Are women complicated? For as long as I can remember, I’ve heard men say that understanding women is frustratingly difficult. I remember when Dr. John Gray’s book, Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus, took the world by storm, seeking to decode the differences between men and women in relationships. Nowadays, I can scroll through my Facebook feed and find posts touting assumptions about how women think and why they behave in certain ways.
The arguments persist about the complexity of women, and the question remains, but I hypothesize that the answer to understanding women lies in acknowledging one simple fact:
WOMEN ARE PEOPLE.
Now, hear me out. Yes, I may sound like Captain Obvious stating such a fact, but the kinds of discussions I have observed lead me to believe that this fact is perhaps the most oft-overlooked.
Before we go any further, let’s get some things out of the way.
- I’m assuming that you, Mr. or Ms. Reader, do not make it a practice to KNOWINGLY objectify women and girls. When I say that women are people, that’s not what I’m getting at. Read on.
- “Not all men…” Duh.
The One Key To Understanding Women: A Case Study
Let’s test my theory about understanding women on some common questions I’ve seen and heard from men.
1. I’m an attractive man with a good job, a house, a nice car, and $X in my bank account. Why won’t this particular woman date me?
Well…there are two women for every one man on the Earth. You as a man generally don’t wait to be approached, do you? For every one woman you chose to approach, there were probably several you decided not to approach for any given reason, whether it was her appearance, her countenance, or even her profession. Or maybe a particular woman is just not your cup of tea. Women are people, too, and they deserve to not entertain you for any given reason.
Please don’t be fooled by the likes of Kevin Samuels and the manosphere – women are not like mortgages that you qualify for with a strict set of criteria that demands acquiescence. Every woman is different. Those highlights are definitely positive, but that may not be all that a woman is looking for. I think this is especially true of women who have these things or the ability to acquire them on their own, which brings me to the next question…
2. Why don’t women like nice guys?
Don’t be fooled – many women do want nice guys. But are YOU actually one of them? I see men assume on a daily basis that women don’t want nice men that will treat them well. Experience indicates that many men who think they are good guys really are not. Like the guy that approaches a woman cordially then calls her the b-word when she declines his advances. Or the guy in number one that behaves as if he is doing that woman a favor because he has the job, house, car, etc. Nasty often pretends to be nice and women aren’t checking for it anymore. See #1.
In fairness, some women have backgrounds and experiences that cause them to seek out “bad boys.” Who knows – the first “bad boy” in her life may have been her father. She may have grown up in an environment that equates such benefits as protection and provision with the package of piss-poor character. That’s not your fault, she ain’t ready, don’t take it personally. (Also ask yourself why you like women that like that kind of man.).
3. Why don’t women apologize?
As a disclaimer, I can count on my hand the number of times in my adult life that I have ever received a direct apology from a man, but I’m going to humor this question.
When you turn on the news, and little Joe gets arrested for bringing a gun to school, who gets the blame? People ask, “Where’s his mama?” When a woman gets assaulted by an intimate partner, it is not uncommon for her village, both male and female, to ask “what did you do to make him so angry?” One of the most common and asinine questions asked concerning female rape victims is “what was she wearing?” Little girls who speak up about being abused are often disbelieved and marked as “fast.”
Women are raised from birth to apologize and shoulder ownership for heavy things that are not their fault. We learn to over apologize to minimize conflict. Many of us have come from environments where apologies leave room for further gaslighting, manipulation, and exploitation. Many of us have learned not to apologize because it has never been safe to do so. Avoiding apologies is a form of protection for some women and it’s hard to unlearn.
And let’s not forget, women have pride and ego just like men do. Why? Because they are people, just like you.
4. How come if we don’t know what’s wrong, women won’t tell us?
We probably did and we’re sick of repeating ourselves.
For real though, it’s probably the same reasons we don’t speak up for ourselves on the job or other places. It may be not safe, it may not be comfortable, or we don’t feel like it will yield any results.
5. Why doesn’t my wife like to cook/clean/etc.? Why isn’t she naturally good at these things?
Do you like to cook? Do you like to clean? No? Ok, then. Or maybe you do! Contrary to popular belief, women are not born out of the womb with an apron and feather duster any more than men come out with a Dewalt Impact Driver. These are skills you learn over time and either you like them or you don’t. Human beings have preferences and your wife happens to be one.
