What Does It Mean When Your Boyfriend Doesn't Know How to Express His Feelings to You?

Your boyfriend may struggle to express his feelings because of stress in any part of his life.
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When your boyfriend does not know how to express his feelings to you, this can put a serious strain on your relationship. You may find yourself wondering how to respond to him and feel like you are “walking on eggshells” because you are unsure how he is feeling about your relationship and other aspects of his life. The reasons behind your boyfriend’s inability to express his feelings can vary greatly, however. In some instances, men are simply not used to talking about feelings. In other instances, they may hold back emotions because they are feeling confused or uncertain.

1 Communication Skills

One reason your boyfriend may have difficulty expressing his feelings is poor communication skills. In other words, he simply may not know how to talk about his experiences and emotions. He may lack effective communication skills if he came from a family that did not talk about their feelings or problems. If this is the case, his communication skills may improve if you are emotionally expressive and create a nonjudgmental, safe space for him to share his feelings.

2 Relationship Experience

If your boyfriend has not had many girlfriends before you, it is possible he is not aware of the importance of communicating feelings when you are in a relationship. By letting him know that you value his feelings, he may start to open up and be more emotionally responsive. Likewise, if your boyfriend has had bad experiences in past relationships, including those he had with his parents as a child, he may be afraid of emotional intimacy, explains psychologist Seth Meyers in his Psychology Today article, "Fear of Intimacy in Men: Cause, Relationship Problems, Tips."

3 Uncertain Emotions

If your boyfriend is having complex or uncertain feelings about your relationship, he may be reluctant to share those emotions with you. For example, if you have recently become serious as a couple and he is feeling nervous about the level of commitment, he might be holding back those feelings. Likewise, if your boyfriend has unresolved issues from past relationships, he may be hiding his feelings to protect you or may just be waiting to sort them out before he talks to you.

4 Personality Traits

Some people—and many men, in particular—tend to value thoughts over feelings, explains psychologist Charles R. Martin in the Huffington Post article, “The Mystery of Sensitive Men and Spock-Logic Women.” If your boyfriend is a “thinking type” he may be open about sharing ideas and opinions, but struggle to talk about how your relationship and other things in his life affect him. While you cannot change your boyfriend’s personality, if he does not value emotional expression the same way you do, this is something you will need to consider as you decide whether you can live with this.

Anna Green has been published in the "Journal of Counselor Education and Supervision" and has been featured regularly in "Counseling News and Notes," Keys Weekly newspapers, "Travel Host Magazine" and "Travel South." After earning degrees in political science and English, she attended law school, then earned her master's of science in mental health counseling. She is the founder of a nonprofit mental health group and personal coaching service.