Men and women. Women and men. We’re not that different, yet we can’t seem to figure each other out.
Don’t despair – I have a little secret that is sure to perk you up: men – yes, those creatures who are so often the bane of our very existence, the ones who puzzle us and tear us apart inside, the ones that cause so much grief but always keep us coming back for more – are not all that difficult to understand. In fact, I think I have an easier time explaining why men do things than I do with women.
I have been writing about relationships for a while now and over the years I have noticed some prominent points of confusion, ones that seem to be shared by women of all ages from all around the world (no exaggeration). I can relate to all the questions we receive on a personal level because once upon a time, I too was banging my head against the table in an effort to understand why.
It wasn’t an easy process, but I eventually reached a point where it all made sense and all my questions and confusions suddenly evaporated. Fortunately, I’m not the selfish type and am more than happy to share everything I’ve learned.
Read on for universal male truths that can save your relationship and your sanity.
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1. He doesn’t care about the texts (and neither should you!)
I don’t know what the biggest relationship concern was back in the days of touch-tone phones, but these days, it’s all about a guy’s texting habits: why he used to text so much in the beginning and then stopped, why he takes so long to reply, why he disappears for days at a time, why his texts are so short, etc., etc. The really sad/funny thing is that men have NO idea how intensely their texting habits are being scrutinized. None!
There are all kinds of reasons why this is such an issue for women and why men are so oblivious to it – reasons we’ve discussed at length in previous articles– but the takeaway is that this whole thing is a non-issue for men.
Most men see texting as nuisance. Yeah, they’ll text a lot in the beginning when they’re trying to win you over, but it’s not sustainable or realistic to continue at that level indefinitely. In the beginning, it’s all new and fresh and if he’s really into you he will be thinking about you a lot and will feel the urge to text you frequently. After some time has passed and the relationship is a bit more established, this urge isn’t as pressing and it begins to feel like work.
Sadly, a lot of relationships collapse before they even get off the ground because the girl can’t handle the sudden decrease in daily texts and instead of dealing with it, she lashes out at the guy and demands explanations for every text he doesn’t reply to. The mistake that many make is thinking that the sudden drop in texts means he’s losing interest or doesn’t care. That’s not usually the case, though. Most often, he’s just settling back into his normal routine.
You can’t measure the depth of a relationship by the amount of texts received on average per day or how much time has elapsed in between each text. You measure the depth of a relationship by the quality of the time you spend with that person. You can spend all day going back and forth with some guy about nonsense. This doesn’t mean you have a great and profound relationship, it doesn’t really mean … anything.
Guys don’t think about relationships as often as women do. It’s just not where their head is at. It doesn’t mean they don’t care; it’s just not a central point of focus. Countless studies have shown that women primarily gain their sense of worth and self-esteem through their interpersonal relationships while men measure their worth based on their ability to have an impact in the world and contribute in a meaningful way. (Source)
If a man is at work, then that is the sole center of his world and nothing exists outside of that. The fact that a man doesn’t text you as much or as often as you’d like doesn’t mean he doesn’t care about you – he’s usually just focusing on something else and most men have a difficult time seeing beyond a given task at hand. This is hard for most women to understand because women can switch from one task to the next and back again with much more ease.
2. Men communicate through actions more than words
We get a lot of questions that go something like: “I’m really confused, my boyfriend says he’s crazy about me and I’m the most amazing/wonderful/smart/funny/etc girl he’s ever dated but he always blows me off and he can’t hang out and doesn’t have time to talk on the phone or text back or take me out on dates and I really only see him late at night when he feels like it.”
OK, maybe not exactly like that, but close enough. Men intuitively know that words are important to women. Some men exploit this by saying things they don’t really feel or believe in order to get what they want, and other men hold back from expressing how they truly feel, knowing that once the words are out there the dynamic of the relationship will irrevocably be altered.
If a guy says he’ll do anything for you and then calls late at night and begs you to come over, claiming to be too tired to make the drive over to your place, then he has a very loose definition of anything! If he says he really cares about you and misses you but then goes days or weeks without calling or making time to see you because he’s swamped at work, or some excuse along those lines, what he’s really saying is you’re not important enough to make time for.
The opposite is also true: a guy may not be saying something with his words and instead, express how he’s feeling through actions. For instance, let’s say a woman is in a truly amazing relationship and the only problem is her man has yet to say those three not-so-little words. She may start to obsess over why he hasn’t said it and what it means. While she’s trapped in her head, she’ll ignore all the amazing things he does for her, the things that should show her beyond a shadow of a doubt that he loves her!
Love is a big and scary word for a lot of guys. This doesn’t mean they’re incapable of feeling love, – it just means they often have a hard time saying it out loud. Women get so tripped up in relationships by honing in on the words while it’s really the actions that say it all. If he is there for you, if he is considerate of you, if he goes out of his way for you, if he opens up to you, he loves you.
Quiz: Does He Really Love Me?
Look, I don’t think I’m making any radical claims by saying men are the less communicative of the two genders. If you want to know where he really stands, pay closer attention to what he’s doing and put less emphasis on what he is and isn’t saying.
3. They want to give and make you happy – they just don’t always know how
Hold onto your seats, ladies, this might come as a major shock: men want to make you happy. Yes, that is correct. I know it can sometimes feel like he’s intentionally trying to make your life more difficult, and while he may be driving you nuts, deep down all he really wants is to provide for you and give you what you need. The only problem is he has no idea how to do it.
