Thursday, 3 May 2018

Cannot connect


"Men fail us, Sally thinks, because they mostly won't or can't communi-cate. It's their greatest failing as a sex. Of course Pete would help anyone who asked, but taking an interest in people's lives, being sympathetic to their problems, talking things over, putting people in touch or doing a good turn, and above all really saying what they feel - this is what she craves.

"Pete won't talk to anyone he doesn't already know, and on the rare occasions when he does have a chat, he will come away without having discovered a single interesting thing about them, such as the state of their health, the number and ages of their children, whether their business is going well or badly this year, and what they think about Strictly and basically how they're feeling about life in general. Sally is forever astonished and exasperated by this.

"Among men it's as if incuriosity is a badge of honour, with the result that they all going stumbling blindly around in a fog of unknowing, and proud of it too. How did men discover anything ever when they won't ask?" - from Amanda Craig, The Lie of the Land

So very true. Why are so many men so bad at communicating? I've tried many times to befriend a man, only to find that he's okay talking about impersonal subjects such as cars or sport or politics or beer, but as soon as I try to get to know him properly, to get under his skin, a barrier goes up and I can't get any further.

It's a kind of fear of being personal, as if revealing their inner selves will result in some terrible calamity or humiliation or degradation. They're afraid they'll be laughed at or despised or crushed. Astonishing and exasperating indeed.

20 comments:

Rummuser said...

Why only men? Even women cannot communicate. I have observed that this phenomenon is due to two main reasons. One, the thought process is faster than the verbalisation process and two inadequacy with words to explain emotions,

nick said...

Ramana: I imagine women and men think at a similar speed, yet women (on the whole) are still more articulate, because from an early age they're taught to be. Likewise girls (on the whole) are taught to express their emotions more fully and more fluently than boys. This is borne out by a great deal of research.

John Gray said...

You are so right......I never believe it cos I think I communicate well and have an emotional intelligence regarding communication. But recently l have learnt the truth

nick said...

John: I notice constantly that Jenny is far better at expressing her emotions than I am. Most of the time my emotions go unexpressed and barely even recognised. Like most men, my upbringing was totally deficient in this respect.

helen devries said...

Neither of us tend to express emotions, feelings, etc. We have them...but see no point in wallowing in them.

Bijoux said...

I'm guessing most men open up to their significant others, but have very few close friends, compared to women.

tammy j said...

and yet we trust men to run countries and communicate with other nations on matters that have great impact on all of our very personal lives. i remember reading that women could never be president because of their emotional instability! that seemed to be the catchall excuse at the time anyway. times are changing. maybe our communication skills are needed more than ever!

nick said...

Helen: Well, I guess there's a distinction between freely expressing your emotions and wallowing in them.

Bijoux: I think that's true. I don't have any close friends apart from Jenny.

nick said...

Tammy: It strikes me as significant that most of our Tory ministers are male, and they seem to have little compassion or sympathy for those ordinary people who are struggling with life and desperately need help. They seem to entirely lack such emotions.

Jacinda Ardern seems to be doing a good job as New Zealand Prime Minister. Her emotions don't appear to be getting in the way.

Jacqueline @ HOME said...

Men are pretty rubbish at communicating .... it must be something in their genes !
So sorry that I haven’t commented for a while ..... I have rubbish commenting skills !
Also, I just wanted to wish your mum a very happy birthday ...... tell her Jackie raised her glass to her tonight even though she doesn’t know who the hell Jackie is !!!! XXXX

Joanne Noragon said...

Fascinating, isn't it. I find I must ask men direct questions, over and over, to get to know them. Maybe. May not be worth it.

nick said...

Hi Jackie! No, I don't think it's genes, it's the way they're brought up. Men are supposed to be unemotional and reserved while women are supposed to be emotional and talkative.

Thanks for the birthday wishes for my mum!

Joanne: I know what you mean. It can be like trying to get blood out of a stone! But I hope my blogmates know plenty about me, after more than 11 years of blogging.

Ms Scarlet said...

I'm not very talkative.
Sx

nick said...

Ms Scarlet: I bet you're more talkative than I am.

CheerfulMonk said...

I was a physics major and worked mostly with guys before I retired. Connecting by talking about exciting projects works too. I'm tuned into my feelings and don't feel I need to talk about them with others. I'd rather look deeply into them and see what they have to say. My first item in The Traits of Stress-Hardy, Resilient People is,

"They have a sense of meaning, direction, and purpose. They are value-centered rather than reactive and defensive. They understand that emotions are great sources of energy and motivation but are often poor guides for action. Instead these people use their values as guides."


As usual, one size doesn't fit all. Whatever rocks our boats!

nick said...

Jean: That's an interesting idea, to see what your emotions have to say rather than just voicing them to other people. And yes, it's important to have a sense of meaning, direction, and purpose. Especially meaning, because if you can't make any sense of the world, you're heading for confusion and despair.

Wisewebwoman said...

Men and women aren't monoliths. I think it is all in the way we communicate thoughts to each other.

I have (straight)close male friends who communicate their emotions to me quite readily. But interestingly I observe them with other men at times and see them retreat into that awful brash bravado almost violent verbal interplay. I am appalled.

Gay male friends are more open to talking about "sissy" topics like reading books for pleasure and movies, theatre, ballet, opera. A shame.

I think macho expectations has a lot to do with it. I often open conversations by talking about an emotional challenge I recently had and ask for input.

Men perform this crude manliness so much it bores me to tears.

XO
WWW


nick said...

www: Interesting that your male friends can talk to you in a quite normal way but feel they have to revert to the worst sort of masculinity when they're with other men. I like the idea of talking about an emotional challenge, to encourage people to open up.

BrightenedBoy said...

In many ways, it seems that my generation has not been scarred as much by rigid ideas about masculinity. Most of the straight male friends I have are pretty reflective and open to discussing those reflections. It could be that my sample of straight men who are comfortable having a gay male friend is not representative, but I'd like to believe we're moving to a healthier place in general.

And you know, I feel for men, straight men in particular. If they don't say enough, they're remote and being constrained by "toxic masculinity." If they say too much, then they're "mansplaining" and bulldozing over others' opinions. And there is always, always an assumption of ill intent. Being told from boyhood that you're a villain, and being told that in a thousand spoken and unspoken ways, can't be great for your psyche, either.

nick said...

BrightenedBoy: I've heard that a lot, the view that younger men are very different from older men and happy to talk about all sorts of things that traditionally men don't talk about. You're right that men can be criticised however they behave and that doesn't do much for their self-esteem. But that's also true for women of course.