Boys think talking about their problems is a waste of time

Originally posted on August 26, 2011

A recent study found that boys do not like talking about their problems because they find it pointless and strange:

“For years, popular psychologists have insisted that boys and men would like to talk about their problems but are held back by fears of embarrassment or appearing weak,” said Amanda J. Rose, associate professor of psychological sciences in the MU College of Arts and Science. “However, when we asked young people how talking about their problems would make them feel, boys didn’t express angst or distress about discussing problems any more than girls. Instead, boys’ responses suggest that they just don’t see talking about problems to be a particularly useful activity.”

Rose and her colleagues conducted four different studies that included surveys and observations of nearly 2,000 children and adolescents…. [B]oys did not endorse some negative expectations more than girls, such as expecting to feel embarrassed, worried about being teased, or bad about not taking care of the problems themselves. Instead, boys reported that talking about problems would make them feel “weird” and like they were “wasting time.”

Rose went on to state that parents should take a more balanced approach when dealing with boys. She suggested that parents should stress the importance of talking about some problems while acknowledging that they may be “‘barking up the wrong tree’ if they think that making boys feel safer will make them confide.”

There are numerous reasons why the studies reached these conclusions. One reason is cultural. Boys are taught to deal with their problems on their own. Another is that males are more assertive than females, and may seek to solve their own problems rather than ask for help. Another is that boys may cope with their problems in different ways. Males do tend to be more action oriented, so talking about something may be less effective for them.

That said, the researcher shows that the feminized approach is not always the answer. I have experienced this personally in dealing with my childhood issues and in seeing how other male survivors cope. Many of the most stable, grounded survivors I have met never went to therapy. They found other methods of addressing the problems they developed as a result of abuse. Obviously this is not a one-size-fits-all solution. Some things do need to be talked about. But falling back on telling boys to behave like girls seems to prove absolutely pointless to boys.

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8 thoughts on “Boys think talking about their problems is a waste of time

  1. I would have to agree with the latter part of your post. Therapy did nothing for me. It was all about doing something that helped me overcome the issues I dealt with as a young boy. Whether it was self-expression through writing and music, or finishing school, getting a decent job, it was the process of… well, living, I guess, that helped me more than talking about my problems with some anonymous stranger (usually a woman, unfortunately) who were completely useless at understanding that no amount of “talking about it” was going to change anything, or reveal something I didn’t already intrinsically know about the shit that was going on.

    Yet I can’t help but wonder if so many people want to make men talk about their problems out of a fear that — not that we, as men and boys don’t know what’s hurting us — but that they, meaning the people out there in the world (especially women) have NO IDEA. And that scares them I think, to see an entire gender opting out of revealing themselves for scrutiny and yet solving their problems in their own way.

    It’s the same reason people fear and ridicule MGTOW’s, because they break the mold that society has told us we must fit into in order to be a fully-functioning member. And this especially true among the women I know, who see fundamentally incapable of understanding WHY many men, especially younger men do not see the point in “talking about” things like they do. Yet instead of attempting to reach that understanding, they dig in their heels and attempt to convert us to a different style than we prefer for dealing with our issues.

    And underneath all of it is the constant push & pull that gender has become in America, a battlefield in the mind between self-constructed opposites, helped along the way by fundamentalist Feminists & virulent MRAs.

    In the end, I feel much the same way as my generation: apathetic, and ready to just opt out.

    But by having something, doing something, and by becoming someone that I want, I can transcend that apathy and disgust, and just finally live my life above all the bullshit.

    I hope many other men and boys find their own solutions like I did.

  2. I think this just says that some boys just don’t WANT to talk about their problems all the time.

    The same goes for men.

    And there’s nothing pathological or oppressive about it. I know it’s popular to think of every woman as capable of talking about their problems all the time. But truly, does every woman want to talk about their problems at every oppertunity?

    I don’t know. I tend to think that every human being varies. Not all people are comfortable with sharing their problems. Why should boys and men be under the microscope for that?

  3. I think Zek J Evets is like a lot of men where success heals old wounds. He is correct in that boys may not want to talk about abuse issues but they are listening. And thinking. I agree that the psychological community is dominated by females which sets a bad precedence for issues relevant to men & boys. Many women live in denial and/or are clueless as to the depth and magnitude of maternal child abuse. Most would prefer not to talk about it. The result is American women kill more of their own children than any other mothers in the industrialized world, a 25% increase since 1985. Not sure what a MGTOW is but as a CRA, children’s rights advocate, I’ve found women are the most resistant to any social discourse on the subject, which is exactly what boys from abusive situations need to hear.

  4. I had some problems growing up and well into adulthood, for which I subjected myself to endless rounds of cognitive behavioral therapy (whining like a bitch about everything in your life). I actually told my therapist to give me some homework. I wanted this problem solved, and all he had to say was I had to “let it all out.”

    Then I read a self-help book called No More Mr Nice Guy by Dr. Robert Glover and said goodbye to my therapist.

    Maybe cognitive behavioral therapy helps some people, but for me, talking is just a waste of oxygen. When a man actually believes he can talk away his problems, he becomes a woman.

  5. Popular psychologists might think boys could benefit from talking about their issues.
    Meanwhile everybody else is still firmly of the belief that “real men” don’t talk about their feelings.
    Boys and men have always been told “You got a problem? Sort it out.”
    While that attitude can be damaging there are other times when it’s useful.
    I don’t see things changing anytime soon.

  6. I think therapy for men is two fold. One we can get from a female therapist, almost motherly and nurturing. The other needs to come from a male therapist, safe and protective. I know for myself that finding a male therapist that fits that bill has not been easy. Funny side note though, when I first went to share with a female therapist I was in the midst of describing and sharing an extremley painful time in my life that I never told anyone. When I looked up to see her reaction, she was sleeping. That pretty much ended any possibility for future sessions. 🙂
    I figure most things out independantly now. Though I would love to have a mentoring/therapist who is male and gets my view of the world.

  7. Titfortat: A snoozing therapist? You should have asked for your money back.

    No doubt men are less inclined to talk about abuse but they are definitely listening. That’s why we need more social forums providing good information about child abuse for men. Health class in grade school would be a great place to start.

  8. Since children will mostly have had female teachers in kindergarden and early school there’s a possibility that they have experienced talking about issues as being useless because the discussion has been mostly limited to a female perspective

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