Why Do Boys and Girls Act Different?

Why Do Boys and Girls Act Different

This first person article by Jill Carlin Schrager (coincidentally, the sister of a close childhood friend) found its way into my inbox and was an honest, heart-wrenching read. It was written by a mother of four boys, aged 10-23, who, for the life of her, doesn’t understand them and their mysterious ways.

“I thought I was a good mom, a great one in fact. I fulfilled their needs oftentimes before they even knew they needed it. I taught them that love is a two-way street and that telling someone that you care about them is not the same thing as showing someone that you care about them. They just do not always behave that way. I know in my head it is not a failure, but my heart cannot understand or accept this misfire. It yearns for it. It gets broken every time it fails. I say words to these men and the words fall on deaf ears. Yes, I see the special place AND the reason we are provided that privilege.

The bigger question, however, is whether it is my job to change them? Am I supposed to fight for the women who are to come into their lives by explaining that this type of behavior is not appropriate, that women may have different needs than men and that they should begin their education about this with me, their mother? Or do I set them free, to make their own mistakes, get some broken hearts along the way because they fail to see or understand how to treat a woman?”

It’s not sexist to point out that – in general – women tend to be more sensitive and supportive and men tend to be more blunt and combative.

I feel for her. What she’s pointing out is what people have been pointing out – and fighting against – since I started doing this in 2003.

Men and women are different.

I don’t know why it’s so harmful to acknowledge this, but it sure trips people’s wires when you call attention to what anyone with two eyes can see. It’s not sexist to point out that – in general – women tend to be more sensitive and supportive and men tend to be more blunt and combative. Call it testosterone or biology or social conditioning, but it doesn’t change the fact that many women are perpetually baffled that men actually think and act differently than they do. An example from the author:

“I get a phone call from my oldest son. He is telling me about an argument he had with his girlfriend. She was getting dressed. As is usual for many women, no matter their size, she “felt fat” in everything she tried on. My son, not the most patient man, groaned and said “Are we going to have to go through this every time we go out?”

I reflected and said to him calmly, “Don’t you think a better approach might be to tell her she looked great in all the outfits, but that you liked the (fill in the blank) best. And when she puts it on, give her a kiss and tell her how beautiful she looks.”

Schrager, and other women who expect men to act like women, aren’t wrong for wanting men to be more sensitive; it’s more like setting unrealistic expectations.

Schrager is absolutely right that this would be an objectively superior way to handle things. It’s more tactful, sensitive, and effective than her son’s normal mode of communication. It’s also not how most men talk.

Thus, Schrager, and other women who expect men to act like women, aren’t wrong for wanting men to be more sensitive; it’s more like setting unrealistic expectations. Hell, I give dating and relationship advice to women, have coached women every week since 2003, and am happily married – and I STILL take the “direct” route (what I’m actually thinking) over the tactful route (what she wants to hear) over 50% of the time.

Would love to hear your thoughts about whether it’s fair and realistic to expect men to act more like women…and be perpetually disappointed when we don’t.

 

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Comments:

  1. 1
    Stacy2

    I think “the tactful way” is not a female thing. It’s a human thing. It can be taught and it is a more efficient way of communicating with people in general, not just one’s girlfriend.  Heck, this concept is not new at all. See: Dale Carnegie, “How to Win friends and Influence People” – is basically about this (and more). My parents gave me this book to read when i was 13.  So yes i would absolutely teach kids that, and not just in the context of their romantic lives, but also professional lives and in general.

    There’s nothing unrealistic about this expectation, but i agree that most people will fail at that – just as most people will fail at most other aspiration goals in life, be that getting into Harvard or becoming a millionaire by the age of 30. But do we want to accept mediocre [communication skills] or even wear it like a badge of honor (“I am a man i tell it directly like it is, deal with it!”)? By all means. Makes the competition easier for those who mastered superior skills.

  2. 2
    Stacy2

    On the article itself – well her sons’ repugnant and disrespectful behavior is a direct consequence of the typical “american” style of parenting, namely:

    “I fulfilled their needs oftentimes before they even knew they needed it.”

    huh? Is it any wonder they are now walking all over her as young adults? And she continues to pay their bills? Just wow. It would have taken my “tiger mother” just about 1 second to knock me into shape if i ever spoke to her or acted like that (or my brother for that matter) when i was a teenager. Anyway… i feel sorry for their future girlfriends.

  3. 3
    Chance

    While she says that she tries to understand her boys, she sure seems to be more concerned with her boys understanding and accommodating her (and women in general).

     

    As it relates to whether it is fair to expect men to act more like women, I’m not sure it’s relevant because this isn’t really what women want (no matter how much they say that they do) – at least not from men with whom they are romantically involved.

