The Secret Life of Women: How Men Can Finally Understand Female Emotions

man and woman fightLion Goodman discovers the key to understanding how women communicate and how men can learn to speak their language.

I was talking with my friend and colleague, John, about my relationship, and its challenges. I smiled and said, “Women’s emotional reactions have baffled men forever.”

With his typical wise and cosmic perspective, he smiled, and asked, “Would you like to understand feminine emotion?”

What? Someone who actually understands women’s emotions? And can explain them? I said. “Lay it on me, Bro!”

A few minutes into his discourse, I stopped him to get a tape recorder. I knew I had to share this information with other men. We really need to learn about this major difference between men and women. It will save us SO much trouble. If it enlightens you, please share it with all the men you know.

◊♦◊

John spoke of “the feminine” and “the masculine,” but it’s easier to write about the genders – men and women – than those two cosmic principles. Please translate my language from “men” to “masculine” and “women” to “feminine.” We all have both within us.

John began: “There are many differences between men and women, including brain design and function, the way they feel and know the world, and different beliefs indoctrinated into them by their families and culture. I’m going to focus first on how women process emotions, and how that gives them a different experience of the world.

If you hurt her feelings last year by acting in a particular way, or if you said something unkind, that pain still lives in her. She feels the possibility that you could do it again – even if you’ve changed significantly since that time.

“Women have a much better memory than men, especially when there’s an emotional component. Women attach their memories to their emotions – and also to their defense mechanisms. Your woman has specific memories of you. She remembers who you have been, and everything you’ve done in the past. She still reacts to those memories, and she operates, and makes decisions, based on her memories of who you were a year ago, and three years ago, and five years ago.

“If you hurt her feelings last year by acting in a particular way, or if you said something unkind, that pain still lives in her. She feels the possibility that you could do it again – even if you’ve changed significantly since that time. If you ever act like her absent father, or her mean brother, or her careless first boyfriend, she sees that you have the same potential to hurt her as they did.

“Her decisions and reactions are based on all of those memories – including her subconscious ones – as if you were those people, unchanged, today. I know this seems like a problem. But it’s just feminine nature. It’s a very strong influence on her feelings and her reactions.

“Here’s another thing: most women don’t differentiate by time when it comes to emotions – their emotions are all tied together across time. They re-experience their previous emotions as if they were all happening now – and this can be quite intense.

If a situation today is at all similar (in any way) to what happened in the past, then emotionally, this situation equals that situation. In computers, this is called ‘fuzzy logic.’ In the brain, it’s called ‘the cortex’s associative matrix.’

◊♦◊

“Men process emotions and emotional memory very differently. It’s not better – just different. Men don’t carry a gestalt that combines incidents-plus-feelings-plus-people-plus-consequences that women live with all the time. When a man experiences something emotional, it’s simply related to the facts of the matter at the moment. He will typically look for a direction he can move things, or a structure he can correct, in order to get past it.

Men interpret things simply. They look to see whether they feel good at the moment, and whether their woman is happy at the moment.

Men see events as discrete from each other (even if they’re not). Women correlate their feelings to the structure and evolution of the relationship, and they project it forward into the future of the relationship, and it’s expected development. Men interpret things simply. They look to see whether they feel good at the moment, and whether their woman is happy at the moment.

“Women experience events as a huge set of related constructs and dominoes that all correlate across time. ‘If he did this and that, it means this and this, and that. And that’s going to mean this… and this means that could happen, and because of what happened ten years ago, it’s going to mean that, too. And then we’re going to have children, and they’re going to grow up and be like this because of that, and then my friends will think this about it, and they’ll react in that way, and my God, then what will happen?’

“This kind of thinking and speaking is totally baffling to men. A man’s thought process is more linear: this, then this, then this, then that. Women experience everything multidimensionally (which makes them good at multitasking).

From a woman’s point of view, the way women process information and feelings makes perfect sense. To men, it’s like an alien language.

From a woman’s point of view, the way women process information and feelings makes perfect sense. To men, it’s like an alien language. These processes are just very different from each other. They have the potential of being complementary and supportive of each other, which starts with understanding.

“When it comes to information about relationships, women can run rings around most men. They understand thousands of facets and dimensions of relationships, and consider them all at the same time, including all the nuances of personal and interpersonal relationships, expectations of social and interpersonal decorum, etc. And this ability is built right into their energetic DNA. It’s the world they live in.”

◊♦◊

I listen, stunned, my head swimming, trying to comprehend all that John was saying. The best I could do was to say, “So emotionally, we’re completely outgunned and outclassed, right?”

He laughs. “No, not at all.  However, these differences must be understood and accepted. Otherwise, when a man attempts to communicate with a woman on an emotionally-loaded issue, he’s likely to be overwhelmed by the woman’s rapid-fire communication. He’ll go into information overload. She’s going to say, ‘What about this, and this, and this, and this?’ He won’t be able to deal with all of those complexities, because he can’t process all of the emotional dimensions as quickly as she can rattle them off.

“He’s going to think she’s being defensive, or that she’s talking gibberish, or she’s adding extraneous information. As a result, he might get angry and frustrated, or try to shut down the conversation. All she’s doing is communicating her emotional reality. She’s living it from moment to moment, and she assumes that it’s all vital information he needs to know. She’s trying to deal with what she sees as his lack of understanding of the emotional reality of the situation. She wants to establish a clear, trustworthy and shared understanding of the situation that they can both work from and negotiate from.

“It’s how she understands the world, and how she makes decisions, moment by moment. It’s how she takes care of her own well-being, self-esteem, and her own place in society. It’s how she cares for and manages all of her relationships.

This is why men appear emotionally unavailable to women, and why they appear to be less emotionally involved in the relationship. He doesn’t have the ability to process her emotional communications.

“This is why men appear emotionally unavailable to women, and why they appear to be less emotionally involved in the relationship. He doesn’t have the ability to process her emotional communications. It’s one reason why men don’t listen more to women, and they appear to be living on different planets. Men can learn this language, but they have a hard time keeping up. There’s usually a time lag for him to get and understand her feelings.”

I manage to say, “I’ve heard that men know one thing at a time, and women know everything at once.”

“Sure,” he says. “Women process relationship information as a gestalt – a whole. Men process information one bit at a time. Without knowing it, women naturally communicate more emotional and relationship information than men can readily and constructively process.”

◊♦◊

My mind was reeling, but curious. I felt a bit overloaded – sort of like talking to my woman.  I asked him to give me a specific example, hoping that it would pull my thoughts back together.

“Okay, let’s imagine a guy who’s pretty sensitive. He’s been thinking that he wants more sex with his partner. He knows it’s a touchy subject, so he spends some time thinking about how he’s going to bring up the topic. In the past, it usually hasn’t gone so well. So he finds her in a good mood one day, and he says, ‘You know, honey, I love making love with you. It’s so good when we do! We’re both really happy, and we feel that beautiful energy between us. I’d like us to create more of that feeling in our relationship. What can we do to bring more of it in?’

“What do you think happens next?”

“It can’t be good.” I say. “I don’t know of a good way to have that conversation.”

“Right,” he says. “It goes terribly. She gets incredibly hurt, and thinks of him as some kind of brutish jerk for being so insensitive. He gets completely confused. He thought it was a great way to bring up a difficult conversation. He was being kind and straightforward.

“But let’s look at how she interpreted what he said. She doesn’t hear the facts: that he loves her, that he’s longing for more of her, and he wants to bring more pleasure into their life together. That’s how a man would hear it – as discrete facts.”

