Even though sadness feels the same for both women and men, the reaction to sadness is quite different. As I said in my previous article, What To Do When The Woman You Love Is Sad, sadness is an experience that needs to be felt, understood, accepted and released. It’s a healthy process that allows us to transform sadness into wisdom.
When they experience sadness, most men tend to close themselves, become rigid, less communicative, and sometimes even rude. This does not apply to all. Some men know their feelings and have learnt how to work with them gently. I believe we enter an area in which suppressed feelings can no longer be held under leash, so we want to learn how to deal with them and regain our inner peace.
Over decades, women were conditioned to feel small and insignificant while men were forced to suppress their emotions. We live in a world where extremes often cause us suffering, health problems, loneliness and disconnection. Being over-emotional or indifferent are two extremes that often live under the same roof, so we need to create a balance between them. We want to learn to be emotional and firm at the same time.
Women know in their gut that talking about a situation can diminish its intensity and make it less heavy. Men are not used to expressing their feelings, worries and concerns, so it’s complicated for them to start talking. They lack the expressions to communicate what they feel. Yes, they know the words, but let’s face it, how often do you hear a man saying, “Today, I experienced such intense emotions at the office. I felt stressed, angry, disappointed and lonely. All-day, I thought about what happened, and now I feel exhausted and sad.” More often, we hear “It’s not a big deal, it will pass” or “I just feel a little tired.”
So, what do we do when such moments arise? Take a look at these seven insights and if you resonate with them, put them into practice and see how it goes.
1. Ask a few questions
Not too many, just a few for you to have a glimpse of what is happening.
I believe you are familiar with the expression “boys don’t cry.” Sadness, happiness, anger, fear, trust are all part of the human experience. It doesn’t matter if you are a woman or a man. We all feel these emotions. The difference lies in the way we learned to react to them. Men tend to close themselves out and try stuffing their feelings inside because this is the way they know how to deal with them.
Take a step back, and let’s have an imagination exercise. Try to see your partner when he was a child, playing with his bicycle, for example. At one point, he loses his balance and falls, rubbing his knees. His knees hurt, his palms sting, and he is a little scared from the fall. He cries. His father comes, helps him get up and says, “Oh, don’t be such a girl. It’s not a big deal. It will pass.”
If we analyse the words and the message sent, we can see that there is a comparison between genders and that a subtle idea that girls are weak is implemented in the boy’s mind “Oh, don’t be such a girl.”
They didn’t discuss his feelings, and the fact that he was scared and needed comfort, passed unnoticed, “it’s not a big deal.” He was forced to deal with his feelings by himself.
Also, the resolution of the situation is placed somewhere in the future – it will pass. The present moment and his feelings didn’t get the necessary attention. He was thrown somewhere in the future where everything should be ok at some point. Yes, everything will be fine at one point, but for this to happen, the present moment and the situation needs to be felt, addressed, understood and released. Now, think about how many times this kind of situation happened throughout his life. Come back in the present and look at your partner through these lenses.
There are times when you felt that your partner didn’t sympathise with a situation you went through? Did he ever told you, “why are you so stressed? It’s not a big deal” or something similar? If the answer is yes, then now you know where they came from. These are the patterns that govern some of his reactions.
Return to the starting point while having all this in mind. Ask a few questions, read between the lines what is happening with him, and you will know what to do next.
2. Be peaceful
You will want to take a few seconds for yourself and enter a peaceful state. These kinds of moments in which your partner experiences sadness can be overwhelming and challenging to deal with. We want all the best for our partners, and when they suffer, we suffer along with them. This is a sign of empathy and care. We, as women, are more familiar with understanding our feelings. We also know how to deal with them naturally, we cry and we let our emotions unfold. Furthermore, we analyse, we express, we forgive, and we release.
Still, this can sometimes be a blind spot for us because the situation we address when our partners are sad is not a normal one. In most cases, we deal with a peculiar situation in which our partners are disconnected from themselves and their feelings. So what is normal for us is very strange for them.
This is where we want to rise above and see the situation from different perspectives to have a proper approach. Now we begin to understand what our role is in this journey through his sadness.
First of all, we want to encourage them to feel what they feel. Sadness is one of our best teachers, and if we dive deep inside her, we can find something that nothing and no one could ever explain or give us. Something so personal and transformative that will wipe away any kind of emotion we had until then. A change that would even make us feel grateful for the experience.
No one told us how to deal with sadness or any other kind of feelings. We developed this protection mechanism in which we run away, and distract ourselves by any means in order to not feel sad. This is because we don’t know how to cope with our emotions.
Therefore we can share our wisdom and understanding about emotions and offer our partners gentle support. But to do so, we want to be at peace with ourselves, so we can have clarity and patience to face the challenges we will encounter.
3. Do your magic
After you figure out what is happening, start creating a peaceful and balanced atmosphere. This is something that works at a subtle level. Calm and clean environments help us to relieve stress and be happier.
