In this series I promise to honestly answer any question my husband puts to me (I wrote about it in more detail here). This time, he asks: why don’t women say what they mean?
Hubby: Why don’t girls say what they mean? We’re not mind readers, and it can be really manipulative.
Me: Ah. This is quite a complex question. It has layers, because you’re asking me to answer a generalisation. And while I can appreciate that stereotypes are usually founded in something resembling the truth, naturally, there are exceptions to the rule. So you’re putting me in a bit of a tight spot…
However, I said I’d answer truthfully, so I’ll do my best for you – with this disclaimer:
I realise that for every female who behaves this way, there may be another who doesn’t; and equally, there are also men who are guilty/capable of displaying this trait. I am not intending to cause offence; I’m simply attempting to address the question frankly and honestly.
Speaking from experience, based on my own behaviour and that of others, I can totally see why women are sometimes labelled as manipulative. I’ve said it myself about others, countless times. I can even admit that in situations where I could have been more generous, I’ve sometimes pressed certain buttons to get my way. *cringes*
But – in many cases, I truly believe it’s not so simplistic, that there’s actually more at play than flagrant manipulation.
Often it’s a case of feeling unable to openly ask for something. Whether it be shallow (new shoes), or something of a more emotional/sensitive nature (I’m telling you to leave me alone, but really I want you to ignore my words and hold me).
Of course there are some people who are simply out for what they can get. But that extends equally to men. (In fact, whenever I’ve heard about poor/silly people being taken in by a con artist and fleeced of their savings, the perpetrator has always been male. To qualify, I am definitely not suggesting that this is representative of all swindlers; that would be ridiculous. However it is indicative of the fact manipulation is not an exclusively female trait).
I’m reasonably confident that maturity is also a major factor. Certainly I know that as I’ve got older, I have become more direct about my needs and wants. I think that’s true of those around me too; though of course personality will dictate how assertive one is.
Why don’t women say what they mean? Ultimately, I think this has a lot to do with confidence. So it’s important to be aware that there are occasions when integrity doesn’t come into it at all – it’s not so black and white, because it’s not a conscious decision.
Having struggled with shyness myself in the past, I can attest to the fact my indirectness was a symptom of low self-esteem.
It’s a reaction to a feeling; a fear of rejection.
The more secure a person, the more likely they are to be straight about their needs. And it’s up to us to promote these positive traits in our daughter to ensure that rather than dancing around an issue, she has the confidence to tell us what she requires from us. And the best way to do that is love her; listen; make her feel heard. And give her boundaries.
I could (tongue-in-cheek, of course) ask you why you guys can’t see through our inability to say what we mean and read between the lines… But I’m not asking, or if I am it’s rhetorical.
Because it’s another of those unhelpful stereotypes which reinforces the gulf between men and women – and the purpose of this series is to bridge that void.
Like this? You can check out more of my hubby’s ponderings (and my attempts to answer them) here.