Over the years I’ve met many men who seem to have it together on the surface. But when I really get to know them I find out they’re lonely, or feel like they’re dying inside.
These days it’s become apparent to me that adult life is full of responsibility, which can include stress, struggle and chaos. But our culture doesn’t make it easy for you, to show your pain. Or for that matter to show fear, sadness, loss or anxiety…with anyone, let alone women!
Women say they want a man who will be genuine and let them in. But then I hear men say “When I let her in on what was really going on she pulled away, got upset or even acted disgusted with me.”
So how can you relate in a genuine way that allows you to be connected and supported?
Pretending everything is peachy or faking an “I’ve got it all together” attitude doesn’t create connection or get you the support and care you need. But sharing your darkness with a willing listener isn’t a guarantee of support or compassion either.
Sharing pain and struggle in a balanced way — a way that creates connection AND gets you the care you need — is an art-form. Here are a few things that will help as you share what’s vulnerable for you:
- Remember You’re Amazing: There is more to you than whatever you’re feeling right now. There’s no need to make yourself wrong, prove you’re good or apologize for what you’re feeling. Adding self-criticism to your feelings can have others feel pressured, like you NEED them to fix you. When you can remember you’re a good person, while you share vulnerability, there’s less drama and people are less likely to pull away.
- Communicate and Set Context For Your Needs: You can step into a level of emotional mastery where you have your feelings, know your needs and navigate connection, all at the same time! If you’re new to this, cut yourself some slack and make note that this is possible. Start with: 1. What am I feeling? 2. What do I need/want? 3. How do I want to communicate this? Whether you need a hug, someone to listen while you vent, or even time apart…the clearer you are about what you need, the better someone will be able to support you. If you don’t know what you need a great starting place is to ask for help figuring that out together.
- Check Availability: The time when you’re struggling may coincide with a time when someone else is struggling too. If you don’t check to see, a dynamic can happen where you feel dropped or rejected because the other person really doesn’t have the bandwidth. While it would be ideal if someone was available exactly when you need it, you can save yourself a lot of heartache by finding out s/he’s not!
- Have a Network: Bringing your upset to the same person, every time, can drain a connection or relationship. When you have a couple people — friends or professionals — to spread out the load, you lessen the risk of burning someone out.
All this said, I’m guilty of not following my own advice. I’ve often criticized myself, been unclear about what I wanted or forgotten to check on someone’s availability. So please have compassion for yourself and hold these as ways to get more of what you want and need, rather than something else to beat yourself up for.
My desire for you is that you are cared for and supported with your struggles and pain, rather than holding them alone. I am clear that you don’t have to live with feelings of aloneness or that sense that you’re dying inside. If you need support, I’m here.