I recently saw a number of posts that talk about the inability of men to win an argument with a woman. Most were pretty disparaging of women. Some of these articles were funny and written with humor, however most implied somehow that women are overbearing, impossible to deal with, illogical, and unrealistic.
Some stated that women ‘speak nonsense’ and ‘repeat themselves’. They also made points such as ‘women base their arguments on emotionality only.’ Several discussed specific techniques that women use for manipulation.
I even found a post on tips for winning arguments with women. One suggested that since you can’t win, ever, you should just change the subject, and get really harsh to get her to stop.
Mostly I find this stuff funny and ridiculous. But it really got me thinking. Why is this myth and belief about fighting with women so prevalent?
The problem is the premise. I really don’t want to be in an argument at all. I don’t want to compete. I don’t want there to be a winner or a loser. I certainly can enjoy a good debate, but only about ‘topics’ and ‘content’. I do NOT want to debate or argue about my feelings, my emotions, charged topics, my perspective, values or beliefs, etc. I am looking to be heard, to be understood and to understand, and to gain closeness and intimacy through a healthy conversation about tough issues.
I am wanting to engage my partner in an interactive discussion in which both of our perspectives are considered, respected and valued. Through conversation and mutual understanding, I am hoping that together we can create solutions that will work for both of us.
Working through issues to me is not a zero sum game where one person wins and the other loses. The concept of ‘winning’ an argument with my husband goes against what I value. If one of us ‘wins’ basically, we both lose.
On the other hand, my husband loves to debate and compete at just about everything. It is really a fun experience for him to challenge ideas, beliefs, and concepts. Through healthy argument and battling out issues, he is better able to integrate with new information, and better able to understand himself and me. He reaches conclusions by evaluating the facts and information, eliminating anything irrelevant, and then summarizing the core of the problem.
For him, this process of debate is enlightening. For me, it is discounting and painful.
Arguments then ensue because I present some idea, feeling, or issue for discussion. I simply want to be heard and understood. I want empathy, relationship and communication. I am willing to give those same things. However my husband’s first natural response is to question what I am saying. He wants to find out if it is ‘rational’, if it makes sense, or if it has validity. To him, a point is valid if it holds up under scrutiny and argument. One of his assumptions is that if he can figure out why I feel a certain way and maybe if I understand the situation better, I might feel differently. In his world, he is just trying to understand what I am talking about; he doesn’t even experience himself as arguing.
His questioning and trying to figure out the ‘why’s’ of what is going on with me manage to piss me off in just the right way (of course), as you can imagine. So an actual argument then ensues.
For me however, the argument is not about the issue I originally presented, but rather, I am arguing for my need to be heard and understood. I am doing everything I can do to try to get him to hear me and to stop arguing with me.
I don’t want it to be rational, or exact, or fit into some box. I just want him to hear beyond my words to what I am really saying (which, by the way, he is really good at and totally capable of). I am arguing trying to get out of the argument.
I do not agree with the belief that I should be logical, unemotional, and have my points all laid out in a perfect manner like my master’s thesis. I am not even trying to do that, nor do I have a goal to do that. My raw experience is often not rational. I know that. It just is what it is. Expressing myself is what helps me clear and complete with an experience so that I can then find solutions, later. It took me many years of personal growth to learn to express myself freely yet responsibly, and I am glad to be able to do that well.
My husband, on the other hand, is arguing to try to get me to see another perspective, or to be more rational, or to change my mind. At that point in time, I am generally not interested or willing to see another perspective. I do not want to be logical, nor is there anything he could say to change my mind. So yes, I do feel emotional and upset, and yes, I do repeat my point which is ‘why the heck are we fighting when I just shared some feelings?’ and yes I am frustrated to tears and the point of insanity at having this same argument over and over again and feeling not heard and understood.
Of course he can’t understand why I am so upset. It makes no sense to him. In his world, he is really trying to understand and figure out what the problem is and open the door to new ideas. So he gets more rational. And I get more emotional, more upset, and feel less heard. We polarize. To him, I seem ridiculous, like I am changing my story and making no sense. I speak in metaphors, in feelings, and in examples. I tell a story, that if interpreted in a concrete manner will never make sense. He wants something concrete. The more I try to explain it, the less sense it makes to him because my metaphors get broader and each of his attempts at pinpointing the problem make it seem like I am changing my story, which infuriates him.
And I am angry that I am even having the argument! As more time passes, I am getting angrier and angrier that we are fighting over my perspective, a perspective that as far as I am concerned, is not up for discussion, debate, or argument. I am really angry that I feel like I have been put on the defensive, and feel like I am required to explain ‘why’ I feel the way I do, rather than experiencing a good solid, reflective, listening ear.
When you look at it that way, of course he can’t ‘win’ the argument. Because basically I am refusing to even have the argument he is trying to have with me. He cannot win an argument that I will not engage in.
A really simple example of how it starts: one day I came home from a high paced exercise routine of walking up and down the stadium stairs at the local city college. I was really excited because I was healing quickly and had completed climbing many more stairs than I thought I could. I said something like ‘I must have climbed at least 1000 steps’. He said something like, ‘I think there are only 900’. UGH! I just wanted him to be excited for me. Who cares if there are 900 steps or 1000? For me, the 1000 steps is a metaphor for A LOT!
For him, it is hard to even hear what I say when it is inaccurate information. He wants to get really clear about how many steps there were. I just want him to be excited. He will never win or prove the point that there were only 900 steps because when this occurs I refuse to even give that point my time or attention since I feel so discounted and uncared about.
