By Kel Tan
As the old adage goes, “men are from Mars, and women are from Venus”. Indeed, men and women are wired very differently, with contrasting emotional needs, expectations and communication styles. This can give rise to misunderstandings and disagreements.
We interviewed a few Singaporean men and women about some of the things they wished they knew about each other. The answers received were thought-provoking and amusing all at once!
Disclaimer: This article was based on interviews with a few men and women and their personal experiences. Views expressed do not in any way represent views of I Love Children.
1. Words and intentions
“I wish that women would take what we say at face value, instead of overthinking things and assuming that everything is laden with double meanings,” says Scott, 28. “For instance, if I say that I’m fine, I really am fine. I don’t need you to lavish extra attention on me. On the other hand, if my girlfriend tells me that she’s fine, it sometimes translates to ‘you’d better give me a hug right now or else…’ It’s so confusing sometimes.”
“It’d be nice if men would be a little more intuitive when it comes to what we say. We don’t always like spelling things out – we’re sometimes scared of admitting how we feel, especially when there’s the chance that our views won’t be taken positively,” shares Lynn, 25. “Also, if my boyfriend is able to interpret how I really feel, I’ll be comforted by the fact that he truly understands me.”
2. Making decisions
“Anything” is often a woman’s favourite response, but it drives men up the wall. “When we ask you what you want to eat or do, don’t ever say ‘anything’, because when we start making suggestions, you will invariably reject all of them.” says Marcus. “It would help us tremendously if you give a concrete response instead.”
On the other hand, men aren’t fussed about most things. “For instance, for meals, give us a cheap and filling plate of rice from a hawker centre anytime. Most of us have huge appetites, so we just go for whatever can fill us up!” says Scott.
“We like to put in lots of thought and effort into everything we do, even if it’s as simple as deciding where to go for dinner,” says Natalia, 25. “In contrast, men look at things more simply, so snap decisions are easier for them. It’ll be nice if men could consider more often what the consequences of their actions would mean to a girl.”
“Also, when we say ‘anything’, we really do want and value your input. However, the suggestions we get are often half-hearted,” Lynn, adds.
3. Acts of appreciation
Men would like to feel appreciated for the hard work that they put into the relationship. “For example, when we buy you gifts, we wish that you would show more appreciation for the time and effort we spent shopping, which is admittedly not one of our favourite pastimes,” says JH. “Also, please pamper us once in a while. If we carry your bags for you while you’re on a shopping spree, a nice massage to reward us after would be nice.”
Women like their gifts, too, but they sometimes wish that their men would put in a little more effort and creativity. “Sure, I like receiving things which are bought, but it’ll be nice to receive something handmade every once in a while. Gifts don’t have to cost a lot. Those from the heart are sweet and meaningful!” says Jean, 28.
4. Physical appearance
Makeup works wonders for a woman’s confidence, but too much of it can backfire. “Truthfully, we would prefer women to put on less makeup. It’s not because we don’t find a made-up woman attractive; rather, we just want to keep things real,” explains Marcus, 24. And after all, beauty shouldn’t only be skin-deep.
“I would definitely appreciate it if my man puts in effort at the gym to look good. After all, who wouldn’t say no to a hot, chiselled guy?” laughs Natalia. “However, his looks are ultimately secondary to his personality. I would much prefer my boyfriend to share the same values as me, and to respect me as a person.”
5. Personal space
Personal space is integral in every relationship. “I don’t mind spending the majority of my time with my girlfriend. But once in a while, I need my own space to pursue my own hobbies, such as computer gaming. Also, I sometimes need that alone time to just unwind and recharge.” shares Jon, 25.
In the same vein, it’s perfectly okay for a couple to enjoy doing different things. “For example, I won’t be upset if my girlfriend doesn’t enjoy going to the gym as much as I do. It’s healthy to spend time engaging in activities with other friends as well, and have a social life outside of your relationship,” adds Scott.
“Personal space is definitely important. While there must be shared interests in a relationship, each party should have his or her own space to grow as an individual as well. It’ll be unhealthy if two people did absolutely everything together! Figuratively speaking, there should be two overlapping circles in a relationship, and not one,” explains Jess, 24.
“We give in to you not because we don’t have a strong point of view. Rather, it is because we would rather lose the small battles, knowing that we have already won the war – by finding The One,” explains PK, 31. Smooth!
“Women are sensitive and introspective creatures, so we tend to focus on the details of an argument, rather than just the big picture. For instance, we don’t just concern ourselves with the outcome of an incident; the intention behind it matters as well,” says Jess. “I guess that makes it harder for us to simply let things go. It seems like the men think that these small details are unimportant.”
Personal interaction is of utmost importance, especially in this day and age of social media. “Don’t get carried away by technology. Being on your phone 24/7 when we’re together makes us feel bored and left out. Less phone time and more face time, please!” says Isaac, 30.
“I don’t think women are the only ones guilty of spending too much time on their phones,” muses Jess. “Too many people these days are addicted to social media especially Facebook and Instagram. I think that the only real difference is that women spend more time taking selfies and filtering their photos than men!” So ladies and gentlemen, ditch your smartphones and really reconnect with your other halves instead.
Evelyn Khong, principal consultant of Family Central, a service by Fei Yue Community Services says:
1) Most men communicate and see things as they are. It’s not to say they are shallow, but they mean what they say and say what they mean. So if you pass him a bag of potatoes and ask him to peel half of them, don’t be upset when you get this:
2) All our brains are uniquely wired. Generally, male brains are wired in such a way that they are “compartmentalised” like filing cabinets. Men also tend to be more solution providers so when a question is posed, men usually look for the “respective” cabinet, retrieve the file, get to the point and provide the solution, whereas women generally tend to beat around the bush and create a lot of emotional hype before answering the question.
3) Men generally talk from the head i.e. logic and facts whereas women tend to talk from the heart which are feelings and emotions. As such, women prefer men to tune in to the emotions and listen to what is coming out from their hearts rather than giving them quick fixed solutions. After all, the heart of the matter is a matter of the heart.
So how do you deal with each other’s differences? Acknowledge that we are different, learn to listen, accommodate and celebrate these differences because when it comes to viewpoints, remember the rule of thumb – that women are always right and men are never wrong.