Social Question

Imadethisupwithnoforethought's avatar

Women: How bad are men at picking up on social situations?

Asked by Imadethisupwithnoforethought (14671points) April 2nd, 2012

I suspect, women are trying to communicate to men all the time and they are too dumb to notice. Am I right in this suspicion?

Do men pick up when you find them attractive and you are trying to convey it?

Do they pick up when you are not into them and you are trying to convey it?

Do you have a theory as to why this may be?

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17 Answers

Aethelflaed's avatar

I dunno. I’m really horrible at picking up when men (hell, really all people) are picking up my signals.

funkdaddy's avatar

I think men generally have been taught that a negative outcome of any kind is temporary or should be shaken off as quickly as possible.

That can make them seem thick headed or stubborn.

Obvious examples would be things like having your advances rejected by someone you’re interested in or being rejected for a job. The message is almost always get back after it as soon as possible. Anything less is seen as wallowing.

Less obvious examples would be things like sports where every failure or loss could be seen as a new starting point or motivation to try harder. Interacting with friends tends to be different as well, insults among friends are generally brushed off and considered the norm. Men tend to not get their feelings hurt, and expect others to have a thick skin as well.

Thick skin doesn’t leave us very sensitive to the subtleties happening around us.

We always run the risk of getting taken to task when acknowledging there’s a difference in how groups act or are treated. I’m not saying these are absolutes, but generalized differences in perceptions and expectations. Your mileage may vary. Professional driver on closed course. Do not try this at home.

augustlan's avatar

Some men are very bad at picking up subtle cues of any kind, and others are pretty great at it. I’d say it’s the same for women, though… some are better than others. Women probably have a slight edge, overall.

downtide's avatar

I am totally useless at this sort of thing. Or any kind of social cues. It’s one of the things that goes along with being mildly asperger-y. Which, incidentally, is more common in men than in women, which might explain how the generalisation came about.

tom_g's avatar

For social creatures, I find that men and women are not very good at identifying social cues and peoples’ intentions. In fact, I think our overconfidence in this area gets us into a ton of trouble. I can’t even count the number of times I have witnessed sitcom-worthy misunderstandings.

I have learned to resent this type of communication, and think of it as a close cousin to dishonesty. If you are trying to convey something, convey it with words – direct, sincere words that have practically no potential for misunderstanding. If you don’t want to be around someone, don’t provide “obvious clues”. Just say it. Life’s confusing enough without feeling that we have to be detectives and reading people’s true intentions. It’s a recipe for paranoia.

tedd's avatar

I’d like to think I’ve gotten pretty good at picking up the cues.

But here’s a thought… maybe if women just said what they wanted.. we wouldn’t have to go off of subtle hints and suggestions, that very clearly a large portion of us don’t understand… so much so that women are here complaining about it… :)

Keep_on_running's avatar

Well, they tend to be a hell of a lot better than me.

WillWorkForChocolate's avatar

Some people are good at picking up subtle cues, and some are not.

I do have a shovel, though, if you’d like me to hit you…

digitalimpression's avatar

Women put out a faint signal so it is sometimes hard to detect. If they were to boost the signal strength some….well.. it just wouldn’t be as fun.

wundayatta's avatar

I don’t think most people want to risk getting their feelings hurt. Rejection is the primary cause of hurt feelings. So when people want to reach out to someone else, they tend to do it in a way that allows them to protect themselves as much as possible.

The question becomes how do you make yourself vulnerable enough to show your feelings without making yourself anymore vulnerable than you have to? There are different strategies for dealing with this problem. One strategy is to hint faintly, and hope the feelings are shared and the hints are strong enough to pick up on. The risk of this strategy is that you do not make your feelings clear enough and the other person never gets it. Both men and women use this strategy.

Another strategy is to be very bold and aggressive. In this way, you hope that if your feelings aren’t shared, the person might still agree to spend time with you simply because there is a social cost to saying “no.” This strategy makes you look confident (which may or may not be the case). Confidence can win over someone who may not originally be inclined towards you.

Confidence also sells to another audience: your buddies. Even if you are shot down, you can say you tried hard, and you don’t lose face with them.

However, confidence can get you a yes when you probably should have had a “no,” and that can big a big waste of time over the long haul. You may even get into a relationship you never should be in because no one had the guts to say “no.”

Signals are hard to pick up and it isn’t just in male-female situations, but in all kinds of relationships: professional and friendships as well as romantic relationships. There is a lot of noise in our communications as we seek to cover ourselves for many different concerns—not just pride and rejection, but also how we look to others, as well as many other concerns.

I don’t think it is in our best interest to be straight-forward. What is best is to learn to look for subtle cues and read them quickly and accurately. This takes experience. Older people are going to be better at this than younger people, on average, but we all make mistakes. We all take risks. We all will be hurt at times. And if there were none of this, where would all the love songs and poetry come from?

JLeslie's avatar

I think most men pick up on when a girl likes them. I think men suck at realizing when women might be upset about something, about a situation, which is what I thought you were asking when I first saw the question, but not the longer explanation.

Trillian's avatar

Much as I hate to admit this, you can’t lump them all together. Because one man is a social moron does not mean that the next one is by virtue of being the same sex.
You cannot make generalizations about any group. At least, not with any degree of accuracy.

Imadethisupwithnoforethought's avatar

@WillWorkForChocolate, you young lady, may hit me with anything you like.

Paradox25's avatar

I don’t think that it is fair to judge a man on how well he ‘picks up on signals’ from a woman. Not all of us men are into the game, and no guy in my opinion owes it to any woman to pick up on their signals either. Obviously many guys enjoy the challenge part of winning a girl over but there are many of us who don’t and would prefer dating without the nonsense, games and challenges. I hate it when some guys try to act like they speak for us all.

majorrich's avatar

I admit it, I am as dense as a bowling ball at all the above. Usually I had a female friend around to explain stuff to me. Now the wife does it.

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