Scientists have spent generations trying to explain why men and women behave the way we do and remain such a mystery to each other. And there are some things that we’ll never fully understand. However, there are also ways of assessing situations and responses so that we can logically explain words and behaviors. What am I getting at? Science. Biology. The way our brains work.
Science has clearly established that men and women think and process information differently. Some women would even say an inability to process information is what leads to most guys’ major downfalls. And this is somewhat true! But before you women run off to vent your sudden revelation, let’s explore this notion of women processing more information than men and get to the heart of what it really means, practically.
According to social psychologists, men do not make the same distinctions between events in life and the emotions connected to those events as women do. Whereas women see life’s elements as connected to one another – thoughts, emotions, convictions, etc., often lines are not drawn between events and emotions, and when they are, those lines can be blurred. This allows women to process more information and keep track of things on multiple levels, but also associates very specific experiences with very specific emotions.
Men, on the other hand, do what social psychologists refer to as compartmentalization. They put different elements of life and different responsibilities into figurative compartments.
So what does this all have to do with why men do the things they do? How can his actions, which seem inexplicable, be explained? Let’s take an example of why a man might say something inappropriate and unfunny (which, by the way, he deems as amusing).
Let’s say your guy made a sexual advance at you; said something provocative when you came home from work before even asking you how your day went. For you it’s time to divulge your daily happenings, but for him it’s time to get down, and well, maybe a little dirty. But a dirty comment out of the context of another’s openness is just that: dirty. Thing is, he didn’t mean it that way. Think about where his frame of mind was when he said it.
When your guy makes a pass at you before you’ve even got your foot in the door, he’s acting within his pleasure compartment (which is large and general). He’s home, he’s likely turned on and he’s been waiting for you. Now you’re home, so the equation, in his mind, makes perfectly good sense. Sure, a more edified and sophisticated man may actually sit patiently and listen to your office drama despite the fact that he’s got one thing on his mind. But for your guy, in this scenario, making a pass before asking about your day, is perfectly okay given it’s a “happy thought.” His pass, which may in fact be inappropriate, is his way to let you know what’s on his mind — you. For many men, saying something in this vein can be a lot easier and maybe even more effective, than say, asking if you’re in the mood outright.
Oftentimes, men don’t think something through completely before saying it. That, or they don’t realize the implications are of what they’re saying until it’s too late (or not at all, unless you point it out). This is an integral difference between men and women. Men tend to say and do things out of impulse and feelings, whereas women tend to say and do things which are connected to their emotional state of being. What’s the difference you ask? According to psychologists, it’s significant.
Emotions and feelings are different in that feelings are exhibited (or affected) externally by physiological means wheras emotions are filtered through our “mental channels” so to speak. They’re psycho-socially constructed into a dramatized feeling. Does that mean women are more “dramatic”? If you take out the stigma, yes. But all it really means is that women’s actions are affected by emotions and men’s actions are affected by feelings. And feelings don’t get thought about, whereas emotions do. Okay. So you’re more complex than we are (at least in some ways). Fine.
All this scientific talk may seem over-the-top to simply explain why men do the things they do, but the fact of the matter is that it plays a big part in the every day interactions we have with each other – as men and women but also as people. Rather than jumping to conclusions or applying our socialized reasoning to situations where it’s clear that women are from venus and men are from mars, oftentimes human beings just need to dig a little deeper to gain some understanding into why it is we do the things we do. Then, even if we can’t empathize with each other, at least we can understand each other a little better. And, as the saying goes, when you change the way you look at things, the things you look at begin to change.
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