Can I Talk About My Emotions With My Girlfriend?

Emotions are a tricky topic for everyone- it's not just a guy thing.
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Opening up emotionally has an element of risk -- you cannot know for sure how the other person will respond. This makes it a frightening step to take in any relationship, but there is no chance of real intimacy without some type of emotional openness. How your girlfriend responds when you talk about your feelings may depend on her beliefs and attitudes about emotion.

1 Stereotypes and Expectations

Many people expect men and women to handle their emotions differently based on traditional stereotypes. Women are expected to be more emotionally open, sensitive and vulnerable. Men are expected to be stoic, emotionally reserved and not eager to talk about their feelings. A variation on this stereotype allows for the existence of so-called "sensitive men" who are more emotionally open, but sensitive men are sometimes viewed as less masculine. If your girlfriend expects you to conform to traditional expectations of masculinity, she might find it difficult to deal with if you express strong feelings.

2 Strong, Silent and Alienated

The problem with traditional expectations of masculinity is that everybody has strong emotions. The only way to remain perfectly stoic on the outside is to cut yourself off from your feelings on the inside. The effort to keep your emotions to yourself can eventually make you feel emotionally distant in all situations, losing the ability to really experience your own life.

3 Sensitively Insensitive

Just because it can be harmful to compartmentalize your emotions does not mean that it is always helpful to express them freely. For instance, if your girlfriend has to work late and you don't get to see much of her, you might feel lonely or even insecure. If you express this by acting clingy and asking for reassurance, she may feel anxious and trapped. She might wonder whether you are trying to manipulate her by making her feel guilty. If you are sensitive about your emotions but insensitive about hers, she is not likely to respond in a way that will make you feel better.

4 It's Not About Gender

Despite the stereotypes, the reality is that both men and women can be emotionally sensitive and open -- or stoic and reserved. Your girlfriend probably wants to be close to you, so she wants you to talk about how you feel. But she doesn't want you to be insecure or clingy. You can find a happy medium by telling her what is going on in your emotional life, while making it clear that you are responsible for your feelings.

Scott Thompson has been writing professionally since 1990, beginning with the "Pequawket Valley News." He is the author of nine published books on topics such as history, martial arts, poetry and fantasy fiction. His work has also appeared in "Talebones" magazine and the "Strange Pleasures" anthology.