Have you ever walked through a room, noticed five things that needed to be done, finished the thing you were in the middle of, and then return to finish those five things? Yes.
Have you ever done that same thing while there was a man in the room sitting on a couch, looking at his phone? Yep.
Does this make your blood boil?!!
As a woman, it’s really easy to assume that the man in the room sees the same thing that you do. Of course he notices the dishes in the sink, the trash next to the back door begging to be taken out, the camping gear from the weekend that still needs to get put away, the fact that you’ve run out of coffee, and hear the faint beeping of the smoke alarm in the basement whose battery needs to be replaced.
Not just a lesser woman.
But, here’s the thing: men aren’t just hairy, lazy, misbehaving women. They have brains (and priorities) that actually function differently than ours do. (Surely you’ve heard the term, “Men are from Mars, Women Are from Venus.”)
I won’t get into the specifics here, because I’m not an expert in this particular thing, but there’s a woman named Allison Armstrong who really gets it. I first learned of the idea that men aren’t misbehaving women from her. Men aren’t doing all those things not because they’re insensitive jerks, but more likely because they aren’t seeing all those things need to be done.
Now, before you freak out on me for saying this, hold the phone. I am not in any way saying that our inherent differences excuse bad behavior on the part of men. I’m just sharing that they don’t see things the same way we do, including where and how relationships fit into their lives.
(If you want to learn more, you know how to use “the Google,” right?)
The places we are hurt by men the most tend to be because we have failed to understand, or placed (undisclosed) expectations upon them that they don’t share.
You know when you start to feel upset because the guy you really like hasn’t called you in a few days? And when you finally hear from him, he says he’s been really busy with work.
As a woman, you just don’t get it. You start to get fired up, because you can’t imagine how you could go for a couple of days with just letting someone you care about fall off the map. You can’t fathom not being able to take a moment, ping someone that you care about and then get back to work. For many men, who are excellent at being single-focused, this just doesn’t occur to them.
So when you use your lens to demonstrate why he’s doing it wrong, not only will he not get it, there’s honestly no way the guy can win.
Understanding it, and getting to sink deep into your bones are two different things.
Ok, ok, you’re done using your lens to view his actions. You’re gonna try to see it differently.
Here’s the kicker. There’s one reason that really getting that men aren’t being assholes or trying to mistreat us is difficult to understand: our shit gets in the way.
In the times that men are acting differently than we would act ourselves if in their shoes, we make it about us. Our fears, insecurities, and judgements come up. We decide to interpret their actions – and we react from there.
I had an incident over the last few days where a man fell out of communication with me. And I was really hurt and pissed, and made it mean all kinds of things about what he thought about me and how much he valued his relationship with me, etc, etc.
And finally, I reached out and told him how I felt. His response reminded me that none of the stories I’d made up about what was going on were true. He was just focused on something else.
But in the middle of feeling hurt and pissed off, I realized that the way I might have said it if I had been treating him like a misbehaving woman would have been something like, “Dude, show a little respect for the people you care about. I’m not asking for anything superhuman here.”
Respect him for who he is.
I actually hear it over and over again from male friends of mine. They are crushed when they try to do right by a woman and it just isn’t good enough. I can hear the regret in their voices of times that they just didn’t see what was going on and subsequently got verbally beaten to a pulp for it.
They’ve lost relationships over it. They’ve been insulted and demeaned for it. And lots of them have given up. If we want men to treat us well, we have to appreciate them at the core of who they are – and that includes accepting and understanding where we differ from one another.
The key to it all: framing your needs in a way a guy can hear them.
It had me realize, if I’d been clearer about what I needed from him, we could have avoided the whole snafu. But what would I have said?
Always, always be in contact with me. (Um, no, that’s psycho, and I don’t even want that.)
I need to hear from you every three days at the minimum. (Um, no, that’s controlling…and I have no interest in heading down that road.)
Well, what it came down to was that we had had plans to talk, and those plans fell through. So it turns out that the thing I really need is for this person to do their best to keep their agreements with me, or negotiate new agreements when necessary.
That’s straight-forward and something he can work with.
Let’s focus on how we can appreciate men for who they are. What are some things you really like about men? What are some things they do well? Where do you like to rely on them? Leave a comment below and tell me – I read every one!