Over the years we’ve repeatedly heard the clichéd idea that men and women are from completely different worlds, Venus and Mars are the stereotypical areas, and there have been many variations on this theory since its development. One that I heard recently was that men and women have such problems because there is a distinct language barrier between us – apparently that’s the problem with the opposite sex, they’re speaking a language we don’t understand, and vice versa.
It seemed like a feasible theory until I actually stopped for long enough to think about it properly! With the amount of code words and hidden phrases, is it any wonder that we’re having problems in translation?
We never say what we mean, or we rarely do anyway, and we’re constantly weighed down with phrases like “No, I don’t mind” and “If it’s what you want”, oh and let us not forget the classic “No really, I’m fine” which typically means “No, I’m not fine, and yes, you’ve messed up.” We spend so much time thinking about what we want to say and we still end up saying what we think the other person will prefer to hear. It comes as no surprise that people aren’t meeting expectations because we never open our mouths wide enough to tell them what they are. There are countless times when we misread signals and mishear messages, but it seems that perhaps we’re aren’t misreading anything but rather, the speaker is mis-saying things! If we’re not direct about our thoughts and our feelings, how can we expect the other person to understand?
It’s difficult to sometimes bite the bullet and tell someone how you really feel, whether it’s about them, about something they’ve done or maybe even about your whole relationship, but does keeping quiet really fix anything? We come out with so many “I understand” one-liners when all we’re really thinking, deep down, is that we don’t have a clue what’s going on. Someone told me that saying what you think sometimes causes more trouble that it’s worth, from my perspective, keeping shut and letting things fester is probably a less productive method of conflict resolution! It makes more sense to drop the code words and spit out whatever is actually on your mind because if you’re not saying it, how will the other person know that there‘s anything wrong?
The amount of time we spend talking to friends about mixed signals and how we never really know what’s going with him - whoever he is that week – would time be better spent just looking at the facts. There are some people out there who just say their feelings and deal with the consequences but we’re so used to picking apart sentences and teasing out hidden messages that even when the facts are staring us in the face, most of the time we still manage to miss them. It’s another example of the infamous game-playing that goes on within relationships, only this time, people rarely know they’re playing and they definitely don’t know when they’re winning.
People are always reading into things and looking for something that isn’t there, and while that might be necessary sometimes if you’re dealing with one of those men, not all of them are speaking Marsian (or whatever it is they speak on Mars!). A lot of guys say what they think, it’s just we’re too busy working out what they mean to register what they’ve actually said. Over the years people have cashed in on this difference with textbooks and classes, even the odd translation guide, to understanding the opposite sex but when it comes down to it, I don’t think we’re actually speaking different languages at all, maybe just different dialects…