Of course this is really simplistic. But the same thing happens with bigger issues. I say something like “it feels like we have been fighting all week.” And I want him to respond to my fear and upset about that. But he responds with something like “we got in only 1 fight, and had 2 small disagreements, what are you talking about?” This leaves me feeling discounted, unheard, and angry that he is focusing on the details and not listening to what I was trying to say. He is angry that I am exaggerating.
We wind up in an argument about how much we are arguing. He is angry and wanting to prove his point that we didn’t argue that much. I am fighting to not fight about it and for him to get that I feel upset and distant. For me, it FELT like we were arguing all week, so even if he had a video tape proving how many times we actually fought (which he would LOVE to have!), he still wouldn’t ‘win’ because I still FELT like we fought all week.
So yes, you can never win a fight the other person won’t engage in.
Of course, over the years, I have learned to not get sucked into this. It all happens so quickly, that it took me years to unravel what was happening. Once I realized that I didn’t even want to BE in the argument, and that that was a big part of why we were fighting, I could begin to identify the starting point and work to stop the argument before it starts.
I have gotten much quicker at being able to say “I don’t want to argue about this.” Of course, that can start an argument, because he doesn’t feel like he is arguing, so he feels blamed. Ha!
Better yet, what works the best is when I simply get vulnerable, and say something like, “I really want you to hear my experience right now; after that, I am happy to hear yours.” We then use some basic reflective listening to hear each other, which can be magic for side stepping even the nastiest of fights.
To summarize, I believe one of the main reasons that men feel like they can’t win an argument with a woman is because she is unwilling to engage in the argument that he wants to engage in. He is arguing to make a point, she is arguing to feel heard and loved. There is no where to go, no way for anyone to ‘win’ as long as both people are fighting for and wanting different things.
Whenever you are at cross purposes with your partner, it is always a good idea to explore what the positive intentions and needs of each person is. Then, when you are not fighting or arguing, spend time negotiating and problem solving ways that both people’s needs can be met when that same scenario happens the next time.
In the example above, If I am able to be vulnerable, and say something such as “I just want you to understand what I am trying to say first, and then we can discuss it later,” my husband has gotten pretty good at responding, and listening first. Once I feel heard and understood, I am much more willing to carry on a debate about the nature of the problem and ways to resolve it.
You repeatedly say you don’t care about being rational or logical, you just want you feelings to be heard. A lot of women feel like that, and men are unlikely to feel like that. Frankly, I think that if a man said that, most women, even similarly minded women, might lose respect for him.
I see these thoughts a lot, and it seems as if women think that the female communication strategy is valid, while the male communication strategy is not. If a woman thinks that, she is likely to think that her argument usually if not always has more merit than the man’s.
In nonromantic settings such as the workplace, I occasionally get called into the boss’s office because a woman wants to resolve a dispute between us. When this happens I know we are in for an uncomfortable conversation, but I know that she will now see my point. When we were in disagreement, she was not arguing rationally because she is accustomed to men not arguing in her personal life. By calling in the boss, she is calling in a referee who is compelled to see things rationally, and that means, I will get the result I sought.
Why do men feel like they can’t win an argument with a woman?
A) For the reason above. Many women have no desire to be rational and logical.
B) Many men feel like it might be inadvisable to argue against a woman. If you are in a relationship with her, arguing with her might lead to less sex or even a breakup. If a man is on a date with her, arguing with her might make her like him less.
I truly believe that men know more about women than women know about men. This is because men don’t talk about their feelings, while women surely do. You discussed your feelings at length in this article, feelings which would be utterly embarrassing for most men to reveal. And women will argue with men, while men will not argue with women.
If a woman says something about men, which might be sexist, or at least shows ignorance of the male perspective, men might cringe but not argue.
Because if a man has compelling arguments on female privilege and how men have it rough, women might see his point, but think that any man who even has those compelling arguments is a loser. A man who thinks or just says that men are privileged all day every day is likely to be usually successful and a good man to be with. A man who has compelling arguments, or worse, uncompelling arguments about female privilege is likely to be often unsuccessful and seems like a man not worth being with. So men don’t argue with women, and that means women do not understand men.
I really liked your article. But sometimes facts are important.
What if, the couple share house work equally, but wife comes and says – “I don’t feel you help me out at all around the house”. Now in this case the husband’s response would most likely be to point out the facts of what each of them have been doing, which would stretch out in a long argument. Now, if the husband just listens and acknowledge her truth – that he doesn’t help around. then isn’t he setting himself up to do more. And potentially, even with him doing more, they can be back to the same point every week – because the wife’s feelings are not based on facts.
I am glad you enjoyed my post 🙂 And yes of course, sometimes facts are important. I am not suggesting that this is an ALL OR NOTHING issue, or that communication always has to be one way. In the situation you describe above, I think it would be important to honor both the feelings and the actual data. ie, understanding that the wife does not feel taken care of, and saying something to honor that. And then having a plan to sit down, write it all out and redistribute the chores in an equal way that feels good to both of you and that is fair. Both are true: the feelings AND the facts 🙂
If you want him to understand “beyond your words” then you are essentially asking him to read your mind! That is an insane request that no Man or even no Woman is fully capable of. All that does is add fire to the argument that Women are impossible to please.
Listening beyond the words and content to the process of the communication is a skill we can all learn. Women learn it early, as part of our conditioning. We also taught these skills in workshops, how to really hear what another person is saying. Vital relationship skills for all 🙂
I read this article, all of its reply and comments and all and this has truly blown my mind. This has cleared many things for me. Thanx to all of you.
I won’t speak for other men. And I can’t speak for women. But here’s my perspective concerning the most common reasons men argue with women.
Reason #1: Men hear inconsistencies, and are inclined to set the record straight.
