Just Because I Don’t Show My Feelings Doesn’t Mean I Don’t Have Them

Some women are powerfully emotional. They live in the raw, and they’re beautiful to behold. I am definitely not one of them. But even mellow chicks like me catch feelings occasionally — we just express them differently.

  1. We like to think feelings through before sharing them. Sometimes it takes us a while to even process a response to emotional stimuli. Until we can line the pieces up in our brain, we need to keep our reactions to ourselves. Other times, we hold back our knee-jerk retort to a frustrating experience through pure self-discipline because we know the first thing we want to blurt out is rarely the best thing. In either case, we prefer to double-check what’s on our mind before expelling it from our mouth.
  2. We’re generally good at understanding multiple angles of a situation. We’re not reactive, so once we’ve thought things over, we’ll usually recognize that there’s more than one way of interpreting a conflict. We won’t scream and cry at you. When we’re at our best, we’ll acknowledge your perspective, give you ours, and keep the muss and fuss to a minimum. It tends to be a refreshingly undramatic way to handle life.
  3. We don’t like losing control, and if we’re afraid we might, we lock that crap down fast. We’re careful with our feelings for a lot of reasons. Some of those reasons — like a desire to respect other people’s views — are positive. But to be honest, it’s also just embarrassing to get caught off guard. We’re scared of those moments we feel ready to erupt in public, because we’re normally able to hold off from meltdown mode until we’re safely by ourselves.
  4. We’re not necessarily bottling things up. Sure, some of us are. But by no means are all of us holding everything in. The normal, healthy human spectrum of emotional response is broad. From situation to situation, we, like most folks, experience shifts. That doesn’t mean we’re psychotically shoving things deep down inside.
  5. We can be frustrating in relationships. It’s not easy to show you what’s going on under the skin. We prize our ability to maintain personal boundaries. We don’t like admitting when we’ve been bested. Whether you piss us off or break our heart (or both), we’re stubborn about letting it show — particularly when we’re aware that you didn’t mean to make us feel that way. We don’t want to become irrationally upset about your unintended gaffe, so we’ll just shut down for an hour or two.
  6. Sometimes we’re baffled and annoyed by emotional outbursts. Seriously, you couldn’t think that crap through and hold yourself together? You just had to explode your feels all over the place? Quit making a scene and calm down. Of course, though, we understand that everyone communicates differently. Everyone has unique emotional needs. Everyone is doing the best they can, and empathy is crucial. But sometimes … seriously?
  7. If we open up to you, you’ll see a side of us very few ever do. Selective in our social interactions, we don’t let too many people get close. But even we need to vent or crumble under the strain sometimes. Sharing that side of ourselves with a lover is one of the most fulfilling experiences in life. But vulnerability like that is also painful. And it takes a lot of effort, trust, and patience on both ends.
  8. We deeply appreciate it if you let us come to you in our own time. Good God, don’t try to force the feelings out of us — we’ll only clam up. When you keep cool and give us the space we need, we’ll express ourselves when we’re ready. There’s nothing sexier than a man who’s always willing to listen if we need to spill our guts, but never attempts to provoke us.
  9. But it’s important to be straightforward with us, too. You can’t coerce us into emotion, but it’s okay to call us out if we’re being a pain in the ass. In fact, even when it makes us uncomfortable, we sometimes need it. Indulging anybody too much in their mulishness is unhealthy. Just do it calmly and we’ll do our best to listen.
  10. It’s okay to tease us about it. Being more analytical than emotive doesn’t exclude us from having a sense of humor. We’re not super serious. We recognize and appreciate the differences in people’s personalities. But if you’re going to dish it out, you’d better be able to take it. Since we’re a good sport about being the butt of a joke, we’ll expect you to be equally game when we turn it around on you.
Jackie Dever is a freelance writer and editor in Southern California. When she's not working, she enjoys hiking, reading, and sampling craft beers.