 2018

That's a really good point. That actually helps me think about my own problems expressing myself. Thank you.


Perhaps it isn’t him that is unable to express his feelings, but it is you who is unable to hear them.

I’ve found many different types of people in life, and they all express themselves differently. If you only seek to be spoken to the way you understand the problem doesn’t lie with he communicator, but the receiver.


You're right: Without listening, there is no communication.

He speaks so rarely, I listen to everything he says.

"All my life people have been saying, 'Use your words,'" he said.


I will admit that I am not the best at verbally expressing my feelings, though I will say what I feel. I really have always felt that actions speak louder than words.I would tell her 'I love you', and thank her for things she did. I was married for 25 years, and in that time I did the cooking, cleaning (She helped in this one), all the outside work, as the matter of fact she never had to scrape the snow off her windows in the morning, I would go out and do it (I also scrapped my daughters windows when she started driving). But in the end it just wasn't enough.I suppose I was mistaken about the whole actions speak louder than words....

MarcT Level 7 Oct 9, 2018

@Ron_R thanks, it’s all good. Actually only my oldest is a girl. Youngest is a boy. But they are also getting along. My son took it kinda hard when she left, because not only did she leave me, she also moved out of state. Kinda messed him up. But he has been in therapy and is getting better.


How hard is it to say, "I missed you"?? I know, I know that people differ in their ability to express feelings, but logically wouldn't those who have a hard time expressing their feelings, love being in relationships? In a relationship, they can say what is hard to say because they are in a safe place.

It sounds like you need someone in your life who can express their feelings to you, especially affectionate feelings. If he can't fulfill this need, you have to ask yourself if its worth being with him. Right now it sounds like his need to not express his feelings takes precedence over your need for him to share his feelings. So are his needs more important than yours?

It's hard to tell what is truly going on with him, and I'm not an expert. If he doesn't communicate his feelings, he could be emotionally cold, emotionally immature, emotionally damaged, or purposely withholding what he knows you want most, therefore controlling you and the relationship.


If there is a hole in his heart , he needs to see a cardiologist . If he loves a woman , he sees that woman . He has the agony to make sure nobody else sees that woman . He is present . He is in her life . Rest ma'am is for the birds . That's the only way I understand love between a man and a woman .
I have noticed thou , and even if not a mother , women say to litle boys " don't cry . Be a man ". Or men say to litle boys " girls talk , u r a boy , u don't need that drama " etc .
Until we , the women , the mother , teach our litle boys to be comftable in their own skin and their emotions and words , .. we may contribute to grown up men of " litle words " and no " emotions showing ".


I see myself lol! I am working on it


I'm in a weird position where some of my feelings register right away, often without a firm basis, but others take months to figure out. I have no problem expressing them once I've figured them out, but until then, I guess I'm a problem. Dunno if there's a name for that. Regardless, you certainly deserve someone intune with their feelings and capable of elucidating them.


Good insight. This will interest you:


@LiterateHiker Thank you for the knowledge. This is a good article.


Communication is very important to me.
We cannot read minds.


From the PSYCHOLOGY TODAY article you posted:

"Men are in a "double-bind" when it comes to expressing emotions. Although men may not always know what they're feeling, there's one thing they’re sure about: They’re convinced they’re in a major double bind. Society encourages men to express their feelings, but when they do, their partners are often petrified, if not horrified. Women, they may believe, want their partners to show their feelings, but only certain feelings, and only in doses they can handle. In fact, results from numerous research studies—as well as clinical experience—tells us that men may be right to be wary of women who implore them to show their true feelings. Men who deviate from the traditional masculine norm by being emotionally expressive and talking about their fears are often judged as being poorly adjusted."

The significance of this statement cannot be overemphasized. 50+ years and 3 marriages in the tank later, I finally realized that my difficulty in retaining relationships stemmed in large part from the dilemma outlined above; and likely can be traceable to what I to this day consider my first serious relationship, which was in high school.