I have to admit, were you to tell me that you had climbed “at least 1,000 steps” at a stadium known to have only 900 steps, I’d likely respond in the same manner as your husband. The intent wouldn’t be to make you feel discounted in any way. Rather, the response would be spurred by my desire to rectify the inconsistency.
For example, if my wife were to say, “Item XYZ only cost a few dollars,” and I know that it cost $30, the inconsistency would create a cognitive buzz that would drown out everything else. I’m not saying it’s a great way to be. I’m just saying that’s how I, as a man, am.
Reason #2: Men often feel they have to defend themselves against accusations.
In most arguments I’ve had with women, their assertions tend toward personal attacks. For example, rather than saying “Whether item XYZ was a few dollars or $30 isn’t my point,” she might assert “Why are you always like that?! You’re so nitpicky about stupid stuff like this.”
To wit, a personal attack. At that point, I’d feel inclined to defend myself.
Reason #3: Men often become combative when women refuse to admit the inconsistencies men point out.
Let’s use the “steps at the stadium” example. Suppose you told me you climbed at least 1,000 steps, and I responded by saying the stadium only has 900 steps. Were you to reply, “That’s true. Okay, almost 1,000 steps,” I’d be better able to concentrate on the personal triumph you’re describing to me.
Again, I’m not saying this is a great way to be. It’s my male mind.
It’s worth noting that I’m nearly 50, and most of my male friends have similar perspectives (for better or worse).
Thank you so much for your thoughtful response. I totally agree with you; many men that I have spoken with, (including my husband), have described the same experience as you do. What you describe is an excellent breakdown of ‘male’ side of why this whole interaction happens.
I think it is important for both people to understand what is the underling process/experience of the other person, and from there, make compromises based on the idea that both people’s perspective are valid, just different. Gaining perspective on the ‘triggers’ is the first step to finding away to get both people’s needs met.
Thanks again for the GREAT description of the ‘male’ perspective on this issue.
Best to you,
~inspired girl aka Barbara
Thank you for writing this. I think much of the difference in communications is cultural/gender related.
When a man talks to a women about his feelings, problems or experiences, the last he wants is for that woman to respond by arguing how that feeling, problem or experience is irrational, invalid and easily fixable. Yet for some reason that’s exactly what men “offer” women…who don’t happen to appreciate that.
Women tend to look for ways to validate others people’s experiences no matter how strange or illogical because of an assumption that maybe something seems weird only because we are just not that person. Women don’t expect to ever come to perfect agreement on anything but to understand perspectives in order to be able to live a bit more happily. A lot of that open mindedness is imposed because it’s a necessary coping mechanism in a male dominated environment. Women are expected to be flexible and understanding. Men are not: they are expected to be rigid and authoritative.
Women and men want the same things in an active listener. Women are trained from a young age how to be good at that as it is absolutely a necessity as the traditional nurturers in society. Women are taught that being openly competitive is an unattractive trait. Men are taught the reverse, and on top of that to see women as their inferiors. No man or woman is impervious to these influences.
Men: learn to listen from the experts.
Well said! Thank you 🙂
I do this, but now it’s just me agreeing to anything she says, I wonder if I’m being pushed around.
Relationships require give and take, and fair compromise from both people. This post is only meant to clarify the issue, it is not meant to say there is only one way to resolve the problems. Just agreeing to each others’ style will often cause problems in the long run; rather finding a healthy balance and give and take between both people is a better long term solution.
In my first marriage to the woman who shall be known as “Bitchy Wife #1”, arguing was pointless, because she seemed to ENJOY the fighting. She would start arguments of trivial minutia. Sometimes I’d be willing to argue for myself, even when it really was “nothing”. Usually, I would merely give in.
When she wanted to fight about something more substantive, we would negotiate; I give in some, and SHE was supposed to give in a little. Nope; she wouldn’t give in even a bit. Unless the topic was very important, I would give in completely, and agree with her. This shocked her, and she would take several (metaphorical) steps backward from her original demand, and begin to restart the argument now based on me fighting for her original stance and her now demanding so much more. I eventually stopped even arguing with her, which got to be very depressing.
When the fighting devolved to our moribund sex life, I’d had enough; I drove away and threw my wedding ring into San Diego Bay. (The term “DeadBedroom” and the Intenet did not yet exist.) In one of our very few later conversations during our bitterly contested divorce, she tried to tell me that she loved me and she couldn’t think of ANY reason why I had left.
All I hear in this post is “I need”, “I want”. You admit you exaggerate. You admit you’re irrational. You want to be able to speak untruths and make false accusations without being called out for your dishonesty. You think your feelings should be his reality.
Well here’s what I need. I don’t need to be attacked by lies. I don’t need you taking your frustrations (at things completely unrelated to me) out on me. I don’t think I should have to take all of this silently, and if I dare ask a question or respond in any way, you behave as though you’ve been personally attacked. It’s almost like you know you’re in the wrong, and the man can easily prove it. But you can’t let that happen, at any cost. So, as you say, you don’t engage in the argument. You just demand he listen and accept your feelings as fact.
Get yourself a girlfriend if you want to discuss your feelings without any input. Or go find a brick wall to yell at, if that’s what you want. I am a person with feelings of my own, and you need to respect that. You say men invalidate women for not wanting to listen to their hysteria; I say women invalidate men by refusing to acknowledge that a man intensely dislikes hearing people whine about problems but do nothing to solve them. I get that you need to vent. But you need to get that it’s not fair to vent on me. We are different. Respect my nature and I’ll respect yours.
Why is it that men are expected to accommodate feminine nature 100%, but a man’s nature is never accommodated, only shamed? Just because men (unlike women) rarely demand to be accommodated is no reason to not be fair.
