Fundamentally, men disclose less than women in nearly all situations. Generally, female to female self disclosure is the highest, male to male self disclosure is the lowest, and female to male self disclosure is in the middle. (Hill and Stull, 1987) Also, the relationship between the two people plays a large role in how much one self discloses. But generally, men don't express their feelings verbally out of fear of vulnerability that comes from it. Men are afraid they may get laughed at, scorned, hurt, rejected, or worst of all, fully accepted and loved. Then the woman will have all this power-the power of love to wield over their heads.
Jourard (a major player in self disclosure research) attributed this to the social roles of men and women:
"The male role requires men to appear tough, objective, striving, achieving, unsentimental, and emotionally unexpressive.. . . The male role, and the male's self-structure will not allow man to acknowledge or to disclose the entire breadth and depth of his inner experience to himself or to others. Man seems obliged, rather, to hide much of his real self—the ongoing flow of his spontaneous inner experience—from himself and from others. (Jourard, 1971, p. 35)"
Yet, when men were asked to fill out a longer demographics questionnaire first which was in the essence self disclosing, they reported disclosing just as much as women did on the second questionnaire.
Thus, to get men to talk about more sensitive topics, get them talking about other things first, then slowly work your way into the target topic. Reassuring them about their social role not being compromised by self disclosure won't hurt either; let them know that talking about their feelings doesn't make them a wuss. To learn more about the way men think, sing up for a free newsletter by clicking here.