“We’ve come a long way baby” was an iconic ad campaign that seemed to represent the women’s movement—even though the equality was represented by the equal opportunity to eventually get lung cancer—a movement that, in my opinion, needs to keep on moving…but that’s a different article. As I thought about that slogan the other day, I wondered if there’s a male equivalent to show how much men have ‘evolved’ from the stereotypical cavemen types that many seemed content to be decades and decades ago.
No matter how equal we believe men and women are, or are not, I believe there will always be a communication gap and it will vary in severity based upon the individuals involved. I’m not saying anything new. John Gray talked about it in the book Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus published in 1992. And in 2004, Greg Behrendt and Liz Tuccillo got lots of attention for the book He’s Just Not That Into You, which helped women understand men’s motives better. But you’d think that after all of these years on the planet together we could anticipate some of the problems that inevitably come about because of miscommunication and then make the necessary adjustments ahead of time.
Women are expressive. We emote. And yes, some of us talk too much. But men (it seems to me) are at the opposite end of the spectrum when it comes to talking about themselves and their problems, past, etc. They would rather change the topic or bury their bad experiences in deep, dark places—bound to erupt to the surface at some point—and sum up the rest in as few words as possible. If they could eliminate words altogether, communicating only through diagrams, I believe they would take us back to a time when drawings on cave walls and grunts were all that was needed.
I know I’m oversimplifying things and reverting to old-fashioned stereotypes, but the reality is: men and women communicate differently and it tends to cause problems in relationships. I’m not going to say it’s one gender’s fault, but since I’m a woman writing this article, I’m offering a few suggestions below for men to use when communicating with their girlfriends.
Instead of saying, “What did you do to your hair?” (which does not count as a compliment) try saying, “Oh, did you get your hair done? It looks good,” Or, simply say, “You look beautiful.” You can’t go wrong with that—unless you have a history of complimenting only when you’re trying to distract from something you did wrong.
If accused of not being affectionate enough, be a man of action and show affection! Hold your girl’s hand. Rub her shoulders and back, especially if she says she’s sore from a hard day at work or a long run or bike ride. Don’t just touch the X-rated places when you’re hoping for a happy ending.
If your girl is bitching about her day, whether it’s about how her friend Taylor was talking trash about her to her friend Jessica and she can’t believe it because she’s always been a supportive friend to Taylor, or it’s about her mom harassing her to visit more, listen first. Help her to unwind by letting her “wine.” Open a bottle of her favorite Rosé and hold off on coming to the rescue with your ‘solution’. If your girl asks for your advice, give it. If she doesn’t, listen; show support by putting your arm around her (see above); and try saying something like, “You know I’m always here for you. If there’s anything you need, let me know.” Then seal it with a kiss.
Remember, love is a four-letter word that we all want, whether we say it or not.
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