Sure sounds like you are really angry and that you have been hurt a lot from issues such as this one. This issue can lead to anger and hurt on both sides, and to each person, the other person’s style seems insane and just wrong.
I do agree that both parties need to adjust. I think that the first step is to learn about the others’ style and give validity to that, and then both people need to work together to find compromises and ways to interact that feel good to each of you.
Best to you,
~inspired girl aka Barbara
Certainly some men are unjustified in their anger regarding past relationships etc. But, I think it’s not really a fair response to say “both parties need to adjust,” when men have been berated in society as not being sensitive, intuitive, caring, etc., enough and yet women are not, as John said, adapting to male perspectives. It’s like saying “this is our problem,” if it bothers the wife and “his problem,” if it bothers the husband. Another way to say “male perspectives,” is rational/factual/related to the current issue.
I’m not saying women need to abandon their nature at all, but that it is okay for them to acknowledge and then enact change toward being more rational in discussion and admitting that your beliefs/opinions/views are in fact, up for debate, everyone’s are. Whether you’re upset or not, that is simply naked truth.
I want to (for what little it’s worth) absolutely cheer on that you spent a good deal of time reflecting on this and trying to understand your husband. Husbands and wives should do a lot more of this. You’re a good example.
As I read this looking for answers, I felt like some place familiar: hell.
I expected some answers, a guideline, something logical to deal with women but instead, it’s just some bullshit that I have to expect/accept.
I don’t understand why women don’t take responsibility for their behavior and do not care about changing it at all.
I use words carefully and your usband reminds me a lot of myself.
I’m tired of lies, false accusations, tired of gathering evidence for my defense, analyzing words, quote them. I do not enjoy this process at all. And even with all thoses evidences, nothing can’t be done.
I’ve tried all but I won’t accept ever to agree on some bullshit. If I have done something, prove it and say it with the right choice of word.
Women don’t care about reality. They felt judge when you try to discuss about fact. The more you bring evidence, the more they ended up up in tears with even more false accusations. The less you’re gonna get out of this.
As a man, I’m not looking for love or happiness anymore. I’m looking for peace. And when women start some stupid random shit, I simply disappear. No kidding. I ghost the fuck out. And I feel at peace. I’ve never scream at someone, insults or use violence. I hate arguing (but I saw many women doing it at ease). If you’re not my partner and want to stab me everytime you don’t understand something or “feel” something (instead of simply use your eyes) then I won’t bother to contribute to your suffering anymore. I Ghost the fuck out.
How can you sit here and say “I am what I am, deal with it” It’s normal?
This example: “it feels like we have been fighting all week.” outrage me so much because I’m used to thoses bullshit.
Everything is fine and then, the false statements out of nowhere. You feels like it but it is not a fact. Are men supposed to live in some sort of Matrix? In your world of disillusions? Should we see the world based on what we feel? Sounds like some religious beliefs. How yeah, you feel that way so it must be true.
Dammit. Something even feminist won’t ever address. No wonder MGTOW exist.
I do get it. You need confort, you need to feel safe everytime about virtually anything. How about no? You’re human just like I am. How about no? Your lack of confidence is not my problem. If everything is fine, just enjoy it. If there’s something wrong, just tell it like it is and do not use metaphor or other useless tool to distort, amplify it.
How about “I’m tired of arguing” (the truth about your feelings) instead of some false hyperbole out of nowhere?
How about you choose the right words? There’s nothing wrong about expressing ours feelings but this is not a free pass for lies, exaggeration, false accusations. Have you ever thought of that? Never. Too logical.
As I read the comments, I’ve realized how absurd this whole thing was.
Your feelings are true, no one can take you that. But instead of talking about them, you throw perverted “content” (facts) and expect the man to figure out that this is not about the content be the root… Like… What the hell. And worse, you won’t bother to give him a clue? Or clean your own mess? So the guy is gathering evidence on a crime scene that you’ve created but you won’t bother telling him that’s whole scene is a set up? And it’s perfectly normal to you?
Do you think that you’ll be heard or understood? Even for you, it doesn’t help at all. You want to be heard so you talk about the content, and back up, live the poor man over analyzing the content and that’s all?
This is some level of masochism… I feel bad for you and every women out there.
There’s really something strange about how we raise women (and men, I admit).
My reply will make you angry probably. But here goes.
Men brought up in the 70s onwards were brought up hearing that men and women were the same and to say otherwise was sexist.
Saying that it’s useless to argue logically with a woman IS true. It just is .
But men haven’t been able to say that.
But this means of course that there is no level playing field. Men have to adjust the whole way they talk and respond.
Before you attack and say that women use logic when discussing concrete things and northern feelings – the problem is that women’s feelings come into just about everything. And a discussion about a non-feeling/emotional thing can turn into one – so the man starts thinking he can just talk like he does with a man but 5 or 10 mins in the discussion has morphed into one where the woman is now into turning it into ones out feelings. And then the guy is lost.
Remember you said “do NOT want to debate or argue about my feelings, my emotions, charged topics, my perspective, values or beliefs, etc. I am looking to be heard, to be understood”
So, a man can make a flippant comment watching the TV which somehow can get hijacked into a discussion concerning the woman’s feeling, deep issues, what happened at work, her life that he doesn’t understand and morph into a”don’t touch me” “it’s over” “you’re stupid” “I’m packing my bags”
Only to have the same woman leave come back and want a hug saying she’s staying.
Sorry but two things.
