** Four dead as van ploughs into pedestrians in Narsingdi ** Writ petition in HC seeks judicial probe into Narail teacher's humiliation ** Over 30 lakh homeless, 40,000 houses destroyed in flood-hit Sylhet ** Their Lordships would not convict him as enemy of the country if anyone had opposed Padma Bridge ** Desperate bid to keep reserve stable ** College teacher Utpal murder: Prime accused held in Gazipur ** WB Board approves $1.03 billion for Bangladesh and Nepal to help improve regional trade ** Inner containment dome installed at Unit-2 of Rooppur N-power plant ** Adity Sarker, a doctor, dies from self-inflicted burn wounds ** College teacher murder: Prime accused’s father arrested from Kushtia ** 135 Indian fishermen detained by Navy ** At least 51 dead in prison riot fire in Colombia, prisons agency says ** River transporters face uncertainty over ‘special’ Eid services ** Siltation of riverbeds and haors is the main cause of floods ** DUTA protests humiliation, killing of teacher ** Ferry services from Mawa terminal to continue: State Minister ** Padma Bridge to transform Bagerhat’s tourism industry ** Truck overturns after crossing Padma Bridge, injuring four people ** College teacher ‘beaten by students with cricket stump’ dies in Savar ** HC says govt must identify those who conspired against Padma Bridge project ** Fire at shoe factory in city under control ** Padma Bridge: Over Tk 2 cr toll collected from vehicles on 1st day ** Aggressive approach to collect more revenue is repressive for people ** Soybean oil price decreased by Tk 6 per liter ** Flood: 2 more deaths pushes up toll to 84 **

Why Men Struggle with Their Emotions

14 March 2022
Why Men Struggle with Their Emotions

Assael Romanelli :
As is the case with many men, it's always been hard for me to know what I'm feeling. I would observe my behavior and from there try to deduct what's going on inside me. I believe this difficulty might have played a role in my choice to be a therapist. Clinical training has taught me firsthand how to better recognize, own, and verbalize my feelings.
Over the last 12 years as a couples therapist, I've met hundreds of men struggling to feel. I've also met hundreds of their partners, feeling alone and frustrated by their emotionally unavailable mates.
An important source of understanding this phenomenon is Cambridge, Mass. psychotherapist Terry Real. His seminal book, I Don't Want to Talk About It: Overcoming the Secret Legacy of Male Depression, describes how boys endure the "loss of the relational"-being forced to separate from their feelings and their mothers on the way to becoming "men."
They learn to turn away from their fathers and their own pain toward work, money, success, sex, drugs, and other distractions. They covertly experience depression, which manifests mostly as numbness, boredom, apathy, limited emotional range, and cynicism.
Their partners see them as emotionally handicapped, stoic, cold-hearted-and more. When I begin talking to such men about covert depression, they initially display surprise at the idea of depression but then quickly feel validated and understood. Their partner's eyes light up as a new empathic discourse starts to emerge. Normalizing the emotional struggle of men helps the partners join forces to heal the hidden depression.
Accompanying the covert depression is another crucial phenomenon-what's officially labeled normative male alexithymia.
The American Psychological Association defines it as "a subclinical form of alexithymia found in boys and men reared to conform to traditional masculine norms that emphasize toughness, teamwork, stoicism, and competition and that discourage the expression of vulnerable emotions."
The inability to feel or describe emotions-considered normative among men-was what these men (and I) have been suffering from all these years. The fact that it's normative doesn't mean that it's natural or good. In fact, boys are born just as sensitive as girls. But through the socialization process, boys lose permission to feel and become disconnected from their core.
When a man suffers from covert depression and normative male alexithymia, he essentially is surviving and not living. He is not experiencing the whole emotional range and therefore experiences the world as hard, dull, and boring. Over time, his partner forms the impression that he is stoic, boring, and uninterested.
Feeling unloved and alone, the partners often become bitter and look elsewhere for emotional companionship.
Reconnecting men to their feelings, expanding their emotional range, and subsequently their emotional eloquence, I began to witness changes in such couples. Hope and newfound animation began to spread through my clinic.
So you want to feel?
Feeling is natural. We're born feeling. But disconnection from feelings is often imposed on boys. Here are some useful suggestions for those wanting to overcome the imposed emotional handicap.
Choose to see that feelings are what make us human. The unique human essence is emotional. Therefore, if you want to enjoy life to its fullest, you must dare to feel the good, the bad, and the ugly.
Expand your emotional range. The wider your emotional range, the livelier you'll be.
Choose to believe that the key to your joy is in your pain, so open yourself to the darker shades of emotions as well as the lighter ones.
Understand that joy is a verb, and therefore must be consciously practiced in order to rewire your brain and inscribe it in your life.
If you do all this, you'll feel free in your relationships, because after all, love is to feel free.
As I apply these processes with men, they begin to open up and share their fears, vulnerabilities, and difficulties with their partners. They bravely stop running away and confront their past, their pain, and their wants. The men are returning to their full self, and their relationships began to flourish.
As for me, the word "feel" is now emblazoned on my arm.
How will you remember to feel?

(Assael Romanelli, Ph.D., is a clinical social worker and a licensed couple and family therapist based in Israel. He offers online individual, couple, and family therapy. Assael trains and lectures internationally about therapy, relationships and improvisation).

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