This Is Why He Overestimates Your Emotions

On Monday, in What if He’s More Emotional Than You Are, I said men are better at suppressing their emotions than women are. Beyond that, we’re expected to control our emotions. Given these things, it’s safe to assume he’s often (usually, always) feeling more emotion than he’s showing. (Unless he’s watching sports!)

This Is Why He Overestimates Your Emotions - He thinks you're like him.

Given how we all assume others are like we are, this difference causes problems. Women wonder why men are so cold and distant because they judge his emotions on what he shows, which is far less than what he feels. Then there’s the opposite thought process for men. If he assumes everyone is feeling more emotion than they show but you show most or all the emotion you feel, he will judge you to be feeling far more emotion than you actually feel.

Think about it. He sees how much emotion you’re showing, then calculates how strongly he’d have to feel to show that much emotion. If he were dealing with another man his math might work, but for a woman the calculations are probably way off.

~ Paul – I’m XY, and I still have no idea what’s going on in a woman’s mind most of the time.

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11 Comments on “This Is Why He Overestimates Your Emotions

  1. My husband expresses anger instead of any other emotion. I guess that’s what “tough guys” are supposed to do. Someone recently sent me an info graphic from a counseling website explaining that anger is an “iceberg” emotion. Meaning the anger is what shows, while all the other emotions lie beneath the surface.
    I really understood this is my husband several years ago after our youth pastor’s funeral. My husband really, really liked the man, but after the funeral, kept acting like a crazy person and screaming at me for every little thing, and I wasn’t even being annoying. Turns out my husband was really feeling very sad and emotional, but he was raised in a family of very tough men (on the exterior) and taught that men Do. Not. Cry.
    I can understand this, sort of, but it sucks being the one who gets screamed at all the time. Even if he has a bad day at work. He’s not necessarily screaming at me, but he can be telling a story about work and his voice gets louder, and louder, and louder! It is so annoying. I have talked to him about this 1000 times, and half the time he doesn’t even realize he’s doing it. Which I think is bizarre. I’m not sure how you can scream so much and not even realize.
    In his defense, both his dad was a screamer and his mom still is, so it might seem normal to him. I hate it. Sometimes I will say “please stop screaming at me.” And he will shut down and be like “I just won’t talk at all”. How immature is that? Seriously? Why can’t you just talk without screaming. People will take you much more seriously if you’re not acting like a lunatic or a bully.
    I don’t know why men think they can’t show emotion. Although, if I’m being honest, I went to a wedding for my son’s teacher, and one of the other student’s dad’s started to cry. That was kind of weird (he had no relation to the bride). Guess he was just touched or something.

    • Our self-perceptions are so deceptive. My wife used to ask me, when we were at the grocery store, why I was so angry. I honestly didn’t see it. I thought I was was just reacting reasonably to the inept cashier, the rude customer, the slow bagger, etc. I truly missed it. Then my (at the time) young sons would ask her, “Why is Daddy so mad?” That finally got me thinking.

      I realized that I was carrying a lot of emotional baggage with no way to appropriately let it go. I had some fully justifiable rage over some things that were done to me as a child, and this had turned into an undefined rage that would come out in some totally unjustified ways. I also had a lot of anger against God for allowing those things to happen. Even after I began to deal with it all, it took years to release the underlying pain.

      I had been married 17 years before I could tell my wife those painful experiences. And it was almost 19 years later that I was finally able to forgive and let the wounds heal. It took a lot of tears on my part and some emotional catharsis to get past the anger and pain, and I would probably never let anyone but my wonderful wife see me like that. But part of the process was realizing that my anger and pain had been unleashed on my wife, my sons, and who knows how many others over the years. I had to ask forgiveness for that. The root problem was a justified anger that could never be expressed, and it came out as unjustified anger against innocent people. I think many men would probably find something similar in their own lives if they are honest with themselves.

      By the way, please don’t ask a man to “stop screaming.” That just adds fuel to the fire. We don’t perceive ourselves as screaming. Yelling or shouting, yes. Screaming, no. That word adds a challenge to a man’s masculinity. So if you ask him to stop screaming, he will very likely deny that he is screaming at all.

      • @Bobthemusicguy – I have also gotten far too upset with “the inept cashier, the rude customer, the slow bagger”. My wonderful wife has been good about showing me these things – which just made me more upset. But I did see the truth and slowly worked on it. Now it’s rare I get that way, and when I do I see it myself and know what it means about me.
        Paul Byerly recently posted…Are Trivial Arguments Destroying Your Marriage?My Profile

  2. I grew up with an angry dad and I was not in any way going to be in a relationship with an angry, violent man (as my sister found herself). I was blessed to find, late in life, such a kind, gentle, good Christian man that at first, honestly, I thought, “He’s probably not really like this on a daily basis.” But he is. He’s one of those big, easy-going guys who never had to fight. He is a manly guy, a bit stoic, but that’s to be expected. Last weekend I was surprised to hear his adult daughter tell a story about an incident where her husband was physically abusing her, and as she told it, “I heard the door get flung open and Dad came in and took him by the collar and had him up against the wall with his feet off the floor.” Not only did it surprise me to hear that he reacted that way (very appropriately, I think), but I was surprised because he said he honestly didn’t remember it happening. His daughter said that not only did she remember, but the guy used to tell the story afterward. I felt proud of my husband, and – to be frank – it was sort of sexy. The hero. My hero.

  3. Great post, Paul.

    There’s another subspecies of emotion that might bear mentioning – the Vulcan. Both my wife and a close male friend (a former student) have said that they know that if operational necessity demanded it, they’d be sacrificed to the higher priorities of mission. They don’t resent that, but they understand that for certain individuals duty and attention to orders is, literally everything.

    It took me a long time to come to terms with this – am I THAT cold? The situation hasn’t come up, and probably won’t, but I would be wise to pay heed to their viewpoint. I don’t know if they are right, but rather suspect they are.

    Why? Because I’d lay down my own life on that altar first.
    Andrew Budek-Schmeisser recently posted…Your Dying Spouse 206 – PneumoniaMy Profile

  4. My son was a very emotional little guy. Best hugger in the world, gave his trucks names and actually projected feelings onto his stuffed animals. Then he went off to public school :(

    Society has a pretty strong influence on telling us how we should behave.

    I’ve read, on more than one occasion, that men feel a rush of emotion and feeling during sex and orgasm. Perhaps thats due to a rush of endorphins but I wouldn’t be surprised if the fact that men are socially “allowed” to show emotion through sex, they have a more exaggerated response than they would had they been “allowed” to express emotion routinely through other normal daily activities.

    I get the impression that many men truly want their wives to have the same heightened experience during sex that they have. And wives wish their husbands could learn how to express their emotions with words.

    • @Jolie I think you are on to something here: “they have a more exaggerated response than they would had they been “allowed” to express emotion routinely through other normal daily activities.” It could explain, in part, many men saying they want their wives to bring their hearts and souls into the sexual experience. Interesting.

  5. Never thought about this. Could explain a lot, about this last funk I was in, in fact why I was in that funk anyway. I suppose this would apply to reading lack of emotion also in our wives as in their level of interest in intimacy. Something to think about.

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