I’m a firm believer that we as men need to develop the capacity to validate and regulate ourselves, especially in the realm of emotionality. AKA: not offload emotional regulation onto our partners, girlfriends, wives, etc. In this episode, I look into where this often comes from, and how it leads straight to codependency. If you enjoyed this, comment below. Feel free to share your thoughts!
All right, men. Welcome to the ManTalks Show. I’m Connor Beaton. Today we’re gonna be talking about women validating your emotions, specifically why you should stop making women validate your emotions.
So I got a question recently from a man who said, “Hi, Connor. Something that’s been on my mind lately about women, is that I’ve noticed with several women in my life. They always seem to want me or the men in their lives to validate their emotions and their feelings, but they never want to reciprocate it and validate the man’s feelings of return. This was really evident with my ex. But I’ve noticed this with other women, i.e. friends, wives, girlfriends, et cetera. To me, this seems like they just want control. Do you find that this is a common trait in general with women that they need to, or never need to apologize or validate a man’s feelings? Just a thought, I feel like it should go both ways. Maybe it’s something you could cover on the show.”
Okay. So first and foremost, why should it go both ways? Why is it that just because a woman might want something from you that it’s automatically expected that you should get that in return from her.
This is a very sort of feminine approach to a relational dynamic. That when emotions are shared, that those emotions are validated. This is a misconception. A lot of women are telling men — in our modern culture, a lot of men hear this idea. Like “you should open up more. You should be more vulnerable. You should share your emotions more. You should talk more.” That’s a very feminine way of putting it.
What most women are actually saying in that space is: I see you as being emotionally dysregulated. I see you as being emotionally unsafe. So for me to feel safe in this relationship, I want you to share your emotions. Not so that I do anything with them, not so that I am responsible for them, not for me to validate them, not for me to tell you what to do with them, because that will lead to codependency and all kinds of challenges within the relationship.
But I want you to share some of your emotional experience and landscape so I know that you are capable of—as a man—of regulating your own emotional body. Of regulating your own emotional experience. What women really crave in men is not, that they’re necessary stoic or that they’re like a rock all the time, but mostly that they can trust that the man has support with other men, that the man has friends that he can go to, and that the man has a capacity to navigate through his own emotional experience.
And this is true for a number of reasons, least of which is the fact that many women have experienced or witnessed emotionally dysregulated men who have caused a lot of damage and harm. To their mothers, to them, to their sisters, to their girlfriends, in past relationships.
And so women have experienced a lot of damage at the hands of emotionally unregulated or dysregulated men. So when women say, “I want you to share your emotions,” they’re not saying, “I want you to show your emotions so that I can solve them for you, so that I can be responsible for them, or so that I can validate that they’re real.” What they’re saying is, “Do you have the emotional IQ and capacity to navigate your own emotional landscape? Are you mature? Are you a mature man who’s able to navigate that part of himself, or at the very least have the resources and the wherewithal to develop those resources so that you can be grounded in your own inner frames? That you can be grounded in your own inner experience and that I can trust you enough to have that?”
When men expect their partners, specifically girlfriends and wives, to validate their emotional experience, it can lead to challenges, because for a woman, it often “parentifies” her. And what I mean by that is it puts her in a maternal position. So one of the primary roles for a mother is to specifically for her son is to help him identify, understand, and come into contact with his own emotional body.
Fathers can do this as well, but generally what the research has shown is that fathers are really supportive when young boys hit that, like, you know, three to five-year-old age and they start to, you know, they start to have a little bit of testosterone producing in their body and to help them regulate their aggression.
And this has been shown through a tremendous amount of research and then as well in their teenage years, when they go through puberty and all of a sudden they have a lot of testosterone coursing through their body. A man is there to help a young boy regulate those parts of him. But what a mother will do is often validate her son’s emotions. She’ll validate, “Yeah, you’re angry, yeah you’re sad or you’re feeling that way. It’s okay that you feel that way,” and she’s happy to play that role, but when it shows up in a relationship, it can do a number on the relationship, especially if that’s happening consistently, right. A man is dysregulated and angry or upset, complaining about his boss or his job, constantly offloading and outsourcing his emotional regulation to his partner.