Based on my years of experience with women, I offer a guess: “She probably interprets it as, ‘I’m not good enough for you.’”

“Much more than that,” John says. “She has multiple interpretations all at once. She hears him saying: ‘There’s something wrong with you. You’re not satisfying me. You’ll never satisfy me. You’re not sexy. You’re not enough for me. I’ll never approve of you. You have to change in order to be worthy of my love and approval.’ And that’s just in the first few seconds.

“Then comes the second round. She thinks, ‘He doesn’t love me. I can’t please him. He’s destroying everything I’ve worked for in this relationship.’ She can’t even put most of this into words. There’s a core reaction happening at her depth, and she feels her world falling apart.

Then round three begins – her reaction to those thoughts: ‘You’re not seeing me as who I am — the source of love – and you’re not seeing everything I’ve done to show you how loving I am. After all the ways I’ve expressed my love to you over the years, you’re saying all that effort and love means nothing. You’re crushing my life. I might as well just give up, or die.’

She feels the rug pulled out from under her most precious, loving emotions. Her intellect is off-line for all practical purposes.

“She feels the rug pulled out from under her most precious, loving emotions. Her intellect is off-line for all practical purposes. She can’t interpret what’s going on any other way. Her identity as a loving woman has been questioned, put on trial, and found wanting. It’s emotional death.

“You know that a person will do anything they can to avoid feeling those awful feelings. She’ll scream and fight, or collapse and cry, or dissociate, or withdraw, or call her girlfriends and talk about what a brute he was for saying that. And they’ll agree, because they can feel whatever she’s feeling, to its full depth and breadth.”

◊♦◊

I’m breathing slowly, consciously, trying to keep up with the emotional wonderland John is describing. At the same time, I realize that this is what I’ve been dealing with in my relationships with women my whole life. Something is beginning to dawn on me – but I’m not sure what.

“So what can a man do?” I ask, innocently. “Should we just shut up and listen, and not engage? Or just do our best, figuring we’re going to lose the emotional battle anyway? What do you suggest?”

John looks at me with a mixture of compassion and pity. I know he respects me as a good man – it’s just that I’m a natural-born emotional blockhead.

He replies, thoughtfully, “It’s possible for partners to understand their different needs, and work cooperatively to mutually satisfy all of them. The first step for the man is to really understand how differently women process emotional information.

Women really want to see the good in their men. They try hard to replace and over-write past memories of hurts and discomforts. Their complex emotional process is truly a miracle, an intuitive marvel.

“Before you share anything that could be emotional wounding, you need to imagine how your partner might perceive it. Imagine that you’re her, and project yourself into her female body. Feel what it will feel like for her to hear what you have to say. Feel the impact on her emotional body. Then spend time thinking about how you might be able to buffer the communication so your partner can receive it. It’s not easy, but it will save you a lot of processing time later. And it’s also a good idea to create a protective structure for those kinds of conversations. Have an objective third person there with you, such as a friend or therapist. Or specify rules of engagement in advance. Create structures for communication safety.

“Women really want to see the good in their men. They try hard to replace and over-write past memories of hurts and discomforts. Their complex emotional process is truly a miracle, an intuitive marvel. It’s what makes relationships possible, and beautiful, and improve over time. But when they get triggered, all those emotional memories can come up automatically. Once that process is engaged, there aren’t any easy alternatives.

“Men are not really designed to interact constructively with women’s triggered emotional processes. It’s possible for men to improve in this area, and it’s possible for women to heal their tendency to react in this way, but it takes some wisdom and finesse on both sides. The solution is for both men and women to proactively disassemble the non-helpful elements of their communication and emotional processes, and to constructively shift their communication system so that they no longer interact in ways that produce pain in the first place.”

◊♦◊

I consider the potential of all this new information, and say, “John, if you could develop a method to do that, you could win a Nobel prize, or get very rich.”

John laughs. “Yes, but most women see it differently. They see their process as a very empowering thing. It’s a defensive power tool in their relationship tool bag – a way for them to have leverage, defend themselves, and be validated. It serves them. In its positive form, it helps them remember, understand and manage all the various aspects of all their relationships.

“Our goal should be to become more conscious of the downsides on both sides of the equation, and also the positive aspects that enhance both people. Both men and women get themselves all tied up unnecessarily, and too often, they use it to blame the other person. It takes some work to become conscious, but it can be accomplished.

I said, “Okay, I now have a better understanding of women’s emotions. What can we do, as men, to start disassembling those non-helpful elements?”

Smiling, he said, “Ah… that will have to wait until you write the next article.”

 

Photo: Flickr/Morning Shadow

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About Lion Goodman

Lion Goodman is the co-founder of Luminary Leadership Institute (http://www.luminaryleadership.net), an accelerated initiatory program for leaders of businesses and organizations. With his partner, Carista Luminare, Ph.D., he developed a program to help couples transform old patterns of insecurity and trauma into a secure and passionate relationship: Confused About Love (http://www.confusedaboutlove.com). Lion is a co-founder of The Tribe of Men, an initiatory program in Northern California, and he served as the Director of Men’s Programs for The Shift Network, where he produced the Ultimate Men’s Summit, attended by 20,000 people around the world. He is the author of three books: Creating On Purpose (with Anodea Judith, Ph.D.), Transform Your Beliefs, and Menlightenment: A Book for Awakening Men. He resides in the San Francisco Bay Area, but considers himself to be a world citizen.

Comments

  1. Karen Joyce says:

    This is one big great article. Its not about men understanding emotional complexities of women but it also explains the disturbances women feel when were emotionally unstable in a relationship. The characteristics given most likely suites a strong and true woman who respects, cherishes, and who wants to have a good and long lasting relationship. Thank you!

  2. “What can we do, as men, to start disassembling those non-helpful elements?”
    Smiling, he said, “Ah… that will have to wait until you write the next article.”

    Is there a “next article”? If so, where?

  3. Hi, great to read. I enjoy this topic. There are many good points here. Men need to learn to relate to women from a more mature perspective, then a lot of the inter-relational misunderstandings and confusion will disappear. Men I am afraid often never really grow up or yearn for something more profound. Many of these points are expanded upon, and some new ideas in the book The Power of Understanding Women on Amazon Kindle.

  4. Sweet-Dee says:

    I found all of this resonating with me riiiight up to the example of the man thoughtfully initiating dialogue about having more sex. In the example given I don’t think I would’ve been triggered at all. If he’d have broached the subject less thoughtfully or had it been another example other than the one given, also involving less thought, usually off the cuff comments, I could see her reaction play out exactly like that. So basically, I feel this article was dead-on, just that the particular example given didn’t match the particular response. All in all well done. Thank you.

  5. Please stop with the whole “women are ruled by emotions” thing. A healthy person is “relational and empathic. Period. Being able to only see one step at a time is not linear thinking or “accurately seeing the facts”. Not being able to see how things are connected, or failing to be able to predict a logical outcome, or being baffled by emotions—– sounds like an individual who has over compartmentalized their experience sand has become very disconnected from the richness of their own emotional experiences. Additionally, functioning in this manner would obviously present real issues to any type of an adult relationship. sorry, but i don’t buy that this is ” maleness” either. If it is we are in deep trouble!

