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  • Javier Coronel

Men's Mental Health: The Desire to Feel Heard

Updated: Oct 18, 2022

Something I've always appreciated throughout the course of my 23 years of life are the differences between men and women. Studies have shown that women bond with other women through the expression of emotions, while men bond with other men through activity based experiences such as playing sports. This is not to say that this is the case for everyone, it's just the case for most individuals.

However, because men naturally gravitate towards bonding through activities, expressing emotions with another man doesn't come as natural as it does for women with other women. Even now, looking back at my childhood I can't say I truly felt comfortable expressing how I felt with the guys I was closest to. This was unintentional too as I never went into those relationships wanting to be closed off. It just comes natural to men. Because of this, a feeling that has haunted me throughout the course of my life is not feeling heard. Feeling misunderstand by everyone sounds cliché but it was the case for me. I've never fully expressed myself to almost anyone in my life and the few times I have it ended up in a disaster that took me some time to recover from. This isn't unique to me however as when you do a little research you quickly find out that it's the case for the vast majority of men. Reddit is one of the largest platforms on the internet where people are allowed to post anonymously granting them the ability of full expression. With the safety of Reddit, posters and commenters are able to reveal as little or as much to the world as they desire. Relationships have been destroyed because of it. Crimes have been solved through it. Mysteries have appeared through it. Reddit is a truly magnificent tool that as a man interested in mental health awareness have found wonderful examples, tools, resources, etc.

Explore enough pages and you'll notice just how common it is for men to feel like they cannot truly express themselves to anyone, not even their significant other. I've seen men express feelings of feeling trapped and not knowing how to truly be themselves because of how long they have gone repressing themselves. It's sad. There's entire posts of men supporting other men on reddit over these feelings as we all unfortunately seem to be well versed in these emotions and states of mind. So what can we do about it?

It doesn't come natural to most men. It's not talked about by men. It's not talked about by women. Overall, it's nothing more than a mere ghost that affects the living. So what CAN we do? Well I personally believe it needs to be addressed from many different angles.

On the men's side, we need to make other men feel comfortable with expressing themselves around us. Telling another man you're not doing well shouldn't be such as rarity that it's called out and praised for when it happens. Imagine if women did that; that would be insane! It's something I truly admire in women as it's an ability I've always worked on within myself but still seem to be below most women in terms of how good I am at it. Every time I do a mental check to see how vulnerable I allow myself to be with others, I'm almost always disappointed in myself. It's something we as men have to constantly remind ourselves to chip at.

On the women's side I believe there needs to be the creation of a space where we can feel ourselves. This is not to say women should feel responsible for how men feel; they're not. I'm merely proposing that in situations such as platonic friendships or romantic relationships to find ways to allow each other to freely express yourself however you feel fit. I'll always have love in my heart for this woman and I'll never speak a single bad word about her, but when my last relationship ended the day I opened up to her about my depression, it broke me. Prior to her, I can't think of the last person who made me feel like I could truly be myself with them and for me to get that reaction when I was at my lowest point in my entire life, I was devastated. I questioned whether I did the wrong thing in allowing myself to be vulnerable. In allowing my emotions to come out. In allowing someone to know how I truly feel. It's something I struggled with a lot and I know that it's not wrong to allow yourself to show vulnerability but sometimes as a man it's hard to feel like it's okay. I never received clarity on why she reacted to it in the manner that she did and I never will but I just know that I can't allow it to poison the potential of me being vulnerable with someone else in the future. The relationship between men and women can be beautiful in many aspects and I feel that creating a space where you allow the other person to feel comfortable being themselves that it would only benefit the relationship.

As a society, we need to normal men having and expressing emotions. From all portions of the emotional spectrum. Happy. Sad. Excited. Overwhelmed. You get the the idea. That's all I really have to say in that regard.

My final thoughts on the matter are this; if you're a man struggling with the feeling of not being heard, I suggest you lean on those groups mentioned earlier such as the pages on reddit where men are allowed to express themselves amongst each other. You don't even have to participate; simply reading through it might help and if so, that's great! All of us in society should work on making others feel like proud of being themselves rather than ashamed. This would result in less emotions/thoughts being bottled up that I believe would benefit us all in society. Especially during a time or turmoil like the one where we're currently living in.

As always, if you need someone to talk to please refer to my contact form and I will do my best to reply as promptly as possible. Sending love to everyone reading this.

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