The people who want to claim that a man can never understand a woman are full of crap.
“Men are simple creatures and women are just too confusing.”
This sentiment is everywhere, it seems. In entertainment, advice columns, marriage books. This is more than just a simple colloquialism. It’s indicative of larger societal trends that often spell disaster for relationships. Related social trends have been talked about, such as the concept of emotional labor. Right now though, I just want to flesh out the idea of men being so simple and women incredibly complex.
Tell that to my husband, who knew immediately that I was upset the other day, even though I didn’t make any outward expression of it and was actively trying to NOT appear upset. But he knew. Not only does he recognize when I’m upset, hurt and worried, he also cares and wants to help me through it. It’s not just about acknowledging that someone is upset, hurt, or bothered. It’s about taking the steps to find out why and be what they need to get back to equilibrium.
You can miss me with all of the “but women are just so irrational and confusing”, while pretending that men never act those ways themselves.
“Women are just too confusing.”
This line is just a cop out when men don’t want to do the actual work involved with really being someone else’s emotional support. This is not solely a male phenomenon, but it is definitely accepted as a cultural truth that men are simpler and women are more complex, and therefore there is an inherent communication divide that can never be bridged. This does a disservice to men as well, painting them as nothing more than food and sex vessels with no emotional depth whatsoever.
I won’t pretend that emotions are never confusing, because they CAN be. I may be upset and not even know why. You know what helps me find the why? Having a conversation with someone I love and trust to help work through those emotions.
Also, you can miss me with all of the “but women are just so irrational and confusing”, while pretending that men never act those ways, because they absolutely do.
Relationtip: “If you want to know why your partner is acting a certain way, or how they feel, or why they are upset; ask them! Don’t just assume what they might think, feel, or need based on gendered standards.”
People in general can get irrational, have emotions whose origins they can’t identify, and verbally strike out at those close to them when upset. These are not gender-specific traits. All of these are things that need to be worked through, and that is so much harder when the person closest to you just shuts you out with “go away, I don’t want to talk about this.”
Sometimes you just want someone to listen to a vent. Sometimes you just want to be held and comforted. Sometimes you need to be left alone to work through your own thoughts and emotions. Sometimes you want advice and need to bounce ideas off of another person.
This mantra of women as a whole being a mess of an unsolvable puzzle leads men in relationships to disregard the emotional needs of their partner. This in turn causes women to internalize their thoughts and feelings, with no way to express them. Eventually, you can’t just pretend they don’t exist anymore, and they may come out in much harsher and undesirable ways.
The goal of any relationship should be to learn what your significant other needs from you and provide that, as they do the same for you. It is extremely unfair to expect one person to carry the entirety or majority of the emotional weight of a relationship. And it’s equally unfair and wrong to assume that a man does not add just as much to that emotional weight as a woman does.
There are no gendered standards, and trying to run a relationship based on generalized expectations will only lead to hurt and misunderstanding. My husband and I are virtually nothing like what is described in stereotypical descriptions of men and women, where men are painted as stoic and rational while women are irrational time bombs. I don’t think we are one of a kind snowflakes. I think there are plenty of others who don’t fall under those stiff (and often insulting) definitions either.
I don’t look at general descriptions of men and assume “oh, my husband must be thinking/feeling this way because he’s a man”. I ask him, an individual person, and he tells me what his thoughts and feelings are. He does the same for me. We don’t always communicate perfectly; there are still misunderstandings and mistakes. But we make the effort, recognizing that we are communicating with one person and learning THEIR unique set of experiences and emotions.
A quality relationship starts with throwing out gendered standards and expectations and learning what YOUR person thinks, feels, wants and needs. It takes time. It takes work. But it is not impossible, and the rewards are amazing!