     

    Finally, while men are more blunt and overt in their communication style, I wouldn’t say that women are less combative.  Women just prefer their combat in a different realm, which is much more covert.

     

     

    1. 3.1
      SparklingEmerald

      Did you read the entire article Chance, or just the snippet in Evan’s blog.  From the entire article:

      ***********************************************

      Perhaps an example might help. Last weekend, I paid for a flight for my son to go see his girlfriend at college. This is the same 21-year-old who often stays locked in his room, who leaves his toughly worn clothes all over the floor and who literally shudders at the thought of talking to me. I drive him to school on Friday so he will not have to worry about getting a spot to park his car. I pick him up from school two hours later and drive him to the airport so he will not have to pay for parking the car over the weekend. I tell him I will pick him up Sunday when he returns. Last words out of my mouth–please stay in touch. Well, I might as well have spit in the wind!

       

      ********************

      So this mom buys her son a plane ticket chauffers him to school and to the aiport, and somehow this is oppressive to males ??????????

      1. 3.1.1
        Chance

        I should have been more clear in the first sentence of my prior post.   She seems to express more concern in her article about her boys understanding and sympathizing with her and other women.  In support of her case, she uses those anecdotes to illustrate all that she does for them.

         

        I wasn’t trying to imply that she doesn’t care to try to understand her children in her day-to-day life, but rather, the article seems to be primarily concerned with her trying to get her children to understand women, which comes off as contradictory to her initial claim that she tries to understand her boys.

    2. 3.2
      KK

      “While she says that she tries to understand her boys, she sure seems to be more concerned with her boys understanding and accommodating her (and women in general).”

      That’s not what I got from her article at all. If anything, she has been overly accommodating and then feels disappointed that he won’t even call her while away on the weekend trip that she paid for. Nor do I think her main concern is accommodating women in general. It appears to me she’s more concerned with how it will affect him, ie, if you don’t know how to treat a woman, you’re going to get dumped. She wants to prevent his heartbreak. It’s obvious she cares about the best interests of her sons.

      “As it relates to whether it is fair to expect men to act more like women, I’m not sure it’s relevant because this isn’t really what women want (no matter how much they say that they do) – at least not from men with whom they are romantically involved”.

      I’ve never heard any woman complain about wanting a man to act more like a woman. More considerate, yes. But again, I don’t see that as a feminine / masculine quality. It’s about social skills. If anything (in my anecdotal experience), women complain about men being not masculine enough. The most masculine men I’ve known were also the kindest and most gentle.

      “Women just prefer their combat in a different realm, which is much more covert”.

      How so?

      1. 3.2.1
        Chance

        To the points in your first paragraph, the Cliff’s Notes version of the article is the following:

         

        The author feels that she’s been a great mom and her sons should be more appreciative of her and more considerate of women’s needs.  She’s in a quandary because she isn’t sure whether she should fight for the women who come into her sons’ lives or just let her sons get their hearts broken.

         

        I didn’t see anything in the article displaying the author’s concern about her sons experiencing heartbreak.  However, this could be an oversight on my part, or it could be an oversight on the author’s part by failing to adequately depict this concern.  At any rate, I also didn’t see any illustrated behaviors that would result in the author’s sons getting their hearts broken in the first place.  If her sons are as caddish and self-involved as they are depicted in the article, they will be the ones breaking hearts (at that age).

         

        “I’ve never heard any woman complain about wanting a man to act more like a woman. More considerate, yes. But again, I don’t see that as a feminine / masculine quality. It’s about social skills. If anything (in my anecdotal experience), women complain about men being not masculine enough.”

         

        Agree.  This is the point I was making in my original post.  I think a big part of the problem is that young men today were raised to believe that equality should be the operative state.  They erroneously assume that, since women are generally less feminine than they used to be, women would be accepting of a man who is less masculine.  Uh uh.  Generally speaking, women want to be able to be masculine or feminine when it suits them, but they want men to be masculine.

         

        “How so?”

         

        Men prefer their combat in the physical, while women prefer their combat in the psychological.

        1. KK

          Chance,

          “They erroneously assume that, since women are generally less feminine than they used to be, women would be accepting of a man who is less masculine”

          In your opinion, how (or in what ways) are women less feminine than they used to be?

          “Generally speaking, women want to be able to be masculine or feminine when it suits them, but they want men to be masculine”.

          This thought seems to be along the same lines as your ‘women pick & choose which traditions benefit them” ideas. Can you give examples?

          “Men prefer their combat in the physical, while women prefer their combat in the psychological”.

          Again, I’m lacking real world examples of this and don’t want to speculate incorrectly. I’m having a hard time coming up with a scenario in which modern men combat physically in every day life or where women would need to combat psychologically any more or any differently than a man might.

