Everyone deals with being upset in different ways — some people may like to express their feelings, while others prefer to deal with things internally. When it comes to men and emotions, the pervading stereotype seems to be that expressing feelings isn't "masculine," which, according to several therapists, psychologists, and relationship coaches, may contribute to a few of the habits some identifying males have when upset. But, there are always nuances, and at first glance, different ways of coping with emotions may seem unrelated to someone's feelings. Upon closer you look, though, you might find that these reactions are a reflection of the hurt or frustration they are feeling inside.
"Generally, our society does not encourage men to express their feelings," therapist Judi Cinéas, LCSW, PhD tells Bustle. "Many men have been raised in that tough, handle-it-internally style and were consequently never taught to express themselves. In many cases, self-expression is discouraged through many channels."
That being said, the way we express ourselves when upset is not gender-specific — not all men act the same, and not all women act the same either. But according to experts, there are certain habits many people have in common due to socialization, and by knowing what they are can help you better understand how someone processes emotions and how you can be there to support them.
1They Get Easily Annoyed
Instead of expressing that they are upset, a person might act bothered by everything instead. "When troubled by something they are not dealing with, the smaller things such as a dog jumping on the couch when they said five years ago they didn’t want the dog on the couch, or the paperboy hitting the door when he throws the paper can all cause magnified level of irritation," says Cinéas.
2They Purposely Set Themselves Up For Failure
Feeling upset can lead to a lack of motivation or to self-sabotaging. "As those emotions build up inside them, many people resort to passive aggressive behaviors," says Cinéas. "One very common behavior is to purposely do things that they know will bother the other person or or fail to do things they're supposed to."
3They Stop Communicating
Some people may shut down when they begin to feel emotion, and this could lead to a subtle disconnection in communication. "The person may not necessarily give the silent treatment, but instead simply participate in only necessary dialog," says Cinéas. "They will answer a question. They will say good morning. They just won’t start a conversation or elaborate. They will use one or two word answers and in often flat tones."
4They Immerse Themselves Into A Hobby
"Another way he may respond to being upset is becoming obsessed with a hobby as a distraction," psychologist Dr. Wyatt Fisher tells Bustle. They may also spend their time engaging in less healthy activities such as video games or drinking.
5They Withdraw Sexually
It's a complete myth that men always want sex and that only women lose their mojo when stressed. "I've found stress to be a huge libido killer for male clients," psychologist Dr. Charlynn Ruan tells Bustle. "Whether it is general stress or stress in the relationship, their sex drive will take a hit. This might not impact masturbation or use of pornography because those require a much lower level of engagement and don't have the possibility for disappointing someone. If he is feeling like a failure at work, he is less likely to want to be vulnerable and open himself up to a possible disappointing sexual performance."
6They Get More Serious
When someone is upset, you might expect to see a change in their demeanor. "His tone of voice might change," psychotherapist and relationship coach Shirani M. Pathak, LCSW tells Bustle. "He might go from being super fun and exciting, and then as he is starting to get upset, his tone of voice may start to change. He might move into a more serious tone of voice or a tone that has a harder edge."
7They Try To Fix Other Things
"Men are socialized to be fixers and problem solvers, so if there is a big problem in their lives they can't fix, they may start looking for other projects where they can feel a sense of control and mastery," says Ruan. "This can be everything from trying to fix the car and starting home improvement projects to suddenly acting like the expert in your life and telling you how to fix your issues." If they become suddenly busy with projects, they may be upset about something in his own life.
Not every identifying male will react the same way when upset, but these are just some examples of alternatives ways experts tend to see people deal with their feelings.