6 Steps to Gently Get Your Man to Meet Your Emotional Needs

He’s a hunk, fun, nice, and treats you like a queen. As long as things between you are light and easy-going, life is good. When you need intimacy, he finds other places to be and things to do. Sound familiar?

The problem is classic: a man can be emotionally unavailable when needed the most. Fortunately, we know the cause of the problem and how to fix it. Many men are emotionally unavailable to women because they have been trained to be that way. At age 2, the human brain starts developing its emotional centers. Thus, the “terrible twos” are all about experiencing raw emotions of all kinds.

However, culture throws a huge mud pie into the process. That mud pie is called emotional invalidation. Instead of allowing a little boy to experience and master his emotions, he is told "You're OK," “Don’t cry,” “Don’t be a baby “Don’t be a sissy,” and so on. Each of these statements is hurtful and devastating to the little boy. He is being told to deny what he feels. This programming continues in school as little boys find plenty of reasons to bully, tease, and coerce each other into compliance with the unwritten culture rule: Show no pain.

By the time a woman meets her hunk he has no clue how to be in touch with his own emotions. Her job is to re-program him - that might sound like a negative thing, but it's not. Maybe look at it as retraining him on things he learned that aren't useful to him or others. If she succeeds, the relationship will flourish. If she doesn’t succeed or doesn’t try, the relationship could experience issues when it comes to emotional connection. Here’s how to do it effectively.

Step 1:

Don’t Expect to Get Your Needs Met Until You Meet His: The woman is usually more in touch with her emotions than her man is. As desperately as she wants emotional connection, she has to nurture his emotional life, that will help him see how it's done. Not to say that it's "all about him," but in this very specific situation, consider trying this to see how it goes for him and YOU.

Step 2:

Stop Emotionally Invalidating Him: If a woman attacks, criticizes, or judges her man because he is not always there for her, she simply reinforces all of the training he has experienced since he was a little boy. You now know more than he does about why he finds it hard to be emotionally available. Criticizing or attacking won't help him or you, so treat him how you want to be treated. Just like the Golden Rule.

Step 3:

Listen to His Emotions: When he is angry, frustrated, or upset, pay attention. I call it “reading the emotional data field.” What is he experiencing right now in the moment and why? Guess at it if you have to because it will be OK if you are wrong.

Step 4:

Reflect Back His Emotions to Him: All you say is “You’re angry and frustrated.” Don’t ask what he is feeling and don’t ever use an “I” statement (e.g., “What I hear you saying is that you are angry and frustrated”). Brain studies show that the only thing that works is the direct “You” statement. Continue reflecting until he acknowledges with a head nod or a verbal response like, "Yeah, yeah.”

Step 5:

Teach Him to Do the Same for You: After a couple of weeks or months of reflecting his emotions (called “affect labeling”), he will be ready to learn how to do the same for you. Ask him if he would be willing to try a simple experiment. Tell him you will pretend to have an emotion. Ask him to guess at it and reflect it back to you. Let him practice this and encourage him. Most important, it’s OK if he guesses wrong. Improvement will come rapidly. Just be patient and kind with him.

Step 6:

Finally, Ask Him to Listen to Your Emotions: When you next have need for him to be emotionally present for you, ask him to listen and reflect your emotions. “I don’t need to be fixed right now. Could you please just listen and reflect my emotions.” If he does this, he will be amazed at the change in you, which will reinforce the practice. If he says “No” or withdraws, go back to Step 3.

This is not to say that a woman should coddle or cater to her man's emotions for an infinite amount of time. You are doing this to help him learn how to do this for you. Show him how it's done and then then let him know what you need. All this eventually culminates in a more positive, "2-way street" type of relationship.

Don't get upset if this seems like the woman has to cater to the man; just try it to see if it works for you. After all, if it's successful in improving your relationship does it matter who took the first step to get the work done?

This is an extraordinary, life-changing skill. If you take the time to master it and teach it to your boyfriend or husband, you will experience the connection you yearn for. But then again, this is just one man's opinion. What do you think?

10/14/2023 4:00:00 AM
Doug Noll
Written by Doug Noll
Douglas E. Noll, JD, MA is an award-winning author, speaker, and trainer. After a successful career as a trial lawyer, he devoted himself to understanding the root causes of human conflict and became a mediator and peacemaker. Today, he shares his knowledge with those interested in transforming their lives and relationsh...
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Posted by Alena Darja
I can say I have been truly "in love" once, and lost, but I experienced it. My life was all about her, not me. I havn't truly been in love, like that, since, despite being married twice. If you are truly "in love" then the other person matters more to you, then yourself. If he isn't meeting your emotional needs then he doesn't "love" you. Listen to "When a man loves a woman" by Percy Sedge, says it all.
Posted by robersonjim63@protonmail.com
I just got a F.B.
Works for me.
Posted by Bozo
What happens when you are married to a man who has no emotions whatsoever. His dad taught him that a woman's role is for housecleaning, laundry, raise the kids, all the cooking. His dad never did anything for his mother, so he thinks he has to do nothing either. Neither does he communicate as his dad did not do that either.
Posted by Karen
What if it's the other way arround?
Posted by ed
I truly think that women do need to love their mate, as spoken. Women are caretakers and want to fix things, it is a matter of the approach. A soft way and loving way, relationships will flourish and stay together. Women want it all and sometimes it doesn't work that way. I appreciated the advice and it has great merit and good suggestions. Thank you~
Posted by Maureen
Bah humbug, Doug Noll --- three marriages & a 5-year relationship w/ another broken-winged bird (eaten alive), I'm OUT OF THE EFFING MOMMY BUSINESS !! Finally enjoying some peace & freedom to be.... about time, too, while there's still some life in me to live.
Posted by Sophie
It's really hard to believe how much you , through your advices, want to help HIM .... not us women!

We , women, need to understand, shut up, be nice for ALL THE TIME.

AND WHAT ABOUT US???? Who is going to UNDERSTAND US???
It's always ABOUT HIM!!!

And what about us??? Yes, they can offend us ( poor "babies" brought up in a bad way by their mothers. It's not their fault to call us names, to show easily their disappointment and frustration .... and WE must always understand THEM!!)
Go to hell with these kind of advices......you do not know what you are taking about!! Me as a women I feel personally offended - I heard so many stories told by my women friends. And you think it's all OUR FAULT ... because we are mothers too .. not only wifes... Right??....
In which century are you living??? Come'on !....Awake you guy!!!
Posted by Hanna
You can change people it only gets worse if you try. This can lead to abuse in a relationship.
Awful article.
Posted by Maggie
Biologically real men are not meant to have an array of emotions. The only two that are needed as a male are anger and happiness. The others are a waste of time. You think a bunch of women who are over emotional bad. You should see how weak a group of metrosexual look and actually are weak. Men have logic, women have emotions. All you have to do is find a balance. And, no, sex does not have to have any emotional value. Been married 8 years and were still going strong.
Posted by Andrew
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