        2. Chance

          First, with each successive series of questions you ask, you’re causing this thread to become increasingly off-topic.  Second, I’m not convinced that your questions are genuine since I am presenting some fairly obvious points.  Essentially, I am pointing out that the sky is blue, and you’re responding by saying:  “I’m not quite sure that the sky is blue based on my experience.  Could you please elaborate on why you think the sky is blue and provide examples that support the reasoning behind why you think this is?”  As a result, this will be my last response to you.

           

          Examples of how women are less feminine today include the fact that they are less likely willing and/or able to cook, clean, do laundry, etc. for the men in their life (in comparison to prior generations).  Not complaining about this, mind you, just answering your question.  So your second question, most women want to be treated equally, but the majority of women are opposed to the idea of having to register for the Selective Service.  Another example would be that most women with kids think that they should be able to have the choice to either work or stay home with their children.  However, the majority of women do not like the idea of a man who stays at home to care for the children while the woman works.  To your last question, I am saying that, while men are more likely to get into a physical confrontation, women are more likely to ostracize IMO, for example.

        3. KK

          “First, with each successive series of questions you ask, you’re causing this thread to becoming increasingly off-topic”.

          Interesting spin there.

  4. 4
    Malika

    Her boys just sound like typical young ‘uns who need to do some growing up. So he didn’t text while he was away on that holiday with his girlfriend? Well, most of them wouldn’t, as they are caught up in the adventure of being away from home. I remember my first holiday away, three weeks in London, i was hardly in contact with my parents. The examples as shown seem to do more with thoughtless youth ( I can think of precious few teens/early twenties from when i was one who had learnt the social skills that make life easier) than with anything supposedly male. For what it’s worth, my experience of men is that they can be just as thoughtful and kind as women, that is more of an individual difference than a gender difference (just like some women can be incredibly blunt, if not downright rude). Being blunt doesn’t equal being unloving or insupportable. It does mean you need to step up your interpersonal skills, but only life can teach you that.

    I think it’s great that she is able to offer advice on being tactful, it sounded as if he learnt a tip that will serve him well in life. Yet most of us need to be out in the world and trip over ourselves in order to learn them.

  5. 5
    AZ

    I agree with both Evan and Stacy2. Men and women think differently, and this should stop surprising us. And the boys from article are spoiled rotten and what that mom believes is perfect mothering is, in fact, snowflake enabling. She’d be better off spending her energies on dating and finding herself a new relationship than coddling her now-adult children.

  6. 6
    Jill

    I am the author of the original post.  I am not here to defend my parenting style and/or the “behavior” of my boys.  As I try to live my life, “to each his own” is all I will say. I raised four amazing young men, two of whom are very independent and extremely successful in their chosen careers.  The other two are still in school and are both straight A students who are responsible,respectful and motivated to be the best they can be.  All I can say to those who want to comment on these subjects is you should one day be fortunate enough to raise children as successful, as respectful and as loving as my own.

     

    My article was written not as vehicle to discuss parenting styles or to argue the merits of “tiger moms” vs “helicopter moms”.   And just for the record, there are many of us who do not fit neatly into either category. Rather, it was an article about the trials and tribulations of a mom raising four sons and examples of the situations that arise along the way.  I was not advocating any particular course of action nor was I in any way implying that I was ever surprised or shocked by the differences in our styles. It was, as Evan points out, simply an article about the differences in approach and, if the article is read in whole, a playful question about an old saying that says,  “there is a special place in heaven for mothers of all boys”.

     

    One last note- I was not advocating that my sons should think or react “like women”  nor was I debating whether a man should be “direct” vs “tactful”, especially if “tactful” is another way of saying “dishonest” or “accommodating”.  In the example I gave about my son and his girlfriend, I was not telling my son to be tactful; I was telling him not to be rude and thoughtless. There is a clear difference between the two.

    1. 6.1
      Adam

      You are right, your sons should be more respectful. There is nothing wrong with being blunt and to the point, but it must be in a way that respects others and is not rude. I know of women who disrespect men and men who disrespect women. Whoever is disrespecting whoever is wrong.

      Being tactful is not simply being dishonest. It is communicating in a way that doesn’t offend or upset the person who you are talking to. Let me give you an extreme example. I remember years ago, I was talking to one of my close female friends about relationships and my troubles forming them. She broke the news to me that the reason why I was having trouble was that all the girls in our social circle considered me unattractive. There was nothing I could do about this, I just had a look they considered unattractive. But she communicated it with such concern for my feelings and tact, that I didn’t feel offended or upset with her whatsoever. In fact, I appreciated her telling me and she is still a trusted friend and advisor.

