Love IQ: The Male Heart

You tend to give more to others than you ask from them. You find yourself holding your tongue, avoiding conflict, and accommodating the needs of others. You hesitate to take care of your own health, take space for yourself, or take a day off. You find yourself feeling misunderstood, run down, and disengaged from the very people you serve and love.

And you’re a guy.

In my experience, just as many men as women want dynamic and connected relationships. Yet their desires often go unexpressed and therefore, unrecognized in our culture. I’ve got an uphill battle selling a book about love to my clients - mostly male leaders in service industries. That’s not because they don’t want or need a quick and easy tool for understanding their own needs and quickly creating a connection with their partners. It’s because male emotional psychology, especially when it comes to love, doesn’t get a lot of “press.”

Men struggle with home-work balance as well, but few of them are going to talk about it publicly. Men need social support to sustain their emotional, spiritual, and physical wellness, yet they often do not establish these relationships. Research shows that women still outnumber men in initiating social plans, seeking behavioral and proactive medical care, and consuming available self-education or other resources aimed to enhance their wellness.

The most influential resource is a man’s partner, however. Before we complain that our guys aren’t emotionally invested, or don’t know how to connect, we should know what we need. Not at an “I need you to cook dinner a few nights a week” or “I need a massage” I mean: “I need to have my own independent life too” or “I need to feel comforted by you.” After we figure out our own needs, triggers, and strengths, then we are in a more balanced, sturdy place to ask our significant others to do the same. This process requires focus and courage. Because it means saying no to other things you or your partner does. We are saturated with opportunities to fill our time. And if we’re serious about helping men increase their “love IQ” then we (their partners, their bosses, their friends) should give them ample space and time to grow it.

Men who actively do this, however, have a competitive advantage over those who don’t. Men who understand their own emotional needs, blind spots, trigger points, and desires, tend to address them more readily. They tend to practice communicating in ways that connect emotion to action, and they tend to address the needs of others pro-socially.

Research has shown that men who do not spend time investing in self-examination and self-care are more likely to think, feel, and act selfishly. This is not due to a character flaw or lack of integrity, it’s because they have been led to believe that their emotional needs come after the needs of their work, the task in front of them, their significant other and children. Spending time and money on self-development has been taboo for men for quite some time, not only because it’s falsely seen as unmanly but because it feels “selfish.”

One of the reasons I wrote The Letter Code is to give readers easy access into their emotional psychology. Without using jargon, diving deep into social attachment theory, or imparting moral judgment, the guidebook provides readers a passage into an area that is often off limits or complex terrain. Readers who go there gain a language that helps them not only understand themselves but easily translate it to others.

What we are trained in is what we practice. What we practice is what we default to. And what we default to becomes who we are. It’s time for us to train our hearts as much as we do our bodies and minds.

I believe men want to be leaders who live, serve, and love from their core. They want to be connected and balanced. It’s up to us to invest in available opportunities and resources that guide them towards this progressive outcome. The Letter Code is just one of them. You are another.

OUR CONTRIBUTOR:

KRYSTAL WHITE, Ph.D.,  is the author of The Letter Code: Deciphering Why You Love the Way You Love. She is also a leadership psychologist with more than 15 years of experience working with individuals, organizations, and communities. Dr. White holds a doctorate in clinical psychology, is a board certified child and adolescent psychologist, and has completed a medical fellowship at Madigan Army Medical Center in developmental pediatric psychology. She also holds a master's degree in Christian Leadership from Fuller Theological Seminary, and a master's degree in mind, brain, and education from Harvard University.