If sensitive men were eligible to receive military-style awards, the sensitive guys would get the Purple Heart, hands down. The sensitive personality trait is the gold standard for men, though most men wouldn’t make the cut if subject to a panel of judges.
Sensitivity is a crucial trait because relationships are complex, and they can become problematic if one or both members of a couple stop communicating, stay angry, or play the blame game. Men who aren’t sensitive can be extremely difficult to have a relationship with because they overlook the need to modulate their feelings and express them to their partners in a way that isn’t attacking or alienating.
So, why are some men sensitive, while others are not? Are they just born this way?
It’s not the fault of insensitive men that they aren’t comfortable showing their sensitive side — it just means that no one previously taught them how to be sensitive. Think a sensitive man is sensitive because he was born that way? Child, please! Sensitive men are sensitive because they were taught by parents or authority figures to understand and value their own feelings, as well as the feelings of others. They were taught that one’s gender doesn’t matter when it comes to feelings: Girls have them, and boys have them, too. Sensitive men were taught a definition of strength that breaks with the age-old convention that says men who cry or admit vulnerability are weak.
If we consider the sensitive guy’s experiences over time, harking back to the high school years is a potent reminder that sensitive guys aren’t always the most sought-after. But years later, after many previous relationships have crashed and burned, some of those same females who would have rejected a sensitive guy back in the day come to realize that sensitive guys are 1) simply nicer, and 2) easier to get along with!
Let’s review some examples of sensitive guy behavior.
• A sensitive man cares about the feelings of others and would feel bad if he hurt another person’s feelings.
• He is a team player in all facets of his life, including work, his relationships, and his friendships.
• He doesn’t have a big ego or need to be seen as the smartest, most attractive, or most interesting man in the room. He always fits easily into groups.
• When it comes to making social plans, the sensitive guy strikes a balance between doing what he wants and doing what others want. While he may suggest one of his favorite activities one particular week, the next week he may defer to the other person and ask, “What would you like to do?”
When it comes to romance and family life, the sensitive personality trait benefits him and the overall family in countless ways. On a date with a woman, the sensitive guy asks her questions about herself. He wants to know more about her and what interests her, and he listens closely when she talks. The woman can tell he listens well because he later makes references to things she has told him in conversation.
As a husband, the sensitive guy shows his love and appreciation for his wife in ways both big (the occasional romantic vacation, a gift from her favorite store) or small (offering to cook her dinner when she is tired, encouraging her to get some social time with her girlfriends). When the couple argues, the sensitive man isn’t a yeller or name-caller. He expresses his feelings, listens to his wife as she expresses hers, and seeks a solution that reflects a compromise. Sure, he sometimes gets angry, but then he bounces back and gets over it.
As a father, the sensitive guy is the dad every kid wishes he had. When his child acts out, the sensitive guy doesn’t rush to judgment or issue a harsh punishment. First and foremost, he listens to his child when his child is upset, and he doesn’t minimize or dismiss the feelings — as annoying as they may be! His family is the sensitive guy’s pride and joy and he values his family relationships above everything else. While many men see themselves as family men who put family first, the sensitive dad actually backs it up by spending as much time as possible with each member of his family.
If you are single, make a game out of it and play detective by looking for signs of sensitivity in men when you’re in social environments. Notice the little things (pulling out a chair for someone), as well as the bigger ones (paying for lunch for the group). When you’re much older and look back on your life and the men who have come into and out of it, I’m sure you’ll find that the sensitive guys last a lot longer than the rest.
Dr. Seth Meyers has had extensive training in conducting couples therapy and is the author of Dr. Seth’s Love Prescription: Overcome Relationship Repetition Syndrome and Find the Love You Deserve.