Communication Problems With Guys

communicating with menNow let me ask you, do you believe yourself to be a good communicator?

Most women are good at communication, certainly when compared to their male counterparts. Yet as a dating coach, one of the most common issues I discuss with women is the frustration of communication problems with a new boyfriend.

It’s not at all uncommon for a woman who has excellent communication skills to find herself at a loss when it comes to reconnecting with her man when he’s shutting down or pulling away. Why does that happen?

communicating with menThe simplest answer comes down to emotions.

Have you ever noticed that we treat the people we are closest to the worst? Brothers and sisters pull out all the stops when arguing with each other as kids. Husbands and wives often talk to each other in ways they would never dream of talking to a stranger or someone they dislike at work. Why does this happen?

It happens because emotions run the show.

The closer we are to a person, the more our emotions get involved. It’s no longer a logical decision about how to interact with an annoying coworker. Our boss may anger us, but our desire to keep our job keeps our emotions in check. But when the relationship is about emotions, we don’t hold back.

Communicating Emotion

You don’t have a relationship with a boyfriend for financial gain or any other non-emotional reason. You have a relationship with your boyfriend because of the emotional benefits. So when the emotions go bad, there’s no longer anything holding us back from expressing our emotional dissatisfaction.

The result? We sometimes regress to a level of communication that is ineffective. We communicate emotion.

At this point I need to clarify something. Among women, communicating emotion works just fine. With men, you can expect very poor results.

Think about this for a moment. You know it’s true. I’m not going to go into all the reasons in this email, but suffice it to say men will irritate you and frustrate you if you try to communicate raw emotions to them with the expectation that they will understand and respond in a way that heals the relationship.

Here’s an example. Your guy starts to pull away from you. You know there’s a breakdown in communication. You’re not sure why he’s pulling away, but you’ve had a front row seat to the building emotional tension between the two of you.

You’re on a date with him, but it gets cut short. He awkwardly asks if you had a good time as he drops you off.

You look at him with furrowed brows and respond in a slightly sarcastic tone, “Yeah. I had a great time.” Your face says the opposite. You continue to hold his gaze for a few more seconds as a tear rolls down your cheek.

He just stares at you blankly. With a slight huff you step out of the car, close the door, and walk away.

That is an example of communicating raw emotion without words or structure. After stretching my male brain to become a more effective dating coach, I now know what your emotion was designed to communicate and what your heart longs for him to do in response. Unfortunately, you cannot count on most men to understand this level of communication.

Generally what happens is he takes your expression of raw emotion as some kind of attack. He feels frustrated and angry and pulls away more. It’s not your fault men are like this, and ideally a man should take responsibility for learning how to understand raw emotional expression. The only reason I focus on what you can do as a woman, is because you can’t fix his part for him. If there were men reading this email, my advice would target their part in learning to get over their phobia of seeing a woman cry.

Now let’s talk solutions. Guys are different. They respond to emotion, but not when you use raw emotion to communicate with them. Men will respond to emotion when it is expressed with clear words along with directions on how to respond.

For example, “Mike, I’m hurting inside right now. I feel sad. I also feel a little bit afraid. I’m sad because I feel like something has come between us and we’re not as close right now. I’m afraid because I value this relationship and I don’t want to lose you.” And now the clear directions: “I feel like there’s something affecting your feelings toward me that you’re not telling me about. I want us to work it out together. I want you to trust me and work through it with me. Tell me what’s bothering you.”

This approach works because of three main reasons.

First, it doesn’t require that your man read between the lines of raw emotion.

Second, it communicates the problem in a way his mind is designed to work. Men like to fix problems, so a clear problem and a clear direction to solve it are like a breath of fresh air to his male brain.

Third, your emotions are expressed in ways that cause him to want to come to your rescue and be your hero. Give him a chance to be your hero and he will generally respond with a degree of nobility and patience you would not otherwise receive.

communicating with menIn the end, the communication advice I’m giving you requires that you become solution focused. It’s too easy for all of us to fall into the trap of showing our painful emotions rather than talking about them with a solution-focused mindset.

