The world is not a kind place to be. Yet, this is where we exist. Misfortunes haunt everyone, some more often than others, some more SEVERELY than others. Guys are no more or less susceptible to depression and trauma than girls are. However, in order to protect ourselves, we hide it in public. We lock up our memories around our friends, especially our female friends.
Why do we do this? Humans are excessively cruel creatures, especially males. If one shows signs of weakness, others with attack him, whether verbally or physically. This is incontrovertible, and evidence of it exists everywhere; you just need to know where to look. That is a discussion for another day though.
Ladies, how you factor into this, though, is crucial. Be you perpetrator, support, or unknowing. You make a difference in the lives of guys around you. Whether you see the effects of this or not are dependent on countless factors, again, a discussion for another day. This Take will discuss things that you need to be mindful of while you're dating, or even just friends with, a guy who has been traumatized or is depressed.
1. We are disturbingly good at hiding our own feelings. This doesn't go for all guys, but on average, this is highly likely. The vast majority of guys will try to hide their trauma or sadness behind façades of very convincing fake smiles, joking around, and overall sociable behavior. This is because showing signs of weakness among other males is essentially a death sentence. When talking to a guy, and you don't know if he's depressed or traumatized, you need to tread carefully. Striking a nerve has different results depending on the guy in question. Some react violently, some retreat into their own worlds, some try to deny it, some laugh it off, others dismiss you completely.
2. Our body language is our downfall. This is generally a dead giveaway. A guy may be acting normally, or even more cheerfully than usual, but his body language will tell you the truth. How he sits, how he carries himself, how much eye contact he makes, how he gestures, subtle movements and other things will be vastly different between a guy who is just peachy, and someone who's been through tough sh*t and back. If you can learn to read your particular guy's body language, you can tell when something's fishy. If you really must know, pull him aside and ask him if something's wrong.
3. Chances are, he WILL deny it. Guys don't generally like to trouble others with their own trauma or depression, and will deny most any claims that come in his direction. This is as much an attempted courtesy to you as it is a defensive reflex for himself. Not only is he keeping his guard up, he doesn't want you to be distracted by what's his own problem. Again, tread carefully, because all guys react to something like this differently. If you really need to know and genuinely want to help, get him alone and ask him sincerely to be honest with you. Let him know that he can trust you, and assure him that it's not troubling you, and he'll most likely open up to you. If not, it may be a safe idea to back off until whatever the problem is, is resolved. Nothing good can come out of putting too much pressure on him. It can cause his depression to worsen or in severe cases, to relive what traumatized him in the first place.
4. Time will heal his wounds, and you CAN help. When you can help him depends heavily on the guy and the situation. Most guys will tell you that he needs to deal with it on his own. This may or may not be the case. Maybe he does. It could be a family thing, it could be a health thing. Maybe what he doesn't realize is that he needs your help. Just be there for him, ready to talk to him when he's finally ready to open up to you. Support him with kind words and an honest and caring heart. Him coming to you is a sign that he truly trusts you. You may not realize it, but you've given him the greatest gift of all: yourself.
You being there for him. That's what matters. If you take anything from this, just know that eventually, a depressed or traumatized guy will need you to be there for him, as he will be there for you in your time of crisis. Your care and understanding is what can make the greatest difference in his life.
You may hold a guy's heart in your hands. Please treat it with great love and care. It will go a long way.