It can feel impossible to have a functional, normal relationship when we barely know how to communicate with the people we’re dating.
There are issues everywhere—and sometimes, we’re not sure how to even label them, let alone talk them through.
According to Dr. Kristie Overstreet, a clinical sexologist and psychotherapist, men face their own unique set of relationship issues—and a lot of them have to do with the way guys are raised.
Keep in mind that these differences are not relegated to just men in heterosexual relationships; they apply to all men in every kind of relationship.
While it’s acceptable and expected for women to show emotion and talk through their issues, this is not the case for men.
“Men are taught from a young age to not talk about their problems or struggles. Men aren’t allowed to show or express emotions,” Overstreet says.
This can be the cause of especially intense strain in romantic relationships. After all, emotions, communication, and feeling safe to express yourself are important tenets of any successful relationship.
With this information in mind, here are 4 of the most common issues men experience in relationships.
1 Fear of rejection
Men often face fear when it comes to rejection, Overstreet says. It’s more common for men (than women) to ask a person out on a date or for sex—and there’s always the possibility that this person won’t be interested.
Because rejection is aligned with being “less manly” or desirable, it can deter some guys from taking the leap in the first place. And if rejection does happen, it can lead to feelings of resentment and general anger toward the person who rejected them. These are not healthy feelings, and men often lack the tools to appropriately manage these feelings. In a romantic relationship, rejection and lack of communication skills can lead to isolation, misunderstandings, and even breakups.
Don’t hide your feelings and push them deep under the surface. Don’t lash out at your partner, either. Instead, say “It hurt my feelings when you wouldn’t come with me to my friend’s happy hour,” or “When I wanted to hold your hand you didn’t, it made me feel insecure.” That’s how you start a productive and healthy conversation.
Men may have especially painful feelings when they are rejected for sex, Overstreet says. If it happens to you, it’s important to communicate about sexual issues with your partner—even if it’s tough to do. Experts have long expressed that couples who talk openly about sex are happier overall.