1. Maybe women should think about men think and feel and how hard it is to have to deal with this.
2. Women have to stop criticizing men for not talking and expressing themselves. It never works!! If he does and ends up saying something critical -it will never be forgotten while terrible things the woman says have to be forgiven because “she was just mad ” or was just working through her feelings.
3. I suspect this is why women mostly say they have trouble getting on with other women. At work etc. Women are always talking about some sister, mother, daughter, friend, neighbor, co-worker they are mad with. Why should that surprise anyone? They want the right to be considered logical but then other times be completely illogical when the feelings and emotions come into it.
Women won’t let them be a little child/princess.
And that is why women all want to get married and have a castle where they are the princess and they get to be equal, but actually more than equal because like you they want their guy to understand and just listen and take the hits but not respond.
So the conclusion?
Don’t complain if it’s hard to get your guy to talk.
Be thankful that you’ve got a guy
Your response actually made me smile. I appreciate your thinking about this and your thoughts on it.
I never meant to imply that it should ONLY be about the woman’s style or way of doing things. My biggest intention is to shed light on the problem. I do believe that if we can begin to understand what is at the root of the issue(S), rather than the content, we can begin to create some real change. I DO think that both sides need to be considered, that both sides need to considered ‘valid’ and that both people have to be willing to adjust and compromise.
I also don’t think that there is one answer for everyone. Each couple has to find a way to deal with this in their own way. For me, it often depends on who brought the issue up. E.g. If I am sharing about something pertaining to me, then, yes, please respond in a way that will help me feel heard. If my husband is sharing, and wants to debate, then sure, let’s do that. Or sometimes, we have to shift the order of who responds how, and how we deal with that.
The important part to me is that both people have to ‘get’ that there is more going on here than it appears and that both styles are valid and need to considered.
I hope that this helps.
Thanks for your thoughts and perspective.
Best to you
~Inspired Girl, aka Barbara
You hit the nail on the head ” we BOTH need to compromise”. Unfortunately my wife is unwilling to discuss change in plan when I suggest negotiating when we disagree. Her mind is set that hers is the only right way. Case in point: we agreed that all kids woyld be helped financially thru 4 years of college. I have 2 girls, she, one boy. since the eldest two graduated its an argument every time tuition comes due for my youngest. I’m “helping her too much” even though tuition has only gone up a little in two years and i split costs wth my ex. (also my youngest has an on campus job that helps pay), Her son wants to go back for more schooling so I suggested we help him pay for some of it as well. She thinks that since her son has a full time job that my daughter should pay for herself too. We helped the first two, why treat the third different?
That certainly sounds like a challenging issue, and blended families must be so hard to find good balance. I do know that there are always at least two sides to every story, and that there is often history and other issues that come up with trying to agree on situations such as you describe. It is great to get some help, such as counseling, with the tough stuff, someone who believes in relationships and who can help you really hear what the other person is saying, below the surface, and who can help you communicate in each others’ language.
Best of luck to you, and best wishes.
~inspired girl aka Barbara
Stumbled upon this. It is really enlightening.
My only question is, where is the compromise where you “argue” and/or acquiesce that your husband is right about the “details”, even when you don’t “feel” like arguing? And only then begin to talk about your feelings. It could also be in the reverse order.
The point is, if you don’t acknowledge your partner’s reality and at the same time expect yours to be, then you are beyond selfish.
I am really glad that you found it enlightening 😉
I totally agree, there needs to be compromise, and give and take. Sometimes have the ‘conversation’ one way, other times, have it the other way, so that both people’s styles are honored and valued. I do think that the first step is to understand the process, and see the positive intention in both sides, and to then talk to each other about the process (not the content) and come to some agreements about how to handle it when this happens.
One thing to consider; although YES, I am always willing to compromise when the other person also is, if the topic is MINE, ie, I brought it up, I really want to be heard the way I want to be heard first. I will give back that same respect, ie, if my partner, or another friend who has that same style, brings up the issue and wants support, than I am totally willing to have the debate about it as the first and perhaps only way to discuss it. I think what really matters however, is that each couple finds a compromise that works for them. I do not believe that there is any ‘right’ way to get out of this mess, but I do think that understanding what is happening goes along way towards compassion and working it out. Without understanding the dynamic, this type of communication ‘fail’ can lead to broken relationships.
Thanks for your thoughts, and for considering my words.
~inspired girl aka Barbara
A very intersting post. One which I actually agree with, which is rare. Effectively you are saying that no one can ever win in these arguments simply because both are arguing for a completely different argument all together. Much like competing against each other using different sports.
This poses a question:
Where as men can be disproved via scrutiny, undermining their logic. For example about the stairs, turns out there were 1000 steps, you would be right and he would step down after his logic has been disproved.
What about women? It is possible to disprove logic by presenting counteracting facts, but how does one disprove emotions? Seeking understanding and acceptance is understandable, everyone wants that but If the basis of those emotions are wrong, then how do we disprove them?
For example Woman (w) and Man (M)- W wishes to invest her money on a share on the basis that it generally seems to be doing well (an emotion based, gut feeling decision), she subconsciously as you said earlier wishes to get her husband’s understanding and acceptance. Her husband M is a stock broker, he engages in analytical examination and found that her investment will be risky given the facts (Logic), How does a man dissuade her?
I am glad that you find some good points in my post. And yes, that is exactly what I am saying,
no one can ever win in these arguments simply because both are arguing for a completely different argument all together.
Much like competing against each other using different sports.
