Men are always saying, women never say what they mean. Meanwhile women are always saying, men never say what they mean. They then both say I don’t know what they want. What causes this problem ? How can we fix this ? From a man’s pespective the biggest problem is that he assumes the woman thinks the same way he does. The woman by contrast thinks the man thinks like she does. What causes more problems is that the politically correct are in denial that men and women think differently. Lets examine how this causes causes conflict.

Anger is caused by an inaccurate mental model

Lets examine how this works. I have a mental model of how a shop works. I go to the shop, I tell them I would like to buy a chocolate bar and give them money. I then assume that I should receive a chocolate bar back. This is my mental model of the store. So every time I go to the store, I give them money, they give me a chocolate bar I am happy.

What happens if I go to the store, I tell the shop keeper “I would like a chocolate bar”. The shop keeper takes my money, looks at me strangely and then keeps the money. I will get angry, and then yell at the shop keeper where is my chocolate bar, you are a thief. Right away I jumped to the conclusion that the shop keeper is a thief. The anger comes the fact that the store owner didn’t do what I expected.

In the second scenario what I didn’t mention is I am in China, I asked for the chocolate bar in English, the shopkeeper only understands Chinese. My mental model of how a store works makes the assumption that both the shopkeeper and I understand the same language. If the shop keeper doesn’t give me a chocolate bar, my mental model then jumps to “He is a thief”. Possibly the shopkeeper thought here is a foreigner who is giving out free money today.

We are told men and women speak the same language when they don’t

Both men and women speak might speak the same language but the words themselves might mean different things. You might be asking yourself, how is this possible ? She speaks English and I speak English, we should both understand what we are saying to each other. The problem is the same words often take on a different meaning.

The major problem with male and female interactions is the male assumes the female is thinking like him. The female then thinks that the male is thinking like her. This then results in all sorts of miscommunication and misunderstanding.

In the book the The 5 Love Languages for Men: Tools for Making a Good Relationship Great the author has created a model where there are five ways human beings express love to each other. He breaks it down into

  • Service - you help your friend out by fixing his car
  • Gifts - you buy your friend a new wrench set to help him fix his car.
  • Quality Time - this is a difficult one. Women often want men to just be there. In this case you don’t actually have to do anything.
  • Affirmation - people especially women want to be affirmed. They want someone to tell them they are making the right decision.
  • Physical Touch - this one is fairly self explanatory.

His model like all models is not perfect, no model ever is. But it is still usuable. Usually men are service oriented because traditonally we are the ones who would go out and hunt. While hunting we would spend at lot of time by ourselves. Women by contrast are usually more gifts and quality time oriented. This is because they would traditonally be going out in large groups to do things like gather roots or berries. Within that group, the women would spend a lot of time talking to each other and just being around each other.

Problems happen when you are using the wrong model.

Lets look at Joe and Sally. Joe comes over to Sally’s house, he spends 4 hours changing the oil on Sally’s car and other minor repairs. After Joe is finished, Sally says “Joe I think you care more about that car then me”. Sally is angry, Joe is confused and hurt. What went wrong ?

Joe is service oriented, so by fixing Sally’s car, Joe is saying he cares about Sally. Meanwhile Sally is Quality Time and Affirmation oriented. All Sally sees is Joe is ignoring her, this means he does not care. Maybe it is her fault for thinking this

Sally then decides she better go out and show Joe she cares. Since women are traditonally gathers she goes to the nearest shopping mall, for most women subconsciously shopping is work since it approximates the gathering behaviour. After several hours she finds a t-shirt which Joe likes and buys it. She then gives the t-shirt to Joe who is watching the football game, he takes one look at it and throws it aside. Sally then blows up, starts screaming at Joe about how he does not care, Joe meanwhile is baffled about what just happened.

Simplified example, but as we can see the problems are caused because both Joe and Sally are running different models but they don’t know this. In some cases things can not be resolved, the belief system might be too far apart.

But possibly things might have worked out differently if Joe had said to Sally when she gave him the t-shirt. Thats a really great t-shirt I see you spend a lot of time choosing it. Thanks. Heya I am watching the football game. Why don’t you go get some tacos and sauce and we can watch it together. Sally has now been validated by Joe, by getting tacos and sauce she is gathering and then she is spending time with Joe so she gets validated.