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?
So, when frustrated clients on the verge of divorcing or splitting from their partners come to see me for counselling, it’s usually at the point where they feel their man no longer cares. It’s funny because I know that guys care very much about their relationships.
So what signals are these guys sending out to their female partners to give them that impression?
Well, I wanted to investigate what was causing this breakdown in communication between men and women, so I questioned some male friends of mine. I needed a clear explanation of the inner workings of the male mind. What assumptions and lessons had these guys been taught in regards to communicating and listening to their female partners?
In John Gray’s book “Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus,” he suggests that men and women are from two different planets. Not literally of course, but his idea is quite persuasive to someone who doesn’t have a crisp, critical eye.
I know, I know. It’s really tempting to put people into dichotomous categories. It’s what our brains do. When we can put people into clear, distinct categories, the world feels a little bit easier to deal with – it seems simpler.
“Guy can’t communicate well? Oh that’s just men. It’s just the way they are. It makes sense they’re from another planet.”
Communication is a skill set that is taught to us. That’s why some communicate well, and others don’t. Luckily, anyone can learn to master it.
While this blog isn’t centred on criticizing John Gray’s book, his concepts are a little simplistic. However, I do applaud his mentioned practical advice and I like one of the points he raises that men show their love by offering to fix problems when a women talks about the frustrations of her day. Sometimes a woman appreciates having her man jump to her aid, but mostly not.
A Tip For Men: If she’s talking about a topic that has an obvious solution. She can probably solve it herself. If you point this out to her, you’re missing the point of her talking to you in the first place, which simply to share with you her feelings so you can get closer to her. She’s also ‘offloading’ emotion; it’s just how she deals with it and you are the lucky person she’s chosen to do that with. Why are you lucky? Because she trusts you to care, she trusts you to hear her, to accept her and show compassion and warmth. She doesn’t want this from anyone else.
Look, the concept that men and women are different in their communication styles has been reviewed to death. But there was no in-depth look at how men are actually thinking. Ladies, I hope you’re on the edge of your seat now as I cover two categories: Crying and Guilt.
Men and Crying
Why does a crying woman make some men so uncomfortable? Because for the women, or at least many women, crying is venting. It happens, you feel better afterwards, and you try to lessen the shame of it by frantically dabbing at your face with a tissue to remove the various types of liquids that have gathered there.
As Doctor Hasson, a researcher into the evolutionary purposes of crying, reports:
“Too often, women who cry feel ashamed, silly or weak, when in reality they are simply connected with their feelings, and want sympathy and hugs from their partners.”
Doctor Hasson has discovered that crying is a show of emotion, but it’s also an opportunity for people to become closer. It seems that the main purpose of tears is to alleviate the sufferer but also to suggest to those around us that we need something. With all this in mind, how is it a simple natural and evolutionary function seems to elicit disgust or fear in men?
A friend of mine, who very graciously allowed me to quote him said:
“The big instinct here is to stop her crying and make her feel better…You want to fix whatever it is that is making her cry, but if you can’t fix it right here, it can be just kind of an indicator that you should have done something else.”
But personally, I don’t think men are the only ones who want to stop a woman crying. I know if I see someone, anyone, who is upset, I feel motivated to reach out and ask the person if they’re okay.
Some guys can see a women’s tears as manipulative, and maybe some women do use it that way, but I suspect the majority of women do not. And when they cry it’s a very real emotional response.
Because society seems to discourage crying in men, perhaps they’ve been forced to cope with their emotions in other ways. So it makes sense that they might feel confused by a woman who cries often, or sometimes, because for a guy crying is a sign of weakness, it’s when they’ve let their guard down. And they seem to believe you only really cry if something is ‘really’ wrong.
But why should tears only be for times of extreme situations?
Tip For Men: Guys, a woman’s tears are her way of letting her guard down around you and relieving her emotional internal pressure. Hug her, listen to her, and be ready to jump to action if she asks you to help her.
Click HERE to read Part 2 of this blog specifically focused on Men and Guilt.
Why Cry? (2009, Sep 7) Retrieved July 24, 2012, from Science Daily web site: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/08/090824141045.htm
Image by Nuttakit