  6. The author acknowledges that individuals can be a mixture of feminine and masculine so that leaves me wondering how this information is truly that helpful unless one happens to be in a relationship with someone who conforms to either extreme. I’m not certain that I’ve ever been in a relationship with such a person and I think that creating a model of how a partner process information based solely on their gender identity would be woefully misleading.

  7. Men relate to facts, while women relate to their inner hysteria, how progressive. This is patronizing, and a ridiculous pairing of an unusually, emotionally mature man, with an immature girl.
    “Then spend time thinking about how you might be able to buffer the communication so your partner can receive it.”- are you kidding me? I prefer a straight shooter, and I assure you, I can handle it.

  8. i think he’s very much onto something, perhaps the narrative reduced to a blog post seems a bit over simplified.. watch helen fisher’s ted talk http://www.ted.com/talks/helen_fisher_tells_us_why_we_love_cheat?language=en

  9. I feel like this more so describes the difference between masculine and feminine energy, which is based on societal expectations on how a woman and a man should act–I’d consider my significant other and I (I’m female) the opposite.

  10. I’m all for thus understanding one another, and the analysis is probably right, but in the given example, the man would have had no ’emotionally baffling’ female response, if he had went away and thought a) I want more sex :0, therefore b) I’ll go and figure out a direct way to achieving this!:)

    Women don’t want men to function like women!… And I’m sure she would have been happier for this!;)

    Yes. 🙂

  11. Great article.

    Very funny and interesting no matter if somewhat generalizing in certain parts or not. It sums up my own experience in +20 relationships perfectly!

  12. Thanks to everyone who has commented. It’s been a rich discussion so far — one we need to have as men and women (and everyone else). The article has had more than 80,000 views so far. If you think it’s worthy of more good discussion, please send the link out to your friends. Here’s the link, for your convenience: http://goodmenproject.com/featured-content/finally-insight-womens-emotions-lal/

    Visit my website if you’d like to learn more about my perspective on relationships and love: http://www.ConfusedAboutLove.com. Take the free LoveStyle Profile Quiz, and find out about your unique LoveStyle — your early childhood attachment style — and how it impacts your intimate adult relationships.

  13. Thanks Lion for a great perspective on the eternal question. I love all those commenting wanting to make you the villain and women the victim (and them the hero) by highlighting the gender stereotyping. Men have penises and woman have vaginas. Oh no I’m gender stereotyping! The fact that men and woman are different plays out fundamentally in how we act and relate. Blind freddy can see that having a womb and bearing children has a big effect on our psyche. This is handed down energetically. The denial of this is an attempt to deny nature. From my experience what you describe is alarmingly accurate to the point of being very funny.

    • Thanks for your support, Rod. I agree that “gender stereotyping” has become a Politically Correct stereotyping of its own. We can place our attention, and our belief filters, anywhere we want (or anywhere they’re programmed), so if you’re seeing the world through politically correct glasses, any mention of masculine, feminine, man, or woman can look like an unfair division of the world. The truth is, all language stereotypes by excluding certain qualities and including others. “That is a cat” is a stereotype, because it eliminates dogs. It doesn’t, however, make the language less useful. We have to use words to communicate, and words are divisive, by nature. If we deconstruct all the words, all we can do is point and grunt … which is where I think the whole male language / female language began a couple million years ago.

  14. Responses from Facebook:
    13 shares

    Kelley P: Great article! ⭐️

    Fredrik E: Lion the Great!!!! Great article!

    Paul B: Thank you.

    Donna S: This is great in the wake of the Republican assertion that women candidates are always borderline hysterical and too emotional to hold important offices in government.

    Lion Goodman Donna Sprague: Republican men are just the extreme version of something most men suffer from: narcissistic-based and shame-based reactions to the power of women. As little boys, we had no power over our mother, so we figured out how to get our power back, and then we got stuck in the development cycle, never maturing into co-creative partners.

    Linda JF: Wow, 68,000 views! Congrats, Lion!

    William A: Fantastic article Lion Goodman. I think this should be the main topic of your talk at Harding House Salon.

    Giovanni M: Great Article !

  15. Yes, males & females are different. Yes, males & females choose to be victims of their conditioned habit patterns of behavior that further configures the brain to function as it does.

  16. Article probably has some. for about 80% of the human race who are either victims of their neuropsychobiology or simply byproducts thereof. They have not taken responsibility that they learned to be the way they are, believe as they.do, and hence expect life – relationships – to be as they are. Women feel abondoned. Men feel frustrated. They seek understaning, acceptance, appreciation from others. – their SOs – without ever learning to understand, accept, and appreciate themselves. Hence, they engage in passive/aggressive and may escalate in manic/depressive behavior to manipulate the other to satisfy their eogic needs.

  17. Sabrinna says:

    I’m a woman and that example was just completely alien to me. The woman in the example made no sense at all. The general gist of the article was right but the example given was just fruitloop crazy.

  18. Post from Facebook:

    Lion Goodman: Thank you for posting a link to my blog, Jaguar. Spread it around! Men need to know this!

    Jaguar K: YES! And women too. A couple of times since I read it I’ve gone into exactly what your friend describes and thought “Oh that’s me doing that feminine thing” and it’s made it so much easier to SEE it and choose to think differently. And in those instances I’ve also gone, “oh yeah and that definitely doesn’t mean to him what I imagine it means!” haha… All so beautifully human, isn’t it, Amigo? You do GOOD work.

  19. I haven’t read this article and to be honest I am not that interested. Why? Because I am one of those so called “highly sensitive men”. More often than not, it is me who is crying during a movie, rather than my fiance. She and I still have problems. Much of the time, I still try to block off my emotions, mostly because all of my life I have been told to “man up” and deal. My fiance loves that I feel things deeply. So, when we watch Bicentennial Man together and the Wedding scene comes on, everything will be fine.

    How about we stop with the gender stereotypes already? There is a reason that false dichotomies are a logical fallacy.

    • How about if you read the article, and find out that I’m not gender stereotyping?

      • D.R. Peck says:

        Hi Lion,

        Nice words. Appreciate your efforts.

        I don’t believe the notion (it is not yours per se) that we are part masculine and feminine. I think that is a flawed premise. In my male classes, the last thing a man needs to do is “get in touch with his female side.”

        When I ask,

        “When was the last time you heard someone tell a woman that she needs to get in touch with her masculine side?”

        The men in the room open their eyes just a little bit wider and realize this is true. Sure a man can match a woman’s energy (hello Mom) but that is much different than activating a female component inside themselves.

        When society attributes certain emotional characteristics as ‘feminine,’ I see that as an invalidation of male energy. Would love to discuss this while including my spiritual/clairvoyant perspective.

        Keep up the good work,

        D.R. Peck

      • You are most definitely gender stereotyping! How can you actually deny that? The entire article is about how women think one way, men think another way. In actuality it’s more like people think differently, you can’t just generalise how female’s experience the world by some rubbish assertion.

        • To quote myself, here’s paragraph 5:

          “John spoke of “the feminine” and “the masculine,” but it’s easier to write about the genders – men and women – than those two cosmic principles. Please translate my language from “men” to “masculine” and “women” to “feminine.” We all have both within us.”

          • FlyingKal says:

            You (or “John”) are using circle argument.
            “The feminine” and “the masculine” as described are not Cosmic principles, it’s just gender stereotyping of (possibly?) common female vs.male behaviour…

            • Interesting belief, FlyingKal. If you have no experience with the cosmic energies of Yin and Yang (the ancient Chinese words for the feminine principle and the masculine principle that appear everywhere in nature), it would be hard for me to provide you with evidence that they exist. I can understand how you might work your way from gender stereotyping (which does exist – I’m not denying that) and projecting back onto my use of those words, it’s just not true, nor is it the way it happened.