Men need to see a solution before they feel comfortable admitting to certain kinds of emotions. So give him a specific “problem” to chew on. Make it clear that you believe a solution exists. Then ask for his help to find that solution.

I hope these concepts will empower you and give you a solid sense of direction the next time you find yourself needing to break down communication barriers with your guy.

Talk to you soon.


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63 thoughts on “Communication Problems With Guys

  1. Tolulope Adeyewa said:

    I am Esther from Nigeria, this post is really informative and I have learned how to communicate better. Thanks a lot for this.

  2. Mia said:

    Hi James,

    I’m so glad to have come across your be irresistible site. You give such good advice that I just have to ask you this question. In the pass, I’ve never had a problem meeting or engaging conversations with men. but I met this guy about a year ago in passing, ( I do mean that literally) , he directs traffic and I pass him by 5 days a week. At first , I was in my own world wondering how am I going to meet men, until I had a thought and began to pay more attention to him. After several weeks of checking him out, I made initiative to wave at him. Of course his response was bland, but after several more attempts to connect with him, he responded a nod . Over several months I manage to communicate with him by talking to him as much as time permits traffic flow stops, etc. ( seeing how he is directing traffic). I’ve been fortunate to have a minute or two to chat with him, I must say that I find him irresistible and would like to get to know him more. The problem is how can I communicate that to him. I have made eye contact with him during the moments traffic is stop and I’m just a few feet from him. There was moments when I caught him looking at me before looking away. We both caught eyes in a stare moment other times before unlocking looks. He tends to initiate a conversation when possible , sometimes we just cant. I really enjoy talking with him and I wish I could communicate that to him. I thought about giving him my phone number, but is that too forward or not. I really would appreciate your thoughts on this. He doesn’t have a ring on his finger so I thought maybe it could go either way, but I will never know without trying. Help. I wish I could afford you as a coach , but I’m not making much as a single parent doing everything to make ends meet. I really appreciate these blogs you have . Thanks

    • Angelica. P said:

      Dear James,

      I really like reading your articles and absorbing the advice. They seem to arrive just in time, each time when I need them (it has been a habit for me to wait for your email). Before this, I just had a fight with my ex, over some communication problems, and I found this “Before You Text Your Boyfriend, Read This” email and realized that it was the emotions that made things worse. So I went through the messages again and waited for a day, checked his temper and tried to ask him what he thought (instead of felt) about the issues we had been fighting for. And then with the advice from your post, I tried to lay out my emotions in a very straightforward way, telling him what made me upset and why I thought that way. He soon replied:”yes, I understand that, I should have asked. I am sorry” Magic! Thank you so much James!

      1 more question, if he pulls away like this again and refuses to reply, how could we initiate the conversation again?

      • James Bauer said:

        Hey Angelica. I’m glad that article was helpful to you. And thanks for your kind words of encouragement.

        Regarding your question, it really depends on a lot of factors like how long it has been since he responded to you, what emotions drove him into silent mode and things like that.

  3. Donna kwikiriza(faith) said:

    this is the best James ,wow i love it .i will always follow this ,ive really learnt alot and trust me James am this proud student of yours ,your posts will not leave me same and they have helped me speak sense to people,i have really enjoyed this post concerning communication.thank you.

  4. Modupe said:

    Very insightful blog. Wish I had seen this months ago! It is now too late in my current situation because I think I have lost the guy. However, I am sure this article willl help me to relate better with men in the future.

    • Sheila said:

      I feel for you. I’m the same boat. I told him to forget about me instead of communicating like this to him. I didn’t know this at the time but oh how I wish I had..

