Men and Women ARE different…
Can you relate to the feeling of being totally unseen by your partner? Of 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, only to have your partner go on and on as if you hadn’t even spoken? As if they totally are from Venus whilst you are from Mars?
Men and women ARE different in many ways. Even though modern thinkers are trying to homogenise 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 communication difficulties is not so much what we’re saying, but the misleading perceptions we have of each other that drive the way we hear each other.
Often as women, we believe that a man should be “more feminine”, more sensitive and wordy in communicating, so that we can feel understood. We 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, making them easier to communicate with. They judge women as wrong, or too emotional when they’re indirect as it makes men uncomfortable.
We see each other through our own filters rather than seeing and appreciating our differences.
Simply not understanding these differences in perception can leave us feeling unheard, uncared about, disrespected and unloved. It creates polarisation, causing unhelpful behaviours that result in men and women growing apart when they communicate, rather than brining them the closeness they BOTH long for.
There is more to be gained in understanding and celebrating our differences as men and women. Rather than trying to minimize or neglect our uniqueness, particularly if we do so 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. This hugely important debate is unfortunately degenerating into a gender issue. One which is mostly driven by knee jerking, but well meaning politicians and women’s leaders in their drive for much needed funding. When an issue that impacts both men and women is made out to appear gender specific, it only polarises both genders. This makes clear communication unnecessarily more challenging, and creates communication difficulties that could have otherwise been avoided.
Yes, men and women are obviously different. Some differences are easy to spot, and some are more subtle in how we act, feel, communicate and react to each other. These differences are 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 this not seeing each other leaves both partners feeling disconnected, frustrated and powerless. Even hopeless if it goes on long enough.
From our place of hurt we try to get our power back by taking the offensive (actively attacking or withdrawing). This gives us a few moments of powerfulness over the other. However, it leaves the attacked person in protection mode, where it is extremely difficult for them to defend themselves, and to support us (what we are looking for) at the same time. Meaning each protagonist ends up alone and isolated from each other.
Seeking to understand and appreciate our differences gives power to both people, especially when we both step out of playing games of protection or manipulation, and step into empowering each other.
The thing is that either we’re BOTH empowered or NEITHER of us truly are. Any games of one upmanship only cause 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 extensive, yet by no means exhaustive.
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.
- His singular focus, his cutting through the messy or the unnecessary in order to achieve clarity takes energy.
- He sees his needs as having paramount importance because ‘He gets, so He can give’.
- He expresses himself through his opinions, actions and achievements, that to him, are vulnerable expressions of his individual self that is seeking to seen and loved. When he talks, he is not simply telling details, he is empowering himself with the energy of his storytelling. That’s why he loves to tell stories, the more outlandish the better.
- Man needs woman, for he is fascinated, nurtured, energised and inspired by her beauty, mystery and appreciation of him.
- He seeks to do things for her, to me
- He loves becoming part of her team in achieving her desired outcomes and feels enlivened by her contentment.
- 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 woman’s nurturing of him, as he forgets himself in his warrior like pursuit of his goals.
- When his own offerings are unheard or rejected by his woman, 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.
- 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 is also fullness, beauty, radiance, beingness and love.
- 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 both herself, and him, 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, his 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 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.
His response to a woman’s weapons is one of shock, dismay, disbelief and a loss of his power, resulting in fury and rage. 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 in this would be too dangerous. His 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. Any acts of physical violence are purely his last resort.
When a woman is unseen by man:
When she has given her all and is left unseen, a woman will understandably seek to protect herself from further hurt. This is the opposite of her true receptive nature. She will do protect herself consciously, or unconsciously, by covertly 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 criticise, interrupt, complain about or ignore him. She might compare him unfavourably with others, show disinterest in or demean 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 socially acceptable than physical violence (though occasionally she can resort to this as well), but they’re nonetheless devastating to her man.
Turning the tables and seeing each other more clearly:
Instead of playing these games of hurt and protection, men and women can choose to be proactive and minimise the hurt by the following:
- Remember that woman’s beauty and radiance is enhanced by his appreciation and compliments, giving them regularly.
- Choose to drop his need to self protect and call his woman on her defences from a place of clarity and love, rather than anger. His anger will dissipate and he will feel reconnected with himself and his innate loving power.
- 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 for a woman, 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 no longer be that of protector and provider in the traditional way, his heart and his passion are still what she seeks.
- See the sheer beauty and humour in their differences with laughter, for laughter is a great intensity shifter.
- Choose to drop her weapons and instead truly revel in her own inner power, beauty and radiance so man can again love, appreciate and care for her.
- Nurture herself through her own gifts, coming 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 by letting him know what outcome his help will create for her, and asking what he needs to help her 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. (This doesn’t mean he can’t appreciate an occasional good argument and feel her in her intensity).
- 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.
Underneath we are all just looking for love, and to give love.
As you can see, this is a large and complex topic, but having 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
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