  7. 7
    KK

    I agree with what Stacy2 said regarding tactfulness being an effective way to communicate and I’ve never thought it was a feminine quality.

    This statement bothered me: “I fulfilled their needs oftentimes before they even knew they needed it.”

    That’s a mom’s job with an infant or a toddler, but as a child gets older they really need to learn independence. I’m not saying to go to the other extreme by not doing anything for your children, but expecting them to take responsibility for things at an age appropriate level will help them out tremendously. Seems she may have unwittingly set her boys up to seek out co-dependent relationships. Hope not, but it appears all the ingredients are there.

    1. 7.1
      KK

      Oh boy. Jill’s comment hadn’t posted when I wrote mine.

  8. 8
    Tom10

    Interesting article.
     
    I’ve always been fascinated by parenting and trying to establish the fine line between how a parent should set appropriate boundaries yet allow sufficient freedom such that the children can grown and learn from their own mistakes. I’ve so much respect for all parents as navigating these issues are so difficult and the consequences of their decisions are so profound and long-lasting.
     
    I’m reminded of the Philip Larkin poem “This Be The Verse” (apologies in advance if anyone considers this inappropriate to quote, however, I think it’s theme validates its mention on this thread):
     
    “They fuck you up, your mum and dad.   
    They may not mean to, but they do.   
    They fill you with the faults they had
    And add some extra, just for you.
     
    But they were fucked up in their turn
    By fools in old-style hats and coats,   
    Who half the time were soppy-stern
    And half at one another’s throats.
     
    Man hands on misery to man.
    It deepens like a coastal shelf.
    Get out as early as you can,
    And don’t have any kids yourself.”
     
    So, where’s the line for a parent between attempting to influence/change their children and letting them learn from their own mistakes? Personally, I think the line is when they turn 18 years of age. Therefore, I think it’s reasonable for the author to try influence her sons under 18 to behave in a manner she feels most appropriate, and to leave her sons over 18 to learn for themselves how best to communicate. Like Stacy2 and KK I don’t really see the author’s concerns as a gender specific issue either; I would do the same with daughters.
     
    Once she’s done her best it’s then up to her sons to forge their own path in life, and if they mess up it’s on them to learn and hopefully change for the better.

  9. 9
    S.

    Yet most of us need to be out in the world and trip over ourselves in order to learn them.

    I agree with Malika. Male or female you can’t teach some people some things. Most have to learn it on their own if they learn it at all.

    But I can imagine the way it might feel to see your very sons treating women in ways that you don’t want to be treated.  That’s not what Jill said, but that’s what I’m imagining.  But . . . after watching my own younger sister grow up . . . you have absolutely no control over how these people turn out. You can only do your best.  Most turn out to be good people who simply make different choices.

    Evan said, “Thus, Schrager, and other women who expect men to act like women, aren’t wrong for wanting men to be more sensitive; it’s more like setting unrealistic expectations.”

    I think saying she wants men to act like women is too general and too binary.  When I tell men the men I know this stuff, they always emphasize how they are different.  They are different to a degree which is why they are in my life. 🙂 But there are some similarities among all the men I’ve known.  Just the example Jill gives us here, isn’t the example of that.  It’s not about what he said.  It’s about, did he think about how his girlfriend would feel when he said it?  That’s not about men.  Some people are just like that. And some people are naturally empathetic.  Some men are, too though it’s rare because we socialize men as boys to think of this behavior as weak.

    I always preferred to see a little vulnerability in men I date.   It was an interesting choice. I am still hard-wired to prefer this.  It makes me feel safe and that I can be vulnerable as well and let down my guard.  Other women prefer other traits that make them feel safe.  The common thread is we all want to feel safe, but not with the same type of man.  So no, not all women want that.

    What exactly is ‘acting like a woman’ anyway? Being empathetic? Kind? The toughlove thing doesn’t work with everyone.  It’s one of the reasons I never moved forward with any of Evan’s paid programs. I was worried that he’d hurt my feelings.  I was less experienced and younger then.  But it’s hard for me to hear advice sometimes if it’s too direct.  I’m a sensitive person.  And Evan’s advice is worth hearing, but I’m very sensitive to how a message is delivered.

    I hope we aren’t saying that empathy, kindness, and vulnerability are solely ‘women’ traits and men aren’t like that. I don’t think that’s true. Men are socialized to be a certain way and many get rewarded for being that way. Other men get roasted and ridiculed for being different than that. No matter what we do as mothers, wives, sisters, girlfriends Evan was right; it’s hard for men to be both.  To be the strong, stoic front that never is hurt or cries that is praised in our culture and be the vulnerable, sensitive man you need when you’re down, tired, and beat by life and need a little reassurance.  Neither sex should have to pick. We should be able to be both.  We are both.  Just culturally it’s hard to let both shine at the same time.

