What Men and Women Don’t Understand About Each Other and Why It Really Matters

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The Price of Business Digital Network has a new series of outstanding commentaries from thought leaders.  This is one in that series. 

Avrum Weiss, Ph.D.

There is an idea prevalent in our culture that similarities are good for relationships, and differences are a problem.  Couples often think the problems in their relationship are attributable to their differences, like “I’m a night owl and she likes to go to bed early.”

            I’m always a little amused when I’m working with a heterosexual couple in psychotherapy who thinks their different hobbies or habits are the cause of the problems in their relationships. It never seems to occur to these couples that being of different genders is a far greater gap to bridge than any of the things they are focused on.  Men and women see the world differently, behave differently, and feel differently.  These differences are largely learned rather than innate, but they are substantial.

The problems in heterosexual couples do not stem from their differences, they come from men assuming that women are like men and women assuming that men are like women.  Nothing could be further from the truth.

Couples often attribute their difficulties to “communication problems,” and so they try to bridge the gap by being careful with their words or learning how to “mirror” each other when they talk.  These strategies most often leave couples frustrated and more upset because they only address the superficial misunderstandings and do not address the deep-seated misunderstandings between men and women.

I would like to offer ideas that will help most couples greatly increase their understanding of each other.

·         The most important thing women don’t understand about men is how scared they are of women in intimate relationships.

·         The most important thing that men don’t understand about women is that most of what women do in the relationship is part of their effort to get closer

It’s counter-intuitive to think about men being afraid of women. After all, men are generally in a more powerful and privileged position in most relationships, so what do men have to be afraid of?

·         Men are afraid of being dominated and controlled by women. Why is the worst thing that one man can say about another man is that he is “Pussy whipped,” accusing him of being controlled by a woman, or more precisely, controlled by his need for a woman.

·         Men are afraid of being inadequate; emotionally, interpersonally and sexually. Men stereotypically self-centered lovers, but in surveys men say pleasing their partner is most important. Pleasing their partners is not an expression of generosity, but an indication of men’s strong need to be validated through sex. As the old saying goes, “Women have to feel loved to have sex. Men need to have sex to feel loved.”

·         Men are Afraid of Being Abandoned. Men are more physiologically distressed by conflict in intimate relationships than women, and it takes them longer to recover because deep down they are afraid their partner will leave them.  This is why after a breakup, it is most often men who feel an urgent need to seek a partner.

In many relationships, women feel unhappy about the level of intimacy in their relationships, and they approach their partner with their ideas for getting closer, like “We should spend more time together,” or “I wish you would open up and tell me more about what’s going on with you.” The problem is that men are taught to feel responsible for women, so whenever a woman expresses any kind of unhappiness, men often hear that as a criticism, as an indictment of their inadequacy as a man.  Not surprisingly, men often respond by withdrawing to protect themselves.  Women often interpret men’s withdrawal as evidence of their lack of interest in being close, so they get more emotional and pursue their partner more, which of course only leads to men withdrawing even further until the couple is locked into an escalating pattern that leaves each of them feeling frustrated and alone.

      Couples can break out of this pattern and get to a much deeper and more satisfying understanding of each other if both men and women are willing to do their part.  For women, understanding that their partner is not withdrawing out of a lack of interest but because he is afraid of getting it wrong with her can lead to major shifts in the relationship. Men can do their part by resisting the temptation to withdraw, and learning how to hang in there with their partner and talk things through.


Source- https://podcastguests.com/expert/dravrumweiss/

Website- Avrumweissphd.com

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