In a recent Huffington Post essay, VSB Magazine Editor-in-Chief Damon Young admitted something that will come as no surprise: "Generally speaking, we (men) do not believe things when they're told to us by women." Yeah, we know! But wait until you hear why he thinks men don't trust women.
Here's the crux of Young's argument.
But you know what I don't really trust? What I've never actually trusted with any women I've been with? Her feelings.
If she approaches me pissed about something, my first reaction is 'What's wrong?'
My typical second reaction? Before she even gets the opportunity to tell me what's wrong? 'She's probably overreacting.'
My typical third reaction? After she expresses what's wrong? 'Ok. I hear what you're saying, and I'll help. But whatever you're upset about probably really isn't that serious.'
Infuriating, isn't it? We've all been there. But it gets worse.
Young goes on to say, "If women's feelings aren't really to be trusted, then naturally their recollections of certain things that have happened to them aren't really to be trusted either." Wow -- that's a problem, guys!
Later in the post, Young admits this attitude isn't good for his marriage, and that he's learning to trust his wife's emotional responses better. But we wanted to find out what's really behind this exasperating problem.
According to Dr. Dawn Michael, clinical sexologist and author of Intimacy Guidebook for Couples, there are three issues at play here. (Caveat: We're getting into some generalizations about gender. Of course, there are exceptions, and not every man or woman behaves this way.)
1. Women do have emotional ups and downs. These are based on our cycle, of course. It's not that we're overreacting, Michael says. "But women are more sensitive at certain times of the month." This can even be a good thing, particularly for women who aren't very emotional at other times. But it's confusing for him, when something you were fine with one week makes you cry the next. What's helpful is when women give their partners a heads up on where they are in their cycle. NOT so he can disregard her feelings, but so he can accommodate you better.
2. Women's tears scare men because of BIOLOGY. "When men see women cry, it triggers something in their minds where they can't handle it," Michael says. "They feel powerless. 'What can I do, how do I fix this?' Sometimes it makes them angry." Julie Holland, author of Moody Bitches, agrees. "Tears from women stimulate the pain centers in men's brain. It's traumatic and scary when a woman expresses intense emotion."
More from The Stir: 6 Moods Women Have & How to Keep Them Under Control
This is a good reason to take care with the crying, Michael warns. Most of us cry only as a last resort, even against our will. But for those few of you who fake it, don't. "Tears need to be real," Michael says. "Otherwise you're sending conflicting messages." And that will undermine your husband's trust in your feelings.
3. Men and women's brains are wired differently. We multitask. We can deal with emotional stuff while folding the laundry. Men are more single-minded. If he's focused on driving, or getting something done, he can't also concentrate an important conversation. It's frustrating and overwhelming. And then he thinks you're the crazy one.
Michael tells a story about one of the couples she's worked with. The wife wanted to talk about her feelings while they were packing for a trip. "'I just want to make sure we have enough water and toilet paper in case you need to go to the bathroom while we're on the road,'" the husband said. "'And you're telling me all these things while I just want to get the car packed. And then you're mad at me!'"
So if you want to talk about your feelings, or have an emotionally charged conversation, pick your moment carefully. Make sure you have his full attention and that he's not in task or protective mode.
The miscommunication happens on both sides. So maybe men distrust women because we tend to be more emotional. But women tend to distrust men for the opposite reason, because they're less emotional.
"We actually need each other," Michael says. If you're feeling emotional, you may find it helpful to rely on your male partner to shut off that feelings valve and concentrate on getting through an emergency situation. On the other hand, men sometimes need to get a woman's perspective in order to understand the emotional aspects of a situation. It's a wise man who respects the emotional range of a woman, and trusts her for it.
Do you feel like your husband sometimes doesn't trust your version of things for this same reason?
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