Men and Women are different…
Can you relate to the feeling of being totally unseen by your partner, having to nag them over and over to do something for you, and even though they say they care, they still don’t do it?
Or having answered them in a way that you think is perfectly clear, having your partner go on and on as if you hadn’t even spoken? As if they totally were from Venus whilst you are from Mars?
Men and women ARE different in many ways, even though modern thinkers are trying to homogenize us and treat us all as equal. But being equal is very different to being the same.
This is especially true when it comes to our difficulties in communicating with each other.
What lies behind these difficulties is not so much what we’re saying but the misleading perceptions we have of each other that drive they way we hear.
Often as women, we believe that a man should be “more feminine”, more sensitive and wordy in communicating, and judge him as wrong or inadequate when he isn’t.
Men too can harbour the belief that a woman would be better off being “more masculine”, more straightforward and direct and judge them as wrong or too emotional when they aren’t.
We see each other through our own filters rather than seeing and appreciating our differences.
Simply not understanding these differences in perception leaves most of us feeling unheard, uncared about, disrespected and unloved, creating polarisation and unhelpful behaviours that result in men and women growing even further apart.
There is more to be gained in understanding and celebrating our differences rather than trying to minimize or neglect our uniqueness, particularly from a place of defensiveness fuelled by misunderstanding and ignorance.
Domestic violence is not a gender issue
The current debate around domestic violence is an example of this polarisation, as this hugely important debate is unfortunately degenerating into a gender issue, mostly driven by knee jerking but well meaning politicians. When an issue that impacts both men and women is made out to appear gender specific, this will only polarise both genders making clear communication unnecessarily more challenging, and creating communication difficulties that could have otherwise been easily avoided.
Yes, men and women are obviously different in so many ways. Some are easy to spot, and some differences are more subtle in how we act, feel, communicate and react to each other. These differences are important and part of why we’re attracted to each other.
Not understanding creates powerlessness
In any relationship over time, repeated experiences of feeling unheard or unmet through not seeing each other leaves both partners feeling disconnected, frustrated, powerless and even hopeless.
From our place of hurt we try to get our power back by taking the offensive (actively attacking or withdrawing) which gives us a few moments of powerfulness over the other. But it leaves the attacked person in protection mode where it is extremely difficult to defend themselves and support us (what we are looking for) at the same time. This means each protagonist ends up alone and isolated from each other.
Seeking to understand and appreciate our differences gives power to both, especially when we both step out of playing games of protection or manipulation, and instead step into empowering each other.
For either we’re both empowered or neither of us are, the game of one upmanship brings only unending frustration and separation.
So how are we different?
Here is a little look at how men and women are different in their inherent natures, how these differences impact and what we can do to benefit from them. This list is by no means exhaustive, and of course, underneath our gender we are all just human.
A man is internally motivated and more likely to follow his own path, to be driven by his inner sense of self. He is largely self reliant and single focussed, accountable for his words and actions. He sees his needs as having paramount importance because ‘I get so, I can give’. He expresses himself through his opinions, actions and
achievements that to him are expressions of his individual, yet vulnerable self. When he talks he is not simply telling details but is empowering himself with the energy his storytelling creates. Man needs woman, for he is fascinated, nurtured, energized and inspired by her beauty, mystery and appreciation of him. He seeks to do things for her, to meet her important needs through acts of generosity and kindness and to slay the odd dragon or two. He loves becoming part of her team in achieving her desired outcomes and feels enlivened by her contentment. His singular focus, his cutting through the messy or the unnecessary in order to achieve clarity takes energy. He highly values woman’s independence and though he loves to help, he doesn’t wish to get involved in her ‘issues’, for he sees these as draining of his precious life energy and having no obvious solution. He may not see her nurturing of him as he forgets himself in his warrior like pursuit of his goals. When his own offerings are unheard or rejected, he will feel unworthy and a failure. Asking a man to provide you with what you know he cannot is particularly cruel for him.
