We all suck at communication. Even communication experts suck at communication, just less. Generally speaking, women and girls are much better communicators because they have to be. Anyone that questions this should look at the work of Deborah Tannen, a Distinguished Professor, and Linguistics Professor at Georgetown University. I reference this because I am not male-bashing any more than men need to be bashed for poor behavior. Such also benefits them. If we treat the girls and women in our lives better, we feel better and are happier, too.
For starters, this is an article about male and female, more traditional relationships. I don’t have the education, experience, or training to discuss non-binary and/or other LGBTQ++ relationships. I offer here what I learned in my own life and as a social worker. Yet, I don’t want to mislead. Much of this is based on my experiences. I hope it is helpful.
Warning: Often the Worst Guys are the Best on Dating Sites
As a disclaimer, I was told by a longtime relationships coach, a female, that unfortunately some of the “best” guys on dating apps are users. They perfect their communication. They say all the right things. A guy with selfish intentions, one that dislikes women, can learn this stuff just to hurt women and girls. But the thing to look out for is genuine caring. Much of what I write here will come to that. If you read through what I write, the liars, the selfish guys, will start to show more clearly.
That is the sad part of many kind and good men. They are not good at dating or relationships because they have less practice. Some turn sour. That is too bad. So, the guy that “knows what he wants” is often the guy that wants only what he wants. It is proven though, that women love kindness in a man. Sure, they want good looks, but if they have to choose, they will take the funny guy with a big heart over the hot rude guy. One can only fake that for so long.
A Woman’s being Indirect is a Trust Issue and Protective Factor
To put it simply, guys like to be literal. Say what you mean. I was just such a guy. Here is an example.
Woman of You Suck’s Dreams says when he comes home, “I don’t think you love me.”
You Suck Says, “What do you mean? Of course, I love you! Why do you think I go out and bust my ass all day?”
Or, he tries to hold her and make out. Be careful. People can have sex without love, that is if you are You Suck. It’s one thing if two people are just hooking up, but quite another in a meaningful relationship. Often, such is a manipulation, a dodging of the issue. He may be using it to protect his vulnerability. He does not love her. Love and sex are different, though related.
Any person with experience knows that this is exactly what You Suck should not say. See how he is all about me, me, me! Me! The statement does not reflect any of her insecurities or feelings, nor does it invite her to share any more vulnerability with him. He is simply reacting.
Having sexual relations could be seen as “showing he loves her” instead of talking about it, but this is pretty dangerous in my opinion. He seems to treat her more like an object than a human being. This is another tell-tale sign of a user or manipulator.
You Suck is taking her totally literally. How about this instead?
Woman of You Suck’s Dreams, “I am really afraid that I am going to lose you.”
What The Genuine You says, “I am so sorry you feel that way. Would you like to talk about it?”
He may even offer to take her somewhere that they like to talk, but he should leave that up to her. If she is going to share feelings, she needs to feel comfortable. Let her decide, and allow her to say no. When a guy suggests this, though, it can make her feel better, even if she chooses to refuse.
Guys can demand that women change.
“Hey ladies, you must change and be more direct.”
But often they don’t know exactly how they are feeling. Lack of being direct can be a protective factor. We do this when we are trying to either protect ourselves or someone else from worse harm. This is true when men say they love their wives, but they do not. We will get to that later.
Yet, women told me that they need to brainstorm their feelings with someone they trust. That is the key. When you love someone, you care about them. Sounds obvious enough, but it’s not really. If both love each other, then keeping score is out. There is no need to keep score in the first place. The goal should be in trying to connect with one another. The more she trusts you, and girls and women have a lot of good reasons not to trust guys, the more direct they will become. Guys need to lead in this area to show that they can be trusted. If a guy is too busy blaming her, then he was never that into her in the first place. This can be the toughest reality for some women to face.