    Jill, I hope this comment helps.  It takes a village. It’s not just you who raised them and they are doing the best they can to be good men.  All I try to do is continually try to remember that.

    1. 9.1
      KK

      “An intelligent person learns from their own mistakes, but a genius learns from the mistakes of others”.

  10. 10
    Tron Swanson

    When it comes to gender and personality, I personally feel like we make too much of it. Yeah, there are certain tendencies for both genders, but overall, I feel that we should look at people as individuals first, and “gender members” second. There are areas where I’m not masculine at all, and there are areas where I’m a completely stereotypical guy. It’s the same with the other people I’ve known. I’ve seen both men and women tie themselves into knots trying to fit into some role that they’re “supposed” to inhabit, only to make themselves miserable in the process.

    With relationships and sex, gender issues are already fraught. Adding the (antiquated, IMHO) idea of gender roles into the mix…I think that it’s just going to make things harder, and not easier. Now, if someone fits a role and enjoys it, more power to them. But this one-size-fits-all thing is a bad idea, IMHO. Granted, I’m biased, because I’ve had to deal with this crap all my life. “Oh, you’re a man, so that must mean you want _____ and like ____.” Well, maybe and maybe not, but “maybe not” drives some people crazy, because they expect you to conform.

    In short, I don’t believe that both genders are the same, but I don’t believe that they’re always different, either. And who cares, honestly? People are unique. I’d rather leave all of our old notions about this stuff in the past.

  11. 11
    John

    I agree there are differences between men and women. I enjoy the differences. The attempt to eliminate these differences are futile.  I’m direct and tend to blurt things out. The women in my life appreciate it. I am single at the moment, but in the my past relationships I’ve always said what I like and what I don’t like. More of this, less of that. I say it without anger or annoyance. I was just plain spoken about it. My ex-gfs told me they loved it. They said no other guy was straight with them and they were very appreciative of it. This  attempt to make gender meaningless to me is insane.  Men and women are equal but different. I prefer to keep it that way.

    1. 11.1
      Callie

      Wait. If they said no other guy was straight with them, how is this direct quality of yours inherently male? It seems like a quality that is specific to you, not your gender at large. In fact I’m very like you and have heard similar compliments (I’m a woman and date men).

      I guess ultimately I feel more like Tron, yes I suppose we can talk of general socialised differences, but ultimately there are more differences between individuals than between the genders. And while I can see a benefit in the generalisations at times, I do wish we could also focus on the fact that everyone is unique, and a key to a relationship is treating the other person like an individual not a pre-supposed stereotype.

      1. 11.1.1
        John

        Callie

        I understand that we are all individuals. Within my own individuality I am a man, American, brother, etc. We are all part of different groups with strengths and weaknesses. We speak in generalizations because that is how you learn and how you have a discussion.

        Most women I’ve dated or been in a relationship with did not blurt out their thoughts and we’re not direct. Most of my female co-workers I’ve worked with in my 30 years in the work world were not direct. If you are direct Callie you are an exception and exceptions are not the rule.

        Most of the prison population is male. A small percentage of women are in prison. That is a reality and also a generalization.

        To deny that men, in general for whatever reason, are equally as direct as their female counterparts is to deny reality.

        When I was a boy, everyone thought I played basketball, because I was tall. Most of my tall male friends played basketball. I did not.  I was what you called an exception to the rule.

        When I was a boy most boys played “Army” and we had fake gunfights  The girls in our neighborhood were not interested, except one or two girls.

        Alaska is a cold place most of the time, but it does get up to around 70 degrees from time to time.

        When I  go to the gym and and get on a weight machine after a woman has just used that machine, I have to add weights. In general men are physically stronger than women.

        It is self-evident. I see it with my own eyes.

        Why is this so hard to understand?

        1. Callie

          Because so many of those examples could speak to social conditioning not an inherent pre-disposition within our gender genes. I’m not sure how THAT is hard for YOU to understand.

          But still, you haven’t answered my question. You said that you were direct, but that women tell you that your directness is unique, that other men are NOT direct. How is it you conclude therefore that men are direct if it seems like you are actually the exception?

      2. 11.1.2
        Adam

        Totally agree John

        Boys and girls are simply different. Nothing wrong with being a boy or being a girl, we are just physically and emotionally different.

        Let me give you an example of this. My brother many years ago, worked for a very progressive preschool. Unlike most schools that used TV to babysit kids, this school had no TVs whatsoever and the kids for the most part, didn’t watch TV at home. The boys still acted like boys and the girls still acted like girls. They weren’t being “socialized” by the TV, they were just inherently this way.

