14 Huge Ways Men and Women Communicate Differently in Relationships
Men may not be from Mars, and women definitely aren’t from Venus, but when it comes to communication in relationships, it’s easy to see how the distance between planets might seem like a fair comparison. Enter relationship experts and real-life couple Antia and Brody Boyd. With over 20 years combined experience in helping singles (from the UK all the way to Australia) find love, these two are hoping to bridge the gap between the sexes with their insight into the top ways in which men and women communicate differently.
Fixing versus processingProblem solving in relationships can be tricky, especially since men and women tend to approach issues differently. As relationship experts Antia and Brody Boyd explain: “In general, women tend to be more process-oriented… Men generally tend to want to fix and solve challenges promptly in communication.”
Bridge the gap: ask your partner if you can hit “pause” on the issue, so that you can come back to it once you’ve had some time to zero in on what you’d like to discuss most, and your partner can feel as though you’re on board with working together to fix the problem. This eliminates pressure on you to find a resolution, and provides your partner with the closure of knowing you intend to address it in a more focused-manner, which plays to their communication style as well.
When it comes to your love life, an expert’s take is always a healthy idea – as for any other outside opinions, beware of the worst relationship advice.
Direct versus indirectWhile it might be annoying to feel as though you have to spell it out when it comes to your feelings, you’re setting your partner up for failure if you think they can play the part of mind-reader. “In general, women tend to want to communicate their needs and desire more indirectly, whereas men tend to be more direct and straightforward in communicating what they want, as well as their needs in the relationship.”
Bridge the gap: look to your partner’s direct style for some cues on expressing your feelings in a more clear and constructive way – you might even find you enjoy a more direct approach!
For more expert strategies on keeping your relationship healthy and happy, don't miss the top ways to divorce-proof your marriage.
Process versus goals“Women tend to want to talk about the process of things and the experience, whereas men tend to want to focus on the outcome and goals that were created by the experience,” according to Antia.
Bridge the gap: why not do both? Find common ground by asking for the space to discuss the process of things, while being open to hearing your partner out when it comes to the outcome of that same experience. By coming together in your communication style, you can establish a compromise that doesn’t leave either of you feeling muted.
Big picture versus detailsDo you ever find he’s all about the “bigger picture” and you just can’t get past those crucial details? The pair explains: “Men … focus more on the big picture of a subject or of an experience, whereas women tend to focus more on the details.”
Bridge the gap: instead of feeling frustrated by your partner’s different communication style, try looking at things from their perspective, rather than diminishing their way of processing and expressing themselves. For more tips, check out 20 things you should never do in a healthy relationship.
Things and ideas versus people and relationshipsHave you ever wondered what he talks about with the guys? According to our experts, probably not the same things you’re discussing with the girls… “Men tend to want to focus on things and ideas as the subjects of their conversations, especially with other men, whereas women tend to want to discuss people and relationships more, especially with other women.”
Bridge the gap: keep boundaries in mind. Your guy is probably not getting into the same relationship details with his friends that you’re chatting about with the girls, so be conscious of what his comfort level is when it comes to “over-sharing” with people outside of the relationship to avoid crossing a line and inadvertently betraying his trust.
Competition versus collaborationAs it relates to conflict-resolution between couples, this explains a lot. Ever feel like you’re battling to find common ground, while your partner just seems hung up on “winning” the fight? Antia and Brody reveal that “men in general tend to want to compete more with others … whereas women tend to want to collaborate more and socially bond.”
Bridge the gap: Let your partner know that not every challenge, especially those in your relationship, is a win or lose battle. Unless you can work together to resolve issues that may come up without unnecessary competitiveness, you’ll both lose. Finding ways to work around different styles of communication is a sure sign you are comfortable in your relationship.
Criticism versus appreciationHow your man communicates with his friends – and vice-versa – will often find its way into your relationship. Notes Brody: “Men tend to bond with other men through playfully criticizing each other and challenging each other.” Adds Antia, “Whereas women tend to bond more with other women through appreciating each other and complimenting each other.”
Bridge the gap: don’t let it slide if you begin to feel like that bit of “teasing” on his part is becoming a hurtful trend. You’re not one of the guys, and he should be conscious of adjusting his communication style when he’s with you. For your part, understand that, though he may not express appreciation and compliments in the same way you do, that doesn’t mean he can’t meet you halfway in his own style. Be fair in your expectations.