That is a good question, how does one disprove emotions? The problem however, is that your question is based on the idea that emotions can ever be proven incorrect. I know that for ME, they can never be ‘proven’ incorrect. I feel how I feel. It might not be logical or rationale or even right. I still feel that way. So in trying to disprove my emotions, you will always lose. 🙂
In addition, sometimes my gut instinct turns out to be correct, over the logical or rationale argument. However, the more important issue for me, and I think for many women, is that I want and need my partner to trust me and I want to feel that I have choices and feel respected, even if it doesn’t make sense to YOU. If it feels like my partners’ need for the BEST (in his opinion) financial decision, is more important than supporting my choices, that is going to cause fights and mistrust, and he will find that he has little ability to influence me.
However, the other part of your question, ‘how would you dissuade a woman from making what you see to be a poor decision that is only based on emotion, and that might be risky‘, addresses the core communication and relationship issue which is how to negotiate and compromise and meld styles?
1) I would say, you need to be willing to have her make a decision based on her gut instincts.
2) Rather than arguing with her, allow her space to express her feelings, feedback what you hear, and be sure that you can clearly and compassionately communicate that you GET it, and are willing to take the risk if she really wants to.
3) When she feels heard, ASK if she is open to hearing another side to it. IF she says ‘no’, there really is NO opening. However, If she feels heard, she is much more likely to be willing to hear you. At that point, you can express your thoughts about it, but without trying to make her wrong. Be sure that you give credence to both opinions.
4) Give her time to think about it, and be sure that you communicate clearly that you are WILLING to trust her instincts, even if you don’t necessarily feel great about it.
You might be surprised. I find that when I feel heard and trusted rather than argued with and judged, I am much more willing to hear another point of view and consider it.
I would love to hear what you think about these thoughts. Thanks for considering these issues!
Best to you
~inspired girl aka Barbara
Thank for the nicely written post. I cannot wrap my mind around understanding women’s feeling versus our logic. We, the men want to understand why. I see it counter-intuitive to go for one’s feelings to manage a situation.
Anyhow, I will need to keep my shoes and put on my fiance’s pair in order to make our relationship fruitful. It is time for a paradigm shift. I found my efforts futile trying to infuse logic into our arguments. I know it will be way out of my comfort zone. It will be painful at first. Plus, it will take me awhile. I am going to do this for my love to her.
Thank you again. I love your post.
I am so glad that you found my blog post helpful. I LOVE that you are willing to open your perspective to understand this dynamic. Kudos to you, truly. So many people get stuck in their own way of seeing this, and fights like this have the potential to destroy trust and even end relationships, when not understood and worked on.
I KNOW that from your perspective, this behavior is really hard to understand at BEST, and totally CRAZY at worst. YES, I agree, a full paradigm shift is what it takes to get through this, and learn to here and understand and have compassion for each others’ style.
HA, yes! Keep your shoes on, but put hers on also, and hopefully she will be willing to put YOUR shoes on today, so you can understand each other. IT is GREAT to do this NOW, before many years of marriage and partnership have you both so locked into your patterns, that it becomes almost impossible to pull out of it.
THANK YOU for considering all of this.
I would love to hear how it goes.
Best to you,
~Inspired girl aka Barbara
You can fathom a Man’s frustration with a woman when he questions his own sanity.
I have been that man. And growing without a father made things worse.
Your article is gold.
I am so glad that you found this helpful. and I totally get how frustrating this issue is for both people!
Best to you!
~inspired girl aka Barbara
I think you just answered the age old question, Why A Man Can’t Win. You wrote a thesis on the subject, and a man would say, Women are from Venus, Men Are From Mars.
All I got to say is, “Yes dear”.
I would sign with my real name, but you first.
Very well said. Was literally in an argument with my girlfriend via text as I was reading this. This was extremely helpful.
One question though-
“I don’t want it to be rational, or exact, or fit into some box. I just want him to hear beyond my words to what I am really saying (which, by the way, he is really good at and totally capable of).”
I definitely feel like my girlfriend feels this way at times. But for me, sometimes it’s hard to understand that what she is saying isn’t really the heart of the issue.
My question is, if your words aren’t what you are REALLY saying, why not say what you really mean?
This is really a great question. I do get that this could be very frustrating on your side of the equation, and it seems like I would be able to just say what I mean in your language, I totally get that.
I can’t speak for your girlfriend, but you might want to ask her if this also makes sense to her. For me, in MY world, and in my language and way of expressing myself, I AM saying what I really mean. I speak in metaphors, and it would likely make perfect sense to many women I know; they would understand what I am communicating easily and completely. It just doesn’t come out in some concrete box, or in some way that might seem practical or clear to my husband (or you). In addition, I am actually in the process of figuring out what is going on with me as I talk. Part of what I want from the listener is to help me get clarity. The WAY I get clear is talking about it. It is not as if I am intentionally being obtuse, I am simply expressing myself in an authentic and congruent, free and open manner.
Having been married for a long time, and understanding this dynamic, I certainly do compromise on this issue. There are times where I am very careful about what I say, and do my best to be concrete and exact, and specific so that my husband gets it. I work hard to do that, at times, but also need him to be willing to hear what I am saying in my language.
I hope this helps. Let me know what you think!
Best to you,
~inspired girl aka Barbara
The woman in my life was saying those exact things, she could even be the one who wrote this. The reason to go back over things is NOT to clarify if it it “logical” it is to clarify. (Period!)
For example, the last argument, I said something, she thought I had said something else, and started off on an angry rant, wanting to be heard. When I tried to explain that it was not what was meant, she told me almost word for word what you said.
Thanks for the comment. I am glad that you (or she?) can relate! I hope it’s helpful in understanding this dynamic.