        Men are simply far more blunt than women are. Men are stronger. There are many other differences between the sexes. There are exceptions, but these are the case most of the time.

  12. 12
    Katie

    Ladies, pick a Swedish man 🙂 🙂 🙂 They are the kindest, sweetest, most thoughtful men in the world! I admit to being a bit biased due to how great my Swedey (XD) is, but to be fair Sweden ranks numero UNO in the world for gender equality! That may count for something 🙂

    Speaking as a 30 year old American woman, I think lots of American guys can learn from Swedish guys.

    1. 12.1
      Chance

      You sound like the  guys who espouse the virtues of Eastern European women.

      1. 12.1.1
        Katie

        Which virtues? I’m not educated on eastern European female stereotypes, but I have no doubt they have some positive ones that the stereotypical American one doesn’t have. Keep in mind I’m talking mass generalizations here though.

        Swedish dating culture overall is very different is really what I was trying to say. The culture is more gender equal. I didn’t intend it as a diss toward American men. I adore you guys 🙂

         

        1. Chance

          Fair enough:), and I agree with you about Sweden being more egalitarian.  I just thought that last sentence in your original post sounded a lot like some of the men who come here and talk up EE women in favor of American women, which the ladies here just looooove.

        2. FG

          On Eastern Euro women, within the scope of MY experience and MY observations, applciable to women under 30-35 (no clue about the rest).
          They were raised in societies where hardship was prevalent. So they still appreciate kindness, whether a hug or a tiny gesture such as a small inexpensive gift. So, sweeter.
          They act, think and behave in feminine fashion. Not to be confused with lacking character.
          Their expectation in love is a little daunting. It is total, and they expect reciprocity in a total “you & I”. Which is stifling to Western practices because we learn to be wary and to practice progressive sequential involvement. Kind of 1-2-3-4-5etc. Where they go 1-2-3-BANG 10!
          They are, by and large, often much more pragmatic and well-grounded than Western women.
          They remain mostly uninfected by pathological Western feminism values that can lead to societal collapse. Note in passing: as I was typing Western, I got to an A along with the S and the E did not kick in! So I was staring at wAstern, and found it ironically enlightening! Waste of time, and future wasteland.

          They expect men to conform, as they do, to traditional gender roles. So they expect a man to ask them out, and to make a move. As opposed to lamenting traditional gender roles and living with a cognitive dissonance dichotomy of men not acting according to their traditional gender roles, as we seem to come across often from various comments.
          The environment is marginally rougher, so they expect a man to be, lo and behold, a man.

        3. FG

          Oops, typo… OVER 30-35, not UNDER

        4. Katie

          Yeah that “Wastern” joke clearly cracks you up. Glad you can entertain yourself, lovie.

    2. 12.2
      Theo

      Katie, it deserves to be mentioned that Swedish men in the age range 20-30 are 6 feet tall on the average. Visit our capital Stockholm and have a look!

      1. 12.2.1
        Katie

        I WILL be visiting!!:) My Swedey is AMAZING <3 And I’ll be visiting him in June! He’s visiting me next month (!) and is wanting to try “shitty American pizza”, Dominos. Haha! He’s a chef though so ya know 🙂

        I’ve never felt so loved as I do with that man 🙂

  13. 13
    sophia

    re : Would love to hear your thoughts about whether it’s fair and realistic to expect men to act more like women…and be perpetually disappointed when we don’t.

     

    In short, NO, it’s neither fair nor realistic to expect ANYBODY to act like ANYBODY else. Perfect recipe for disappointment. It IS fair and realistic to expect everyone (rare exceptions, as in a 2 YO), to behave with good manners and respect.

    Simple.

  14. 14
    FG

    As to the main question
    Because the gender is DIFFERENT, and they are not identical? Duh! And if they were (identical to women), I give the human race 20 years, no more! The differences MUST exist, or men and women stop to be complementary.

    Raising children well implies planting the seeds, watering, and watching the plant grow. When the initial work is done properly, the plant grows true! WHEN the child decides to exert and display eMANcipation is dependent on personality and character. this is not always immediately reflected in financial independence.

     

  15. 15
    Rampiance

    I think it’s great that Jill’s son calls her about his relationship stuff.  To me, that signifies functional mother-son communication.

