It has typically been thought that boys and men generally don’t like to talk about their problems out of embarrassment or fear that they’ll be considered weak. But researchers at the University of Missouri say the real reason is because males typically think talking about problems is a waste of time.
According to a Missouri release, in conducting four studies with 2,000 children and adolescents, researchers found that each gender has different expectations regarding how they would feel after talking about their problems. The girls generally said they would feel understood and less alone, whereas the boys said they would feel like they were “wasting time” or “felt weird” doing it. According to the researchers, the boys who were surveyed did not express any more fear than the girls about being teased for talking about their problems.
In discussing the implications of the study findings, researcher Amanda J. Rose said it is important for parents to explain to young boys that talking about their problems is not a waste of time. But it is equally important, she said, to explain to girls that there are other ways to cope with problems than by just talking about them. She pointed out that excessively talking about problems can lead to anxiety and depression.
Rose also said these differences in coping skills can lead to certain issues in romantic relationships down the road.
“Women may really push their partners to share pent-up worries and concerns because they hold expectations that talking makes people feel better,” Rose said. “But their partners may just not be interested and expect that other coping mechanisms will make them feel better. Men may be more likely to think talking about problems will make the problems feel bigger, and engaging in different activities will take their minds off of the problem. Men may just not be coming from the same place as their partners.
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