It’s a vexing issue that has plagued humankind–or at least womankind–for millennia: What really goes on in the mind of a man? What exactly is he thinking?
These questions probably first came up in the Garden of Eden, when Adam blamed Eve for eating the apple and getting them evicted from Paradise. “What was he thinking?!” she likely asked. And women have been asking the same question ever since.
While it would take volumes to cover everything men want to tell women, here are six of the most prevalent things:
“I am not afraid of commitment—I just need to be very, very sure.” It turns out that all this business about men being commitment-phobic is mostly myth. A recent study chronicled in USA Today ran with the headline, “Not so afraid to commit after all.” The lead paragraph read, “Men are more likely than women to prefer marriage over lifelong singlehood and in many ways are as interested in serious family relationships as women, according to a new study.” In the survey—which included 12,000 men and women ages 15-44—respondents were asked, “It is better to get married than go through life single?” The results: 66 percent of men agreed compared with 51 percent of women. Set aside presumptions and preconceived ideas about men and commitment. If a fabulous woman came along, most men would be thoroughly delighted to commit for a lifetime.
“Yes, I have feelings. It’s just challenging to express them.” Men are often characterized as insensitive, unemotional, and oblivious to anything a millimeter below the surface. That may be true for some men, but emphatically not true for most. The fact is, our society encourages men to suppress their feelings, holding up as the role model for manhood the strong, silent type. More personally, most guys didn’t grow up with a father who understood his emotions and knew how to express them. Wise women know that men have lots of feelings—and allow lots of space to process them and lots of grace in figuring out how to verbalize them.
“Of course I have testosterone coursing through my body, but that doesn’t mean I’m a sex-crazed maniac.” The caricature of an average guy is this: He is so overpowered by his sex drive that he can’t possibly put his overheated passions in neutral for even a moment. Yes, there are some men who think about sex every second of every day. But most men—and this may come as a surprise to you women—consider sex as something that should happen at the right time, under the right circumstances, and absolutely with the right person. In our diverse and open-minded society, lots of people have different perspectives about how and when sex should occur. The point here is to debunk a prevailing cultural myth: not every man is a raving sexaholic. Most men would say this: “You’re darn right I’m interested in sex, but don’t stereotype me as a slobbering Neanderthal who is powerless to control his urges.”
“Everything you’ve heard about the male ego? Yep, it’s true.” Think of a man’s ego like a balloon that can be gradually inflated, carefully deflated, or burst with one quick strike of a needle. The first two options are acceptable; the last one usually ends very badly. No man wants to admit it, but a strike to the ego may as well be a gunshot to the heart. It can be fatal—at least to relationships. If a woman wants to woo and win a man, she will have to become an ego aficionado. She’s got to learn how to bolster her man’s self-esteem while, when necessary, speak the truth in love—very gently.
“I need freedom and independence, and I’m afraid you’re going to become my prison warden.” Men fear being trapped, stuck, penned in. This has to do with the whole commitment-phobia thing—most guys keep one eye on the exit door until they’re sure, absolutely sure, this is the woman they want to settle down with. And that woman usually has become skilled at knowing how to hold proper boundaries while letting her man enjoy his independence. Wise women give their partner ample space, before and after marriage.
“I want to be able to discuss my desires, concerns, and opinions without fearing an emotional reaction of hurricane proportions.” Men have lots of things they would like to say to their partner, but they often hesitate and hold back. Why? The potential emotional onslaught! If a man wants to express his opinion about his partner’s unflattering outfit, her lack of organizational skills, or (gulp) the ten pounds she recently put on, he’s likely to worry about the response he’ll receive. You may have noticed that most women are quite emotive, and many react strongly to perceived criticism—even if the man in her life does not intend it as criticism. It’s true that some men could use a lesson in tact and discernment when conveying their opinions on sensitive issues. But it’s also true that many men would be more willing to share their thoughts if they knew doing so wouldn’t prompt a nuclear explosion.
Now’s your chance: Men, take a moment to add your own “What’s he really thinking?” item by leaving a comment. And ladies, tell your fellow readers what else you think might be lurking in the minds of men.