    Regarding Evan’s highlighted example, I prefer to think of troubles in terms of consequences of behavior (an EMK approach as well).  In the case where the son expressed his exasperation out loud, the consequence is probably that his girlfriend’s feelings were hurt at some level and she will shut down somehow. She might not even know it, he might not connect the incident and the shutdown, but the consequence will likely be there, and it will hurt the son and girlfriend.  The whole point of expressing exasperation out loud is to evoke a change. So the son gets a change. Does he REALLY want that change? I doubt it. Or maybe he just hasn’t admitted to himself yet that he wants out, which is where he’s going if he continues to express exasperation ~~~ even if it they stay together, he’ll be distanced from his girlfriend.

    A different consequence could happen if he learns to answer these kinds of questions himself. For example, he says TO HIMSELF, “Is this going to happen every time we go out?”  Maybe.  Maybe not.  So try the most exasperating answer: so what if it happens every time they go out? Can he deal or not?  And how about accepting and appreciating her for exactly what she presents herself as and not trying to change her through expressed exasperation. Because she will change, like I said earlier. And it will only hurt both.

    People, both men and women, need to appreciate people, both women and men, for who they present themselves as. Either deal or not but stop trying to change the other.

    1. 15.1
      Emily, the original

      Rampiance,

      And how about accepting and appreciating her for exactly what she presents herself as and not trying to change her through expressed exasperation.

      I agree that his tone could have been different as well as the words he said to her, but I also could see how it would become draining to have to validate someone’s outfit/appearance every time the two of them went somewhere. Especially if she is trying on several different things. At some point, she needs to develop some confidence.

  16. 16
    Rampiance

    For mothers of son(s) ~~~ the other thing I feel is crucial for a mother to show her son is how her son affects her feelings.  Don’t hold back on explaining when and how you feel hurt.  Don’t do sweet things for him when you feel resentful or angry about the way he treated you.  Wait for his sincere apology.  Show him that it really matters how he treats you, because how he treats you has consequences (on your feelings, on how sweet you feel toward him).

    Be real.  Practice radical honesty with him.  How will he ever know how you, a woman, feel if you don’t open your heart and show him how it works. In excruciating detail. His mother is the woman nominated to do that for him.

    1. 16.1
      Lia

      WOW! Keeping it real, I like it!

    2. 16.2
      sophia

      Amen to this- I do this with my teenage son. It sometimes takes him until the next day to apologize but he NAILS the apology (meaning it’s not even a general apology but he specifies what he did wrong) and it comes from his heart. The other great part about this is he gets to practice (and, hey, so do I , do we ever stop learning?) having meaningful discussions about the problem at hand and conflict resolution, you name it!  It’s all good and ultimately results in closer, deeper connections, as well. Nothing superficial going on here!

      ps. goes both ways- he’s called me out a few times (and gets a similar apology)!

  17. 17
    M.E.

    We expect women to be more like men in many ways – tougher, less concerned with what others think of them, to go into male dominated fields etc. That’s awesome, but the world would be a better place if we also did put more emphasis on expecting men to be more like women – sensitive, nurturing, etc. Yes the sexes are different but why should we not hold boys/men to a more sensitive standard? To assume it’s futile is to let them off the hook with the old “boys will be boys” adage.

    1. 17.1
      Morris

      Society/Women tell women to be more like men so they can get into and succeed in fields they are not represented in. Women are looking at, asking and then willingly trying things to make it happen.

       

      Men aren’t asking for any help. So it’s not the same thing. If women want to be more like men in some regards, that is up to them. But it’s not a tit for tat thing. Would it be good thing? Maybe. But let’s not go around telling women/men to be xyz if they aren’t asking for it.

      1. 17.1.1
        Morris

        I want to emphasize that I’m not saying both genders can’t learn from each other. I was only replying in this narrow context. If men were trying to get into something women dominated in, and wasn’t succeeding, I would hope they would ask and try what women are doing to be successful.

      2. 17.1.2
        M.E.

        Men don’t ask because they’re not the ones being told they need to change.

        1. Morris

          Sure they are. And like most unsolicited advice, it goes mostly ignored.(Not saying intentionally. Just saying if they aren’t asking they aren’t listening.) Women on the other hand ARE asking. I mean just look at all the programs, books and blogs on the subject. Women are definitely looking at how to emulate the success men have already achieved. And doing a great job at it. Still a ways to go but a great job none the less.

           

          And again. My opinion was on this narrow scope. You’re saying, because women need to emulate what has made men successful in business. We should have men emulate women to be 50/50 fair. Why? What for? If women become more successful as a result THEN men should emulate women in those regards. I just don’t understand this tit for tat thing.

