Why don’t men talk to each other? 28



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While at an Australia Day barbecue last week I sat down beside one of the men there. Until we began eating dinner the men and women were separated each talking about different things. When he sat down beside me he asked, “So how is the job search going for Michael?” I blinked at him a few times before coming to terms with the fact that he had been standing talking to my husband for at least an hour.

This made me think – why don’t some men talk to each other about the hard things? Any social gathering of men has a lot of laughs, a lot of male noises, a lot of backslapping and superficial chat about politics, sport or TV. But some men don’t talk about the things that really matter, really really matter. They don’t talk about the personal things – the job search, the divorce, the health problems or anything too serious.

A dear family member, when facing terrible marriage and money troubles only chose to talk about them to his brother with whom he was very close when it was well-beyond gone too far for assistance or peer support.

It’s concerning that some men feel their “troubles” or anything slightly emotional has to be a kept close to them.

Melbourne based clinical psychologist, Dr Erin Bower believes that this behaviour stems from their childhood and the way they were taught to behave. Dr Bower says, “As children, many men are told what not to do to handle stress according to traditional views of masculinity. But they often miss out on more practical teaching about ways to cope with emotions.”

If we think back to our own childhoods – boy or girl – we can remember hearing children (and some adults, too) taunting us with “don’t be a girl” or “boys don’t cry”. Dr Dower says that this “teaches boys that emotional vulnerability indicates weakness, so it should be avoided.”

If you consider a group of men that have been friends for say two to three years and if we asked them three key questions like;

  • What are each other’s favourite movies?
  • What are each other’s favourite foods?
  • What are each other’s biggest worries?

The chances are that no one could accurately answer these questions. Men will talk about the superficial things but they won’t engage in discussion about themselves on a deeper level.

Beyond Blue released a report late in 2014 that found three quarters of men over the age of 50 have lost contact with their friends. Over 25% of these men cite their immediate family as the only people they spend time with for leisure.

It’s a sad and scary reality that men who have a circle of friends and men who have lost contact with friends are equally as isolated when it comes to the important, emotionally obstructive issues.

I’m sure that right now you are thinking of a man you know and care about – your husband, partner, brother, son or father. The fact that they don’t talk drives us insane on a regular basis… It shouldn’t be our job to tell the family and friends anything that matters. But to men, it is.

There’s a much more serious issue behind men not talking than simply laziness as we often accuse them of. Together we can help them by changing the stereotyped role of a “man”.

Encourage the men in your life to talk, encourage them to talk with their friends and always be there for them. And the next time your husband’s best friends asks you a personal question about him, put it right back on your husband to answer.

Tell us, do the men in your life not have enough meaningful conversations? Do you see this happening and does it annoy you too?


Starts at 60 Writers

The Starts at 60 writers team seek out interesting topics and write them especially for you.

  1. I find this article so far off the reality it is hard to know where to start. I think this article says more about the writer than it does about men. Men don’t talk about the important things in life- important to whom? The things I talk about with both men and women are important to me and hopefully important to them. Recently one of the most hilarious conversations I had with a group of men was our respective experiences in getting “that” health check done – prostate. Frequently conversations cover travel, food, fitness, work problems, our children and grandchildren’s antics.
    Sure there are men whose talk is limited to a narrow range of topics mentioned and just as many women whose talk is inane.
    Interesting people are just that interesting, boring people are just that boring.
    Yet if the writer asked just about anyone a question about just about any subject she (presumably) might be surprised at the answer gotten.

    2 REPLY
    • Oh hi. Noeline. I am sure the men you know are not as limited in their conversation as the writer suggests. Hopefully you are fit and well and one day I will have to come and terrorise the neighbourhood on my motorbike!

    • Agree completely you only have to look at the many work based peer support groups ( most established by men) to realise that men do speak when there is something to say.

  2. It depends some men talk just they tend to say something in the shorthand version and feel that is enough while I know with myself I need to verbalise and that is part of my sorting and coming to terms Some men can talk about stuff some can not but women are like that as well. It is hard for lots of people they feel self conscious and that is a shame better to be yourself and say what you feel so long as you are not being nasty for the sake of it..

  3. Silly article I have very close friends I’ve known for over 50 years have no clue what her favorite movie is. Of course men talk about all sorts of thing just like we do

  4. I agree with Nick Benfell.
    What a miss guided attempt to intimidate men this story is.
    Men talk if they have something to say.
    I personally would never discuss some things with certain people, especially if they were to go back and tell their wives, who would embellish, twist and blow it out of proportion just
    to have a good yarn with the girls, and show that they know something the others don’t.
    Not out of worry, caring or empathy.
    Men are men, and fortunately they like to stay that way.

  5. My husband and most of his friends will talk about anything rather than touch on anything deemed personal or emotional. It does drive us wives up the wall too. My daughters husband has only just got to the point where he will talk to a very few about their stillborn baby girl who was born three years ago. It is only a small number he has spoken to but my daughter is very proud of him, it isn’t easy for a lot of men. There is no point in the guys here getting their feathers rumpled about this, it is very very commonplace and can get better when men such as those on here can show them the way.

  6. i find that as I am 66 and I live with 3 females, if I want to talk about a certain subject, their concentration level is minimal or I am cut off and told to take more care of myself and if I am really worried, don’t talk about it, go and see a doctor. I am able to have a coffee with a mate about every six weeks.

  7. Some men may be gutless, but most women are trained from birth to be good actresses and liars.

    1 REPLY
    • Spot on! And throw in duplicitous as well…Most blokes say to your face what they’d say to your back..

  8. Yes I have found most men will talk about their prostate or heart health and yet not really be able to fully express how they really feel. I do not have a favorite movie so that question is a bit superfluous as is some of the rest of the article.

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