Best to you,
~inspired girl aka Barbara
so men cannot win because you wont engage them in a debate you started so therefore no actual debate to win bc you don’t want to, even though you do, but only at a later time after you’ve been heard. so men shouldn’t try to offer anything from their own point of view and just stfu and listen until you are ready to hear their reply? How long until you are ready to listen? and when he is talking, do you listen to everything he has to say and then wait until later on to reply like he had to?
I am not sure that I understand your question, or if you even have one. Can you restate it?
I don’t suggest that MEN should do everything the ‘women’s way, or that women should do everything the ‘man’s’ way. All I intend is to point out that there are two separate and valid realities and ways of being in the world and that in order to be in relationship, first we have to accept that both people have valid points of view that are different. And then you can begin to compromise, or merge, or create a whole new way. My only intention is to shed light on the issue, in hopes that understanding will bring possibility for change.
Thanks for your thoughts,
” say something like “it feels like we have been fighting all week.” And I want him to respond to my fear and upset about that. But he responds with something like “we got in only 1 fight, and had 2 small disagreements, what are you talking about?” This leaves me feeling discounted, unheard, and angry that he is focusing on the details and not listening to what I was trying to say.”
So you’re angry with him for responding to what you actually said instead of what you were trying to say? That;s absurd.
From a certain perspective, sure, it can seem absurd. If you look closely, what I actually said (in this instance) is that it FEELS like we have been fighting all week, NOT that we HAVE been actually fighting all week, or any reference to the amount of fights. I (and many other people/women in this instance) simply want a response that is directed at the feelings, not the amount of times we fought.
Regardless of the specifics, in this post, and in this instance, I am simply pointing out different communication styles, and for both people on the polar opposite sides of this argument, YES, the other side APPEARS completely absurd. What you are expressing is the exact problem I am pointing out. And if we don’t learn how to accept and bridge that language gap, and if we each stay attached to your own perspective or style of communication, there is no way to heal the differences and grow together and compromise.
Thanks for considering another perspective 🙂
~inspired girl aka Barbara
Debating is a stress test for ideas, that evaluates their merit.
If an idea can’t stand the test of a debate it is must be modified or abandoned.
A hatred for debating is equivallent to a hatred for truth.
When someone wins a debate, that does not mean that someone else loses. People who debate with an open mind always win, even if they lose, because their bad ideas have been cured by superior ones.
Everyone is a winner during a debate, that’s one of the greatest things about it.
Thanks for you comments and perspective.Certainly there is validity to your point that debating has an important function and value. I can certainly enjoy a good debate.
However, the issue I am pointing to is that not everyone wants to debate all the time. In order to be in relationship, I do believe that we have to compromise and adjust to meet the other.
In fact as a woman, I often do NOT want to debate but instead want to focus on ways to get both of our needs met and compromise. That doesn’t mean that debate is bad, or that I am against it, it just means that sometimes I don’t care whether a particular idea is “better”, I simply want connection and relationship. If my partner insisted on debating too much of the time, I would have a very hard time feeling cared about, heard, or being happy in that relationship.
I am suggesting that when two people come together we have to consider the intention in the others’ communication as well as our own needs, and remember that their reality has validity also. If we stick with our need to be right about our own perspective, that is a set up for failure. Whereas if we start with the premise that the other person’s perspective has validity, then we can find good and healthy compromises where both people’s needs and communication styles are considered and addressed.
Thanks again for your considering this.
Wow. What an idiot I am. I’ve spent too long (as a guy) searching online from a mans perspective until I finally had the break through and stumbled across this we page. So amazing to hear whats going on from the women’s perspective. My wife has tried to explain but I needed this blow by blow explanation. It’s so sad. Articles like this should be published in National Newspapaers lol. Really though. It’s very importan for humanity in the end that we understand each other. Do you Know how much damage we have done to each other in our marriage? It’s truly heartbreaking. Hopefully I can shut my trap now with this info as a tool. Though after 15 years of screaming at each other, I think I can honestly say that arguing doesn’t interest either of us anymore as we’ve done sooooooooooooooooo much of it. Sigh
Thanks so much for your insight and thoughts on this. YES, I do get just how much damage these types of missed/mixed communications cause!And i would LOVE to be published in some of the big time digital newspapers, yes!!! 🙂
I do get what you mean, reaching a point where you really do NOT want to fight or scream and yell, but sometimes the other person’s behavior just makes NO SENSE at all, and/or your patterns are just so engrained! It’s really challenging, but as you know, it can be done, with lots of hard work and intention.
Thanks so much for your thoughts. Glad you found it insightful/helpful.
Good luck implementing!
~inspired girl aka Barbara
Thank You.This is useful and gives a nice perspective on why the opposite genders fight and don’t reach a conclusion. I will remember that 🙂
Hi! Glad that you found it useful! Best to you, ~inspired girl aka Barbara
I am a man. I didn’t read all, but the bits I read were brilliant!
Thank you! So glad you could relate/ that is fits in some way! 🙂
~inspired girl, aka Barbara
Feelings can’t be disputed. They just are. It’s sad that we so often find ourselves in a position to defend them. It’s like having to defend that the sky is blue and dogs bark. We’ve got ’em, they’re ours and we get to have them and even get to keep them if we want to. But it’s one of those simple things in life that people not us seem to forget much of the time.
So, then, I guess since we’re so often finding ourselves standing up for our own feelings and hope to avoid that, the trick is finding that exactly perfect way of expressing them to our partners, friends, family…. And that kind of sucks. Especially because it seems to always be a moving target, never staying the same, the rules constantly changing depending on moods and the circumstances, momentary environment, all that. I find myself working on communication strategies for things that shouldn’t need a strategy. And it’s hit or miss. Sometimes one works when the other doesn’t and vice versa ad nauseam.