Men aren’t women (sorry to throw another shocker at you there!). They aren’t able to intuit the nuances and decipher the clues. If you want him to give you what you want, tell him what it is that you want!
The trick is to do it in a way that’s encouraging, not one that’s threatening, demanding, or nagging. When he does something you like and appreciate, acknowledge it and reward him for it. Show him how happy it made you when he did such and such. Nothing is more attractive and appealing to a man than a woman who is thoroughly happy with him. When he sees he can make you happy, he will be motivated to do whatever he can to keep you happy.
You might be thinking: “But I always tell him what I want and he still doesn’t do it! I tell him all the time to bring me flowers and call me more and take me out and nothing changes!” In this case, yes, you’re telling him what you want but you’re doing it in a way that makes him not want to give it to you.
If you discourage him or nag him, he will feel defeated and will withdraw from you. The best strategy is to ask for and encourage what you want without complaining about what you don’t want.
4. He’ll get over his baggage if he thinks he’s going to lose you
Whether it’s a breakup, a demanding schedule, a stressful job, or a painful past, it will become a non-issue the minute a man thinks he’s losing you. Guys will resort to all kinds of excuses to avoid being in an exclusive relationship – this usually has nothing to do with you and everything to do with his natural aversion to being tied down (more on this in #5).
If he knows that he can give you some excuse about still being devastated over his last relationship and you’ll stick around, then you can be sure said “broken heart” won’t mend anytime soon. If he senses you will leave if he doesn’t commit (or if you actually go ahead and say this isn’t what you want and actually cut the chord), he’ll get his act together…fast!
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It may sound like an immature game, but why would he (or should he) put in more effort when he can get the exact same reward? If you find a Chanel dress on sale for $20 would you absolutely insist on paying the original market value of $2,000? I mean, that’s how much the dress is worth. The obvious answer is no, you wouldn’t. If you can get something for less, you will happily take it and would be a fool to offer more than the minimum amount.
This happens in relationships all the time. If a man scores an amazing girl who is there for him no matter what, he won’t put in an ounce of effort more than is necessary to keep her around. If a man really cares about you and knows you’ll leave if he doesn’t commit, he will forget his ex-girlfriend’s name and commit to you in a heartbeat. He won’t delay for a second and risk some other guy swooping in and snatching you up. And if he doesn’t commit and still insists he “can’t give you what you want?” Well, he was probably never that into you to begin with and it’s better to know before you get in too deep.
5. Their number one concern is losing their freedom, always.
In the interest of making your life better and your understanding of men crystal-clear, I’m gonna skip the sugarcoating and cut right to the heart of it: men are terrified of losing their freedom. It may sound ridiculous or immature, but it’s the truth.
This is the reason men are so afraid of commitment, it’s the reason they withdraw when a relationship deepens, it’s the reason they go hot and cold, and it’s pretty much the reason behind almost every relationship issue you’ve ever had. Does this mean all men want to run around and sleep with every female that crosses their path? No. However, they will do whatever they can to hold onto the fact that they can go out and do whatever, whenever, for as long as possible.
Men don’t want to be locked down or shackled to the proverbial ball and chain. The nature of a man is to seek newness; men love to live in a world of unlimited possibilities.
You might be the most wonderful girlfriend in the whole world, but he still won’t abandon his inherent need to be free. The best thing you can possibly do is continue to have a strong sense of self and a life outside the relationship. Don’t rely on him to be the sole center of your universe because the moment he feels that kind of pressure, he’ll run. Once you start pressuring him and demanding to know where he’s been and why he hasn’t called or texted and why he’s being shady or quiet or moody, he will feel like he’s losing his freedom and he will withdraw. If you persist and hound him further, he’ll keep withdrawing until he’s nothing more than a distant memory in your life.
If you continue to have your own life and are whole and complete, he won’t be afraid that a relationship with you will mark the end of his days as a free man. And this isn’t just about him – it’s also for you. It’s extremely important to keep your life balanced, whether you’re in a relationship or not.
A lot of women let the areas of their lives that used to be important fall by the wayside as soon as they get a boyfriend. They quit going to book club, they don’t meet up with friends as often, they stop doing yoga regularly, they change their entire routine so there is less time for everything except him.
When you no longer have these other things filling you, you will inevitably turn to your man and the relationship to fill in the empty space. And when it doesn’t (and it won’t), you’ll resent him for not giving you what you need, and he’ll resent you for making those kinds of demands. Suffice to say this kind of situation never turns out well.
Remember, his aversion to being “locked down” has nothing to do with you. When you can understand where he’s coming from, you will save yourself from a world of endless frustration, pain, and confusion. Just be the best version of yourself. When you achieve this, you will inspire him to be his best self and the benefits of a relationship with you will completely outweigh a life of “freedom.”
If you can understand and accept that men are naturally averse to being “locked down” (and that it has nothing to do with you), you will be able to relate to him from a place of compassion and understanding, not frustration and anger.
Due to the popularity of this article, we went bigger and wrote a book called “10 Things Every Woman Needs to Know About Men.” While the ideas in this article are addressed, the book goes much deeper and uncovers a lot more about the mind of men. Buy it today on Amazon: 10 Things Every Woman Needs to Know About Men.