Everyone knows that men and women communicate differently. Remember that book Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus? It wouldn’t have been such a huge seller if we were all doing a great job of expressing ourselves in relationships. Generally, the rule seems to be that women are more emotionally available and express themselves verbally, while men tend to express themselves with actions and may not be able to show their feelings in the same manner.
This is definitely a generalization – I know many women who are quite unemotional and men who are more sensitive than I would have ever imagined possible. Funnily enough, those types also seem to attract each other, despite simply being a reversal of the “norm”. It seems that despite the frustrations of attempting to communicate with your opposite, we still desire that complement to our own personalities.
I err towards the extreme side of being a “typical” woman – I am a very emotional, sensitive, vocal and expressive human. I’m an actor and a writer, so obviously I am comfortable using my words. I care deeply and try to show that with both actions and speech, but also draw back quickly when I feel that I am not being met halfway. When a man is not forthcoming with his feelings, it is easy to worry that you are misjudging or misreading what he wants and needs. You can begin to second guess the true nature of your relationship and level of his commitment to you. It’s also quite exasperating to lay out exactly what YOU want and need and still not get what you’re asking for.
I’ve dated a few people in my life, and I’ve been in some long-term relationships. I’m still young-ish, but I can tell you the tactics a younger and insecure me used that definitely do not work.
-DO NOT: Be passive aggressive. This is a confusing and defeating way to communicate in any situation. I adopted this tactic for many years and I believe I know many a person who has done so as well, thus baffling and frustrating our significant others. The bottom line is that men are not very good at guessing what you want and they do not like having to try. They would rather be told what is going on, whether you are angry or not. Direct confrontation always solves more than sullen silence, and guess what, that wall is going to break at some point anyway and the two of you will probably get in a screaming match. Pushing your anger under any false mask only lets it fester and grow.
-DO NOT: Expect him to magically know what you want and need without telling him. I have a hard time with this one, having read too many books and watched too many movies growing up. There is this idea of romance that we perpetuate, an idea that your soul mate understands you to your core without either of you speaking a single word. Would this be nice? Of course! All this communication crap could just go out the window and no one would be reading these words. I’ve never been with anyone who could do this, so I’m giving up on it. I’ve learned that as annoying as it seems, and as much as you believe he should know what you want inherently, it doesn’t work that way. Lay it out on the line, and chances are he will be more than happy to oblige. Men want women to be happy. It’s no fun dealing with an angry lady in your life. If you tell him how to accomplish this happiness, he should jump at the chance to fulfill your needs.
If you are direct, communicate simply and effectively, and drop the pouty face, you are doing all you can. It is nice when someone can anticipate your needs and does, but it’s a pretty high bar to set. If you feel that you are truly loved and cared for, and that your partner’s intentions are good, that’s the best base you can have. People don’t always notice subtleties, but it does not mean that they don’t care about you. I consider myself fairly great at predicting my man’s needs and fulfilling them, but I can’t necessarily expect the same back. I will probably have a life full of frustration and singledom if I do, sadly.
What matters is that he is a good person who loves and respects who you are as an individual soul. Neither of you are perfect. Find someone you can learn to communicate with in an effective way for the two of you, and most importantly, someone who is willing to make the effort to make that work. To be blunt, without communication, honesty, and trust, you have nothing. If the two of you cannot connect on some level where you understand each other, even if it is not traditional, it will be a hard road. Do your part and expect him to do his, and if he does not… find someone who will. He is out there somewhere!