Put a few drops of lavender into a diffuser, make a tea or just give him a massage to help him loosen up a bit and to shift his focus to his body instead of his problem. Do everything that you know will help him relax. When we are relaxed, the stressful situation in which we find ourselves is less oppressive and much clearer.
4. Connect through touch
Skin-to-skin contact is vital for our mental, physical and emotional health. When we feel snowed and under pressure, our bodies release cortisol which is a stress hormone. One of the biggest things touch can do is to reduce the level of cortisol released in our bodies while also allowing the immune system to work properly.
However, when the man next to us is experiencing sadness, it can be challenging to connect with him because he tends to shut down and reject any kind of interaction. In this case, our actions and gestures need to be as subtle and gentle as our souls. We can naturally touch his hand, place our hand gently on his back, caress his face and if you feel it’s ok, hug him. Hug him with your arms but especially with your soul. Close your eyes and imagine how you embrace him with all the love you have for him. This is a powerful visualisation exercise that will help both of you.
These kind of actions work on a subtle level, don’t expect him to come running into your arms suddenly. But do trust that these little sparkles of comfort build a bridge of trust and communication between you two. When he will be ready, he will come into the arms that offered him comfort.
This is how you build trust and a genuine connection in your relationship. These are important moments for both of you because now you align yourself with the profound meaning of a man and a woman’s relationship.
When Christian and I went through such a moment, it wasn’t easy at all. I had my old patterns. He had his old patterns, and this dance was quite tiring for me. But once we decide to act differently, despite our egotistical traits, the transformation and connection between us met a new dimension.
Once you open this door, it will be much easier to navigate future events with more awareness and openness.
5. Watch out for a perfect moment
Don’t expect him to come to you and say that he wants to speak his heart out as we do. The way men come to talk to us is much subtle and bypassing. You will want to pay attention to everything, his gesture, his words, his eyes. He will start speaking about a different subject just to get to a point where he will start talking about the real issue.
Or he will stay near you, asking all sorts of irrelevant questions that have nothing to do with the motive of his sadness. Now it’s a good time to ask light but on-topic questions like:
- I’ve noticed that something is bothering you. Is it true?
- Do you want to talk about it?
- If the answer is NO, you stop right there and go back to number 4.
- If the answer is yes or unclear, go further with the questions.
- What happened? Let him speak until he finishes, interrupt his flow only if you have questions that will help you understand the situation.
- What do you feel about this?
- How did you think to approach the situation?
- If you have an idea or an opinion, address it with a question. Have you thought of…? Did you try to…? But it’s best to let him ask you if he needs your opinion.
Spotting the right moment in which he decides to go with the flow and have the conversation is quite important. Not being so familiar with talking about their emotions, the moment can feel tense and awkward sometimes. Still, these questions invite to a discussion in a gentle manner that helps him open up and talk about his thoughts and feelings.
6. Speak less, listen more
Our role in this process is to act as guides. To create the proper environment for our partners to speak and hear themselves out. As you already know, an idea sounds in a way in our heads, but most of the time, some crucial aspects can shift when we speak it out. Most of the work is done if we can just create an environment where they can hear their thoughts.
You will want to listen to him actively. Active listening means listening intently to gain understanding instead of passively hearing what the other person is saying.
You can try a communication technique called Mirroring. Mirroring helps you move from observation to question. First, you state what you observe about the other person. For example, “You seem sad today.” Then you ask a follow-up question. You could ask, “Is there something bothering you?”
Another technique you could use is Paraphrasing. Paraphrasing helps ensure you understood what the other person said. You paraphrase by summarizing what you heard in your own words. For example, you could say, “So what you said is…” or “What I’m hearing is…” and then fill in the blank.
7. Don’t take it personally
An essential part of this process is not to take it personally. If he decides to open up at one point or remain closed, have in mind that there are two people involved. There are two dancers, and each has to do his/her part of giving and receiving. You can not give and also receive in his place.
So you want to respect his decision, even if the decision is unconscious, and not force him. You focus on your part, emotions, reactions, and gestures and don’t get caught in his sadness. Pay attention to this subtle dance and let your partner make some moves too. I believe this is the hardest part of all, but it is also the most important.
His sadness is trying to teach him something, and he has to deal with it. It’s not your job to fix it or even to understand it completely. As I said above, our job is to be guides, to be that guardian angel who always wants his best, and offer support in the journey of self-understanding.
Walking with someone in sadness is not an easy thing to do. It requires patience, awareness, intuition and communication skills. It can also be a declaration of love and trust on both sides if they work together and not against each other out of love for each other. When this happens, the connection they form can transform the relationship.
I do believe that we are here to help, support and love one another. Even though suffering is sometimes necessary and part of our more profound understanding, none of us wants to see our loved one suffering. What we can do, though, is to walk that path together and ease our journeys. Weight is lighter when carried in two.
We want to start bringing more awareness, compassion and openness in the moments of suffering because, in those moments, we can truly and deeply expand ourselves and our relationships.
If you found this information to be helpful, please leave a comment below. I will be more than happy to read your thoughts, and I will appreciate your support and trust.
Remember to love yourself,