Thanks to pop psychologist John Gray Ph.D, we have finally accepted, on our love relationships, that men are from Mars and women are from Venus.1
For most of us battling our way blind through love relationships, it definitely feels like we are dating an alien at least some of the time.
World-renowned expert and pioneer in male/female differences, Alison Armstrong, has spent four years interviewing thousands of men and the last twenty years facilitating programs for both men and women to help them understand the difference. And hallelujah – she has come up with a guide to help men demystify these strange female creatures, thus leading to healthier relationships and happiness in love.2
1. You are a hunter!
As a backbone to Alison’s teachings, she takes us on a little journey back in time to our friendly cave man and woman. Back in the good old days the average man spent the day hunting and as a result, had to be ‘single-focused’. If he got distracted he could easily become prey to the grizzly critter he was after. So, his very life depended on focusing on one thing at a time, paying zero attention to distractions.
Meanwhile, women were out gathering berries in the meadow and so developed what Armstrong calls ‘diffuse awareness’. Instead of being single-focused, a woman had to notice everything at once: the type of berry bush, how ripe the fruit was, what meadow it was in, when to return, the difference between the poisonous and the sweet fruit bush etc. If she didn’t notice everything, she could accidentally kill her husband with a poisonous berry from the furry-leaved bush rather than the smooth-leaved one. Her mind literally had to be everywhere to ensure the survival of her tribe.
Now where this leads to a whole lot of trouble is when a woman thinks that her man is a ‘hairy women’ as Alison puts it. For example, if a man is watching TV, he is doing just that – watching TV. So when a woman tries to speak with him mid-program and he responds with a guttural cave man grumble, she internalises his response as cold and feels rejected. Because she is a champion berry-picking multi-tasker of diffuse awareness, she can’t understand why he is different and thinks her single-focused hunter simply doesn’t care about her.
In fact, as most men will happily confirm, his response has nothing to do with her. He is simply watching TV! When he finishes watching the program, he will be happy to talk, but – not at the same time, because his brain is already on task. So you are left with a jaded woman feeling rejected and a confused man, wondering what he did wrong – again!
Similarly, men forget that women are not men. As Dr Gray reminds us, they are in fact cute little aliens from Venus and this leads to all sorts of communication conundrums. Alison Armstrong says that men listen to women differently depending on whether a woman is happy or unhappy, so let’s have a look at how you guys can deal with both.
2. Sometimes, there’s no point!
When a woman is happy and starts talking to her man, he is listening and waiting for ‘the point’. This focused cave man wants to find out what happened in the hunt. Basically – did she catch the wild boar or not? But she is simply giving her ‘meadow report’ (as Alison likes to call it), to the trusted member of her tribe and so no point is required.
Yes men, you heard that right – no point is required. A woman will happily give all the detail in the world, talking about their day. And men, I am sorry to break this to you, but they will often do this – for no particular reason other than the joy of sharing it with you. This confuses men who are patiently waiting for the point and are (for the love of God) wondering why she is still talking!
3. Just listen!
When a woman is unhappy, a man is immediately on the job, smashing out questions to find out the problem so that he can fix it pronto! Unfortunately, the rookie mistake of interrupting a woman mid ‘meadow report’ with your piercing questions is that she feels like a full-blown POW interrogation has just commenced and is left feeling unheard and unsupported.
What Alison suggests is that a man should visualise holding out a jumbo sized rubbish bin in front of a woman while she is talking and to just let her fill it, saying absolutely nothing until she is totally done. For a man, apparently this feels like torture. You will want to query. You will want to come up with solutions. But truly, 90% of the time, all she wants is for you to smile supportively like a badger and just listen.
4. Touch your Goddess
Alison’s other hot tip to help men create greater connection with women is touch. There is nothing more warming to a woman than to be touched by the man she loves. By gently touching her neck, giving her a little kiss or squeeze as you walk past or holding her hand when sitting beside her, a woman feels connected. Nothing brings her back to the present and out of her multi-tasking world like touch.
5. Let’s talk about sex
Alison says that the reason sex dwindles in long term relationships is that men often wait for a woman to come to bed before initiating sex.3
Unfortunately, by this time, after a woman has multi-tasked her little tail off all day, it may be the last thing she wants.
Alison’s suggestion is for a man to go up to her before the end of the night, hold her and tell her that he would love to make love with her. Alison’s tip to men is this; one of the sexiest things for a woman is being desired by the man she loves. So, if the listening and day-to-day touch fundamentals are there, try out some early-evening passion.
As relationship consultant Jordan Gray points out, when men feel sexually fulfilled, they become more open and are then more likely to be better listeners and communicators. And when women feel heard, they feel more supported, connected and are more interested in opening sexually. 4
It’s a happy win-win cycle of touch, communication and connection.
So, men, when next in the middle of a relationship crisis where you are standing there wondering where this wild alien creature came from, remember that she is a berry-picking legend doing her best. And the best thing you can do to create an awesome love life for the both of you is to listen to that berry report whenever it arises, with as much patience as you can muster and to reach out and hold her every single day.
1. John Gray Ph.D, ‘Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus’, 1992, Harper Collins, USA
2. Alison Armstrong , ‘Understanding Women: Unlock the Mystery’, 2013, Pax Programs, Los Angeles
3. Alison Armstrong, ‘Keys to the Kingdom: Celebrating Men, Satisfying Women’, 2003, Pax Programs, Los Angeles
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