            • Jon Jay Obermark says:

              I would like to agree with both of you.

              There are clearly deep forces of social current that are more accessible to one gender or the other. Here, the call is basically Analysis vs Synthesis.

              To me it seems clear that women are allowed traditionally to be more synthetic, to invest in real and present experience and live in the memory of those experiences rather than abstracting away from them.

              From a kind of Socialist point of view, this is because (despite legal fictions) women actually own and keep a lot of control over what they make — their home, their social groups, their children. Traditionally, a man’s product stays at work, accrues to someone else’s benefit, is held at a distance from him, gets sold on the market, or just gets destroyed pointlessly, far more often than a woman’s.

              Men pass this on to their sons, because we have always had roles. So in a lot of cultures men tend to end up end up analytically inclined and pessimistic.

              Density of the corpus collosum, hormonal balance, etc. notwithstanding, the differences in biology do not make the difference in behavior — in-group variation swamps between-group variation in any persons real experience.

              So the forces themselves are not Male and Female, they are shared, and we decide which ones go with whose roles. Casting our social decisions back on Nature is helpful as a learning device, but at a deeper level, it is really a lie.

  20. While I think that this article is well intentioned, it’s pretty off-base. Articles like these just scare men into thinking that their SOs will blow up at them over the littlest thing and scares women into thinking that they’re doomed to relationships in which they will not receive much emotional consideration.

    <>
    This is called ‘getting to know your partner’ and is crucial for any relationship. The article frames this as “she’ll make you pay for everything you’ve ever done wrong,” but that’s not the case. Both partners should appreciate their history together. They should remember the hurts and the good times, both.

    <>
    This is just called ‘learning from your past’ and everyone should do it. People who share the same qualities tend to act similarly. This is not rocket science. If the person that you’re with starts reminding you of someone who was not good for you, you should think very seriously about the situation, regardless of your gender.

    The simple point is that both parties need to be invested enough in the relationship to give it some thought. If you’re just hanging out, ‘living in the moment’, going day-to-day without a care in the world and not spending any time being considerate of your partner’s feelings, you’re probably not a good partner. If you blow everything out of proportion regardless of what was said or how it was said, you’re probably not a good partner. This is not gendered.

  21. It is not women that see the present as a greatest hits of the pains that were, that are and will be, it’s depressive people and yes they are absolutely, completely wrong! We were not born like that, you guys don’t have to change us, we turn ourselves and each other into that. Just look at all the depressive stuff on women’s tv on magazines, like women’s lives are a long string of traumas, from the moment we have our period to the moment we LOSE (‘cuz we’re losing something we’re supposed to keep forever, sure…) our virginity to the moment we have children. The Oprahs of this world always have a sad, sad story on how it’s sad, sad to be a woman in (insert non-western place here). Fear feminism and Crime tv are always happy to remind you that every man is a potential rapist and to always look at the other gender’s lawn to be reminded that it will always, always suck to be a woman. Cut to the soap operas where men always cheat, just before the sitcom where all men are idiots.

    Our society tells women to always focus on the worst case scenario, that anything good always comes with bad consequences. It thrives on making women depressive! We’re always told it’s for our own good but it’s more than time to change our thought pattern. No more isolation and pessimism under the false excuse of protection.

    • Cynthia: I agree with you. The media is guilty as charged – creating real-as-life scenarios for people who don’t have a life, so they buy into the made up reality made by those who have something to sell.

      Men, too, get programmed badly by historical stereotypes, locker-room rumors and taunts, and media that glorifies women as objects to be admired, rather than people with full, rich interior lives worthy of respect.

      We ALL have to fight the bad influence of the media — by becoming aware of it, first; by recognizing it as indoctrination, second; and by countering it with action and protest, third. I’ll join you there.

  22. I really enjoyed the first half of this article – I think it is an interesting take on the many ways that men and women differ emotionally, and a lot of it rings true. However, I felt that it lost its way a little in the second half. That example of a ‘typical’ woman’s reaction to what I thought was a very reasonable and considerately-phrased suggestion from her partner was completely unrealistic. I would expect that kind of reaction only from a woman who was extremely insecure about her worth in the relationship. For myself and most of the women I know it completely misses the mark, and the whole “Her intellect is off-line for all practical purposes. She can’t interpret what’s going on any other way,” seriously feeds the poisonous stereotype that women are incapable of thinking rationally – again non-representational of most modern women. Both women and men are capable of regulating their emotional impulses by employing rational thought. Nonetheless, an interesting article!

    • I second what Hayley says. Was nodding along until I got to the second part.I thought that request was well put and I would have been discussing with my lover the best way to satisfy both of us after that request…

    • Thanks, Haley. I agree that my portrayal of the reaction is over-the-top, and is more reflective of insecurity than anything else. I have to keep saying and reminding readers that I made clear that this is a masculine/feminine thing, not a man/woman thing. I obviously didn’t make the point clear enough in the article (although its there). If I could re-write the article, I’d use those terms instead of gender terms, and would re-emphasize that both men and women have both masculine and feminine within them, and that it has less to do with gender and more to do with how our brains are wired. Maybe I should have written “men (and women)” and “women (and men)” throughout the article.

  23. anongirl says:

    Reading this makes me feel like your all eating with your ears or something.
    Basic empathy has always worked for me when trying to understand someone of any gender.

    • Mark Greene says:

      Thank you! Yes!!!

    • Thank you anongirl and Mark Greene. I HATE this, women brains are different from men. Men’s brain are like a tomato, and women’s brain are like broccoli. They only cloud the truth, WE ARE MORE ALIKE THAN WE ARE OPPOSITES. If you really want to understand women, how about listening to THEM? Here is a book for you to read to get a better understanding of HUMANS way of thinking. Emotional Intelligence (Why it matters more than IQ) by Daniel Goleman. It helped me understand why PEOPLE (men and women) think a certain way due to their past experiences. Societal pressure has a HUGE impact on how women and men see things, it’s not because their INNATE DESIGN’S are different.

      • The idea that male and female brains work differently has been scientifically proven incorrect already, it’s just ridiculous how many people actually think we process things so differently! Um no, it’s called socialisation buddy. I’m sick of people putting it down to biology instead of realising it’s how we are socialised that changes how our brains work. Like anon girl said, BASIC EMPATHY! Bella you are spot on

        • Nowhere in this article does the author give any mention to biology. I’d agree that it’s an oversimplification to a degree, and also that basic empathy is the best path to understanding another person regardless of gender. That being said, I think there’s valid points to be made, not biologically but through cultural indoctrination, that the majority of men and women use different emotional processes. As “John” said, it’s not that either one is better, and personally I don’t believe it’s a theory capable of generalized truth, but in many cases, no doubt some of which are applicable to our own lives, these theories he presents can be said to be true.

    • Yes! Exactly!

  24. As I read the article I found myself agreeing with most of it; however I was struck by the example of the man respectfully requesting more sex and intimacy from his partner and her reaction, which I found totally unbelievable. In fact, I have made this exact same request in the exact same respectful and loving way, to my ex husband as well as to other men who become remote and distant after a certain time spent in the relationship, only to have the exact same defensive and put-upon response delivered back to me. It could be that some confused women would respond in this fashion to such a remarkable request from a man, but I don’t see it as the norm from women, but from men.

