In the last blog post I described a theory that attempts to explain why men communicate differently to women. Please keep in mind that this a theory but it rings true. For many women you gauge if you are ok by the conversations you have, the company you keep and the friendships you have with other women. It should come as no surprise however that men are often very different. When men are together talk always turns to: rugby, cars, mechanics, jobs, just pick one. We need a project with an outcome, a problem looking for a solution and fixing stuff tells us we are ok. No wonder we have communication problems. He is always giving you sage advice about relationships at work, friendships and siblings? He is always coming up with a solid solution to your ‘problems’. That’s what we do. Action is equal to adequacy! We are real comfortable in this space because we look like we are competent. From the outside we have our stuff together.
Men are generally are more interested in things. How things work, what things do etc. The energy you put towards emotional connection is the same way we put energy towards things. Here’s an example. If you get the chance, stand next to a man who is enthusiastic about cars as he looks under the bonnet of a finely crafted custom car for the first time. Watch him stare in awe the pristine engine, listen to him making admiring hmm’s and ah’s, with a comment here and a comment there. Watch him stand back in awe as the V8 engine purrs. Most of us are inspired by this kind of stuff. It could equally be a new software program, computer game or a football game.
Men recognise and respect that whoever put the effort into building this machine had to plan well, design well, he had to make challenging decisions and often tricky ones. He had to overcome obstacles and fight with the possibility of failure along the way. But in the end, he triumphed and succeeded in building a thing of beauty. We as men celebrate that, and recognise the effort and hard work gone into such an endeavor. In a word it is respect.
Now, what is the key word in that last paragraph? You might be surprised to hear that it is ‘END’. There is a starting point, an objective and an outcome, an end. When the objective is clear, a man can set about achieving that objective. And this is the point I am trying to make here. When conversations with our partners, including relationship conflict and talks that require an emotional engagement are required we fear they will be open-ended and unsolvable and then we panic and relationship dread kicks in. And this often leads to communication problems.
And this is why it is called male relational dread. Because men often believe that if we engage with our partner in an emotionally charged conversation that has no end there’s no telling what might happen. Any conversation with charged emotions has the potential to bring up vulnerabilities and shame.
And it is worth keeping in mind that because we instinctively feel you, as a woman, have a clear advantage over us men in this department we are less likely to want to stay there long. To us it looks like a game with a winner and loser. And we will be the loser. Next time we look at how you can both have deep and meaningful’s and constructive arguments at the same time