What the heck just happened between us?
Couples, this one is for you.
Women, how often have you heard yourself say in utter frustration:
"But all I wanted to do was tell you what happened..."
Men, how often have you heard yourself say (with equal measure of frustration):
"But I was just trying to help you..."
Only to discover that you somehow managed to upset, irritate and anger your partner for some mysterious, incomprehensible reason.
Let us demystify this.
If I were to tell you that men and women differ from each other so much that we might as well be two different species, would you agree?
Most of you would, I am sure.
Why then do we still expect the other sex to behave in ways that makes sense to us? To have the same emotional responses? To take the same action?
Because that's what WE would do under the circumstances?
Come on, you don't have to be a rocket scientist to see the absurdity of this expectation.
We have just defined the underlining reason for most of our conflicts with the opposite sex.
Let's take a look at some of our differences.
(I apologize in advance for a rather simplistic explanation of our biology.)
Women have a need to express their feelings, and to do it verbally.
We call it sharing.
For us, this is not a preference, but a NEED. A biological need if you will.
When we do that, we immediately feel better. That's why picking up the phone and talking to a friend who will listen never fails. That's why when we gather in groups we talk and we share with each other.
When we do this, the hormone called oxytocin gets released in the brain. And we need that hormone! It is our "feel good" medicine. We get in many ways, (sex is one of the ways,) but also - through sharing.
Add to this the fact that under normal conditions women's emotional response to things is 5 times stronger than that of men. This doesn't make us better or worse, "more than" or "less than" men. It makes us different.
Let us take a look at men.
Men do not need the amount of oxytocin that women do. Too much oxytosin for men is actually not a good thing at all.
Nor do they have a built-in need to share. When men get together, they often play games: chess, backgammon, volleyball... . Or watch a game, or talk politics and sport. They seldom share their lives except with a close friend and even then selectively.
What men do need however is to be left alone now and then so they can "chill," do nothing, stare into space (this usually drives women crazy, because they don't "get it,") flip the TV channels, "aimlessly" sit in front of the computer screen...
And during this "non-activity" they get the hormone they do need: dopamine.
They NEED it in much bigger doses than women do.
One more thing compounds our differences:
Men have a built-in, knee-jerk, genetically enforced response to women. And it is to make her happy (!). Oh, yes. Which means to take care of her, to protect, to defend, to provide for etc. etc. etc.
Make her happy? This sound good...
But wait a minute. This also translates into: solve her problems, make decisions, offer advice, do things for her, rescue her from trouble...
This may be nice and good, but in most cases not what the woman of today wants at all.
She can take care of her own problems. She is making her own income. She has her own career... . She doesn't want him to tell her what to do.
What she does want is to be able to talk: to SHARE her feelings and to have him LISTEN.
Yep. That's all.
And here he is. Imagine a man listening to his wife or girlfriend telling him how badly her day went, or what a difficult talk she just had with her boss, or with her sister, or any number of unpleasant things she needs to get off her chest... and every fiber of his being demands that he interrupts, corrects the situation, makes sure her troubles go away...
He is ready to act, but she is still talking.
And he makes the first mistake:
"Can we get to the point please?"
"I am not finished talking!"
"Why don't you do x-y-z? Next time don't do a -b - c..."
"I don't need you to tell me what to do!!"
"But if I can't help, then why are you telling me this???!!"
He is also sure she is OVERREACTING (because, remember?
women' s emotional response is 5 times stronger than men's.)
"What was such a big deal?"
And silence falls.
Unable to bear it, he says the worst thing of all:
"I think you are overreacting."
And it's over.
It's all down hill from this point on.
What just happened here????
He only wanted to help... . She only wanted to share.
"But I don't need your help!"
"Then why are you telling me all this????"
And it is official: Men and women speak different languages,
even though they use the same words.
Here is another scenario:
Remember I said that men "need to be able to just do nothing" because that's how they rebuild the lost dopamine? Which they NEED?
Women don't have this need. And they certainly don't understand "doing nothing."
Their genetic programming is to be multi-tasking non-stop: holding the baby and stirring the soup, talking on the phone, watching the other kids, thinking about the evening ahead... All in the day's work.
She is used to that. To her, that's normal.
And then she sees him. Her man. He came from work and seems to be "just sitting."
"Why are you just sitting there doing nothing?! Don't you know this that and the other still need doing???"
And two things happen to men:
One - they don't get to build the dopamine lost during the day, and two: this constant nagging and criticism makes their testosterone levels drop.
And we have the shocking but very real phenomenon of so many married couples not having sex anymore.
So what are we to do?
I say, accept our differences instead of being frustrated by them.
So we ARE different! What a marvel!
Want to get along with your partner?
Then stop expecting them to be the way you are.
Men: just let us talk, okay? Look at the bright side. Unless we specifically ask you, you do not need to do anything about our problems. Just be there and listen. Don't try to make us feel better. We will, on our own, as soon as we are done talking.
And women: let your man be. Stop the criticism, stop the complaints. He is not "just sitting" there, he is rebuilding himself. And once he's done, he will be back!
And he will love you for it. And you will get more of his attention and more of his kindness. And he WILL save the day (when the day needs saving) if you stop the nagging and the criticism.
Because when under extreme stress or in crisis the roles change dramatically.
Men's reaction to crises is hugely stronger than that of women.
The genetic programming kicks in, he steps into his natural role - and does what he does best.
Don't take my word for it, try it for yourself.
All for now.