To briefly summarize; I was (at least, I felt I was) deeply in love with a girl named Paula. She was a beautiful girl with a somewhat shy, but endearing personality. We began to get quite serious, and the relationship began to get very physical, though we never actually had sex. We were together for a few months when one day, I believe it was raining that day, I went over to see her. I hadn't called (No cell phones, of course), and don't recall now whether we'd agreed to meet, or not, but when I got to her house, she met me at the door and simply said, "I can't see you anymore." That was one of the worst days of my life. We never talked again. I never got an explanation. Nothing. It was over.

Fear of rejection is major "brick in the wall." Intimacy, emotional, psychological intimacy, in my opinion, is the strongest tether that can bind two people to one another. Once that is dissolved, or rejected, whether real or perceived, deep, deep hurt and anguish can develop. It can be manifest in many ways: anger, a drive to excel, shutting down of those emotions, separation from society in general, in the extreme, or merely living of a life with the constant thought hovering at the edge of conscious awareness that intimacy, and giving in to feelings, i.e., being vulnerable, equals pain. And who wants pain?

I don't know for sure, but in my mind, some, if not a major part of what ultimately transpired had a great deal to do with her being "a good Catholic girl." And I don't blame it all on religion, but I honestly believe it was partially responsible.

Anyway, thanks for bringing up the topic. And to the other guys here who have openly expressed themselves, thanks for the encouragement.


Thank you for your eloquent, heartfelt reply. Well said.

Women, too, struggle with feelings of rejection and fear. For example:

Since age 15, I have been attacked, sexually assaulted, grabbed, kissed against my will, and catcalled by men. Two supervisors tried to rape me before age 21. I managed to break free and run.

Women and girls are not safe in America, and all over the world. In March 2019, I will take a "Women's Self-Defense" class.

I refuse to let a few bad men destroy my opinion of half of the human race.

I am smarter and better than the men who attacked me.

@LiterateHiker the notion of women as chattel doesn't seemed to have changed much through the centuries; but a few of us men have wised up. I was fortunate to have a virtually idyllic childhood (at least until my parents divorced when I was around 11) with very strong and loving women in my life.

Sorry for the tribulations you've been through; I always try to find some solace in the old aphorism, "What doesn't kill you makes you stronger."


Thank you. I appreciate your kind words.

@LiterateHiker just a suggestion. Get involved with one of those "out of the box" mixed martial arts, like pekiti tirsia ( spelling) something that teaches you how to kill someone.
My girl excelled at pekiti in only a year. I would not want to mess with her.
Too bad she wasn't exposed to it in elementary school, would have saved us a ton of grief.


I think most people aren’t taught how to communicate and express themselves. This is especially true with men who are taught their whole lives to suck it up and deal with it. Being intimate and talking about real feelings makes people vulnerable and often uncomfortable as well. Opening your whole self up to someone is scary especially if you are not confident in yourself and who you are. It often takes people going to therapy and talking to someone impartial to get to the core of the person.

THIS^^ and the burden comes from not just how you're raised, but from peer pressure from others who were raised to squash their feelings and not how to express them adequately.


Ok, so this man is someone you have dated. Therefore, I would say there is some foundation of feelings there. If you take his words literally, that's a pretty big statement. That response to your apparently light-hearted question implies to me there is something going on. You know him better than I do so I'll take your assessment that this is his way of telling you he's lonely.

I like to think I'm a pretty clear communicator and if I said something like that I would mean it and would say it in the larger context of a conversation addressing an actual relationship and probably not just fire it off as a reply to a more general question as you posed above. I'm not always good at reading between the lines, but I do think I'm pretty perceptive.


I have never had any problem expressing my feelings.... Only how those expressions are received/perceived. It is something that I continue to work on. It is easy for me to express positive feelings and have them come across effectively. But I need to put more thought sometimes into how I express myself negatively. (IE, the current political climate.) With negative emotion... I tend to just spit out what is on my mind. Not always a good thing.

Something to think about... Sometimes it is not that a man cannot express his feelings. The problem is he doesn't LISTEN so he is not sure what his feelings should be or how to express them.

I am in sales so whenever I do a presentation or sales training I always use "checkbacks" to make sure I am being understood and they are hearing what I am saying and that they understand its meaning.


