Tell Me What You Want

The more I learn about myself and the more I listen to the men in my life, the more I realize that although we’re sometimes speaking different languages, men and women really aren’t from different planets.  When men I know talk honestly with me and I consciously put aside all the defensiveness women tend to jump into (I must defend my sex! Men are wrong and women are right! You are wrong, man in my life!), I hear them saying things that I say to myself and to my girlfriends.  They’re just saying it in a different way.

Disclaimer: What I’m about to write only covers how the sexes address expectations and desires with one another. This is only a sliver of inter-gender relationships and what this topic could be addressed in.  Want more?  Comment.  Have a thought?  Comment.

A story about a guy:

I was talking to one of my guy friends the other day who had recently broken up with a woman who apparently expected him to read her mind and held it against him when he didn’t.  He was supposed to know that when she said, “Sure we can do that,” she really meant, “No we can’t because I wanted to do this other thing instead.”  Magical.  A fight ensued.  A few days later he went out with the guys and she was mad because she expected him to be with her instead or for him to ask her permission to hang out with his buddies.

To the Ladies:

Men don’t read minds, ladies, and don’t want to be with you all the time!  As a matter of fact, they hate being expected to read your mind about what your what your desires, hopes, and expectations are and they hate being expected to always be connected to you at the hip.  It makes them crazy, it makes them mad, it makes them want to say, “to hell with you!”  It can make them walk away even if they think you’re the most beautiful creature on the planet and they love you!  When you expect him to know what is happening inside your head or to always be at your side, you’re setting him up to fail you.  You’re putting an invisible block in front of him and waiting for him to trip on it.  And then when he does, you get mad at him for tripping.  That is bullshit.  You didn’t tell him what you wanted and he failed you; you wanted him to always be with you and when he wasn’t he failed you.  But you failed him by not telling him what your expectations for him were and by thinking it was a reasonable expectation to have him forsake everything in his world to be with you all the time.

Instead of expecting him to know he’s hurting your feelings, making you feel neglected, you want to go out to dinner instead of stay in, you want to try something new, tell him.  If you don’t, if you haven’t, you have no right to be angry at him or to bitch to your friends about him.  Open your mouth and tell him what you want.  Be prepared to compromise, though, because he is not at your beck and call.  You can’t always have what you want.  Get over it.  He will and should continue to have time to hang out with the guys, do things with the guys, and do things apart from you.  If you don’t like it, stop dating men.  Real men are really great to you when you let them be really great on their own and have really great time to not be in your woman’s world.  It is not an unreasonable expectation.  Tell them what you want.  Let them have what they want too.  And don’t try to make him stop being himself or doing his things.  He is who he is and you liked him for it; don’t try to change him.

A story about me, a girl:

I am great at meeting people, talking to people, and building relationships.  It’s easy for me.  I’m comfortable talking to strangers.  I’m apparently easy to talk to as well because I am the person who hears about peoples’ lives and their stories.  I hear about the compromising situations, the hopes and dreams, the broken hearts, the loves and hates, all those things.  There’s a problem with all that, though.  I don’t do well with subtlety, hints, cleverly disguised requests, subtle flirtation, or implications of wants, needs, or desires. I don’t know if what a man is saying to me is directed at me, is meant to be about me, or was said in a general sense. I don’t know if men are telling me what they want from me or if they’re saying what they want from another woman.  I can’t tell if men are confiding in me or asking of me.  I don’t know if men are flirting or conversing.  I don’t know if I’m the cool girl or the object of desire, and asking about it feels crazy and conceited.  So instead I sit back and wait to see if he makes a definite move in my direction or if he puts his romantic attention elsewhere.  Until I know he is interested in a romantic relationship, I guard my heart closely.  Then if he doesn’t pursue, I won’t be hurt.

To the Men:

I know that there have probably been many women in your experiences who have cut you down, shut you down, set you up for failure, let you stumble by their lack of honesty and been pissed at you for failing.  I know.  Stupid women whom you should have been able to trust let you down and hurt you.  I’m sorry to the men I’ve known who I have let down by doing this.  For all the women who have hurt you, I want to apologize to you.  Not all women are like that.  And I personally am on a constant quest to be better to you and for you than those whom have come before, whether in friendship or in romance.

And here’s the truth: women don’t read minds either.  You guys can be really SUBTLE in what you’re getting at or requesting.  When we don’t know what you’re getting at, if you’re getting at what we think or hope you’re getting at, or if you’re just telling us something, how are we supposed to respond?  How are we supposed to know if you’re subtly asking us for time or attention or if you’re just sharing?  Are you flirting for the sake of flirting because you like to flirt, you’re good at it, and we’re fun to flirt with?  Are you trying to indicate your interest in something more?

We don’t want to risk being rejected anymore than you do, so we don’t know how to respond to you.  We don’t want to be desperate, so we try not to pursue you.  We don’t want to be clingy, so we don’t ask you directly what you’re asking of us.  We don’t want to be pushy, so we don’t say more than maybe a couple times that hope to see you or that we hope to go on a date with you.  We don’t want to be easy.  We don’t know what you want from us!  And our reaction to statements you make that aren’t direct make our minds go a hundred different directions in worrying about what you meant or wanted.  Maybe you felt like you’re hints should be enough, but we really don’t know what you want!  And not knowing makes us feel crazy and insecure… and can make us do crazy things that make you crazy.  It’s a cyclical thing that leaves both of us frustrated and feeling like the other sex is in outer space somewhere.

If you want a cheeseburger don’t say, “I think cheeseburgers are swell,” say, “I want you to make me a cheeseburger!”  If you like us and want us to spend time alone with you, say so.  It is so sexy for men to be confident enough to say exactly what they mean.  There will be times when you get rejected and that sucks, but if you say what you mean or what you want than you know you had the balls to instead of being that guy who isn’t strong enough to ask.  And even when you do get turned down, you can hold your head up knowing you were man enough.  If it doesn’t work out, you’ll be able to move on instead of wondering about what would have happened if you just asked her.

Everyone:

Say exactly what you want.  Be open and honest.  It takes great ignorance to  mistake, rationalize away, or confuse specificity.  And for those times when you don’t get what you want, be happy knowing you were strong enough to vocalize your desires instead of letting them die in silence.

© Dulcinea 2009. All rights reserved.

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