  25. As a woman, I’ll have to admit that the depiction resonates with my experience.

  26. A good (and funny) read that puts feet-on-the-ground about this “Women are crazy, men are stupid” (can’t remember authors….a man and a woman). Bottom line, women tend to “over process”, men tend to “under process”. Nice if we could meet in the middle.
    Interesting aside, when I once mistakenly said to a man that the title was “Women are stupid, men are crazy” he said, “Oh man! That would NEVER fly!” Weird how that plays isn’t it? Can’t it ever be that that would be true or have we all been so “socialized” that only men can be “stupid” and only women “crazy”? Clearly men can be both, but women can only be “crazy” (based on the, it’s-that-time-of-month claims). But women can never be stupid? And men can always be both?
    Just some “gum” to chew on.

  27. So, to sum up:

    “Think of a man, and take away reason and accountability.”

    Did I get that right?

    • Nope. You missed the main points.

      Try this one: Think of a man. Notice that he has a particular way of seeing and experiencing the world. Think of a woman. Notice that she has a particular way of seeing and experiencing the world. Notice the differences. Learn to understand the differences. Practice respect and compassion. Don’t make assumptions. Be accountable. Have integrity in your relationship and your life. Master your reality.

      That might be a better simplification for you.

  28. Lion, thank you for writing this, and for your commitment to having understanding, compassion, empathy be what guides us (while having a few laughs along the way…). Of course this doesn’t describe everyone; it does, in my experience coaching women for 17 years, describe what a lot of women grapple with in their relationships. And hey, if we can help to shed light on what might be happening when we get triggered, or when things seem to be headed into the trouble zone, it gives us all a chance to choose a different response (and get the hell outta that zone before any real harm is done!).
    I for one am a huge fan of looking at all possibilities, checking them out against my own experience, and then either letting them contribute to me, or, if something doesn’t resonate, just let it go.

  29. Elisabeth says:

    Let me share my story or better yet our story.
    To make a long story short. We met and really liked each other. Everything when smoothly for the first couple of months even if we only met once or twice a week. Then I started to notice comments from other women on Facebook… 4 months into the relationship, I found out he was involved with another woman. I called his bluff and he begged me to give him a chance to sort things out… I agreed as I was already madly in love with him.
    Over the next 4 months, I found out that he was and had been seeing a multitude of women since we met and he was juggling with +5 at one point. OK. This is where everyone thinks… why doesn’t she leave him? This crazy thing called “love” is what happened. After 11 months together, I found out I was pregnant and he was thrilled and so was I. He had effectively ended of all his previous “relationships” and our existence was happy.
    Every once in a while, the green eyed monster would enter the scene due to meetings with women I thought were attractive but he tells me every day that he loves me and that I’m beautiful and a wonderful mother… he also says so to anyone he speaks with, showing photos of us and our family.
    Now, I can tell you that it was EXTREMELY hard to trust him again. But I’ve tried… for 4 years now. A year ago, I found out that he was in contact with a young woman from the “high society” with a lot of influence. He kept her a secret to me and even went to such lengths as to register her as a “he” on his phone so that I wouldn’t know about her. He’s told me it’s purely professional and that I should not worry. But the thing is, his past hits me like a freight train every time I think about this… and of course I’ve confronted him about this woman on several occasions but he’s always told me that things were professional between them without specifying what that was (He’s been unemployed pretty much since I met him and struggling). All his businesses and contacts call his mobile and he answers without a problem and talks business in front of me (even if I’m not eavesdropping or wanting to know the details) – except for this woman… calls only during the day when I’m at the office.
    Everything exploded 10 days ago as I could not take the situation anymore – money issues, his lack of career and direction, always hiding something… This sent me directly into the vortex I experienced early on in the relationship. Since, he has explained to me that as I’ve never had much faith in his “next $$$$$$$$ deal”, he decided to say nothing about this woman who’s helping him via her father and setting up a business… sounds logic enough for the moment (even if I have my reserves due to the past but I’m willing to give him the benefit of doubt).
    Even if he’s proven that he’s faithful to me, I just can’t help getting all these negative feelings… it’s like a tsunami and all I can do is to be obnoxious and point out every flaw he has. He cannot understand me going into the past and is wondering if I’ll ever be able to live in the present or if I’m permanently stuck in this horrible past. I’m wondering as well… but your article has made me understand how very differently we communicate and feel things. I hope that I’ll find my path to peace and not relive my past emotions as soon as my reality clashes with some memories… this is not a good place to be at and it’s painful for the men too to have to get a grasp on this… and even live with such complicated female logic. I also believe that feminine/masculine traits are a bit defined upon our self-worth and positive self-image. Mine is shattered and has been for many many years… even if everyone around me thinks I’m the best thing since sliced bread… go figure ?

    • There’s nothing to “figure” here…..if a woman was doing this to me I’d be gone (as I was in my second marriage). If a man is doing this to you you should be gone (as my first wife was when I was being the jerk you describe). Love does NOT conquer all forever….and it’s not about how we think “differently” it’s how we, man or woman, begin to FEEL about ourselves when being abused.

    • Go with your gut. It sounds like he’s gaslighting you.

      The best predictors of someone’s future actions are their past actions. Railing on you for “bringing up the past” is just his excuse to keep you from noticing his patterns.

      Putting a woman in his phone under a man’s name? I mean, really? No one does that for legit reasons. Literally not a single person.

  30. Relationships come a time when it will be time delimited, nhwung I think that this is their time to distinguish whether they really do not belong together or just a moment.

  31. I think I want to marry John.

  32. Sorry – this is awful.

    Lion Goodman may be – as he puts it – ‘a natural-born emotional blockhead’ but it is downright offensive and just wrong on so many levels to stereotype. I am nothing like Lion Goodman’s description – and neither are many of my superb male friends.

    Quit pedalling outdated and offensive stereotypical opinion.

    • Ryan: I’m glad that you’re on the forefront of masculine maturity and evolution, as are your friends. I’m the founder of The Tribe of Men, an initiatory program in the “progressive” Bay Area, and we’re all working to become more aware, more sensitive, more masculine, and more understanding and loving. That’s the work, right there – to become men of integrity, power, and love. If you’re in the younger generation (under 30 or so), you’re the fortunate inheritor of all the inner and outer work we (in the more “mature” generations) have done for the past 40 years. I’m one of the most sensitive and aware men out there (according to most women I know), which allows me to write articles like this, which are testy and controversial. It also allows me to call myself a blockhead, which I am, at times.

  33. I don’t know about all this “connected” way of emoting being claimed in the article for women.

    This sounds more like a personality type than a gender thing.

    What I have noticed is that in this country (US) we raise men to be emotionally constipated and women to be emotionally incontinent.

    It is simply much more tolerated for women to have melt-downs or angry shit-storms in a way it would never be tolerated for a man. Look to the youtube video “I want to go to the lake!” woman.

    I have also seen women use their emotions like a battering ram. This idea that if you’re not in the same emotional state she is in (over whatever issue) or putting her emotional turmoil front & center FULL STOP! then it just gets worse & worse, the emotions bombarding you like surf on a rock–the surf always wins eventually.
    This is simply abuse decorated as “sensitivity”.

    I think both ways (enforcing stoicism and encouraging emotional incontinence) have problematic issues, and I think we would all be better served if we raised both boys and girls somewhere in the middle.

