Women are often pegged as the more emotional sex when it comes to heterosexual partnerships. We are expected to cry, be irrational and be more weepy than our masculine counterparts.
But often, because women are expected to naturally carry these emotional characteristics, men tend to take a backseat when it comes to supporting the emotional aspects of a relationship.
“The key in emotional labor is to make sure that both parties fully understand what emotional labor is,” Joshua Klapow, PhD, clinical psychologist and host of The Kurre and Klapow Show, told Bustle. “Often they think of it as only ‘doing’ (i.e. making plans, texting, buying gifts) — when in reality emotional labor is the energy put forth towards the person as well. Worrying about their wellbeing, thinking about what might be a nice surprise, feeling for them when they are struggling. A relationship can have equal parts ‘doing’ but unequal parts emotional labor.”
How many of us see the same patterns in our relationships? Men are often regarded as “practical” but that labeling denies the ying and yang masculine and feminine energy that courses through our veins.
“In general, women are socialized to do things more often and more effectively,” Nicole Richardson, LPC-S, LMFT, told Bustle. “That said, there are some very emotionally intelligent men who do a lovely job of being aware and checking in on their partner’s feelings.”
“Women are supposed to be nurturers and ’emotional,’ while men must avoid expressing emotion,” Jonathan Bennett, dating and relationship expert at Double Trust Dating told Bustle. “Even in 2018, relationships are a place where many normally progressive men and women conform to traditional gender norms. So, there is an imbalance of emotional labor.”
So how do you change the dynamic? Communication.
“I would advise men to be honest about their emotions and needs,” Bennett said. “Many men can’t even get this far in the process. But, it can be very liberating. And, once those emotions are acknowledged and accepted, then, they should work on being vulnerable with their partners. This doesn’t diminish masculinity. It takes great courage to recognize your feelings and express them to others, especially if you’ve denied this aspect of your humanity for years.”