Communication is complicated, especially when it involves men and women.
Men don’t understand our obsessions with the shoe department at Nordstrom, our friend’s relationships, and Grey’s Anatomy. And we don’t remotely understand their fascinations with remote control anything, video games, or the Three Stooges. I’ve also yet to meet a woman who has figured out why men take so long in the bathroom when they’re not putting on makeup or drying their hair.
Luckily, my careful research into the male species has enabled me to compile this translation guide, “the naked truth about communication.”
Keep in mind, as relationships evolve, so does the conversational code. Here are some clues for the beginning stages, when you first meet.
The guy you’re flirting with says: “So maybe we could get together or something?
You hear: “I like you, but not enough to ask you out.”
He really means: “I really want to ask you out, but I’m too chicken to say so.” Also, “I’d like to see you naked.”
Or in the beginning stages, another loaded question when you meet a man is, “What do you do?”
What he hears you say is, “Are you making enough money to support me in the style I’d like to become accustomed to? Then you can see me naked.”
Of course you really mean nothing more than “What do you do?” but a safer question might be “What do you like to do?” If he makes up an answer that sounds sophisticated and smart (“I like to go wine tasting in the Valley or read Yeats by the fireplace at my house on Padaro Lane”), he’s lying, but at least you know he’s trying, and he probably likes you. Milk this, because he’ll actually converse with you during this courtship period.
Once you start dating regularly, you may have months or even years of “What do you want to do?” “I don’t know, what do you want to do?” conversations ahead of you, so don’t be afraid to take over the social planning. You can be pretty sure he’s happy if your plans involve his seeing you naked. And if he really doesn’t want to do something, don’t worry; he’ll let you know with a grunt or sometimes even a funny face or an audible noise.
Once you’re married, you may be less apt to be naked, but that doesn’t mean communication gets any easier. Here’s an example.
Wife gets home late from work. Husband’s eyes are glued to the TV. “Hi, honey. How was your day?”
He barely looks up. “Hi.”
Wife: “Are you okay?”
He says, “Fine.”
You hear: “Leave me alone. There are lines around your eyes and you look fat.”
He really means … “God, I know you want to talk about my day and all my relationships with my colleagues and boss but I just want to drink a beer, eat a bag of chips for dinner and zone out on the Three Stooges.” Also, “I’d like to see you naked.”
Here are a few more things I’ve learned about how to talk to a man so he understands you.
Men–and nine-year-old boys–can only take directions one at a time. So, if you have a 104-degree fever and you want him to go into the kitchen and get you a drink of water, make it a two-part request. Pictures and props are also useful. Your Charades techniques can also come in handy here.
When men bother to use words instead of gestures or grunts, it’s to inspire action. If a guy insults another guy, he automatically thinks he wants to fight, unless they’re friends, and then its in lieu of a kiss and a hug hello. And if you say you like his shirt, he thinks, “Cool, she wants to see me naked!”
A man will say, “I’m fine,” even when being tortured or held up at gunpoint. It’s not in his nature to reveal weakness because that betrays vulnerability. It’s an evolutionary thing. I found this same tough guy mentality also goes for little boys (but only if there are other little boys around). Keep in mind that he’s not fine if he’s bleeding, his face is wet around his eyes, the Gaucho’s just lost or he has to pay for parking.
Otherwise he’s probably fine–just don’t ask him about it–unless of course you’re naked.
Little by little, Leslie is becoming fluent in guy speak. Share your insights at Leslie@LeslieDinaberg.com.
Originally published in the Santa Barbara Daily Sound on December 12, 2008.