    People should be able to take command of their emotions when the actual slight or issue is minor–it’s called adulthood. People (men as well as women) should be able to feel sad or distraught, and shouldn’t have to mask their emotions to be a real ________.

    • wellokaythen says:

      “….we raise men to be emotionally constipated and women to be emotionally incontinent.”

      Oooh, I like the constipation/incontinence metaphor. That’s it in a nutshell.

    • I agree – it’s a great analogy. I also agree that maturity means that we become more aware of our own patterns, and the patterns of those around us, and we grow in compassion for ourselves and others through that understanding, self-control (reasonable restraint), and kindness.

    • John D, I dig you with a huge shovel! (-:

    • “It is simply much more tolerated for women to have melt-downs or angry shit-storms in a way it would never be tolerated for a man. Look to the youtube video “I want to go to the lake!” woman.

      Really? If this is true, who is doing the “tolerating”?

      What would happen if those who are “tolerating” chose not to?

      What would be the result of a man choosing to never tolerate this type of behavior and communicate this with a calm, confidence that lets anyone in his circle know they are welcome to take their “shit storms” elsewhere?

      What would it be like if women did this exact same thing with misbehaving men?

      There is seldom a good reason to continue accepting environments or behaviors that continually violated your standards.

      However, without standards, one has no clue when this is occurring.

      I wrote this for men. Applies to women just the same.

      http://goodguys2greatmen.com/goodguys/how-to-respond-to-her-foul-moods/

      • Interesting webpage.

        I’d like to ask you how these excerpts:

        “When a woman gets emotionally intense, a…….superior man penetrates her mood with imperturbable love and unwavering consciousness”

        “1. Not take it personally at all and NOT get pissed.
        2. Look her straight in the eye and into her heart.
        3. Listen. Just listen. Don’t retaliate. Don’t argue.
        4. Not ask her ANY questions.”

        Differs in any substantial way from “tolerating”?

        • Hi John,

          Thanks for checking out my site and for your questions.

          The difference between “tolerating” and my guidance is that I am advocating a very loving, direct, non-negotiable, confident, and calm energy that makes it CRYSTAL CLEAR to her (or anyone) that:

          1. You can’t rattle me
          2. Your behavior is unacceptable
          3. Despite your “shitstorm” don’t think for a second I don’t love you
          4. I don’t care why you’re acting like this, it’s unhealthy and I know you are better than that

          Tolerating means tucking your tail between your legs and sulking in the corner for the next 20 yrs of your marriage while she runs over you daily with her emotional outbursts and demands.

          My opinion, a man should never do that…nor should a woman.

        • wellokaythen says:

          I dunno, maybe it’s just the wording, but “penetrating her mood” just doesn’t sound right.

  34. The tough part of this issue is assuming that no one has a hidden agenda. The only way to have a progressive discussion is to leave out our presumptions about the opposite sex and deal with facts.

    It’s true that most men think in a linear way, and that most women take in a situation as a whole. As much as men may want to think of only one thing at a time, the laws of physics will knock him flat – every action having an equal and opposite reaction. Women may perceive the whole of a scenario, but if it isn’t systematically dealt with in phases, the problem won’t get solved. So it takes both mindsets to accomplish anything.

  35. wellokaythen says:

    There’s a lot of merit to these explanations. I think as a general rule, men and women process emotion, personal history, and relationship history differently.

    You can write a sentence saying that women’s ways of thinking is not superior to men, but other parts of the article suggest otherwise. Somehow once again the conclusion is that men need to understand women better and men need to change their expectations and behavior to accommodate women’s ways.

    Surely an equally valid conclusion would be for men to articulate to women what men need from women. Men ought to be able to ask women to see things from the male point of view once in a while. Men ought to be able to point out when they think women are coming to inaccurate conclusions about the men in their lives. Some men are crazy. Some women are crazy. It’s okay to say that out loud.

    I have this weird idea that objective reality should have some bearing on my relationship and my household. Is that just some silly masculine thing I need to shed?

    Maybe all sexes need to own their sh*t.

    • ‘Crazy’ is not a productive word. Not only is it insulting, but it doesn’t actually communicate anything about what, exactly, is the problem.

      Both partners should absolutely point out facts that they disagree with, however. Sometimes people who have bad pasts just need to hear “I know that that’s what has happened to you in the past and I’m sorry that you went through that. But that’s not the situation now. I’m not like that. I haven’t treated you like that. And I find it offensive that you would put me in the same category with those people when I’ve done nothing wrong.”

      Much more productive than “you’re crazy.”

      • wellokaythen says:

        You are absolutely right about crazy being too vague and not constructive. That’s why I had the sentences before the “crazy” sentences:

        “Men ought to be able to ask women to see things from the male point of view once in a while. Men ought to be able to point out when they think women are coming to inaccurate conclusions about the men in their lives.”

        Your paraphrase is much better, though. I like it because it’s more specific than what I wrote.

        I agree, calling your partner crazy is unproductive. But, let’s face it, as a general rule some people really are crazy. My wife is not, but I am a little bit…..

  36. This article reminds me of why I often get impatient with stories of why negotiations fail between those who want to solve a problem in the Middle East. We (Westerners) say “Just stop bombing each other and that will be a start.” They, Middle Easterners, say “Yes, but my great great Grandfather was killed by his great great Grandfather so how can I ever trust him?” etc., etc. If I, as a “man-thinker”, am always and forever going to be held responsible for some stumble that occurred ten years ago (or more) how can anything in the here-and-now be solved? My Italian grandmother used to say some version of “Get over it!” (not in the hard, dismissive tone this may be read as by the way.) and that seems a very “male” way of thinking according to this article. BUT! sometimes this is good advice when it comes to the tangle that can be gotten into by saying that all the “sins” of the past MUST be considered in any problem solving in the present. No wonder some of the men responding to this article feel discouraged and overwhelmed. I certainly did on my first reading of it. Upon reading some of the comments by both men and women following, I was more optimistic. It seems that both men and women are not nearly as entrenched in the kind of thinking responses implied in the article. It’s just about “understanding” after all…..about compassion (in the end) for each other. We are, both men and women are, (and I’m talking about relatively healthy people here, those who have done and continue to do their “work”, innocent. We both operate through our wounding(s) and try to get it “right” most of the time. If we fail, we need compassion and forgiveness for those failures and perhaps an article like this can help in that regard. “Please understand me.” may be what we must be able to hear beyond the tangle of words for both of us.

    • Thank you, Richard. Beautifully stated.

    • For what it’s worth, I’ve found that the reason that both men and women tend to focus on past hurts is because they think that they’re not really in the past. They feel that whatever caused the past hurt is still lurking somewhere down there and was never really resolved.

      Rather than expecting someone to get over something because it’s been a while, we should be expecting them to get over something because it’s actually over. If you ask yourself honestly if it could happen again and the answer is ‘yes’, then your partner is right to still feel hurt or on his/her guard. If the answer is ‘no’, then some calm reassurance that things are different (because of x,y,z reasons) usually does the trick.

  37. Apparently I am a spammer now too?

    • Weird that the “spammer” message got through automoderation but my other one didn’t.

      • Theorema Egregium says:

        They will. I’ve had it happen several times now. All it means is that the message will be held until moderators read and clear it, like it used to be with all messages. It is vexing, but nothing to worry about.

  38. So basically women hold on to past greivances way too long, feel negative emotions FROM other bad men and feel them FOR YOU, and feel that they are superior in knowledge about relationships?

