You hope for him to show some tenderness, compassion and comfort, but it’s just not clicking. Why don’t men seem to get it?
Well, we sure have had a look at some big topics in the last few weeks. Ranging from our Silent Pain, to The Source and Impact of Sexual Fantasy, through to The Pressures on Dating. While there’s not always a lot of comments, there sure is a lot of feedback that usually comes to me directly. One of the more surprising pieces of feedback I’ve been getting, mainly from women, is that they’ve felt I’ve understood the “female perspective on dating” quite well. To that I say, well thank you. I like to listen and learn. Not a fan of just writing hate to put women or men down. Always something new to discover and talk about.
But that got me thinking, maybe it’s time to jump back again and delve into the male perspective. After all, people are desperate to know What Men Really Want. A lot of writing by men is historically sexist and/or misogynistic, akin to bashing of women or reverting to memes or simple jokes to convey a point. Men don’t always convey their truest thoughts about their relationships, which is why both men and women are willing to wade through pages of sexism to see even the most basic good points an author may have.
As always, I like to respect both genders, and I don’t think putting a whole gender down helps anyone. I’m just here to learn and explore what is really closest to people’s hearts. That said…
I thought we should have a look at one of the timeless issues plaguing many relationships – why men don’t understand. Or why they don’t seem to.
You know what I’m talking about. This stigma has been around for years. That men can be unromantic, unappealing, unsympathetic. Where’s the man in the movie when the crisis is happening? He’s probably watching the game. What’s he doing when the kid is having an identity crisis at the table? Often (not always) he is portrayed as aloof, like he hasn’t been paying attention to the conversation (because he hasn’t). Look at some of our flagship fictional male characters – Homer Simpson, the American Dad, Tony Stark. Either oblivious, self centered, or both. Not always sensitive to the needs of those around them.
Of course, to make such broad statements about every male is incorrect. There are men who understand, or at least make attempts to. But sometimes, and in the experience of some, quite often, men just seem to lack that understanding quality that makes some of the more romantic male characters so appealing. Just look at any meme involving “Hey Girl…” followed by an understanding glare, or promises of a loving action, and have a look at how overwhelmingly positive the female comments are. In the hundreds of thousands.
Maybe this is similar to your experience. Maybe you have a man, or have had men, in your life who you’ve expected more from, but they just have appeared to have been too obtuse to give you what you would like. Maybe you’ve told him what you need, but then he proceeds to still annoy you somehow.
Or maybe you’re a guy like me, just trying to understand it all.
So, I thought I’d take a realistic perspective on the stigma and explore some of the potential reasons why men don’t seem to understand.
He’s not trying hard enough
This is the most common objection from the female camp on the topic of men being sympathetic. The apparent lack of attempt is disheartening and infuriating. How many a fight indeed have ended with the sentence, “You just don’t understand!”. After all, what you’ve said makes sense, doesn’t it? What you’re expecting should be obvious. It shouldn’t be too hard for him to work it out. And if he were paying any attention, surely he would’ve picked up on what you need from him.
Now, as a man hearing this statement, my instant reaction, like many of my brothers, is to say, “hey wait a minute… that seems a bit unfair”.
But I’ve got to give this statement some credit. Perhaps this statement has so much power because, well, maybe we’re not.
Men and women are different. And the differences go beyond the physical. We want similar things, but we need them communicated in different ways much of the time. And sometimes I see guys blaming their girls for being too demanding when they keep trying to understand her like she’s another guy. Like you can just have a fight and instantly move on, which two guys can do quite easily. Where your emotions can be shattered, and you can go on with your day a bit easier. From the male perspective, that seems like the normal thing to do – you want to keep moving forward, you have a lot of responsibilities, you can’t let your emotions or issues of the day slow you down. But from the female perspective, and all the girls reading have been waiting for this sentence, it looks like you don’t care.
I guess to this point I think, fair point girls. Gents, let’s give it our best effort.
