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by Kim Lance, associate publisher of Online Dating Magazine

Bridging the Communication Gap Between Men and Women

You’ve probably been there before. You sit down for a latte with your best friend and immediately her eyes start to swell with tears as she blurts out “I don’t know why, but he just won’t open up to me!” Or you and your best bud meet up at a local pub and he greets you with “Man, my girl just talked my ear off. I need a drink!” Or perhaps you were on the other end of the conversation, not understanding why you and your relationship partner were having communication problems. Men and women usually communicate and respond very differently during conversations with each other.

Because men and women interact and interpret differently, conflicts or misunderstandings can, and often do, arise. A man and woman can walk away from a conversation having gotten two totally different perspectives on how the talk went and its resolution. These different perspectives can cause dissatisfaction in one or both partners and can lead to misinterpretation, anger, or resentfulness if not properly understood and recognized.


To better understand why couples often feel that their partner doesn’t understand them, it is important to look at some of the fundamental communication differences between men and women. Keep in mind that, while psychologists have discovered these differences through clinical research, they are still generalizations. Just because most men and women communicate this way, doesn’t mean that all do or that you and your partner do. But, understanding these differences can help you determine your own communication differences and get you back on the fast track toward reconnecting with your partner.

Why Men and Women Talk

In general, men typically talk in order to give information or report on events, things, or the day’s happenings. Women, on the other hand, will generally talk to gain information or to further build their relationship with those they are speaking with. Men will talk about things, such as business, sports, etc. while women will discuss people and interactions. When talking, men tend to convey facts rather than details and women include more details and feelings during conversation.

Because men typically like to get to the point and don’t usually hypothesize about thoughts and feelings, men can often be frustrated when speaking with a woman who goes “on and on” about details and hunches. It is this fundamental communication difference that would make the man in our early example walk away from a conversation with his girlfriend thinking that she “talked his ear off” and why the woman in our example might feel that her boyfriend “won’t open up”.

Men are Assertive, Women are Cooperative
In American society men are typically assertive, independent and objective in their communication tactics. Women, in contrast, are much more cooperative, dependent, and subjective when communicating. While there is a large amount of diversity within genders, you can generally assume that men are seen as more aggressive while women are more submissive.

Communication amongst the male gender is also generally based on competition. Men are goal-oriented and competitive and this is expressed in the way they speak to others. Women cooperate more and are relationship oriented during conversation. Women are much more able to empathize with others while men look to understand the problems of others intellectually. Because of this, men tend to be problem solvers while women tend to be listeners.

Many times, a woman will bring up something that is bothering her for the sole purpose of getting it off her mind. A lot of the time, women essentially just want to be listened to and be able to vent their frustrations to their partner. Men, being the problem solving, competitive sort, will listen to their girlfriend or wife and immediately start to offer solutions or advice. This can become a source of frustration for both the man and the woman. The woman gets frustrated because she feels that her partner doesn’t want to listen or is being too aggressive, and the man feels that his partner isn’t interested in his advice or is being too passive.

Solutions to Bridge the Communication Gap

While every couple and situation is different, learning the standard differences between the sexes can help you to come up with solutions to communication problems between genders. Here are some tips for women and men for those times when the gender communication gap has the potential of occurring.

Tips for Women:

» If your boyfriend or husband doesn’t seem to be talking much, understand that this doesn’t necessarily mean that something is wrong. Often times he may just not have anything to “report”. It is ok to check and make sure that everything is ok, but don’t double or triple check.

» Double meanings are not very common with men; when a man says something, he typically means it. Women, try not to second-guess what your guy is saying. Avoid the “what does he really mean” mentality, and just take it at face value. If you don’t have trust issues, then chances are either nothing is wrong, or he just isn’t ready to talk about it.

» Don’t get frustrated when your man tries to solve your problems. It is just the way many men think. Instead, try to listen to his advice (whether or not you plan to take it) and thank him for giving you advice; after all, he is just trying to make things easier for you. If you really just want to “vent” about something, let your boyfriend or husband know that in advance so that he knows not to interrupt with solutions to your problem.

Tips for Men:

» Don’t interrupt when your girlfriend or wife is getting into small details when she explains things to you. If you are truly pressed for time and need to cut things short, then you may have no choice but to cut her off, but make sure that you make time to hear her story later and genuinely assure her that you want to hear her story when you both have free time.

» Don’t immediately try to solve your partner’s problems. Listen to her and then infer as to whether or not she wants your advice. If she asks “what should I do” or “I need help with this” then you can offer advice. Your best bet is to first listen to the story and offer consolation and a hug, if needed. Many women just want you to listen and nothing more.

» Don’t challenge the validity of your partner’s assumptions. Women tend to rely on their intuition when they “know” about something, while men focus on facts. This doesn’t mean that their intuition is invalid. If your girlfriend or wife says “It just doesn’t feel right” allow her to feel that her feelings are valid. I’m not recommending humoring her if you know she is wrong, but know that there is something to be said about women’s intuition and don’t always come back with “Where’s the proof?”

Embrace Communication Differences

Just because men and women generally communicate differently, doesn’t mean that they can’t make and maintain powerful connections with one another. In fact, many times your spouse or sweetheart may be able to make you think about situations and events in a different light because of these communication differences. Rather than get frustrated with each other’s differences, try to embrace each other’s different opinions, conversation styles and approaches.

Through education, understanding, and practice you will improve your communication skills, which will allow your relationship to evolve to a higher level and that will bring you closer to being one entity.

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