Do you find it difficult for the man your with to express his feelings? Does he always appear emotionally distant? Well your not alone. There are many women who are dealing with this same issue. To help learn about emotionally distant men and how to communicate with them I have interviewed therapist Laura Allan, MA, LMHCA, CPC.
Tell me a little bit about yourself?
“I am a psychotherapist and life coach with a private practice in Seattle, Washington. I specialize in working with couples, and working with individuals with depression, people who are interested in a career change, and individuals who want to enhance their lives through personal and spiritual growth.”
What are some signs of a man who is emotionally distant?
“I haven’t previously run across the term “emotionally distant,” but I’m interpreting that as unable to connect, or uncomfortable with connecting, on an emotional level. This person may avoid talking about feelings by using humor to deflect, continually returning to a superficial level of conversation, or criticizing the person asking them to talk about feelings (another way of deflecting).”
Why is it that some men are emotionally distant and have a difficult time expressing their feelings to a woman?
“There is no one answer to this question. Men, or women for that matter, may have difficulty expressing their feelings for many different reasons, but here are a few of the common answers. They may have been given the message in childhood that “real men” do not talk about feelings. They may have been hurt in the past when they revealed how they felt. They may feel “not good enough” or unlovable. Or they may simply be uninterested in having that level of connection with another person. There are many other reasons that can be as unique and numerous as the individuals involved.”
What can a woman do to help a man communicate their feelings?
“Of course the deciding factor is if the man is willing to be helped to communicate – whether he wants to change. If he does, one of the most important things for the woman to be conscious of is to not be judgmental or criticize. She needs to acknowledge the man’s attempts to make this change, no matter how clumsy they may be. Offering encouragement and positive feedback for just trying can make a big difference.”
“If communication is an ongoing problem in the relationship, it may be helpful to seek couples counseling. An objective third party can help by teaching communication skills and providing a safe environment to practice those skills.”
What advice do you have for women who have a relationship with a man who is emotionally distant?
“Have a frank and honest conversation with your partner about what you need emotionally in your relationship. Be as specific and concrete about your needs so your partner knows exactly what that might look like. Be sure your partner knows that you don’t think there is something wrong with him: you just have different wants and desires in the relationship. There are probably things your partner also wishes were different about you, and he may also ask you to make some changes.”
“If your partner is receptive and willing to make some efforts, great! And remember that he may never provide the same kind of emotional communication that you do; that may not be who he is. You may need to adjust your expectations to meet him half way.”
“On the other hand, if he resists and is not willing to make any changes at all, then you will need to get very clear with yourself on what it is that you must have in your relationship. Are other aspects of the relationship good enough that you can live with your partner not expressing his feelings? Or do you need something more? You will need to decide whether to accept him as he is, or find someone whom better fits what you need.”
Thank you Laura Allan for the interview. For more information on Laura Allan check out her website at