Often when women get together the subject of their men comes up. Women feel frustrated that conversations that involve feelings or might tip toe into conflict don’t usually go well. They confess to longing for more intimate conversations with their man, like the ones they have with their girlfriends. If they had one wish, it would be that their man wouldn’t be defensive or shut down. Anecdotal evidence points to a big gap between the kinds of conversations women want and the actual conversations they have with their men.
Gender differences in communication and relationship styles is a fascinating subject that requires comprehensive research and analysis that go beyond the scope of this article. Our purpose here is to mine the gold from Dr. Duberstein’s counseling sessions with men over the past 30+ years. We apologize in advance for generalizing or if any of these traits, characteristics, or behaviors of men are stereotypical. The problem with stereotypes, of course, is that even if it’s true in some cases, it’s certainly not true in all cases. In fact, as you read through the list, you might even recognize a woman in your life with the same characteristics. Keep this in mind as you read on.
How can women better understand the men in their lives? Does it make sense to adjust expectation about intimate conversations? Do any of these traits or characteristics ring true about the man in your life?
Here are some nuggets to help women to adjust unrealistic expectations and bridge the gap with understanding. Perhaps the man in your life might be open to talking about whether they see themselves in any particular one.
Men are more sensitive than they let on.
- Men show love by going to work and providing for their families.
- Men care deeply that their partner is sexually satisfied.
- Men dislike their partners to compare them with other women’s husbands, especially with respect to their earning power.
- Men like their partner to maintain a bit of mystery, spontaneity, and unpredictability.
- Men want women to understand that vulnerability is difficult for them. In this society, men are conditioned for stoicism, toughness and competitiveness. Opening up is very challenging.
- Men see the world in terms of hierarchical structures.
- Men put herculean effort into adapting to our egalitarian society. It’s a struggle for them to be less dominant.
- Men want women to understand that the life of boys is not easy. The rites of passage involve risk-taking, competitiveness, dealing with physical aggression, top-dogging, etc. The rites of passage for girls are different.
- Men tend to be more sequential and linear thinkers and doers, which makes them less able to multi-task.
As you look through this list, consider whether an particular item has caused friction between you and the man in your life. If so, is there something you can change in how you talk and react that would show you understand? Are there ways to get him to open up about what it was like growing up as a boy?Just beginning these kinds of conversations and adjusting your style a bit to convey that you know his intentions are good might go a long way toward having more conversations of the kind you long for and bring you closer together.