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Understand men: why you should go beyond stereotypes to make it work

by Ian Prior - May 31, 2021

There have been countless books and articles on ways to understand men. Unfortunately, most of them fall back on stereotypes but it takes more than that if you really want to know how to understand men. While every guy is different, knowing more about understanding men in general can still give you valuable insights about the qualities to look for in a man. With better understanding, you’ll be aware of the best ways to attract a man.

What should women understand about men first?

Men and women often seem to be differently wired in their thought processes. If you want to know how to understand men, you need to be aware of a few things first:

Men are socialised differently

Men and women are often brought up to react very differently to emotional stimuli. Men are taught to suppress emotion and be independent, which makes their emotional landscape very different from women, who are taught to value empathy and providing/seeking support. This is key for anyone who wants to understand men.

Men take different things from conversations than women

For women, conversations, especially between friends or intimate partners, are a place to show vulnerability and share secrets. For men, conversations function more as a space to bond by sharing things they’ve done or things they love.

With men, actions speak louder than words

If you want to understand men, look at their actions. As mentioned previously, men, even men in love, aren’t encouraged to be open with emotions, which means that seeing what a man does is a better sign of whether he’s interested than anything he might say.

How to understand men when you’re dating

While everyone has the same basic desire – to love and be loved in return – men and women have very different ways of showing it, which can lead to confusion and even arguments. It’s easier to understand men when you keep the following tips in mind:

1. They’re inveterate problem solvers

We’ve all been there; you just want him to listen when you rant about your no-good, horrible day and instead he immediately tries to find a solution. But that is your guy’s way of being supportive. He sees you hurt and immediately dives in to try and fix it.

2. Their honesty is well-intentioned

Unlike women, most men aren’t used to tip-toeing around other people’s feelings. Plus, men are generally honest with people they care about. Which means that your man may think you want honesty rather than support when you ask him if you look fat in this dress. Knowing this will help you to understand men more easily.

3. They’re better with hard facts

Most men haven’t had much practice dealing with emotions and their non-measurable, intangible quality makes things worse. It’s probably why guys love sports so much, aside from their competitive nature – it’s hard to argue with data. So, what comes across as a cold insistence on facts is really a discomfort with emotions.

4. They love praise, just like you do

Yes, guys will wave off praise like it’s no big deal but don’t be fooled. They thrive on it, especially when you compliment something other than their looks. Mind you, they wouldn’t say no to a lingering glance or a ‘looking good today, babe,’ but when you acknowledge things they’re good at, particularly things that aren’t valued by traditional masculinity, like cooking or parenting, it’s a feeling they’ll treasure.

5. Wanting space doesn’t mean they don’t care

Just as every relationship needs time together, everyone also needs time apart. You can’t miss someone who’s always there. And men need you to understand that a weekend away with the boys isn’t going to tank your relationship, it might just strengthen it.

6. Men aren’t great at multi-tasking

Men generally aren’t great at multitasking, preferring to devotel their focus to the task at hand. Which is why you shouldn’t worry overmuch if he doesn’t text you for a few days; it’s not that he doesn’t care, he’s probably just forgotten.

7. They’re competitive as hell

Men are taught to prize competition and winning from an early age. So don’t be surprised when he starts getting competitive with you. It’s natural to him, and a key to understand any men you might be dating; he wants to win, so make him feel like moving from dating to a exclusive relationship with you is winning.

8. Positive reinforcement works better than criticism

The truth is, most guys really want to make you happy, even if their execution isn’t the greatest. While it feels instinctive to complain or criticise when he does something you didn’t really want, resist. Instead, compliment him when he makes you happy and he’ll do it more often.

9. They’re all individuals

Every guy is different and with over three billion of them in the world, there’s no one set of rules that will work for everyone. The best way to understand men in general is to focus on the specific men in your life and see how they tick.

How to communicate in a relationship

Learn more about how to communicate in a relationship in constructive ways. We cover how to communicate your needs in a relationship and be there for your partner.

Learning how to understand men will change your dating behaviour for the better

All too often, a relationship falls apart not because of things like infidelity or abuse but because women just don’t understand men and vice versa. Acknowledging there are differences in the way we think – and working with that understanding – is key to a happier, more fulfilled relationship.

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