More emotionally perceptive versus less emotionally perceptiveYou’ve been giving him the cold shoulder for days, and he still hasn’t taken the hint – what gives? Explains Antia, “Men generally tend to be less emotionally perceptive than women, meaning that they often will need to ask to be certain on how someone is feeling, whereas women are much better at knowing how others around them are feeling emotionally without needing to ask.”
Bridge the gap: you may need to adjust your approach by initiating a conversation about how you’re feeling, and opening up a more constructive line of communication, instead of harboring resentment for hints that may not be as clear as you think.
Logical versus emotionalDoes it ever feel like you’re dating a robot? Does your partner ever accuse you of focusing too much on the emotional aspect of things? If you find yourself nodding along, you’re not alone. “Men in general tend to have brains more wired for logical reasoning evolutionarily,” says Antia, “whereas women tend to have brains that are more wired for emotional and social intelligence, as well as for processing emotions.”
Bridge the gap: this doesn’t mean you both can’t strive to find some common ground from the other’s perspective – it just might take a little work! Try to appreciate the contrast in your partner’s method of processing things. While you might get stuck on the emotions of something, your partner will be able to help keep you grounded with the cold, hard facts – and vice versa.
Take up more space versus less spaceSo much of our communication is non-verbal, but that doesn’t make it any less important to take note of. When it comes to the differences in how we communicate and interact using body language, the physical space we tend to operate in often relates to our communication preferences.
Antia and Brody explain: “With body language, men tend to take up more space having a more territorial nature… and women tend to take up less space valuing more relationships and social bonding.” Picture a big couch in the center of a room – who’s more likely to be sprawled out in the center, and who’s more likely to be curled up by the armrest? Now envision how you and your partner each physically interact and communicate when in social situations. Are you sitting intimately with a group of close-knit friends? Does he tend to prefer open and casual social gatherings?
Bridge the gap: understanding the differences in your non-verbal communication style can go a long way in solidifying your relationship. Sometimes just being aware that you both don’t operate in the same way is a great start to better understanding your partner.
More colours versus less coloursA physical trait like the ability to see colours in more detail or depth can go a long way in winning that next argument over paint swatches at Home Depot! Antia notes, “Interestingly, women’s eyes have evolved with more receptors to be able to see more colours and to make distinctions…”
Bridge the gap: while this may not have any direct affect on your inter-relationship communication, it’s yet another “little thing” that relates to how women and men can often – and in this case, literally – see things differently.
Emotion versus factsBrody points out that “generally, women tend to value the emotions behind situations in their communicating and relating, whereas men tend to value more the logic and reasoning behind actions.” Meaning that while one person is stuck on their feelings, and the other is focused on the facts, this can create a loop of conflict where neither partner is able to get closure on the issue.
Bridge the gap: try communicating each fact as it relates to a feeling, to create an opportunity for both of you to be heard. So as your partner points out a fact of the issue at hand, you can contribute an associated feeling and find your middle ground while both feeling acknowledged.
Transition timeWhen you and your partner get home from work, do you find he retreats to another room, leaving you itching to chat about your day and get straight into your off-duty routines? Says Brody, “Men tend to need more transition time between experiences… for example, moving from work to coming home, whereas women can adjust to different roles and environments more rapidly.”
Bridging the gap: give your partner time to decompress during points of transition. Just because someone isn’t wired to adapt to changing roles as easily as you are doesn’t mean they can’t match your energy eventually – just give them a little breathing room to shift gears before engaging.
Single focus versus multi-focusYou may prefer to take on that to-do list in one shot, but don’t expect your partner to juggle alongside you…“In general, men tend to be better at focusing on a given outcome or goal with more of a single focus … whereas women are better at being able to juggle different activities and experiences simultaneously.”
Bridge the gap: no two people operate in the exact same way. While you might prefer to spend your day juggling and moving from task to task, be mindful that your partner’s approach, while dissimilar to your own, isn’t necessarily wrong – just different. When it comes to the things that set you apart, try to view them as unique traits rather than conflicting issues.
For more insight into making your relationship work, consider adopting some of the habits happy couples do each morning!