One too many a woman has protested my advice in anger, stating that we shouldn’t have to understand men, because what are men doing for US? Why can’t men understand US first?
But Renee, what about the fact that not all men are the same?
I’m going to answer these valid questions, because I understand the hesitation to ‘go first’ and understand them, when your world seems to be full of men who aren’t good enough to be in a relationship with.
Women need to be protected from potentially being taken advantage of by men, right?
Actually, understanding can accomplish that.
I don’t like to think of things in terms of self-protection only, because I believe in true vulnerability in relationships, but if we are here trying to protect ourselves from men in our relationships, and that’s WHY we get so angry stating that MEN should understand women first…then ok…let’s talk in terms of self protection.
And that brings me to my first thought:
Quite frankly, ignorance is not self protection.
Demanding that others understand us first, is not self protection. It doesn’t GET anyone else to do anything for us out of love, it only gets other to do things for us out of guilt – which ends up backfiring on us a lot because trying to guilt trip a person or demanding things from them is actively being insensitive to them and even trying to cause them pain and suffering.
And people can’t love us; let alone like us or commit to us if we try to make them suffer.
And ignorance of men is simply a casual walk to death in our relationships.
In my books, not seeking to go through the pain of understanding is a recipe for death in a relationship.
It’s just so easy to say ‘men should understand us’. I know we wish we felt safer to go first and understand them.
But if we are smart, which I know we are, then we KNOW that self protection in the highest quality form happens when we actively, genuinely, see the world from the other person’s point of view.
Well, because then we can anticipate & predict their actions, know their motivations, be familiar with their worldview, and respect their needs rather than fearing their actions, fearing their motivations, and fearing their needs.
Understanding men helps us be confident with men, to sit back and not have the same anxieties that other women do, and to stop acting possessive and needy – which really makes us feel depleted inside.
When we make decisions from fear like this and choose to expect understanding, which nobody really owes to us, they’re always the wrong decisions. Because we don’t live in a world that warrants a fight or flight response like this 24/7. Unless we are in a highly abusive relationship – even then, reacting in fear often fuels the abuse anyway.
Avoiding vulnerability is avoiding relationships with men altogether
You know what? I believe that avoiding understanding of others is an active way of avoiding vulnerability; and that doesn’t work in relationships. STRONG relationships are built when at least one of the people involved are willing to be totally vulnerable to the other.
After all, it’s easy not to trust totally invulnerable people; or people who are constantly trying to cover up their vulnerabilities; there’s a word for people like us in that state; and that word is ‘fake’.
Fake is ok sometimes. It’s just disastrous to make it a habit with everyone in our lives.
So, seeking understanding is genuine vulnerability. A lot of people ask me; what is vulnerability? Well, this is one way of being vulnerable. To seek understanding.
I assure you that you will be ok if you choose to understand
And I just wanted to say; everything will be ok if you choose to understand a man first. As hard as it is to try to understand another person’s world, you are not silly enough to get taken advantage of just because you sought understanding.
You are not that weak. Let other people believe that; your life is too precious for that garbage.
But what about if we don’t talk in terms of understanding men for self protection?
I remember once, I had a conversation with my husband and I asked him; ‘what is the one skill you would want our son to have at the age of 16-18?’
He thought about it and said:
‘The ability to see the world from other people’s point of view.”
Then he asked me ‘What about you?”
I smiled, and said; “I was going to say the same thing.”
As parents, we want our child to have the greatest quality of life possible, and of course, we want him to be as safe as possible.
And we know that, for example, when it comes to dating women, the worst thing he could have is no understanding of how women work.
And it’s not just a matter of; “oh man, he NEEDS to know how women work so he doesn’t get HURT “- it’s a matter of him being a strong person because he went FIRST, and because he can have better interactions and better quality relationships (the thing that really matters in life) because he has been present and attuned with women; attuned to their feedback and to their internal motivations – ie; what women are getting from acting a certain way and what women are getting from interacting with him.
This helps him towards a quality of life that is infinite – because, he gave himself the resources to go first, and giving ourselves resources and understanding means we are not at the mercy of our own stories in our head about how the relationship should be, versus how it REALLY is.
If I do my job as a mother well, then hopefully, he values going first, and when he’s present and attuned to a woman’s needs, he will be more aware when a woman is bullshitting him, he will understand the real reasons behind her actions despite the verbal “reasons” she gives for them. At least some of the time. I am aware that he has many years ahead of learning and he hasn’t even begun yet.
The opposite of seeking understanding?
The opposite of seeking would be to shut off, go numb or just be angry, or even just be apathetic and not care. And regardless of if my son’s physical body is alive or not, apathy is active death. I don’t want my son to die.
But not every man is the same!
Correct. That’s even more reason why we must seek to understand.
There are basic and different filters through which to seek to understand men. One of these filters is in relationships is the masculine/feminine filter. 80% of men are more masculine at their core, and when a man and woman meet and are attracted to each other, this core comes out just naturally.
If we want attraction to continue, it’s an important filter through which to see things.
But there are also many other filters through which to seek to understand a man’s behaviour and to see why he is the way he is and what he might need in a relationship with you. Including the inner child filter, the parenting filter (how his parents’ treatment of him shaped his personality), the filter of the three human brains (lizard brain, mammalian brain, and human brain), and many other filters.
I use some of these filters in my member’s programs, and our members find them helpful in their relationships with men.
Is seeking understanding of men going to mean changing myself and becoming a pleaser?
Absolutely not to the question of becoming a pleaser.
Absolutely, yes! To the question of changing thyself.
Of course it will change you. It changes us all. It’s a whole new world to delve in to. A fascinating world, and world of frustration and surprise and ‘ah hah’ moments.
Most of all, it’s a world of confidence and relief. Relief that our past patterns of anxieties related to men are not relevant anymore.
Relief that women have just as many mating and mate selection habits that cause men pain and hurt – ie: women aren’t the victims here; as is so popularly thought among modern women.
Does choosing to understand men first make you a doormat or pleaser?
Only if you aren’t attuned to him. I mean attuned, not ear-tuned, hearing what he says, which will only confirm a false ‘story’ about him in our heads.
Attunement to a man is the answer to the dilemma of pleasers. Attunement is being responsive in your interactions with him.
It means he says; ‘you look so beautiful baby, oh my god, there is no other woman like you, you are so sexy!’ and you are so attuned to him that you see that his words are speaking beautiful music to your ears, but that your gut feels his body language which is just sending you warning signals of; ‘sleazeball! Sleazeball!’
We are pleasers because we are Numb
Pleasers, including myself in the past, have become numb and confused. This numbness is not particularly safe; though it feels safe; and it IS safe at times.
When it becomes a habit though, it is a recipe for getting walked over; as with numbness, we are never in tune with how the other person is really feeling.
All we hear is their words.
Remember the quote: ‘‘a man falls in love through his eyes, a woman through her ears” by Woodrow W?
Yeah. It happens when we don’t want to understand men (also when we are feeling desperate for love), and all we have to judge their intentions is what they say, and our lazy stories in our heads about being loved.
It’s ok, every woman has been there. You aren’t the exception, and it is so ok if you are there right now. If you are, it’s just permission to enter in to the new phase of your relationships.
As the saying goes, actions speak louder than words.
We’ll take it one step further… Patterns speak louder than actions. So look for the patterns in his relationships and behaviour and you will see clearly. I know you will.
Would you love to know the answers to your questions about men? Click here to read more about our program Understanding Men program…
What is something you’ve learned about men, or about yourself, that has helped ease your worries? What are your honest views about understanding men first?