Understanding Men: What We’re Doing Wrong
By Liz Dawn Donahue, Care2 Healthy Living
It came to my attention during my own process of dating discoveries that something needed to change in my perception of men. I am going to use my experiences as a heterosexual to explain things, however it really does not make a difference what your sexual orientation is to understand this philosophy. If you are in a same-sex relationship, there might be one of you that has a stronger feminine or masculine side than the other. If so, then you might find the following information valuable as well.
We have all been through a lot of confusion about the male-female relationship and dynamics between the sexes, but I never completely understood this until I attended a weekend workshop designed by Alison Armstrong from PAX Seminars about understanding men. There were so many incredible insights that I learned throughout this weekend workshop that helped me not only understand men better, but to have more confidence in myself as well. I highly recommend taking a workshop or getting one of her CDs.
One of the important things I learned was how we as women emasculate men and as a result we lose their trust. It is not something that we are consciously doing, but unfortunately society has reinforced this behavior. Whether we realize this or not, this chips away at a man’s self-esteem and we continue to push them farther away. For me, I wanted to gain a man’s trust. I wanted to find my best friend and be a supportive, kind and loving partner. This does not mean subservient as that is not my style, but I had to look at the various ways that I added to emasculating my partner. I realized that every time I criticized, rolled my eyes, continually interrupted him, invalidated his opinion, laughed at men-bashing jokes, that I was only putting more and more of a wall between us.
We as a society encourage men-bashing jokes and t-shirts that say “men are stupid.” How are we going to come together if we continue to alienate the very people we want to be close with? How are we going to develop intimacy with this kind of negative energy floating around? And the same goes for men doing this behavior with women. Remember, I am coming from my own personal experience. Use this information and personalize it for your own situation.
When we as women are having challenges with men, what do we do? We run to our girlfriends complaining and crying about how bad the man has been and our girlfriends reinforce our beliefs. Of course they are going to reinforce our beliefs, because they are women and we think in similar ways. Here is the lesson: Men are men and they do not think like women, and the same goes the other way. We do not think like men. That is the beauty of choosing to be in a relationship with either a man or a woman. Instead of battling against a man’s nature, honor it and understand it. Once you begin to understand it, you will no longer be hurt or offended. John Gray talks about this beautifully in his book Men are From Mars, Women are From Venus. Many men need to be quiet and go into their cave to figure things out. Many women need to bond and talk things out with their friends. Once you understand that your man needs some alone and quiet time, this will make it easier for you to back off and give him space without getting upset. And the same goes for men understanding women.
Here is another tip. Sometimes men come on very strong for the first few months and then back off. When men first begin dating and they are excited about someone new, they begin to visualize themselves in different situations with the person. It is not something they are doing consciously, but they begin to see themselves with you and then begin opening their mouth and start making premature plans. I have had this happen numerous times where a man will begin talking about how fun it would be to go skiing together, or away for the weekend or to meet his family. This is because men start to put you into their lives before you are actually there. Then they realize that “oops, I don’t know this person that well” and begin to back off. It is not something they are doing intentionally to hurt you, it is just their initial way of bonding.
Okay, one more communication tip. You really want to find out more about a man and what he feels about something. Do not ask him what he “feels,” but rather ask, “so what do you think about that?” Then you need to sit back and smile and let him talk. He will say a few words, pause, then perhaps pause some more and do not say a word, just smile and nod and allow him to go on. Give him space to think. Give him space to gather his thoughts as he will continue and when he does, that is where the juice is and he will begin to reveal more about himself. We as women are constantly saying “uhuh” to each other or “yes, I know what you mean.” Do not do that with a man if you really want to get to know him. Allow him to talk and let him take his time. Try this with the next man you meet or even with a male friend, brother or father. See what happens.