ThomG explains the male of the species

(Disclaimer: ThomG is not a licensed marriage and family therapist, nor does he play one on TV. The thoughts presented here are purely his own, and we all know he’s likely full of shit much of the time.)

The following question(s) came in an email Friday from a person from my past – the late juvenileous period, I believe – who has resurfaced after 25 years:

“Sounds like you ask your women friends a lot of things. So, how about some turnabout? What are some things that you believe women do not in any way understand about the male gender? God knows I've tried.”

Contrary to the popular pop culture notion, men and women do reside on the same planet.
Same species, but both quite nuts.

And really, I don’t think I am that hard to figure out (but then again, I reside in my own skin, so there you go). I don’t think men are particularly difficult to understand (and again, I am one, so there you go).

We all want the same things. We all want companionship and the touch of the opposite sex (or, if gay, the same sex). The ability to discuss things, to share ideas and opinions, dreams and desires.
But completely on our own terms.

I don’t think most men are adept at talking about their emotions. I believe we’re just as emotional as women, but have learned over the course of time that this isn’t “macho” and repress this.

We also don’t like to be poked into “discuss our feelings.” It can be seen as a sign of weakness (and it took me a few months of intense therapy to realize that). Women, start asking men to share with you their feelings and the monosyllabic words start tumbling out, am I right?
Men tend to keep their feelings to themselves, where only we can take them out, look at them, roll ‘em around a bit – very much in private.

I am reminded of the D.H. Lawrence poem:

To Women, As Far As I'm Concerned

The feelings I don't have, I don't have.
The feelings I don't have, I won't say I have.
The feelings you say you have, you don't have.
The feelings you would like both of us to have, we neither of us have.
The feelings people ought to have, they never have.
If people say they've got feelings, you may be pretty sure they haven't got them.
So if you want either of us to feel anything at all
You'd better abandon all idea of feelings altogether.

Women, you have to be crafty.
We do want to talk, to open up. But with less emotion – and more problem-solving, thought-provoking solutions.
What to know about our feelings? Then stop asking us how we feel. Observe us. Do not propose hypotheticals, because we’re lousy at them.
And please, do not interpret what we say. Just take it at face-level (even though to you it makes no goddamn sense whatsoever).
We don’t want to talk about every little thing that comes up. Sometimes, we’re just in a pissy mood. And no, thank you, I don’t want to discuss it. Just let me have this pissy mood.

Men, myself included, tend to shut down for periods of time. To sulk.
To think. To plot, plan, prepare. Solve.
When we’re there, women, cut us some freaking slack.
It is a natural process that actually is good for us.

When you sense that the sulking has begun to pass, ask – without the hint of emotion – “What have you decided?”
Again, listen, but don’t interject any emotion. Ask pointed questions that are problem-solving in nature.

I drive women crazy. I know this. And I think I am pretty good (now) about talking about my feelings. But I still hold a great deal back. I keep it boxed up, where only I can look at it in the dark, in private.

I think it’s good to encourage male friendships. Men tend to open up to other men – even if women were to listen in, it wouldn’t seem like it.

Men want what women want. A great relationship that makes each other happy and content. We just go about it differently.
Men have to work to remember to give little compliments.
Women have to work to remember that not everything is an emotional issue.
Men have to be open to discussing their emotions.
Women have to be open to not bring up the emotions all the time.

Women, let us be.
And be there when the emotions come tumbling out.
With a touch and without conversation.
That is, until we ask what you think.
And we will ask. Trust.


Anonymous said...

Good advice man.

Salmonqueen said...

Way to go! I couldn't have said it mo'betta m'self.

Bottom line:Guys need caves, or a cave like place to ponder stuff. Said cave place could be anything from a bathtub to a car.

Likewise, us grrrrls no likey caves, but we do like lotsa other stuff, including you guys.