A woman is externally motivated and responds more automatically to others needs and preferences than to her own. She will seek her sense of self through connection with others, supporting and enhancing herself through helping them, though she does not seek ultimate responsibility for herself. She is fullness, beauty, radiance, beingness and love. Her magic is in her vulnerability, her receptiveness and her ability to give of herself. Nurturing, companionship, listening, sharing, playfulness, spontaneity, trust and appreciation are some of her many gifts. She fills herself by receiving from nature, creativity and pleasure. She is happy in the moment and in the messiness of life, her focus is more on the details and the process, rather than the outcome. She will not understand that this is the opposite to a man and will drain herself by nagging him into attending to them. She seeks agreement and commonality and without it feels disconnected, anxious and distant. Without connection with another she can feel a loss of connection with herself. Woman needs man to love, protect, provide for, cherish and ravish her. Even though she is much more able to do these things for herself these days she is still enlivened by his appreciation, providing for and love of her. She believes that if a man doesn’t see all her efforts to please and care for him and respond in kind as a woman would, he is a selfish bastard, leaving her exhausted and filled with resentment and bitterness.
When a woman is unseen by man:
When she has given her all and is left unseen in a place of powerlessness a woman will understandably seek to protect herself from further hurt. She will do this by consciously, or unconsciously attempting to take away her man’s power, the only obvious step for the disempowered. Her weapons are withholding her appreciation, her admiration, her trust and of course, her sex. She can also criticize, interrupt, complain about or ignore him, comparing him unfavourably with others, showing disinterest in and demeaning his ideas, his earning ability or smothering him with ‘Mother Knows Best’. She can also withhold her joy, radiance and beauty (a vital source of energy for him). Her emotionally abusive weapons are more covert and socially acceptable than physical violence (though occasionally she can resort to this as well) but they’re nonetheless devastating to her man.
When a man is unseen by woman:
He is left powerless in the face of her protection and it brings out the opposite of his true nature. He will seek distance instead of intimacy (what she least wants). He may choose to compete with her rather than cherish her. He may anticipate with suspicion rather than trust. Instead of natural respect he might treat her with disdain. As he begins to relate from a place of fear rather than of love he will seek to objectify her rather than feel her, as to feel would be too dangerous. His response to a woman’s weapons is one of shock, dismay, disbelief and a loss of his power, resulting in fury and rage. This rage has little place to go, as even in his pain his desire to protect rather than retaliate is strong. He will often (though not always) choose to shut down instead. From his own place of disempowerment he can resort to same weapons as the woman uses above. Acts of physical violence are his last resort.
Turning the tables and seeing each other more clearly:
- Choose to drop her weapons and instead truly revel in her own inner power, beauty and radiance so man can love, appreciate and care for her.
- Nurture herself through her own gifts and come to him empowered rather than trying to get something from him.
- Rather than over giving of herself, clearly asking him for help from a place of self worth. Remembering he is goal rather than task driven letting him know what outcome his help will create for her, and asking what he needs to achieve it. Giving her appreciation afterwards.
- Be open to receiving, an opinion, a compliment, a gift, or man’s love. In her receptivity he feels inspired to give.
- Be able to listen to him without needing to interrupt, judge or justify herself and he will feel accepted by her and his heart will open in return.
- When she ask for things, disagrees with him, or talks with him, to do so from her place of love where he will more likely hear her.
- Choose to drop his need to self protect and call his woman on her defences from a place of clarity and love, where his anger will dissipate and he will feel reconnected with his innate power and connection with himself
- Recognise that he is enough in himself and let go of his ego need to be “right”
- Understand that sometimes his desire to “fix” things doesn’t work in relationship, unless it involves a leaky tap or unblocking the vacuum cleaner
- Understand that simply listening with presence and allowing her intensity to run then subside naturally, is a deeply loving space for him to hold for her
- Know that even though his role in relationship may not be that of protector and provider in the traditional way his heart and his passion is still what she seeks.
- See the sheer beauty and humour in their differences with laughter, as laughter is a great intensity shifter.
This is a large and complex topic but beginning with some simple understandings can allow huge shifts to happen in your relationship with the ‘opposite’ sex.
Remembering that underneath our defences we are all just looking for love and acceptance in one way or another and in that we are definitely both equal AND the same.
For those of you seeking more on this intriguing subject see the wonderful work by Alison Armstrong on which some of this article is based.
And for those who would like to explore this in more detail in their own relationships contact Oztantra for a Skype session here