I waver about if it’s a gender issue- especially since I’m the logical one around my house (at least as far as I’m concerned) and I’m the one who can hold on to some decent reasoning even when I’m activated and my executive functioning could be offline which it rarely is (at least as far as I’m concerned). But I know all too well that thing of arguing about the argument.
Oh no…. I could go on and on here until this comment is longer than your post, Inspired Girl Barbara. So I’ll quit here and just say that you’ve raised an interesting issue. To say the least. Thanks!
I think that rather than a ‘gender’ issue, it seems to be one where people polarize. One person becomes the ‘logical/concrete’ person, and the other person tends to speak in metaphors and feelings more. And even in the same relationship, we can flip flop who plays which role depending on the topic. I do think this is something to think about and contemplate, because it is a dynamic that can have serious, unintentional, negative consequences, if left unexplored.
THANKS for your insights!
Great post Barb! I loved this: “For me however, the argument is not about the issue I originally presented, but rather, I am arguing for my need to be heard and understood.”
So true. Whats funny is that my husband and I are a mix of the “percieved” way men and women are. I’m actually a VERY good logical arguer, and my husband actually gets more emotional and upset about something and I’ll be all logically explaining why I think I’m right lol – and when he’s upset he can’t think straight to explain himself – it’s not really fair to him lol – thankfully we hardly argue anymore! But on the flip side, when I do feel very upset by something, if I attack him instead of being respectful in the way I approach it, my husband will be too upset to validate my feelings, which also doesn’t go over well! It’s all so very interesting isn’t it. The biggest thing I’ve learned for my own marriage in order to be validated is respect respect respect. As a woman, love is the most important thing to me (perhaps because my husband is just a naturally respectful person, so I already get that from him) but I have been surprised to learn over the years that respect is FAR more important to him than love – of course I know they go hand in hand, but if I remember to control myself and approach him in the right way so he does not feel disrespected, a sticky issue will always go SO much better for me. :)-
Yes! Ultimately it is an issue of respect. Can we respect each other style differences and needs, and learn to adjust our communication so that both people feel valued? I find that so many people flip flop on this: sometimes one person is the ‘logical/concrete/justthefacts’ person, and the other is the ‘process/touchyfeeling’ one, and then it switches, depending on the issue. I think it’s simply really helpful to understand this dynamic and work with it and adjust, regardless of which role each person plays, because it can be really destructive! And I love what you said, about ‘control and approach him in the right way’ because as you say, when both people FEEL respected things go better for all involved! Thanks for your insightful thoughts Rayzel! 🙂
Great article. 🙂 thank you.
Thanks Annie! I am glad you like it! 🙂
I SO needed to read this today. This article is spot on. xoxo
I am so glad you found it helpful Paige! I really wasn’t sure if other people felt the same way; glad to hear that you can relate! 🙂
I learned immensely valuable information from the book, “Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus” regarding the situation Barbara describes. The book explained a woman’s use of the words, “always” and “never”. In my first marriage, my wife would say, “We never go out to eat.” This was untrue, so I replied with irritation, “We dined out three weeks ago.” She then repeated, “We never go out to eat.” This angered me, because she ignored my factual statement and repeated her nonsensical statement. I subsequently learned (after that marriage ended!) that all I needed to say in reply to her initial statement was, “Are you saying that we do not dine out as often as you would like?” Then, she could reply, “Yes”, and I could then ask, “How often would you like to dine out?” Then, we could reach an understanding of each other’s desires in this regard and agree to a dining out schedule, be it informal or formal.
For the enhancement of male/female relationships, men must learn to discern the communication underlying the woman’s words, and women must understand and honor the man’s need for facts and accuracy. Then, each gender can experience feeling heard, understood, respected, and communicated with in the communication style of their own gender.
You got this spot on. YES, both people need to consider and learn to respect the other person’s style and needs so that true communication and relationship can happen.
Thanks so much Stu! Well said.
~inspired girl aka Barbara
Great article! A few examples of those who believe in the manipulativeness of females are a former manager of mine who told me to get what I wanted out of my supervisor by manipulating him like I did my boyfriend (I shit you not, he said that); and tales I’ve heard about a woman who broke into tears when she realized she was not winning the debate. I had to wonder at this when I recently observed the five year old daughter of this female scream to get her way in one instance (she didn’t), and whine then speak baby talk in another (ditto). I was appalled. Nature or nurture?
Interesting question, nature or nurture. I would guess a little bit of both. We are surrounded with strong conditioning regarding what it means to be a ‘man’ and what it means to be a ‘woman’ and what our ‘appropriate’ behaviors should be. AND we have different genetic predispositions, but I don’t believe that how we react is set in stone or fated either!
And yes, as you describe, the believe in the ‘manipulativeness’ of females is fairly widespread in our culture, as your example demonstrates. In addition, we tend to see what we expect to see, yes?
~inspired girl aka Barbara
glad you made your point and i understand you
You are so wise
~inspired girl aka Barbara
That’s an astute answer to a tricky qutieson
Thank you! Glad that you liked it!
~inspired girl aka Barbara
Thanks Barbara, a good read. I’ve experienced this and it is frustrating.
I am glad you found this useful Diane, and that you could relate. And YES it is really frustrating! Hopefully, in understanding the process of what occurs, you can begin to work your way out of it, and not get caught in it!
~inspired girl aka Barbara
Bingo!!! Nail on the head!!! So frustrating funny thing is I have seen myself get very literal about “facts” and have corrected him about the details and didn’t consider the possibility that maybe he is only wanting to be heard and acknowledged.
Yes, exactly, this goes both ways for sure! THANKS Jacquee, great to notice how much we polarize in relationships 😉