Why do boys find it so difficult to feel anything? This is not just a generalised sexist statement. It's simply bourne out of past experiences. When I am down/up/sideways it is the actual sensation of the aforementioned affliction that affects me. I work out why I'm feeling that way and do my best to deal with it. I feel sad. Boo. I feel sad because I have no money. Boo. Get over it Gemma, move on. Boo. I don't want to. Well have some chocolate then, and read Grazia.
With boys it is totally different. If a boy feels very down, for whatever reason, he uses a totally different strategy. To begin with he doesn't try to work out why he feels the way he does. He is sad. He does not know why. He retreats into a corner or attempts to bury feeling with alcohol, sport or literature. The next phase I like to call Meltdown. This is when the male brain, amazed at the change in pace and sudden awareness of feeling, shuts down and refuses to do anything except flash the following sentence in his conscious mind 'OH MY GOD. I AM HAVING AN ACTUAL FEELING'.
Panic follows Meltdown. Man is confused. Man is in unchartered territory. Man continues to panic until reassured by woman or close male friend who admits to going through similar just days before. Man is pacified. Reason is found for him. Man goes back to feeling (no longer in bold) without realising and soon forgets it ever happened.
My theory is this - Men feel exactly as women do, but generally they don't notice it. Unless they have a really strong feeling like love, or depression or severe anxiety they can happily go about their daily business none the wiser. It is only when faced with a challenge that causes them to feel intensely that they suddenly become aware of their mind's capacity to make them experience feelings. Then they panic. They suddenly become aware of feeling intensely and become irate when womenfolk deign to mention that that is actually how they function most days of the week.
So ladies, next time your man dramatically anounces that he is stressed or down, do not panic. He is no more stressed or panicked than you have ever been. He is simply finding his feet in a world of conscious feelings and is frightened by the unknown. Pacify him, reassure him, and then leave him to whatever method he uses best to get himself back on the straight and narrow.