6. Why does my wife want to work? I’ll buy her anything she wants.
Short answer: The same reason she might NOT want to work. She’s a person and she has a preference.
Better answer: Some people work just to make an honest living and go home – and there’s nothing wrong with that. Other people have the fortune and desire to take a gift, skill, or talent that they love and monetize it. Perhaps your wife is in one of these categories.
For example, let’s say you, sir, went to college and got a Bachelor’s Degree in engineering because you were passionate about math and science. Next, you went back and got graduate degrees and certifications to make a living doing so. Would YOUR passion for engineering die because you got married? Maybe, but probably not.* Furthermore, if a person puts in the time and/or the money to become the best in their craft, it’s not unusual for them to want a financial return on that investment. Your wife is no exception.
Staying At Home Is A Privilege – For Both of You
And let’s be very clear – household COOs are SUPERHEROES. These women wear all the hats that other people go out and get a paycheck to do for the express benefit of their families. It is my pet peeve to hear their work devalued.
Let’s go one more level deeper: some men use provision as an entitlement to not pull any other weight – or even to mistreat their partners. When asked why they trash their houses or don’t spend time with their kids, I hear some mean say, “well, I work.” Or, when the wives speak up about their unmet needs, the same husbands that praise the value of their stay-at-home wife conveniently turn and dismiss their wives 24/7/365 job as less than. They pivot to paint their wives as unworthy of anything more than what they are willing to offer. There are some women who dream of becoming stay-at-home moms but don’t feel safe for fear of this treatment.
One more thing – regardless of whether they are in the public workforce or in domestic engineering, many women find it prudent to maintain at least some professional skill in case it becomes financially necessary (i.e., a spouse’s death or disability, health benefits, sudden unemployment, etc.).
*If your wife’s interests suddenly change, check in with her. It may simply be a new phase of life or a sign of depression or loss of confidence. Let her know she has your support either way.
Understanding Young Women: A Note About Daughters
Most of what I’ve addressed here deals with relationships, but I would be remiss if I didn’t talk about daughters. Fathers, you are the first man who can build your daughter up, and you are the first man who can tear your daughter down. It is a father who models the things I talked about above. You have the ability to make your daughter show up in the world as a woman ten feet tall or two feet small. The choice is yours; handle it with care.
7. Help! My daughter doesn’t like pink/dolls/girly things.
So, fun fact: I hate pink, I always have. Dolls were not at the top of my toy list at Christmas time and it took me about 16 years to get comfortable in a dress. I enjoy most sports and I’m equal parts Betty Crocker and Bob Villa. I could spend the whole day at Lowe’s…or Sephora. Your daughter is a young person who happens to be a girl. Her likes, dislikes, and even her femininity will develop and evolve over time. If you find your daughter doesn’t have interests you traditionally associate with women, embrace it. Be grateful that you have things in common with her. YOU have a unique power to tap in develop some of those interests into skills – and bond in the process.
8. My daughter wants to [move away, visit this country, pursue this dream, etc.], and I am scared for her because she’s a girl.
Empower her to do it safely, and show her that you’ll be brave enough to protect her while she does it. After all, you’re still her Daddy, and she’s still a person.
If your idea of protecting the women in your life does not include any form of empowerment, it’s about YOU, not them. You’ll all be better off if you stop lying about it. Don’t let your daughter’s regrets and unrealized potential your cross to bear. You, as a father, also have the greatest vested interest in making sure the world is just as safe for your daughters as it is for your sons. Again the choice is yours to make it your business.
Conclusion – Understanding Women Does Not Have To Be Hard
So, I think it’s safe to say that my theory holds true. There’s no such thing as complicated women, just a complicated approach. Most men don’t understand women because they are overthinking it and buying into the perpetuated notion that we are complicated. Acknowledging that women are not objects is the first step to showing them respect. Approaching women as human beings just like you, and not an entirely separate species, is the first step to understanding them. Take every woman you know as a simple individual molded by a unique array of thoughts, feelings, and experiences and you’ll be just fine.
Fellas, what else do you want to understand about the women you love? Ladies, what advice do you have about understanding women? Drop it in the comments below!