Yes, Women and Girls are Still Relationship Oriented, So Should Boys and Men
I am convinced that Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, and Donald Trump are miserable guys. They are very angry, and many people describe them as difficult or “jerks.” I don’t know them, but what is clear to me is that all the money and power in the world do not make one happy, nor do these things make these guys good at relationships. I don’t think these men will ever be happy. They distract themselves with boy projects. Some of these are good for society. I cannot deny that I am an Amazon “baby.” Bezos’ success holds the concept of the idealistic American Dream. Musk’s phallic rockets and other projects will have life-changing results for the globe. I’d think twice about hooking up with these guys if I were you. Unless, you have a book in mind, a personal memoir tentatively titled Dion Lust, My Time in Twitter Storm, there won’t be much benefit or happiness.
We often sound as if it’s a problem that particularly girls are so interested in relationships. We don’t blink an eye if a boy is only interested in his projects, but we are hardwired for intimacy and relationships. Without any direct criticism of those I noted above, the most genius of us tends to have mental disorders or other hangups that make us so good at certain things. This is not a putdown. It can be a quality in someone whose autistic (on the spectrum) or another with a narcissistic disorder (huge ego), or even a sociopath. Most people love sociopaths but don’t expect a good relationship, or the relationship will be a real challenge. They cause so much drama that we end up missing them when they are gone.
Of course, we should focus on relationships and a job we are passionate about. We can do both because we cannot choose a partner. We can, but that is a stupid idea. Falling in love is not a choice. Yet, we can plan for it or imagine it.
If you get one thing out of this article, it should be this: you can never control love. Never.
Guys are Not Really Literal, They Just Say They are
I’ve noted this before, but it’s worth repeating. Men want good relationships as much as women want. Men want intimacy, not just sex. I think men can separate these. No, I am not justifying cheating. Sex is an act men can do with anyone they find attractive, but there is no love in it. Many women are now doing this, too. Yet, I think most would agree, in time, that hooking up for pleasure is a rather stupid idea that can be fraught with danger for both men and women. Our interest in “just sex” often is avoidance of love. I know I have found love in my life to be very painful. Like most people, I still wanted intimacy but had no way to get it. In such a case, focusing on sex only is an avoidance strategy. Love has really hurt us. We are afraid of it. Maybe that is why some good guys finish last.
Many men choose a long-term partner or wife that will make a good mother over who they are really truly in love with. This is a major mistake. Such will show in the bedroom eventually because sex and love are connected.
Always go with who you are crazy about. I spent my whole life with a good person, but we were not in love with each other. 20 years is a long time. I woke up realizing that though I’d be great at relationships now, it was too late. Regret is very tough to get rid of. Most guys convince themselves that they love a woman and will even say, “I love you.”
Yet, she knows such is not really true. She is just afraid to believe it. The resentment builds, and she, too, can end up cheating. Most women cheat because they feel hurt; many men cheat because they tell themselves sex and love are different. They can be, but what is clear is that they never loved who they are with. To do such an act proves it. I will get pushback, but I am right. Even if they “work it out” and stay together. He did not love her enough.
If you tell a guy that you love him and there is any hesitation at all in saying, “I love you” back, drop him, as painful as it will be, drop him. Love needs no time to think.
To fall in love means giving everything to that person. You love all of her, her being, and her person. It is mutual. You even love her flaws. Such makes men very vulnerable to pain because she can hurt them very deeply as no one else has. Men don’t like being in this situation, but we have to show strength through vulnerability.
To truly love a person, guys have to let go of their fear. No control. This is counterintuitive and a bit dangerous. If you both truly love one another, then you are richer than all billionaires combined. We cannot control love but love is mutual, that is if we open ourselves up to seeing it in the person that zings us.
Love is not about language. Spoken and written language are small parts of overall communication between people. It’s about connection and body language. When you truly fall in love, language has nothing to do with it.
Earl Yarington (LMSW) is a social worker and school bus driver. He taught literature and writing for nearly 20 years and spent 3 years working in forensic social work internships with offending populations, including work at Delaware Correctional facilities and the Federal Bureau of Prisons. He has a PhD in literature and criticism (feminism/women writers) from Indiana University of Pennsylvania, Master of Social Work from Louisiana State University, and an interdisciplinary Master of Liberal Arts from Arizona State University, where he studied the impact of visual image and girlhood in media/social media. He also has an MA and BS in English from SUNY College at Brockport. The opinions and analyses that Earl writes are his own and are not necessarily the positions or views of his employers, the agencies he supports, or that of his colleagues. Reach out with comments or questions.