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I have experienced my fair share of angst, frustration and disappointments in my interactions with men.
I often wondered how much more clearly or directly I needed to be to get my point across—why can’t he get me? The inability to feel heard and understood has led to fights, emotional distance, communication break downs, and break ups.
I’ve read countless sex and relationship books, especially the ones pointing out the differences in the way men and women communicate. As a sexologist, I’ve been privileged to have had front-row insights into the inner workings of other women, and what they think of the communication in their relationships.
While not everything here may be applicable to you, please read this in the spirit of my intent to share, illuminate and help.
1. She is not crazy.
The speed of her speech, the details behind her stories, and the depth of emotions she expresses as she shares them does not mean she is crazy. She is reliving the story, including the range of feelings and emotions she originally experienced, as she recounts it to you.
Expressing her emotions does not make her crazy or dangerous. If you need to limit how long her stories are, state so. If you’re overwhelmed for her tears, tell her. If you are getting a headache and need a time-out, say so. She might not be happy about this at first, after all, isn’t love supposed to be unconditional? On the longer run, she will appreciate you stating your boundaries, rather than become overwhelmed and withdraw from her.
2. She doesn’t want to one-up you.
Men tend to think a lot more about how the world perceives them—whether he has it all together (his wits, career and finances and so on). Consequently, men can appear guarded— generally out of fear of revealing too much, especially their failings. They do not want their competitors, or even friends, to have an edge over them or to disappoint anybody.
When your woman gives you suggestions, advice, or even seemingly lectures you, she almost always means well. She has no desire to beat down your spirit, nor win over you. She wants you to be a better man, because simply put, she is in it with you. You are a team. When you succeed, she isn’t going to claim all your credit, but rather would be genuinely happy for you. Sure, perhaps the way she goes about it (including the tone of her voice) could be better, but that’s more a communication issue, rather than her being blatantly against you.
3. She wants to be heard.
Why would a woman want to be heard, but not the solution? This is challenging for men to get because men do not usually talk to talk. After all, wouldn’t it be like loving the sound of your own voice? Or simply making a lot of noise? Isn’t it a waste of time, and going nowhere at the end of the day?
What if talking is her way of processing her reality? Could it be that the very act of relating is emotional intimacy to her? Is there a possibility that feeling heard and understood is more important than getting things right? Many people would agree that talking, even without coming up with any solution, does make them feel better. And sometimes, the answer does emerge through the course of the conversation.
Life is not linear for most women, and men who have trouble with this idea may want to clarify expectations by asking: “Sweetheart, did you just want me to listen or were you asking for suggestions of what to do?”
4. She needs to be seen.
Honey, how do I look? What do you think of this dress? Do you think I am fat? Heard that before? What is she really asking for when she asks you for your opinion? Does she want the real answer? Is she going to bite your head off?
In all likelihood, you’ve probably had a bad experience with questions of this sort and feel frustrated.
What if all she wants is the reassurance that you see her, you still find her attractive, and most importantly, that you still love her? You can be honest with what you think of how she looks, as long as it is coupled with how genuine compliments and affirmation of your love. For instance, “I think the orange dress looks better on you. You know… I find you attractive and I’d love you regardless of what you wear.”
5. She wants you to be vulnerable with her.
Men who view tears as a sign of weakness and one of the worst thing they can do in front of their beloved have no idea. She actually wants you to trust her enough to be able to cry in front of her—maybe not in exactly the way she does. Your ability to show some of your doubts, fear, and weaknesses is letting her in on your inner world, and drawing her to feel closer to you.
How much can you open up your heart to her? Let down your guard, let her in… just try. Your trying to be open and willing to be vulnerable is all noted, appreciated and will contribute towards her feeling oneness with you, intimacy as a couple, and strength as a unit.
6. She’s onto you.
A woman who loves can become consumed with—in a good way—your happiness. She’s reading, sensing and intuiting everything about you. It’s not about her being suspicious, paranoid, or psychotic. In every interaction, she may unconsciously be tapping into your psyche—where your thoughts, needs, wants and desires take precede. How does he feel? What does he want? What would make him happy?
It’s her using her female instincts to relate, and she cannot help it. It’s her survival instincts kicking in. Does he mean what he said? Can he be trusted? Will he make a good father? When you are relaxed about it all, and she senses authenticity, she can then relax, open up, relax and surrender to love… to you.
7. She is different.
When two individuals come together, conflicts, misunderstandings and frustration may arise. Rather than get into: Why are we so different? Why are you like that? How come….
Pause. Seek to understand the lenses in which your beloved is coming from. She has her own set of thoughts, beliefs, attitudes, needs, wants, and desires. Let’s not forget how her relationship with her family, childhood memories, past romantic and sexual experiences, gender roles as well as her own relationship with being a woman, and with herself all shaped her. She is unique. As do you.
I wish you all the best in using your relationship to learn about yourself, and develop qualities in you so as to be a better person. What did you think of this article? What was new? What reframing could you begin to apply into your own relationship? I love to hear your thoughts!
For more, read my previous article 7 Things to Bear in Mind When Communicating with a Man.
Love elephant and want to go steady?
Author: Dr. Martha Tara Lee
Editor: Renée Picard