There are plenty of times where a significant amount of effort is being exerted, but it is still not really noticed. I would say this is the majority case, as much as the stigma seems to signify otherwise. Guys don’t want to fail at anything in life, especially with the lady of their heart. To the male mind, there is no greater failure in existence than to hurt your wife, or to be ambivalent to your girlfriend’s feelings, or to be ignorant of the girl you’re crushing on.
The next few points I would like to offer to both men and women to consider in our journey towards understanding each other better.
You’re not saying what you mean
M: Honey, you look upset. Are you ok?
F: Yeah I’m fine
M: Can I do anything to make it better?
F: Just leave me alone
M: Ok, just let me know if you need anything
*M walks out*
Common scenario. You know the drill. When this happens in the movies, what are all the girls doing? “WHAT ARE YOU DOING YOU IDIOT!!! GO BACK IN THERE!!!”
Because she said she was fine and wanted to be left alone.
But what did she mean?
She wanted him to stay and listen, or to comfort her, to hold her, to be there for her.
And here is where a lot of men get confused. But you ladies need to recognize why.
It’s because men hear what you say, not what you mean.
And this is often why men end up unintentionally hurting their ladies. Because you said one thing, but it’s not what you really wanted. The lesson for men is, listen deeper. And this process takes time. The best husbands, boyfriends, lovers – they are men who have taken the time to learn that the way her eyebrow moves when she says how she’s feeling gives away that she’s not doing alright, that she may actually be serious this time and need some space, that she does want to talk about it but just needs a bit more time to process it with his presence still in the room.
The lesson for ladies though, and for all of us, is to get better at saying what you really mean.
To say that “he should just work it out” every single time is unfair. You wouldn’t, and you don’t, expect the same from yourself. It’s the same if a man says he had a good day at work, even though he’s close to getting fired or is getting bullied by the sales team. And yes, there is an art form in seeing past people’s surface reaction and what the walls they put up when something is wrong. But how much more powerful is it if we are able to communicate with utmost trust exactly what’s going on.
Or as Scripture puts it, “let your yes be yes and your no be no”.
You’re not sure either
There are certain periods (pun intended) where hormones are thrown off balance. Where two identical days go from being heaven on the first day, and the depths of hell on the second. Where you’re hot, cold, angry, sad, happy, alone, and feeling crowded, all at the same time. I can’t say I’ve ever had that time of month given my physiology, but you sure do learn quick that those swings exist.
And even on days that are a bit more normal and unaffected by blood, he is struggling to work out exactly what you’re feeling. And the more he asks about it and tries to help, the more annoying he becomes.
Because you’re not sure either.
And what happens? He says, “you seem tired, maybe you should have a nap”. You say, “I’M NOT TIRED!!”. He runs away. Obviously I’m playing this up, but you get the picture. He’s trying to understand what’s going on.
On this point and the former, men will usually say, “Honey, (say it with me now) I’m not a mind reader“
And we’re not. But if we were on certain days, it might not help too much. Once again, this is a human problem, not just a female thing (but perhaps more traditionally it is in this context).
If you don’t know what’s going on with you, chances are the other person may not either.
Or maybe they know you well enough to make a bold statement as to what it is. Either way, this is certainly one to note.
Are you expecting too much?
At the end of the day, and this is a statement you’ve probably seen a lot of on this site – men are people too. We get tired like you. We get confused like you. We have mood swings like you (well, not exactly the same, but you get the point). And sometimes we don’t even have our own stuff together, let alone the capacity on any given day to help out all the time. He’s not always going to get it right. No man will. And that’s normal. Give him grace. Help him understand what’s going on.
I think what’s beautiful about relationship is it is the ultimate dance. It’s learning to fit together. It’s understanding what moves the other person makes, and why, and being able to move together without either of you getting lost or hurt. And the main part truly is the endless discovery of the heart of the other.
A lot of people have expressed their opinions to me in person about different topics I’ve written. Why not write them here instead? There are thousands of people like you wanting to talk these things out, so why not contribute to the discussion? If you liked this post, don’t forget to check out the other posts on the site, subscribe, and give it a share. Happy dancing!