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Tuesday, April 13, 2010

On Boys and Girls - Very Scientific Observations

It wasn't until I had a son that I started to understand boys, and ultimately men. I always thought I understood what goes on in the brain of the human male, or at least I assumed that it was not radically different than what was going on in my own head. It didn't help much that the very misguided feminist movement kept insisting that differences in male and female behavior, outlook, wants and needs were due to upbringing, and our mothers' apparent complicity in a grand conspiracy against their daughters.

We just don't think alike. Sure there are overlaps and much that we share, but there are certain areas in which boys and girls, men and women think and behave so differently it is a wonder we get along at all.

First, a very important message to girls and women who are sitting around together or alone, wondering if he is thinking about you, or whether he and his friends are talking about you and your friends, he is not, and they are not.

I have to tell you, I was absolutely appalled by this. When I think of how much time my girlfriends and I spent in high school talking about boys, wondering whether they were thinking about us, daring each other to call them on the phone, dissecting and analyzing post-call utterances down to the length of each pause...

Let's just chalk it up to a female bonding exercise because all of our lengthy analysis was for naught. Five seconds after he hung up the phone, he went back to whatever he was doing and forgot about the call altogether. If he had happened to have a friend over at the time, I can guarantee you they did not sit around for the next hour discussing what the call "meant".

If any conversation concerning said call took place at all, it went like this:

"Who was that?"

Insert female name here

"What'd she want?"

shrug of shoulders,

"OK now where were we?" (Sound of explosions and gunfire from video game)

So, girls, wile away the hours discussing boys if you want, just be aware that any conclusions you come to are probably wrong, and that boys are utterly oblivious to the fact that a) we do this and b) that this is part of a mating ritual. When boys get together, they do not talk about girls. Not at all.

A bit of a let down, I know. But that's how it is.

The next major point I'd like to make is: Boys mean what they say and say what they mean. Really. There is nothing to analyze. They are not lying, or hiding their feelings or trying to be difficult. Whatever they say is all there is. It drives me nuts.

The corollary to this is that they actually expect us to do the same. So, if you are male and you are reading this, I have to tell you that this will never, ever happen. I couldn't do it even if I tried. Not only that, I will get mad at you for not knowing what I am really saying, and take it as proof that you don't care about me. Then, I will go discuss this with my girlfriends ad nauseum.

The French Fry incident. My husband and I were still in the dating phase and we went to In-and-Out burger - I ordered a hamburger with no fries and he said "are you sure you don't want fries" and I said "yes, I'll just have some of yours". (Of course I wanted fries! But I am not going to pig out in front of him, or run the risk of appearing to want to pig out so I say the lady-like thing and don't order fries.)

And then I did have some of his fries and can you believe he had the nerve to get mad at me because I ate a few more than a few of his fries? So I explained to him how inconsiderate it was of him not to get me my own fries. He didn't actually expect me to sit there with no fries, did he?

You may or may not identify with my french fry example, but rest assured, all women do this in one form or another and we expect you to know what we want even if we tell you we want the exact opposite. (With certain obvious exceptions - rule of thumb being to listen to what we say in situations where not doing so could land you in the slammer.)

It may seem unfair for us to expect this of males, but it is equally as difficult for us when you run around saying what you mean all of the time. We interpret and analyze - consider body language, tone of voice and our own moods at the time before we decide what it is you want.

We, on the other hand, can say "It's OK" or "I'm fine" and have it mean quite the opposite of what you may expect. My grandmother was an expert at this. She never raised her voice or complained, or ever started a sentence with "I want" - but everybody knew what she wanted and she always got it.

So there you have it. I am by no means an authority on the topic of the male psyche - I am just beginning to understand a few of the more obvious points. Just thought I would share what I have come up with thus far.


PS After reading this, my husband had the following comment: "You should point out though that even though we don't spend hours talking about our girls we do care a lot about you."

It's worth the effort to figure it all out. =)


Anonymous said...

You never said why having a son taught you this. You didn't really back up any of this information other than the french fry thing... you just sort of dictated this. i'd really like to hear some more examples. i'm not saying that any of this is not true because i 100% agree with you. i just found some of your blogs a bit boring because it seems like you're just saying things without backing them up. i really like what you're doing here... just thought you could use a little advice on how to improve. thanks for a great blog!

Anonymous said...

No, no, no. Not all women are like that. If I say I don't want fries, I might really want fries, but I would not expect anyone to know that. I expect to be taken at my word, period.

If I say I'm fine, it never means "I'm not fine and I want you to understand that and sympathize with me". It means either "I'm fine" or "I'm not fine but I want you to think I'm fine, because I prefer not to talk about it. REally."

And I'm not some anomaly. All of my women friends are exactly the same way. I would be as baffled as any man to come across a woman like the ones you describe.

Trust me. We're not all like that.