People Express feelings in different ways and depths. Sounds to me like the problem is less with this guy (he seems to be very consistent in his ways) and more about you! Don't fault someone for not being what you need when clearly they simply don't have the depth you may require... Simply recognize these character preferences in yourself and seek out better matches. What is it they say about trying the same thing over and over yet expecting different results? ?


Nobody is perfect, especially me. Everyone has positive and negative qualities.

He is also kind, generous, a good listener, thoughtful and an extraordinary lover.


Feelings are over-rated.

ducks out of the firing range


Typical of a man to say that.

Stuffing your feelings down into your gut often turns into a ball of cancer 20 years later. That's one reason why men die earlier than women.



At age 19, I saw James Brown perform at a club in Ann Arbor, Michigan. I was attending the University of Michigan. He was great!


Yes. Sorry for my juvenile jokes again. You are probably right about the importance of expressing one's feelings. But at the same time, I will worship at the altars of Dionysus and Apollo at the same time. 🙂 The balance in the universe.


Your whole post makes me feel....



@LiterateHiker no know...its that feeling you get when something happens that makes you wonder about something more going on in the space between us


Translation, please.

@LiterateHiker You are like pee in my wet suit on a cold day surfing. Isn't that clear enough about how I feel towards you?!?!? I don't think I can say it any plainer. Women...jeez.... 😀


Is pee in your wetsuit a good thing? Or are you grossed out?

Scratches head.

@jondspen That deserves two likes, one for funny, and one because I love it.


As far as my feelings go I'm an open book and have no problem expressing them! It makes me a shit liar though I gave up trying long ago! 😀


The same goes for women, you're left guessing. Of course women are much better at expressing their feelings than men; some hide their feelings when talking to men.

I think women have a richer set of feelings than men. I hear women talking about aromas and colors in terms that are challenging for me to understand; I know, aromas and colors are not feelings. However, feelings are sensed just as aromas and colors, so they are similar in that regard.


To a certain degree men are taught not to cry. We have to be stoic and be able to handle what life throws at you. But there is very little training about how to do this.


What I will say is not what I thing is right, it's simply observation of the average and most common.
Men are taught to never show feelings, to never give the others something to explore. It is difficult to change this stonewall behaviour.
More than that we are trained to take care and protect first. And that's how you show the feelings.
If you are in pain or feeling bad, go take care of it by yourself, don't bother the ones you love and don't show a possible competitor that you are in a weak moment.
When you are feeling good, distribute your happiness with the ones you love.
This is hammered down since childhood, a 30 years old man can try but he will never be completely free from this process. The only hope is the next generation.


The fact that you had to ask him if he missed you was a red flag!


Why do you say that? I said it merrily, as a joke. Are you blaming me for his behavior?

@LiterateHiker No, not at all. I didn't mean for it to come across that way. I mean't that if he was the person you wanted him to be, that he would be more forthcoming in his feelings for you...which weighs in on your statement. In other words he should be telling you that he misses you and not put you in a place where you have to ask. Does that make sense?


Yes, your explanation makes sense. Actually, our conversation went like this:

Me: It's good to see you! I missed you. Did you miss me?

Him: When you are gone, there is a hole in my life, and a hole in my heart.

@LiterateHiker ...and I agree men do seem to have problems with their feelings. I love it when I meet men who feel strong enough as a person/man to show their emotions.


Lets see, does teasing count. We teased each other a lot and often said the opposite of what was expected. Like did you miss me? Were you gone? Often when she was gone (she was gone a lot) I would make a nice meal for when she returned. Sometimes she would ask, when are you going somewhere? When I did she told me the first few days it was nice having some alone time but then after that she missed me. It was exactly the same for me.


Yes this is a frustration I have with my male FWBs at the moment. He sucks at communication and against all odds, I try to get him to open up. Interestingly, he opens up when we are arguing to one up me or when I become more distant from him. ughh super introverts :/


Im currently in a relationship and he is very expressive with his feelings. I like it cause im emotional as well. He doesnt go overboard and he is more restrained in public.

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