9 Touchy Subjects Guys Get Sensitive About
Stuff Guys Are Sensitive About
We often think of sensitivity as a female trait, but in reality it's a personality trait—and sensitive people are both male and female. Don't believe us? In a 2014 study by Mindlab, a neuromarketing company, researchers found that men are, in fact, more sensitive than women when it comes to emotional stimuli—they're just better at keeping their feelings locked down.
So just because you've never seen your guy cry doesn't mean he doesn't occasionally want to, especially if you poke fun at a topic he's particularly sensitive about. "Men are more likely to be overly sensitive about ambiguous topics," says Kat Van Kirk, marriage, family, and sex therapist and author of The Married Sex Solution: A Realistic Guide to Saving Your Sex Life
. "They don't express their emotions as often or as clearly as women do, and might not even realize that they're sensitive about something until they feel the trigger."
That's right: He might not even know he's sensitive about certain topics until you broach them. So be careful when you mention these 10 things—issues that your guy takes to heart. (While you’re at it, try your best not to mention the 5 Things You Don’t Need to Tell Him.)
We often talk about how women are unrealistically portrayed in the media—but what about dudes? Thanks to shirtless Hollywood hunks like Chris Hemsworth, guys now have to deal with unrealistic beauty standards as well. "Lots of men are concerned they'll gain weight when they settle down, or end up with that 'dad bod,'" Van Kirk says. "It's a newer phenomenon, so it's harder for them to deal with it."
You don't have to stop ogling Hemsworth's abs to help your guy get past this though. "Just remember: Guys need verbal and non-verbal validation," Van Kirk explains. "Tell him he's sexy and be handsy during sex. Don't avoid body parts he's concerned about, such as his beer belly." (Ditch the dad bod by getting your guy to try The Perfect Total-Body Workout for Couples.)
Thinning hair is a sensitive topic for many guys, despite the fact that hair loss is actually a marker of high testosterone, says sex therapist Chris Donaghue. If your guy is going bald, it's best not to mention it. "Remember, everything about him is going to change eventually," Donaghue says. "Try not to build a relationship that requires certain physical attributes, because you won't end up happy."
This might seem like common sense, but it's best to let your guy take the reins when it comes to dealing with his parents, siblings, and extended family. "You may not love his mother, but if you badmouth her then you're badmouthing the way he was raised," Van Kirk says. "Because this isn't something he can change, he'll probably take it more personally than you intended." Make it clear that you support your guy, Van Kirk says, without adding in your own two cents every time mom drives you crazy.
You might think some of his buddies are jerks, and he might even agree with you. But that doesn't mean it's a good idea to rag on those relationships. After all, he is still friends with them for a reason (plus, you have no idea what kind of history might be there). "We're sensitive about relationships because they're a reflection of us," Donaghue explains. In other words, when you blast his friends, you imply that he's not a great catch, either.
His Sex Drive
There are the obvious topics: sexual performance, sexual prowess, and, of course, penis size. But those are the only issues he might be sensitive about when it comes to the bedroom. For example, many guys feel a lot of pressure to be the initiators when it comes to sex, and that can make them feel less desirable. "This sort of plays into looks and desirability," Van Kirk says. "But it's a good idea for you to initiate sex as often as you can, instead of just waiting for him to do something." (All the more reason to make use of these Steamy Sex Tips for a One-Night-Stand With Your Man.)
His Job Title
It's not just about money. Your guy may not be a lawyer, a doctor, or rake in six figures, but that doesn't mean he's not proud of his career—and the title he currently holds. "Many men have their identity and self-esteem tied up in their career," Donaghue explains. "Even if he doesn't make a lot of money, he's probably still proud of what he does." Bottom line: It's never a great idea to challenge or tease him about his job.
Most modern men aren't going to feel emasculated if you're the breadwinner in the relationship—but that doesn't mean you should rub it in his face, Van Kirk says. "If he's overly sensitive about finances, to the point where it's affecting your relationship, be more vocal about acknowledging his non-financial contributions," Van Kirk says. "That could mean appreciating the things he does around the house or mentioning how awesome he is at his job, even if it's not a high-paying job." (Don’t forget these 5 Money-Saving Tips You Can Teach Your Man.)
Maybe he likes to go out drinking with friends, or maybe he gambles occasionally. You may not totally approve of his spending habits, but as long as his (minor) vices aren't affecting you or your relationship, it's better to keep quiet. "Many guys are protective around money," Van Kirk says. "As long as he's being responsible, you shouldn't try to take over his finances or police his spending habits." After all, he doesn't raise a judgmental eyebrow every time you walk through the door with a $100-plus Sephora haul, right?
His Parenting Skills
There's a lot of pressure on women to 'have it all'—make oodles of money in an ultra-filling career, look flawless all the time, and be super-moms. And guess what? There's similar pressure on men, it's just not talked about quite as often. "The flip side of our more egalitarian society is that men are expected to be manly and tough, while at the same time being present, emotional beings—and great dads," Van Kirk says. Assuming you two are doing the best you can to raise kids in the way you see fit, know that he too feels that crazy pressure to be Super Dad—and hey, take a step back, he's probably not doing such a bad job.