The other thing we do is use language very differently. Girls are encouraged from the beginning to do a lot of talking, a lot of sharing, and we’re pretty good at the verbal skills. In fact, we see those skills come into play whenever we get into an argument with a fellow.
In really volatile disagreements that couples have, men often feel like they can’t win because the women have these great verbal skills. Women can just whip all this stuff out, and they know emotionally powerful words that makes it very difficult for men to figure out how to respond.
As part of the female socialization process, girls are encouraged to talk about their feelings. We are also encouraged to bring up problems in a relationship and talk about them.
One of the things that also men get confused about is the fact that women can talk forever and ever and ever and never seem to get to the point.
As you’re listening, you ask yourself. “Is there something that she needs from me?”
Which is really hard for men because women speak in paragraphs and men listen in sentences. And the reason that men are listening in sentences, especially if she’s very emotional, is that they want to figure out what is it that they need to do for her.
He’s thinking, “She’s obviously upset. I don’t want her to be upset. So I’ve got to figure out a solution to help her with whatever is distressing her.”
But oftentimes our verbalizations don’t come out of a desire to have someone fix a problem for us, despite what we learned in toddlerhood. It’s actually a matter of needing to share with someone who loves us.
We have learned to build close relationships by sharing what’s going on in our world.
If you observe elementary school activities on the playground, you’re going to see girls with one other girl for the most part. And they’ll be very close together. There’ll be doing very detailed things like playing jacks or writing on the ground with chalk.
Sometimes hopscotch or something like that, but mostly you can tell they’re best friends because they’re sharing secrets. They’re talking, whispering. We’ve learned that our best friend share secrets with us. So it makes us want to share with you, and we hope you’ll share back.
So when we ask, “What are you thinking about?” And you say, “Nothing,” it drives us crazy.
Because we’re thinking you’ve got to be thinking about something.
Women never think about nothing. How could you not be thinking about anything? So it feels like you’re stonewalling us. It feels like you’re shutting us down. You’re shutting us out.
Most women get upset if they ask what you’re thinking or how your day went, and you don’t say anything in response. Because that means that you’re shutting me out. You’re not my best friend. And I really want you to be my best friend.
The other piece is our feelings. So much depends on how we feel. And let’s face it, women have a lot of feelings that come up very quickly. But again, our sensitivity is one of the things that you love about us.
But it’s hard to figure out what those feelings mean. When learn how to express themselves more clearly to men, lets the guy know what she wants. He needs to know upfront, “Does she want me to solve a problem or does she just want to share because she thinks of me as her best friend?”
If you think about that, it’s a great compliment that she wants you in her inner circle. And she wants to be in your inner circle, too.
You know, it’s, it’s so funny that so much of the arguments that the couples bring into counseling really center around the question one they both have, “I want you. Don’t you see that?”
Unfortunately, it gets lost in translation from female to male and back again.
So we’re going to continue to try to peel all this stuff apart, get the layers out there, and figure out what it is about women that really so, so simple.