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How Can You Decode Your Man's Silence to Understand What He's Feeling?

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Your man may not say a lot, but his actions speak volumes. It doesn't take hours of psychoanalyzing his every word or action to understand him. Often women are fooled by their own desire to hear or see what they want in men.

Men have several channels on which they communicate: [1] the career channel, because so much of a man's perceived worth is connected to work; [2] the relationship channel; [3] the channel dedicated to sex; [4] the one for sports, news and food; and [5] the channel for family and friends. Sometimes when you want to talk and he doesn't, it may just mean he's not on the channel you're on at the time. In some cases, he's just working things out in his mind. It may not be about you! Forcing a conversation won't be very fruitful, and he may resent it.

Another reason some men don't divulge thoughts and feelings may stem from a sense of vulnerability. These men view relationships as a power struggle and fear a woman will gain the upper hand. My advice for dealing with this type is to approach with caution.

Men and women communicate differently, so you can't understand men by thinking like a woman. You have to go beyond what is or isn't stated and observe his actions and behavior. Relationships can't grow without communication. But if he is reluctant to talk or is not very emotional, just let him express himself in his own way. Men are always communicating how they really feel—you just have to read the signs.

William July, M.S., a social psychologist, is the author of four books on men in relationships.


Real Men Speak...

"There are so many ways to express yourself besides verbal communication, and those other modes might be more revealing and truthful. I help around the house and cook romantic dinners, and I'm respectful of our relationship and her space. It gives me a sense of well-being to do this for someone I love. It's the nonverbal things that matter because so many people are skilled in the art of verbal deception." —Harold, New York City

"Being tight with communication is a control tactic. My friends are really clear about what they're thinking when talking to their women. But things get lost in translation—which is frustrating when women won't take what we say at face value. Many act as if it's a game, but it doesn't have to be." —Jimi, Lexington, Kentucky

"If you want to know what we're thinking, simply ask. Then check what we say against what we do. I try to make my actions match my thoughts. If I love a woman, I strive to demonstrate my love as often as possible with actions great and small." —Alím, New York City

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