You Can’t Ask For Honesty From Men — And Then Demonize It

Letting your partner be vulnerable without fear may heal your relationship.

Man feeling down with concerned woman - YuriArcurs | Canva

I’ll start by saying that yes, a lot of men are emotionally stunted. They don’t always know how to communicate constructively, even with their long-time partners, and sometimes they lash out in unhealthy ways. This is obviously not good. 

This article is not about feeling sorry for men or letting abusive men off the hook. It’s just sharing a perspective as a man who has watched other men self-destruct.


One of the biggest criticisms about men I read from women is that men are shut off, and don’t know how to express themselves. They’re not wrong. I am still struggling to shed the shackles of stoicism that I’ve been carrying around since childhood. I know first-hand that men holding in their feelings for years can have some pretty dire consequences, possibly leading to anxiety and depression.

However, here’s the thing. If you want your man to open up to you, you have to offer a safe space for him to do so. 

For example, if he tells you he’s feeling sad or depressed, your first conclusion should not be that it’s your fault. If a man thinks he will trigger you with his issues, then he’s probably not going to communicate them to you.


Instead, offer to talk to him about it, even if part of the problem is you. After all, no relationship is perfect. If he feels able to tell you some things you’re doing or saying that are hurting him, then you should accept it and work on it.

Otherwise, resentment can build, which can lead to angry outbursts or sexual infidelity. (For the record, I don’t condone cheating. It rarely has a positive outcome. But I understand how some people who feel shut out by their partners might turn to this.)

RELATED: 3 Sweet Ways To Make A Guy Feel Safe With You

Men’s desires are not slights against you

On the subject of sex, women should also be more open to hearing what their partner wants in the bedroom. Instead of being jealous or even annoyed by your man’s fantasies, you can use it to your advantage.


Ask yourself this: Do I have fantasies that I haven’t shared with my partner?

If so, you’re probably holding back due to fear they will be ill-received. However, if you let your man open up about what he wants, then it may open the door to ask for what you want as well.

In fact, I think women will lead the next sexual revolution, becoming more confident in meeting their own needs. This doesn’t mean that men need to be shut out of the equation. Quite the opposite, actually.

Just because a man fantasizes about a certain scenario, it doesn’t mean he’s not attracted to you anymore. It could be his inherent belief that if he shares his deepest fantasies, you’ll label him as a pervert.


However, by letting him express himself, you may discover some untapped desire in the bedroom. Maybe he’s into a certain type of kink he didn’t think you’d be into (but you are.) By having these conversations, it gives you a chance to see inside his head, and also for you to share your own feelings. It also opens the (bedroom) door to more satisfying love.

Listen, I know a lot of men need to change. They refuse to look at themselves with a critical eye, instead blaming women and/or society for their undoing. They need to understand that they are not entitled to anything, and that includes women.

RELATED: 5 Ways Men Can Get Comfortable With Their Emotions — & Build Way Deeper Relationships

Women may hold the key to better men

On the flip side, if women want men to improve, they need to be part of the process.


That means not shaming them for opening up about what they want, or what’s bothering them. Sure, their complaint may be unfair or ridiculous, but you won’t have any chance to solve it unless you invite dialogue.

Men have been conditioned by the patriarchy to expect certain things from life — good jobs and women being among them — and now are being shut down. They have two choices: either to throw a tantrum or to try and sort out how they feel. If you’ve locked the door to the latter option, then they will likely turn to the first. Or, in some cases, they may just leave.

Suicide rates are high among men, and I think it has a lot to do with not fully understanding their place anymore. They are no longer the sole breadwinners in many cases. They are learning to take on more household and parenting responsibilities, but it takes time to undo outdated expectations of women.

I know that sounds like I’m making an excuse for men being cranky, but all I’m saying is that we’re in a period of adjustment in gender roles. It’s not all going to happen overnight.


This whole thing has left many men lonely and bitter. Men don’t feel like they can talk about their shortfalls, for fear of being seen as weak.

Men need to understand that speaking about their issues with their partner (or a therapist) is brave, not weak. A lot of men who were taught to hold it all in growing up will need courage to open up and may need you to give them a gentle push.

As this insightful article from Ossiana Tepfenhart points out, men are often shamed when they ask for help or how to improve their relationships. Tepfenhart writes, "Too many women I know say they want a man to show their emotions, but balk when their boyfriends cry. That’s not okay and it’s a sign of a toxic mindset in a woman."

Younger men need more positive male role models, but they also need some more understanding from women. This is not to say that toxic behavior from men should be tolerated, but it also means not putting up a wall as soon as he shows some vulnerability.


Men don’t need to constantly hear they’re not living up to standards. As Ossiana also states, they need more guidance on how to improve.

RELATED: 5 Easy Ways To Get A Man To Be Vulnerable With You

Communication is give and take

I sense the younger generations of men are adapting to women’s needs naturally as society shifts, but men of all ages are also swallowing the red pill in large quantities in protest.


I think overall that the patriarchy is slowly crumbling, and I think it will be good for everyone. However, while it does, some men are suffering in silence. Let your man know they can talk to you, even if it’s something they fear will put you off. At least in that case, you both know where you stand and can decide on a strategy.

Understand how much strength it takes for most men to break traditional routines and share openly with you. Admire his honesty, even if you’re just a listening ear. Men (particularly those of us from Gen X) were taught to be a strong shoulder to cry on, not the opposite. It will take some undoing and acceptance.

In the meantime, fellas: it’s time to stop being so angry about everything not going your way, and instead start looking inward.

It’s time to push past barriers that are stunting your communication.


It’s time to understand that by talking about your problems, you’re much more likely to solve them — hopefully with the support of your significant other.

RELATED: Why Men Are Misunderstood And Don't Show Emotion

Jeff Hayward is a writer and photographer/visual artist based in Hamilton, Ontario. He’s had his work featured by The Good Men Project, Medium, The Hamilton Spectator, CBC Hamilton, and others.