Above image: Adam Katz Sinding
It’s no secret that men and women are different, but in case you sometimes feel like you are actually speaking a different language than your significant other, rest easy: You are. Women and men may have the same organs but they have a completely different makeup. I was asked to write this story because of my somewhat unique position as the much younger sister of two brothers. Two brothers that never coddled me, always tortured me and were unafraid to always, always—for better or worse—tell me how it was. That gave me a thick skin and a unique perspective into the male mind. Now to be clear: I am no expert and do not claim to be, but I grew up in a house full of men and I’d like to think that at least taught me a few things about how men communicate—or, as the case may be, don’t.
Don’t Ask If You Don’t Want to Hear The Truth
Sometimes when I’m at my wit’s end and really need someone to level with me, I take a deep breath and call one of my brothers for advice. Sometimes I even have a glass of wine as prep before I dial. Why do I need to self medicate before speaking to them? Let me tell you: They speak the truth. That was never more evident to me than when I was in my 20s and a boyfriend had broken up with me, and I was devastated with a capital D. I couldn’t stop crying or moping around, and finally I called my brother thinking that he would make me feel better, or at the very least, empathize. I was incorrect. After I had whined for a few minutes about how sad I was and how weird I thought it was that I hadn’t heard from him, I asked my brother if he thought that maybe ex-BF missed me too. My brother said—quite matter of factly, without any sense of regret or even hesitation in his voice— the following, and I quote: “To be honest Sari, he’s probably sleeping with someone else by now. I would be.” Pause for my head exploding. Lesson learned fast and painfully: Do not—I repeat, DO NOT, ask a man anything you don’t want to hear the truth about. Remember, the truth may set you free but it also may sting. Side note: My brother was totally right. Ex had indeed moved on, and he’s now married to her.
I Know You Want To, But It’s Actually Better If You Don’t Talk About It
Ask any of my friends, and they will tell you I often tell them not to discuss the issue they’re obsessing over with their significant other. That may not seem like sound advice, but growing up in a male-dominated house it was apparent my brothers did not enjoy being confronted by their girlfriends about everything that was bothering them. Sure, big issues need to be addressed, but smaller ones, should be—well–glossed over. Men generally aren’t as emotional about things as women, so they don’t necessarily want to talk about everything you’re feeling. Now I’m not condoning sweeping emotions under the rug, but sometimes it’s a good idea to just gently push them under a sheet. More often than not, said issue will pass and everyone will be in a better place if it hasn’t grown from a molehill into a mountain.
If You Want To Obsess, Call Your Girlfriend—Or Your Mom
Sometimes you just want to chat, gab, maybe obsess a little. Men are not that way. A meaningful conversation among male friends could consist of few words and even fewer syllables. If you’re looking to obsess over whatever given subject has its hold on you at the moment, call your best girlfriend, work bestie or mom—likely, they would love to go over the same story 15 times, discovering interesting nuances to it with each telling. That’s not to say men can’t be good conversationalists, of course they can, but in my experience they like conversations that move, evolve and—let’s be honest—focus on them. So if it’s going to be all about you, call a gal pal and leave the dudes out of it.
You Want to Talk, They Want To Fix
In the same way, many women can function with a broken TV or a phone that isn’t quite working correctly for an extended period of time, women can deal with an imperfect life situation far longer than men. I once functioned for two months with a broken remote control, getting up to change the channel like it was 1985 every time I needed to. My guy friend came to visit, fixed it within five minutes and then questioned me for twice that amount of time about what was wrong with me that I had let it be broken for so long.
"With men, if you don’t want it fixed, do not tell them it’s broken."
If you’re going to go to a man with a problem or an issue, whether it be personal or professional, know one thing: They will want to fix it. Men are primarily fixers. Women—with all due respect to our kind—are primarily talkers. If you want to talk about the issue for a while, examining all of its many ins and outs, angles and complications, call someone else. Your significant other, brother, father or guy friend are going to want to give you actionable items for how to remedy the situation. If you’re not ready for that kind of action, if you’d rather just discuss and complain about it for a while, don’t bring it to the men in your life. With men, if you don’t want it fixed, do not tell them it’s broken.
The bottom line is this: Don’t expect the men in your life to be exactly like the women. They think differently, feel things differently, and yes, communicate differently. Remembering that helps the communication go more smoothly and ultimately helps keep you sane. It’s not a perfect science, but it’s a good thing to keep in mind. And if all this makes you want to talk about the innate differences between men and women for a while, call a good girlfriend, she’d probably love to discuss it too.