I see a lot of modern men doing this and they’re doing this because what they’ve heard from women is “I want you to share your emotions. I want you to be vulnerable. I want you to be open.” But the caveat there is “I want you to be open, but I also want you to have tended to your own stuff. I also want to know that when you share those things, that you’re not sharing them with me to offload them onto me so that I, then am responsible for them. I want you to still have ownership and leadership over your inner emotional landscape.”
So that’s the main difference. So when a man is constantly asking for his partner, his girlfriend, his wife, to validate his emotions, it can be in some sense of turnoff because she will feel like she’s responsible for telling that man that yes, indeed he does feel that way, for helping him fix the way that he feels. She’ll start to try and problem solve for him. She’ll start to see him as someone that needs her support in order to be emotionally, mentally okay. And that’s the foundation for enmeshment, for codependency.
And for the man, what starts to happen is that he feels like the only access point to his partner is by then oversharing, and what can very quickly happen is if that man has not had men in his life that he can bring his challenges to, that he can bring his triumphs to, that he can bring his wins and his failures and his defeats to to say, “This is what happened, and I don’t need anything from you, or I do need some support.”
He can be begin to be reliant on that woman — his partner, his wife, his girlfriend, et cetera — to help him regulate his own internal system, his own emotional body. So in some ways, he’s outsourcing leadership, he’s outsourcing resiliency, he’s outsourcing his own sense of self-reliance and self-trust. And so the last piece is that when you do this, when you say “I want my girlfriend to validate my emotions,” what is happening is that you’re outsourcing a part of your power. You’re outsourcing a part of your own internal experience and saying, “I’m not responsible for this anymore. I want you to tend to it. I want you to tell me I’m going to be okay, or how to handle it or that it’s okay for me to feel that way.”
What actually you need in that moment is to develop the skill, develop the attribute, the virtue of being able to validate and regulate your system yourself. And with other men in your life. To be able to bring those problems to other men and say, “You know, this is coming up. I feel really angry about it, or I feel sad about it. There’s a tremendous amount of grief that’s around this, and I don’t know how to deal with this,” and to have other men who can then provide the space and the feedback and the support that you need in order to deal with that situation so that you can go to your partner and say, “This happened, and this is how I felt about it. And I don’t need you to do anything with it. I’ve got it, but, um, but this is what’s been going on.” That’s the openness that she’s actually looking for.
Lastly, really in some ways, women don’t want to validate your emotions, they want you to do that for yourself. They want you to have developed a skill set, to be able to validate your own emotional experience, and to have the internal awareness of what you’re actually experiencing, whether it’s rage and anger and aggression or sadness or shame or guilt or embarrassment or whatever it is that is happening within you. What they’re actually saying when “I want you to open up, I want you to be more vulnerable” is “I want you to know, understand and regulate your own experience. I want you to lead yourself in that way because when you do that, I can trust you. When you do that. I know that you’ve got your own inner experience and I don’t need to be responsible for it. I don’t need to caretake you. I don’t need to sit in this maternal role and validate what you’re feeling.”
Now, if she has done something that has really offended you that’s really, crossed the line and she’s apologizing and she’s, you know, saying — because this is the caveat, right —and she’s saying, “I’m sure that that may have embarrassed you or hurt your feelings,” or whatever the case may be, then sure. In those moments, it’s totally fine for her to validate what the impact might have been on you if that internal experience was created by her.
But for the most part, what she’s looking for is for you to learn how to regulate your system for you to validate your own emotional experience, your own mental, psychological, spiritual experience, so that she is not responsible and tasked with and offloaded onto having to validate those experiences for you so that you can then tend to them.
So there’s more that can dive into in future episodes. But if you enjoyed this comment below, feel free to leave me any thoughts that you have on this, and I look forward to answering more of your questions next week.
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