  5. Isobel drysdale said:

    Hi James
    Everything you say feels like it arrives in my mail box just as I require it to the point I actually smile and chuckle as I read your words.
    It is all so simple and sensible when we dare to believe that we are responsible for our actions and the most effective way of addressing them.
    I was previously such an angry person who has had to take the lesson on acceptance and reflection time and time again. Like everything our behaviour becomes our habits and often these do not serve us well.
    Sadly very recently I met the most amazing man and without awareness my emotions were in overdrive.
    I lost the knowledge that men think differently and as a result he has pulled back. I have spent the last three weeks feeling devastated and confused. However, the veil is lifting and with your wise words I am seeing clearly where my emotional reactions were out of control to a new relationship.
    I’m still visualising a reunion and will apply the approach you speak of in my pursuit of happiness with this wonderful man.
    Keep your fingers crossed lol

    • Lorna (LaLa) said:

      Oh Issi, I do hope that thigs work out well for you. I have a similar personality to you, I think. Because I am a very open, honest, caring, loving, impetuous, spontaneous, emotional person, I tend to go “over the top” sometimes, and say and do things I regret. My “boyfriend” (he is 64!!) has a similar personality, unfortunately, so there are very often clashes and then we both feel hurt and disrespected, and pull back. Have you heard of the “mindfulness” training that is all the rage now? I wonder if that would be helpful to you? If practiced regularly, it makes you stand back from yourself, slow down and “see” things from a different perspective. It can teach you to step back from your emotions and evaluate things, seeing them from the others’ point of view, before you “blurt out” something you may regret. I do feel much calmer now, and able to see the wider picture. Just a thought! Hope it helps. Something else I picked up from James’ “Catch him and Keep Him” book is that we can often go into a relationship with our own “agenda”, without considering what the other person wants and needs – just assuming that they will feel the same way. I think women are guilty of this quite often. I know I was. I thought that because we had been intimate, that we had a “relationship”, but I don’t think he thought that way, even though he was clearly very smitten with me. I started “laying down the law” and taking him over, because I had been used to being married for such a long time, and had three children, and tend to be organised and assertive. He got defensive about that – he still wanted his own space and his own life, and didn’t want to feel dominated. He has a huge hang-up about that because his mother is very domineering, so he is over-sensitive about it. I think we women need to be very careful about this one!! Best wishes. Lorna

  6. Suzan said:

    Dear James,
    I wish I had seen your articles earlier. I met a man in the summer, two days before he was due to leave the country. After a couple of months, he got in touch and we talked every day for two months even though he was in a country with limited Internet access. Most of our talk revolved around sex, and he made no plans for the future, which I realise was a silly situation to get into. I began to feel also that I was doing all the work. Then two weeks ago he withdrew. When I asked and said we could just be friends if he wants, he claimed that I had done nothing wrong, he had a lot to deal with there, and he’d be back soon. etc. But no Christmas or New Year message – I don’t understand.
    I know as I’m writing this the stupid mistakes I’ve made. The question is – is it too late to turn it around, or should I just write him off?

    • James Bauer said:

      Hi Suzanne. I’m an advocate for dividing your time and energy rather than putting all your eggs in one basket. Until he shows a desire to form a committed relationship with you, I think it makes sense to leave the door open to see what happens with him while also pursuing other relationships.

      In this way, you allow your relationships to unfold naturally instead of trying to force them to go according to a plan you’ve created ahead of time. If he really values the connection he has with you, he will pursue you again. Time will tell.


      • Suzan said:

        Thank you so much, James, for your response. I do really appreciate your advice and agree with everything you said. You’re absolutely right that I created a plan ahead of time, and am now going to take a step back and let things unfold naturally. Thank you xx

      • Coll said:

        Hi James
        Thank you so much for this excellent article. I always enjoy reading from you. Like many others, I really appreciate the free advice and personal responses. I am writing my PhD and not working so I cannot afford the presonal coaching right now. The free advice is so much appreciated. Keep up the good work James. And as we say in irish: Go maire tú an céad agus bliain chin aithrí!! (may you live to be a hundred with a year for penance!!)

