Working in IT and generally being considered ‘one of the guys’ I hear guys complaining a lot on how difficult women are. The truth is, we really are not. Ironically, I usually get along perfectly with my friends’ girlfriends, my ex-boyfriends’ girlfriends and my boyfriend’s exes (well, not at the moment since I’m single, but you get the picture). I’ve always had trouble understanding how their boyfriends didn’t understand “hidden messages”, which to me were so obvious. And I’m not the only one failing to understand this. Once, I did a survey for fun and asked several different women, of different ages and backgrounds, the following question: “If you try to make your emotions clear to your partner and he says he doesn’t understand it, do you think he doesn’t understand or he just doesn’t want to put effort into it?”. Every single one of them thought guys just don’t want to put in the effort and use their lack of understanding as a stupid excuse.
No, this post is not on bashing men, the contrary. Because while I was having a pretty emotional fight with a guy who’s very dear to me, it finally hit me: he wasn’t kidding when he said he didn’t understand, he just honestly didn’t understand. While for all of my girl friends the problem was so clear!
I don’t have any scientific explanations for why men have trouble understanding women. However, I do want to try to explain how I think it works and I wonder who agrees on this one with me:
As we all know, human beings have senses they can rely on. Sight, hearing, smell, taste and touch. We judge our environment and the way we perceive it, because of what comes in through our senses. For example, we can make a judgement on whether it’s day or night, by looking if it’s dark or light outside.
Now, take a blind person for example. They won’t be able to judge whether it’s day or night just by looking. However, maybe they can conclude on the time of day by the birds they hear whistling or such.
What does this have to do with communication between men and women? Let’s imagine a seeing person tells a blind person it’s light. This concept may mean something to the blind person as they learn that light is associated with day, but it would be in no means the same as when they could see the light for themselves. It’s the same in communication between men and women. I think women have this “extra” sense, which I would like to call empathy, developed extra strong compared to men. This sense gives them information on the emotional level of a subject. For women, this sense is so basic, so natural, it’s very strange to realize men don’t share this sense. Women perceive is as if it were sight, or taste.
So, when women talk to men, it’s like they’re trying to explain the color of grass to a blind person. Only, one thing makes it complicated: they don’t know about their partner’s limitation. Imagine trying to explain something you see to a blind person. You might be able to, if you’ll appeal to their other senses. Now, imagine trying to explain something you see to someone while you have no idea they’re blind. You will have an incredibly hard time understanding why the other doesn’t understand you. You might even feel like they’re mocking you.
In order for women to make something clear to men on an emotional level, they will have to appeal to the men’s other senses. Try to explain your emotions in terms of behavior and cause and effect, things men can see, things men can observe. You will notice you have a much easier time.
On the other hand, if you’re a man and you don’t understand the emotional level of your partner, try to ask her to translate it to things you can understand. She honestly doesn’t understand you just don’t have this sense she does have. This gives her a feeling you’re just mocking her. Once she will understand this is a thing you can’t help, she will be more willing to communicate with you in ways you will be able to understand.
Women are emotional. This does not mean they are better or worse than men, we’re just different. We have this extra sense, where most men tend to for example be more muscular. Each sex has their strengths. We just need to learn to work with the differences.
I’d like to hear your thoughts on this subject.
Disclaimer: I’m by no means stating men can’t feel empathy or all women do. I generalize for the sake of the argument.