Why Guys Don’t Talk About Their Problems

Growing up in a mostly single-parent household, I frequently learned to handle situations that I found myself getting to. It wasn’t because of a lack of presence from either parent, or a misplaced sense of authority — I just believed that I knew my situation better than anyone else did. For this reason, I signed my John Hancock on notes meant for my parents in second grade. I scrupulously talked teachers out of handing me failing grades that I did really deserve. I enrolled at a second college after I found out I needed to hit a certain GPA threshold to continue pursuing higher academic education.

Hey, I never said some of these decisions were smart.

Since I’ve been in a relationship, I’ve held a constant debate with my girlfriend involving my willingness to share my problems with her. I assumed that this was an isolated incident — set in my way because of my childhood experiences. She quickly corrects me, saying that a majority of guys are like that. We hate divulging what’s on our minds if its worrisome. Her eyebrows scrunch together tightly at the end of our conversations because it bothers her. As much as I hate to see that, there’s nothing I can do about it. Sometimes as a guy, as anyone with this particular mindset, telling people about your problems isn’t what you believe to be the best.

It seems to be hard to understand so I decided to try and break it down so that maybe, just maybe, the next time you come across an emotionally distant guy who’s bothered by something, you’ll support them as they try to get over it instead of pestering them to spill the beans.

We like solving our own problems

Maybe it’s the machismo granted to us by our vistas of testosterone, but the thrill of solving something by ourselves makes the morning air taste delicious. When there’s something on the table that we don’t have the answer to, finding the answer, and then implementing it , gives us the confidence to do it over and over again.

Think about it similar to solving a math problem. The instructor is there to help you in the event that you can’t complete the problem right? But they aren’t supposed to — they’re supposed to let you try your best so that you can apply that thought process over and over again when needed. Would you want an instructor breathing down your neck every time you appear not to understand a problem?

Life story: When I was 19 years old, money was scarce in my life. A situation arose where I needed to raise a lot of money in a short amount of time. I stressed about it, day in and day out, and my girlfriend could read it within the forming wrinkle lines on my brow. She’d constantly ask me what’s wrong, and each time, I didn’t have an answer. I did, but what she wanted to hear would just upset her. That’s what I didn’t want to happen. I put on the best smile that I could manage under the circumstances and took the strides to increase my income.

Eventually, I made the money by selling some of my most prized possessions: my Jordan shoe collection. Once I had the money in hand, I told my significant other about my problem and what I did to solve it. She was appalled, more sad than angry. She wished that I would have came to her sooner because she would have been able to help so that I wouldn’t have to sell some of my favorite shoes. That’s exactly why I didn’t tell her. It would have been the easy way out and I wanted to make my own way out of it.

We don’t want to burden

There are 7.4 billion living, breathing, and reproducing humans on this planet. As I type this, at least four babies are born each second. 355,000 babies launch out of their mother’s womb each day. Each and every person walking, or crawling, the face of this Earth has their own set of problems to contend with. I grew up and still live in a relatively middle class neighborhood and have no serious wants, so I know that I am very fortunate compared to other people who don’t have it as good around the world. With all of this being said, why would I project a problem, that may not be that serious in the first place, on someone else who has things to figure out for themselves?

It would feel selfish of me to tell you that I feel like I gained five pounds of fat in the last five days. While you worry about your future or what you’ll have for lunch tomorrow, would you really want to hear me complain about what I ate yesterday and how I think it made me just a tinge fatter?

Society tells us we should figure things out

The male stigma given to us by traditional society is extremely damaging, making us believe that we are more alone than what we really are. It’s shocking that I can understand that the stigma is messed up, yet I still perpetuate it.

The way society tells it, as a man if you have a problem, suck it up and solve it. People aren’t going to help you because they don’t want to. Also, you’re a pussy if you get help because society says so. Solve that shit yourself or you’ll lose.

Need evidence of this? Take a look at some of the biggest movies of the last ten years. Secrets usually permeate the backbone of some of the biggest thrillers and action movies that constitute our box office. In Inception, which released in 2010, Dom (Leonardo DiCaprio) feels guilty about the death of his wife from mental experiments he did on her when they were stuck in a dream world. Later, when he enlists a team to help him with a dream heist of sorts, he meets a woman named Ariadne (Ellen Page)who he instantly takes a liking to, in a paternal sort of way. She senses something is wrong, but instead of telling her, she has to piece it together from talking to other crew members and drawing conclusions for herself.

In Ozarks, a new Netflix drama that depicts a money-laundering financial advisor’s attempts to run a scam in Missouri, Marty (Jason Bateman) finds out that his wife is cheating on him. He’s visibly disturbed, watching the video he obtains from a private investigator detailing the lustful encounter, as much as he can — even while he’s in the same room with his wife — unbeknownst to her. She asks him repeatedly what’s wrong, noting that he’s quieter than usual. Each time, he brushes it off and keeps going. He’d rather solve the problem himself then bring it to her, which in this case, is the right thing to do.

In both cases, both men felt that if they were to approach these women with their problems then they would be emasculated. In the second case, a character even remarks on this, saying that Marty will have to ask his wife and live with his disappointment for confronting her. With thought processes like these being considered the norm, it’s no wonder that guys like to keep their problems close to the chest.

Don’t like showing weakness

In most cases, guys are supposed to offer the emotional foundation for their partner to lay their head on. Society dictates that we are the rock that our partners can lean on so that they feel protected and ready for the world. Part of this comes from not having any visible weaknesses so that people can’t see the cracked exterior.

When we start to open up and talk about things that bother us, we’re shown to be less than impenetrable. The stone fortress that we’ve erected to defend our hearts now has visibly weak areas where rocks are beginning to crumble. For a lot of guys, it’s a scary phenomenon that can cause problems down the line in the relationship. With an unknown outcome of that magnitude, problems that we have usually tend to just stay mental in nature.

Talking may not help

Sometimes our problems may not even be able to be solved by talking to a partner. It doesn’t necessarily mean that they aren’t important, but since nothing can be gained by mentioning it, there’s no reason to even bring it up.

This is common for large financial problems such as student loans, car down payments, etc. Even if we were to bring it up to our partner, 9 times out of ten they wouldn’t be able to offer the monetary assistance needed to fix the problem. That tenth time where they can help? We won’t want to take it because accepting handouts isn’t in our nature.

Talking also vocalizes a problem, and speaking it aloud makes it all the more serious. So us refraining from mentioning it might be a coping mechanism so that we don’t give it more brain power than it deserves. It’s a complex thought process, but it can help us to come to terms with it when we’re ready. Speaking about it prematurely can cause even more stress.

Don’t like worrying our partner

The last reason that guys don’t tell our partners about our problems is that when it can’t be solved, why even worry you with it? Why should we send you to bed with yet another problem etched into your brain?

Back to the financial problem, say we tell our partner about it and they aren’t able to offer the assistance, or they can but we don’t want to take it. Now they have to worry that we’re unhappy because of this problem and there’s nothing they can do to fix it. The end result of this is that we both are burdened by a problem that has nothing to do with my partner and it could affect our relationship in a negative manner.

Problems come in many shapes and forms and when they afflict guys who’d rather handle them themselves,in most cases it’s best to let them operate on their own. In many situations we are thinking with everyone’s best interest in mind. So, I ask you, step back and let us figure out or problems and grow from our mistakes.

When we’re ready, we’ll let you know what’s wrong or how we solved it. We almost always do. Until then, please trust us to make the best decisions for both of our livelihoods. You won’t regret it.