    • Coll said:

      Hi Suzan
      I am in a fairly similar situation to yourself and was glad to read from you and also get James’ advice. I guess if these guys are worthy of us… they will come back to us 🙂
      All the best

  7. Pulane said:

    Hi James just want to let you know that I read all your message you send to me, and their inspired, keep on doing the good job to help women like me. who sometime feel like abundant.

  8. Alima said:

    Thanks alot James ur article was soo helpful at this particular moment in my life ,I dont understand why my phone does not read the videos but when its an article, I can read it .what I’ve learnt from it will enable me better communicate with my new boyfriend.Thanks again

  9. Claudia said:

    Chiming in here. Your transparency in explaining a man’s thoughts, James- are invigorating . Insight is helpful and so needed for our female brains. I have many male friends that I have wonderful communication with – but I suppose that I’ve understood the differences in makeup and have clearly just been authentic and not tried to win a mans heart- by doing that- I feel I’ve been so privileged to have many quality relationships that I continue to treasure. That being said – I’m in no rush to find that special person and have discovered that my male friends appreciate that 😉

  10. Adriana said:

    Hi James, I am Adriana from Argentina, and I just want to know, why is so difficult to men to apologize for any offense they cause you?
    I am talking about a man who is not my partner, we are just friends and I care a lot for him, and some weeks ago we had a discussion by e-mail. I was very upset about a particular situation and told him things in an offensive tone, I admit it.
    But, to my surprise, he answered it in a way that was much more offensive that mine. We know each other for almost ten years, and as I told you before, I really care about him and our friendship, so I was the first trying to fix things, and called him to apologize for the tone of my mail.
    He didn´t answer that time, but a few days ago we met again and talked about that, and he said to me that he answered me that way because my e-mails were too agressive. He said to him then that his answer had been even more agressive. So he told me “¿what did you expect me to answer when you are talking to me that way?”…so, as you may see, he not only didn´t apologize, but he justified himself and blamed me. And since then, he became more cold and distant.
    This is not the first time that happens to me, and unfortunately, the result is allways the same: men just seem to hate you when you try to notice them that they are having a bad attitude towards you or when you say them you think they are making a mistake, or being agressive, or unfair with you, and then they become distant, defenssive, and they pull you away.
    It´s so frustrating, you know, it´s the same story over and over again in my life.
    I really care about him, and I don´t want to keep this distance between us. He used to be so cheerful and fun with me, and I miss that. ¿Is there any advice you could give me in this situation to be close to him again?
    I thank you in advance, and I expect my english isn´t too bad 🙂
    Best regards

    • James Bauer said:

      Hi Adriana. I am sorry to hear about that negative exchange. It’s amazing how quickly people can harden their hearts against each other.

      However, the situation you described is very common. One person’s agitation creates defensiveness and agitation in the other person. Then both people feel hurt. You both feel an injustice has been done to you because of the other person’s tone. In reality, you’re both just people responding to the frustration you felt inside.

      Letting go of that frustration sometimes does not require a “fix” so much as just “acceptance.”

      In this case, it may be that acceptance of his frustration and negative response is better than an insistence on getting an apology.

      • Adriana said:

        Thank you so much, James! You know, this is not the first time somebody says to me that “acceptance” would be a keyword in order to face my life. However, I still think I have so much to learn about men, so I ordered your material, I´m reading and working with it, and seems like a well beginning to me. Thanks 🙂

  11. Maricris Guzman said:

    thanks James its very nice and interested advice.

  12. Ann said:

    Sorry … I meant that I have learn something new..

  13. Ann said:

    Thank you. I have something new.

  14. vil said:

    thank you are such a blessing

  15. smy said:

    Hi James, that was a short article but succinct and perfect. You have written it like a male and the way communication issues should be dealt with from a males perspective but really helpful to us female readers. A great article, thank you!

  16. peace said:

    This has really change my way communication with my friend.Thanks so much.

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