  18. 18
    Marie

    Hi Jill, I think you’ve done the best that you could raising four boys.  At some point, especially as they hit their 20’s, they need to fight their own battles, create their own identity and make their own mistakes — away from you.  This will result in a few women getting their hearts broken on the way which unfortunately may be part of the growing up of those women also.  I don’t think there is much you can do about it and the more you do, the more it will bother you if you don’t get the result you wanted.  My husband jokes that he’s glad I met him in his early 30’s and not his 20’s because I would have hated him in his 20’s. He says he was such an arrogant jerk then and he didn’t even know enough to know that. It’s hard to imagine because he’s one of the kindest people I know but that’s because he’s now grown up. And he’s much closer to his parents especially his mom now again, Skypes with her for over an hour each weekend. He even married a chickee that is like his mom (that would be me, haha), so it turned out fine.  He just needed space to find his own way. Did he break a few hearts in his 20’s, not marrying certain women he dated? Sure but I for one am glad of the result. He was in no shape to marry anyone in his 20’s anyways!

  19. 19
    Thea Dunlap

    Great post, wonderfully written well. I have seen a lot of facts and articles on why boys and girls act or think differently. But this post is a refreshing insight. 🙂

  20. 20
    Nissa

    When the author says, I know in my head it is not a failure, but my heart cannot understand or accept this misfire. It yearns for it. It gets broken every time it fails. For someone’s heart to ‘get broken’ over the everyday learning of individuals comes across as excessively bound to the author’s ways and thoughts. Where is the unconditional acceptance of them just as they are? It doesn’t seem based on gender. It does seem based on the similarity, or lack thereof, to the author’s beliefs and desires.

    The actions of the sons seemed much more in response to the poor boundaries of the mother than based on gender differences.  The girlfriend the author mentioned comes across as insecure – a replication of patterns learned with a parent with poor boundaries? Both the parent and the son are shown to have expectations that miss the mark. Calling your mom to complain about your girlfriend doesn’t seem to be the “direct” way to handle something. Talking to the girlfriend would have the been the direct ‘male’ thing to do (example: I want to leave in 30 minutes, and I need you to be ready then). From the girlfriend’s side, making someone wait excessively while you try on six different outfits isn’t direct or considerate either. I just don’t think the author made a compelling case here for gender differences.

  21. 21
    FG

    #17+

    Not only are men being told to change, they are being railroaded into it! At least, that remains true if they are involved in corporate environments. HR, a typically female purview, pushes “soft skill” courses (and agenda) on men. That is turning out to be one of the many accumulatng reasons for men “tuning out”, as evidencced in a number of recently published books.

    In corporate worlds, men are producers. They make and deliver the goods. Communication is blunt, not sugar-coated, not soft and fluffy, and most men’s “girlish sensitivities” are not offended (nor could they be; unless really aggressive comments singling them out, men are none too big in the girlish sensitivity department). If you’re not pulling your weight or not doing your job, or not doing so competently, you will be advised, warned, and then let go! Simple! And this is creating a massive disconnect with the “trophy for participation” generation.

  22. 22
    Sphynx

    Personally I prefer NOT to hear what I want to hear because I want to hear the truth! If I’m being annoying in a moment of trying on clothes, then maybe I’m focusing too much on being fat when it’s not the case or it’s irrelevant to the relationship. A woman who has confidence will wear whatever she wants and feel good big or small! I try not to talk about how I feel about my body to men, he’s there cause he likes it already, why show your insecurity? Talk about it with your girls or do things that are healthy so you feel better, whatever you need to do to make yourself happy, even if it’s telling yourself you look good any size 🙂 I don’t want to hear sweet nothings, I can see right through it. I want a partner who can be honest and supportive at the same time. Not every conversation will go perfectly but at least I know it’s real

  23. 23
    Harri

    Would he speak to his boss or best friend this way?  Would he speak to a VALUABLE CLIENT this way?  No.  Of course not!  Maybe the title should be male entitlement emotional recklessness in relationships- why do men think this is OK in their personal life but would NEVER exercise this  lack of diplomacy in the business world?

    is this 100,000 years of social engineering since the last ice age in which women were domestic/ sexual & economic slaves up until only 100 years ago   Can the casual cruelty be undone in one generation?

  24. 24
    Sylvana

    As a high testosterone woman, who has acted/responded like a man most of my life, I can say that I don’t think there is any way you can make a man act more like a woman. The problem lies in the way they think and feel (as I well know from personal experience, since I cannot relate to women). The “gee, eye-roll” reaction to her asking if she looks fat is exactly the reaction I would have. Seriously, do we have to go through this every time? I can absolutely relate to that.

    Now, we can teach boys to be more polite/respectful about things, and let them know that their initial reaction might hurt someone’s feelings. Those are skills that can be learned, and should. But to try and make them think like a woman is a lost cause. It’s not gonna happen.

    I’m a woman (although high-t), and I’ve tried for years to learn how to think and feel like a woman, and I still haven’t managed it. To think a man is even capable of it would be stupid.

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