Do you sometimes feel like you’re speaking English and he’s talking Martian? Chances are it's more than bad communication. In this Lifescript exclusive, relationship guru Alison Armstrong reveals the 7 common mistakes women make with men, and how to relate to guys on their wavelength. Does this sound familiar? Your significant other hears criticism when you’re actually teasing him affectionately. Or he doesn’t ask about your job, and you’re hurt by his lack of interest. Are you a dysfunctional couple with bad communication skills? No – just different genders.
“Women look at men and see a hairy, misbehaving woman,” says Alison Armstrong, author of Making Sense of Men: A Woman’s Guide to a Lifetime of Love, Care and Attention from All Men (Pax Programs). “Her response is to train him, punish him or keep a distance from him.” Women are “frog farmers”: They unwittingly turn princes – good guys – into “frogs” by trying to change them, says Armstrong, who has spent decades studying men and how women relate to them. Her conclusion: You can’t change men, and once women accept their fundamental nature, their relationships can improve.
“We don’t need to disempower men; we have enough power of our own,” Armstrong says. “That’s what’s really cool. Men love strong, competent women. It’s the ‘What-do-I-need-you-for?’ attitude women often cop – that keeps men at a distance. Shrinking the distance is the core of Armstrong’s successful “Understanding Men” series of national seminars (UnderstandMen.com). The workshops demystify the opposite sex and help women view men as partners, not adversaries. “The course was a total light-bulb moment for me,” says Cathi Yates, 51, of Athens, Ala., who attended Armstrong’s Celebrating Men, Satisfying Women workshop. “My attitude and awareness about men has changed, and the way men respond to me has changed.”
Here are 7 common mistakes women make with men, according to Armstrong:
Mistake #1: Seeing men as misbehaving women.
Women take everything personally, Armstrong says. When a man doesn’t do what we want, we think he doesn’t love us, care about us or respect us. “Otherwise he wouldn’t be misbehaving.” But men are more forgiving than women. “They allow for mystery with women and find it fascinating.” Want more man decoding tips? Check out 6 Things You Don’t Know About Your Guy.
Mistake #2: Reading into his words.
Take men literally. If he says he’s busy Saturday night, it means he’s busy Saturday night, Armstrong says. “It doesn’t mean he’s tired of you, bored of you or wants to break up with you.”
Mistake #3: Expecting his time to be yours.
When he becomes your boyfriend, you expect him to sync up with your daily planner. The problem? “He doesn’t see it that way. Men have whole lives. They don’t consider they owe you all their time,” married or not, she says. Men owe you their best effort to make you happy, and to love and respect you, Armstrong says. But expecting him to cater to you makes you appear “domineering, bitchy, disrespectful and disempowering.”
Mistake #4: Interrupting when he’s speaking.
You’ve asked your man an important question. He starts to answer and you butt in. “That’s how women mistakenly end up thinking men are shallow,” Armstrong says. When interrupted, a man will just stop talking. Instead, listen to what he says. When he’s finished, listen some more. That’s when the best nuggets often emerge.
Mistake #5: Thinking a man can multitask.
Women are biologically designed to multitask, says Armstrong. “We watch TV and knit a sweater; we drive and plan our day; we’re on the phone while checking email.” Men don’t. Why? Because they’re hunters, Armstrong explains. They have to be single-focused to keep their eye on the target.
Mistake #6: Believing a man is ignoring you.
You’ve probably accused your guy of ignoring you while he’s driving or watching TV. He really isn’t. He just can’t do two things at once. If he’s watching TV or dressing, “He’s just watching TV, just getting dressed,” Armstrong says. “We think he’s doing something and ignoring us because we can do that.” No wonder most women feel abandoned! “We keep our attention on [men], and we feel upset when their attention is not on us,” Armstrong says. So next time your man’s ”hunter” kicks in – and you’re feeling disconnected – take a deep breath and remember: He’s wired differently; it’s not personal. Then again, he may be just plain weird. Check out these 7 guy types to avoid.
Mistake #7: Competing with a man’s mission.
“I’ve trained my daughters not to hit dad up about anything” until we’re on the freeway, Armstrong says. “It’s all about getting the mission on track.” Same thing goes when a man is immersed in a new business venture and less available. “All his energy is going into this thing that he’s sure is going to provide for his family,” Armstrong says. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking he’d make more time for you if he cared more. It’s not about you. And forcing him to pay attention “will be excruciating for him,” Armstrong says.
By Stephanie O’Neill, Special to Lifescript. Published December 06, 2010. Copyright © 1999 www.LifeScript.com - All rights reserved.