    Sorry but that sounds like women are the ones who suck at the relationship if they’re using past men’s hurt and associating it with you. That’s not fair on the man. I had women use n abuse me, it’s not fair for me to use the hurt from them and get angry at her about it.

    It sounds like women do not forgive nor forget and hold men to a much higher and UNFAIR standard than men hold women to. This article appears to show women as crazy, emotionally manipulative (using past people’s hurt against you), unable to understand simple logic n “facts”.

    There is no way in hell I would ever want to date a woman like this, you’re describing an abusive and immature woman. Do people really put up with partners like this? Ugh.

    Luckily many women I know are not like this. The masculine in this story is a far superior way to live simply for the not holding a grudge aspect and directness instead of ambiguity. If your partner has trouble understanding that more sex could be beneficial and starts to think you’re saying a lot of stuff you aren’t actually saying, then it might be time to seriously question whether she/he is the one. Just say directly what you want, stop beating around the bush, stop reading between the lines and letting your insecurity write a script that the other person hasn’t said.

    • wellokaythen says:

      Archy,

      Yeah, my anecdotal experience seems to be very similar to yours. Or at least I’ve found myself coming to similar conclusions. I remember thinking when I first started dating that women can hold grudges WAY longer than men can. (Maybe that’s not true, but that’s a distinct impression I’ve gotten, and I think many men have had that same thought.) The stereotype at least is that men get offended, punch each other a few times, call each other assholes, then make fun of each other for being assholes, have a beer together, and it blows over.

      I’ve often thought that the way that women hold onto grudges really calls into question the idea that men have simple, one-track, single-focus minds and it’s women who are better at managing conflict and interpersonal relations because they don’t get so fixated. Seems like the opposite may be true.

  39. Hash Feng says:

    So … just trying to get my head around this. You’re saying women aren’t able to empathise with men?

    • Not at all. In fact, I’m making only a few generalizations. The first is that the masculine mind is different than the feminine mind, and that the differences are significant enough that often, men don’t understand how women feel or experience emotions, and women don’t understand how men feel or experience emotions. Empathy is exactly what I’m trying to encourage (along with understanding and compassion) with my article. Some women and men are bilingual – they understand both ways of thinking and feeling. Some are monolingual — they don’t understand why the other person feels or thinks that way, and they think it’s an aberration. I’m encouraging both genders to understand themselves better, and each other better.

  40. “Both the Biological and Social Sciences have shown that the differences among men and among women are greater than the differences between them”. Ericka – do you mean similarities in that first part of your final sentence? I think you do.
    Our brains are not ‘hard wired’ – there is so much research out there that demonstrates that we can re-wire our brains through learning. The old myth of men and women being ‘different’ in the ways in which they think and process information, feel. process emotions, has nothing to do with genetics or the wiring of the brain and everything to do with how we are socialised, what we are taught to do by our parents and parent figures.
    I have joined this group because I feel strongly that it can do a lot of good in helping many men (and women) in developing an understanding of why we/they behave in certain ways, so I am rather disturbed by unsupported ‘facts’ about the wiring of our brains and the emotional ‘differences’ that exist between men and women.
    Lets hear more about the environment in which we are brought up (Steve Jones – the head of the Human Genome Project in the UK – stated recently that “The more we know about genes, the more we realise how important environment is”) and the (sometimes) potentially destructive messages we receive about what it is to be a ‘man’ or a ‘woman’. Not only do these messages keep women in the kitchen and men fighting wars as Ericka points out, but they prevent all of us from actually dealing with the emotional challenges that we face on a day to day basis.
    I am just commemorating the 5th anniversary of my mothers death and the 6th anniversary of a violent attack on my Father in Law – my emotions have been in turmoil. Now what I am learning is how to deal with them in way that is human – not gender specific.

    • Jonathan G says:

      I think Ericka intended the sentence as written. To re-state it in a different way: The differences between any two randomly-chosen men or any two randomly-chosen women are likely to be greater than the differences between the average man and the average woman.

  41. I agree with both Joy and Srong Woman above. The part of this piece where the author describes what a woman’s reaction might be to her guy asking for more love making was totally crazy to me. I would not have interpreted his efforts to try to breach that topic with such insecurity (hers) at all, and I have been through problems with sex/frequency in marriage before.
    And there is another way to see what is presented here as “emotional memory”- or that we remember the hurts, etc, and bring them forward. It’s simply memory and context. You cannot tell me most men blow off such hurts and never think of them again- I have known many men who maybe won’t talk about the past hurts, but are living and expressing them internally or passive-agressively due to our society’s expectations for men to be stoic. I think that it might be more the case that many men “forget” or “block out” such emotional hurts/memories due to being stiffled from being freely allowed to discuss these events. This seems more of a rational and non-gender bound explanation for failing to remember that you hurt someone before or that an issue in a relationship has been broached many times.
    I caution anyone against relying on evolutionary science/psychology for “explanations” for behaviors of men and women. Most of them are highly susceptible to being justifications for modern day inequalities. Wanna keep women in the kitchen and out of power positions? Wanna keep men fighting your wars and doing all of the backbreaking work? Tell them it’s their evolutionary destiny, it’s easy to interpret backwards…. In the end, are we even close to what we were thousands of years ago? No, we built a whole civilization in order to live and evolve differently.
    Both the Biological and Social Sciences have shown that the differences among men and among women are greater than the differences between them.

    • Ericka: All good and valid points. A comprehensive article would be too long for this forum (even this was extra-long for a blog article). This was ten minutes of conversation inside a two-hour long dialogue with John. As I’ve said elsewhere, I’m attempting to help the genders understand each other – as well as understand themselves. And since we all have both masculine and feminine within us, what I really described (and said so in the article), was the masculine and feminine approaches to emotion and memory – not male and female – since we all have both within us.

  42. I have a really hard time sharing these articles with colleagues of mine because of the titles of your articles. The title for this one is reaaaallly off putting to me, but I love the content. There’s a lot of people I know who would be outright offended by this title. Just sayin, I’ve never commented on the Good Men Project but I thought it was worth sayin.

    Come on guys, if these are reactions common among every woman, then it’s not such a secret life now, is it?

    • I don’t have control over the title – the editorial team does. Feel free to share the content and change the title when you refer to it – “This article SHOULD have been titled…. ” And tell me what your preferred title would be. I’d love to present that to the editorial team.

  43. As a woman, I did not find that the description of how women communicate fit my personal experience. Maybe other women might disagree. The impression this piece leaves is that all men are emotionally inept and all women’s minds are so busy they can’t help but spew forth volumes of information. If you look at some of the meta reviews of research on male and female brains, it is clear the differences in the two brains don’t differ that much at first. However, 70% of brain development occurs after we are born, so the environment is critical in shaping who we become. As we learn, our brain develops accordingly, which would explain the significant differences you might see between an adult male and female brain that have been socialized more traditionally. I think it’s important to remember that we are all human and need emotional safety to communicate effectively, especially about our differences. Emotional safety means you don’t have to “get” the other person; that it’s okay to mess up and learn as you go. In our relationships, it’s important to make an earnest attempt to be open and constructive. Unfortunately, most people assume others (including their partner) can read their mind. We must teach one another who we are, but in order for that process to happen, it has to feel safe. Without safety and transparency, we are left to make guesses about what’ happening inside the mind of the other person, and although we may be right occasionally, many times we are dead wrong.

