Why does my boyfriend and I have so much trouble communicating? It does not seem to matter what we are talking about, we end up misunderstanding each other! Even loving conversations can unexpectedly go off the rails. Yet, he is pretty honest and tries his best. But every time we start talking and, especially when it is about something serious, things quickly go wrong. What can we do to communicate better?
Do not be surprised that you and your boyfriend have difficulty communicating because right from the schoolyard men and women use language differently.
Girls learn a language of relationships and rapport. Boys language is all about status and independence. Boys generally play in larger groups, do things together, and have leaders who boss the others around.
High-status boys take centre-stage and side-track other boys efforts. Boys boast about their skills and endlessly argue about who is best at everything. Their games always have winners and losers.
Girls generally play in much smaller groups, and the centre of a girl’s life is her ‘best friend’. In girl’s games, everyone gets a turn, and many of their games do not even have winners or losers.
They expect each other to be modest, do not strive for status, express preferences or make suggestions rather than giving orders, and are more concerned about being liked.
As adults, women’s conversations tend to be cooperative, emphasising similarities and avoiding conflict. But for men, talking is all about acquiring and maintaining status. It is about establishing their independence, grabbing and keeping attention. Displaying knowledge and skills.
Men’s talk is a contest because their world is full of rivalry and threats. Their speech even sounds different. Men speak in short and simple sentences. Women prefer complex sentences with many layers of meaning. They use indirect speech, and more polite words like ‘could’ and so on.
Men use absolutes like ‘never’, ‘not’ and ‘do’, which sound rude to a woman. Men are always more action-oriented and get confused by women’s ambiguities and subtleties. So this is what leads to all the difficulties between you and your boyfriend when you are talking together.
And the answer? Both of you need to consciously learn each other’s ‘dialect’, then you will get on so much better. And if you want to talk about something serious with your boyfriend? Give him an agenda, a time, a place and an objective. Just like a business meeting.
Then stick to the facts and he will listen. Do you want him to do something for you? Then tell him what you want. No ambiguities. Like a man would. And he will do as he is told!
All the best,