What caused your last argument? Are the words you said the same ones your sweetie heard? It’s no secret that storms between women and men linger at the intersection of loving and living. You may find yourself asking, “Earth to sweetie, what must I do to get through to you?”
Here are 4 gender communication pitfalls with tips on how to avoid falling into them. While all men and women are not all the same, using just one of these tips the next time you disagree may reap relationship riches.
Pitfall 1: Men can separate sex from love, but women think that sex IS love.
A recent study found that a large percentage of women have sex for the sheer pleasure of it. Duh! But the study ignored the posturing of the genders AFTER sex occurs. Women ask me how they can push a guy towards permanence. The bonding hormone oxytocin, which gals have in far greater supply, drives women to bond with a man. But the male tortoise that tottered toward commitment now darts like a cheetah toward the cave. He feels invaded while she feels evaded. Hey guys, lighten up! The female black widow spider usually fails in her attempts to eat her mate after sex!!
Steve told Jackie he didn’t want to get serious. But since he was living at her home on weekends, she thought he would come around. Because Jackie kept pushing the issue, the couple ended up splitting for good.
My Advice: Yes, we know that talk is cheap, but if someone says the same thing to you over and over again, you need to listen! As my Gilda-Gram says, “If any partner feels s/he is in maximum security lockup, your relationship is doomed.” Sex is sex and nothing more – unless BOTH partners agree to change the script.
Pitfall 2: Men talk deals, women talk details.
Words have different purposes for the two genders. Women use them to solicit rapport, while men use them for gathering and disseminating information. In fact, men may accuse women of talking too much, but research shows that men actually talk more.
Lauren missed Fred after not seeing him for awhile. As soon as they got together again, she blabbed non-stop, describing every detail of the time they spent apart. While Lauren just wanted to include Fred in her life, his mind was screaming, “Damn! Does she ever shut up?” Unable to tolerate her constant chatter, Fred left Lauren in his rearview mirror. Lauren never knew why.
My Advice: Before pitching your message, assess your honey’s receptivity. Ladies, when your guy walks in and asks how your day was, ask him, “Do you want it in male talk or female talk?” Usually, he’ll choose the former, so offer a synopsis. Your feelings will remain intact while he goes off to unwind. Later, you can fill him in on any important details.
Pitfall 3: Women deliver “like-me” language, while men argue their points.
“Like-me” language preps the “nice girl” to ingratiate herself and avoid offense. Statements with a question added to the end (“The movie was good, wasn’t it?”) avoid issuing a judgment on the speaker’s behalf. Hedging phrases (such as “I think” or “kind of”) avoid imposing an opinion. In contrast, men blurt out their thoughts without subterfuge and tend to compete in one-upping each other.
Nice girl Traci was furious that each time she argued with Ralph, he insisted that if they broke up, he’d find someone else before she did. This was his aggressive repartee, a style guys customarily use without taking anything personally. After I explained to Traci that this was a gender distinction, not a slap in her proverbial face, she was able to laugh off Ralph’s competitive edge talk. Her new attitude softened all their future disagreements, and they’re now planning their wedding.
My Advice: Observe how the genders speak within themselves as a group. Know the stereotypes, honor the differences and laugh them off, just as Traci did.
Pitfall 4: Men want to fix women’s problems, but women just want to share.
When Marilyn brought her work problems home to Alan, he proceeded to tell her how to solve them. Unfortunately, all Marilyn wanted was to vent to someone with whom she felt “safe.” In my own relationship, I told my seasoned businessman boyfriend (whom I’ll call “Studly”) that I was looking to expand my consulting firm. Studly then escorted me to various booths at a trade show, introducing me to anyone who would listen. He’d begin by saying, “This young lady would like to…” as though I were a mute 10-year-old. “Hey,” I told him, “I’m an adult woman, I have a legitimate Ph.D., years of corporate consulting experience and I can SPEAK FOR MYSELF!” Studly thought he was “fixing” my dilemma and had acted with the best of intentions. He had no idea why I was so upset until I explained.
My Advice: Ladies, know what you’re after before you unload. If you just want to vent, tell your partner that exactly. Guys, if your lady doesn’t tell you what she’d like your role to be, ASK HER before you provide solutions to the problem at hand. Women typically don’t want to take your directions any more than you like asking for them.
In the end, Mars and Venus can communicate with each other. For planetary bliss, just don’t assume that what you say will be interpreted in the way you intended. Ask for feedback. Understanding gender communiqués successfully is a major key to sustaining love.