“I DON’T have emotions. I’m not like YOU.” My most recent relationship revolved around this concept. My boyfriend would remind me, time and time again, that I was overly emotional, which is something he couldn’t understand since he had “no emotions.” Men don’t have emotions, right? Real men don’t cry.
This is SUCH a problem. Society has taught men that having emotions is “too feminine” and if they display emotions, men are told to “grow a pair.” Thanks to this stigma, men are bottling emotions and are less likely to seek help for mental illness. According to Dr. Robert Whitley at the Douglas Hospital Research Center, men account for 75% of all suicide victims in the United States, with an average of one man taking his own life every 20 seconds. That’s 3 men every minute. 180 men every hour. 4,320 men everyday – in the United States alone. Dr. Whitley also shared that around the world, men are 3 to 7.5 times more likely than women to take their own lives.
Image Source: EveryDay Health
But wait – real men don’t have emotions…right?
Growing up, society tells men that they’re supposed to be tough: don’t cry, don’t show weakness in public, and show no emotions – unless it’s anger. In which case, someone probably “deserves it.” This is probably why my partner had to remind me, over and over again, that he is not like me. He is not emotional. Because God forbid he seems vulnerable – or even worse – not manly enough.
Showing emotions is a sign of weakness with today’s society. Society depicts girls crying over everything – emotions can’t be taken seriously. If a girl is crying, the first thing brought up is, “Maybe it’s her time of the month.”
Jokes on you, society. Research shows that individuals who are strongest in emotional intelligence are more likely to succeed than those who are strongest in either IQ or previous career experience. You read that right.
Emotional people are successful people.
So how can we fix it? How can we change the story to ALLOWING men to express emotions? Here’s how you can help change the stigma:
- Avoid using (and call out the people using) toxic phrases that discourage men from displaying emotion. Here are a few:
• Boys don’t cry!
• You throw like a girl.
• Be a man.
• Get over it.
- Research so you can recognize the symptoms.
Familiarize yourself with the symptoms of mental health disorders in men. Some symptoms of depression in men are:
• Eating disorders
• Sadness or anger expressed through rage
• Increased irritability
• Lack of interest in family and friends
- Be a person they can trust.
If a man is expressing emotional feelings to you, help him by being a confidant. Assure him that he can trust you and that you can be there for him, no matter what the issue is.
Be part of the solution, not the problem.
If you are feeling suicidal or need help, call the toll-free National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. They are available 24/7 and all calls are confidential. The lifeline is open to everyone.