Believe it or not, men tend to feel responsible for a lot, and until you probe the depths of their minds (good luck), you’re probably unaware of it. The topics that guys don’t want to talk about are usually the topics that need discussion. And once again, I’m not trying to say all men, just a vast majority.
When a woman brings up ‘the talk’, which usually means going into an in-depth discussion about feelings and relationship processes, guys seem to cower. I mean literally; you can see them squirming in their seats sometimes. Or, if you’ve got something to complain about, depending on the type of man you’re with, they may become defensive, yell at you and try to turn the conversation back on you. Or you’ll get the nod-and-apologize response. Both ways aren’t helpful and leave the women thinking, “Did they really understand what I just said?”
A guy might say, “Yeah, he gets it, look at him nodding.” But hearing and listening are two very different things. The guy needs to listen by repeating back to her what she’s said, by showing her he understands how she arrived at feeling the way she does, and then, if a guy is lucky, she’ll be ready to move onto problem solving.
Whether defensive or overly apologetic (feeling guilty), both of these reactions are unhelpful. Often a woman isn’t intending to lay blame, she just wants to talk about what’s wrong. And guys, if she sees your behaviour as a key player in that, it’s probably just coincidence.
It’s interesting, because this is the time when women need those problem-solving skills from their men. This is the time for guys to engage the woman in finding a solution. She’ll tell you what’s wrong, what you could do better and how that will lead to better outcomes in the relationship (I hope women out there are doing this and not just complaining). But it doesn’t seem like that’s what the man hears. It seems what he hears is:
“You’ve made me upset. You aren’t doing this right. You …
My female clients often complain to me that their husband/boyfriend doesn’t understand their needs. And to be honest, I’ve experienced similar things in my own past relationships. In order to address that though, I would sit my partner down and explain to them what it is I needed from them.
Sometimes this was met with understanding and receptivity, thank goodness, and sometimes it wasn’t (those ones probably didn’t last long).
Regardless of how your man responds, ladies, you’ve got to make it clear to him what it is that you want. See a therapist. If he doesn’t know what you need and then you get upset when your man doesn’t make you happy, it’s hardly his fault then, is it?