Thursday, January 27, 2011

Ramblin' Ramblin' Ramblin' [whip-snap] Yee-Hi!

No offense to any of you women, but the following thought is really beginning to gel in my mind.

When men talk, it's generally because they have a piece of information they want to communicate. Once that information has been communicated, the man is finished talking.

When women talk, it's generally because they have a need to be heard. A man starts to listen to her, expecting to hear some piece of information, but after hearing about 15 topics over the course of ten minutes, none of which have a point, and which are only loosely connected to each other, he either starts getting frustrated and wants to prompt her along with, "Get to the point", or he starts mentally drifting away (not intentionally; he just doesn't have the energy to keep paying attention to something that doesn't go anywhere).

I suspect women have the need to be heard like men have the need for sex.

I suspect that if men would learn to listen to their women for the 20 or 30 minutes the woman needs to talk, without expecting any information to be conveyed (but at least pretending to be attentive and that they get what the woman is saying), their relationships would be a lot more successful.

Again, men, your woman is not talking to tell you something; she's talking to relate to you. Don't expect a point; just listen.

This does not mean women never need to communicate information; they do. But it's sometimes hard for a man to hear her, because the signal-to-noise ratio is very low. She talks a lot, but doesn't necessarily communicate much real information.

A man can generally only pay attention to one thing at a time (he can listen to her take 20 minutes to say nothing, or he can watch the football game he's interested in, but if he tries to do both, he'll feel like he's missing out on important game time and she'll feel like he's not really listening). Because of this, it's very hard for him to pay attention to her for 20 minutes unless he intentionally tunes out distractions. But he can only do that for so long before he starts drifting, because he really needs to be thinking about what it will take to fix that plumbing leak, or how he's going to rustle up the cash to pay the electric bill, etc etc etc. A woman can think all of these things, plus fifty more, and carry on a conversation, all at the same time, but a man simply can't.

So men, when your woman needs to talk, find a way to tune out everything else, and just let her ramble, and don't expect her to have a point. She doesn't need to have a point to talk; she just needs to talk. (But sometimes she does have a point; pay especially close attention then.)

And women, when you need to talk, respect your man enough to get his attention and let him know you need him to listen, even if you're not telling him anything he needs to know. If he's in the middle of a project, tell him you need 5 or 20 minutes. Do not interrupt him for 3 minutes, then let him return to his project, then interrupt him again for 2 minutes, then let him return to his project, then interrupt him for 5 minutes, then let him return to his project, and then complain to him that he never listens to you. He can't do two things at once: He can listen to you, or he can do his project, but if he tries to do both, he's gonna fail at both, and you're both gonna wind up getting angry.

Maybe I'm wrong on all this. Maybe this has just been my experience. No offense intended. There's nothing wrong with a woman's need to talk (any more than there's anything wrong with a man's need for sex). It's just that men and women are different, and you women are so different that anytime a little clue into how y'all function enters into my brain, even though it should have been obvious to me long before now, it seems like bloggable material.

Let me know how close or how far I am from your reality; let me know if I've offended; let me apologize if I have --> I'm just a man, idiotically clueless when it comes to you women.


Wendy said...

It's more than just a need to be heard. It's a need to relate to one's significant other emotionally, to vent, to explore feelings.

Sheri said...

I have a man's point of view on this, which I think is the result of my tomboy upbringing: I was Daddy's girl and almost all of my friends growing up were boys. I talk when I have something to say, not just to fill the air with the sound of the human voice. At work I usually prefer to work with men, because the women always seem to be griping and complaining and commenting on things that don't matter. I overhear cell phone conversations daily and wonder how in the world they can go on and on talking about nothing!

Somehow, I wound up spending 16 years with a man who thought we should talk non-stop with no purpose. His biggest complaint about me was that I was too quiet. So I found it ironic when laryngitis caused me to lose my voice and all the men I encountered declared, "You are now the perfect woman!" At least somebody appreciated me!