    • Strong Woman: I have written about safety and security extensively, and in fact offer programs that teach couple how to re-wire their brains toward Secure Attachment. (See http://www.ConfusedAboutLove.com). Part of providing safety to the other person is to accept their communication style is different, is okay (and appropriate for them), and to extend compassion and understanding to them when they’re speaking in a language you don’t understand. This is basic respect, and we could all use a lot more of it. All of your other points are valid, as well – especially that it’s okay to mess up, since we’re messy, learning creatures. How about if we ALL give other people much more room to be themselves?

  44. I think the reason that women are so ’emotional’ and ‘intuitive’ is because in a patriarchy where women are members of an oppressed group, our survival in the group depended on being hyper-vigilant and aware of the mood and temperament of the males in the group. This article is quite accurate but doesn’t go deep enough to explain WHY women are wired differently. It’s not just the need for a nurturing parent. Ask anyone who’s survived a violent childhood – male or female – and you will find out that they have a heightened emotional response. Just sayin’

    • Jonathan G says:

      This explanation has an elegant, intuitive simplicity, but it simply doesn’t match the real world. For one, humans have created myriad different societies organized in myriad different ways, from egalitarian hunter-gatherer groups to highly-hierarchal warrior societies. Humanity did not evolve exclusively in a patriachal society.

      Even patriachal societies, however, have not universally privileged all men over all women. Throughout, history, there have been far more men at the bottom than men at the top. There were only a few kings and priests, and many peasants. Wouldn’t men, then, develop the same sensitivity to the moods and temperament of the dominant individuals?

      Even if a society universally privileged all men over all women, observational studies of other primate groups show that social hierarchies develop within the groups of males and the groups of females. Within those hierarchies, then, wouldn’t the low-status individuals develop the sensitivity to the moods and temperaments of the high-status individuals?

      Lastly, also in other primate groups with hierarchal social orders, observations show that it’s hard work to stay at the top. The alpha males have to attend vigilantly to the moods and temperaments of the rest of the group in order to head off challenges and remain at the top of the order.

  45. adam blanch says:

    Rubbish. There are often differences between the way men and women process emotional material, but this is simple stimulus generalisation’ and everyone does it’ male or female. Oh for some kind of reference to valid research in these articles.

  46. Gordon Townsend says:

    Nice work Lion. I see that you are spot on and have actually offered a clear path for men. Thanks and I look forward to future posts…

  47. Agreed, John. While we are EQUAL in every sense, we are NOT the same.

    I appreciate your message (big surprise) and encourage all men to realize it does NOT mean we have the sole burden of being better people in our relationships. I believe our only burden is to choose to understand, respect, and love our partners. Our burden also includes clearly knowing what we value in the relationship and what behaviors we expect of ourselves before placing expectations on others.

    Same for women. In working with women in recent months, I can tell you they ALSO happily accept the “burden” of understanding the masculine in ways that builds him up. They will change the way they think, speak, and act in ways to inspire their men to want to be better. They are encouraged to do this especially when they see a conscious man doing HIS work at the same time.

    Who should go first? It’s never simultaneous. What would keep a man from choosing to initiate that energy?

  48. ogwriter says:

    This is little argument that the brain architecture of men and women is different,resulting in perceiving the world differently.I just don’t know that the differences are as absolute as you imply.I think the two styles are meant to be complementary.Many evolutionary scientists say the male and female brain evolved in relationship to each other.If this is true,then the current design is as it should be.This suggest that each can struggle to hear the other.This would certainly fit my experience.

    • I completely agree that they’re complimentary, in fact I state this in the article. Both ways of perceiving and operating in the world are important and necessary. As someone said elsewhere, both men and women need to become bilingual.

  49. Richard Aubrey says:

    I guess this is why so many conversations start with “you always….”

    I can buy men and women having different ways of processing various things. Problem is, only men are told to get their hockey together and quit being buttheads with all this masculine thinking.

  50. anongirl says:

    Having spent much of my life with men and women… the men are from mars stuff is lazy and simply wrong. There was a great post someplace here on the site talking about why this is lazy thinking

    • I agree – both men and women are from Earth. And both masculine and feminine qualities and characteristics are necessary to make the world work for everyone. It’s not lazy to point out important differences. We’re not all the same. We learn and grow by studying differences, understanding them, and working with them. This is true about male-female differences, and it’s true about differences in motivation, beliefs, values, and circumstances.

  51. Briiliant title, Lion. At last, you are on to it!

  52. FlyingKal says:

    It’s supposed to be a joke, right?

    But April 1’st was last week.

  53. Many people have asked me whether “John” is a real person, or just a convenient fiction for my own ideas. He is a real person, and this article was based on our conversation. For more information about John Jones’ work, check out his book, “Enter the Era of Empowerment: Self-Sovereignty in a Complex World.” http://www.gatherinsight.com/messengers/john_jones

  54. Doug Zeigler says:

    I’m alternately fascinated and bummed out by this piece. I can see the points being made and I think it’s pretty much dead on…but still seems to paint men in emotionally bumbling manner (to me).

    • We’re only “bumbling” because we’re built differently. And remember – we all have both masculine and feminine qualities within us, so it’s not really gender based. Every person is a blend. Very masculine men are 99% masculine and only 1% feminine. I’m probably 85/15. Some people are 50/50. What’s important is to recognize that there are two very different ways of experiencing emotional reality. The more we understand about both, the less we’ll bumble, and the more healthy and whole we’ll be in our relationships.

  55. FlyingKal says:

    First, I came to this part
    She remembers who you have been, and everything you’ve done in the past. She still reacts to those memories, and she operates, and makes decisions, based on her memories of who you were a year ago, and three years ago, and five years ago.
    I thought: “Huh? Doesn’t everybody do that??”
    (Then again, I’ve been called all kinds of derogatory stuff for that. By ex-GF’s and adjacent people, as well as a host of authors and commenters on this site…)

    Then I got to the part about:
    When a man experiences something emotional, it’s simply related to the facts of the matter at the moment. He will typically look for a direction he can move things, or a structure he can correct, in order to get past it.
    I thought “Huh? your friend’s really talking about a dog? Or a tapeworm? He’s joking right??”

    Then… Solely based on my manners and good upbringing, I’ll refrain to comment on the rest

    • FlyingKal: It’s hard to believe that other people can experience the world so differently, regardless of how you experience it. John and I both used words such as “typically” to indicate that there is a wide variety of people, and generalizations aren’t “typically” useful! My goal is to broaden everyone’s understanding of the differences between us so we can deepen our compassion, and improve our relationships with those strange “other people.”

      • FlyingKal says:

        Hi Mr. Goodman.
        I think you may have gotten my “Doesn’t everybody do that?” comment completely backwards?

        My understanding isn’t so much broadened by this article, as it tells me that I just don’t have the (brain) capacity to even fantasize about beginning to understand the slightest shred of the omnipotent workings of female emotion and communications.
        The way it’s laid on in the article, it would be like trying to teach a common ant about the origin of the universe. Pretty much pointless.

        Wanting someone to learn something, and starting out by saying that they lack the ability or capacity to understand it, doesn’t seem very encouraging to me.

        • Flying Kal: Sorry for getting your message wrong. I understand the frustration. The real point of the article is that we really NEED to understand women’s emotional reactions, and they really NEED to understand ours. We BOTH need to learn how and why we’re different, appreciate those differences, and work with them in partnership. Nobody’s wrong here. We all have a lot to learn.

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