General Question

phoenyx's avatar

What are some ways you've noticed that men and women comunicate differently?

Asked by phoenyx (7380points) June 15th, 2008

I’ve noticed that my wife uses a lot more pronouns than I do. I have to stop her sometimes and ask “when you say ‘she’ do you mean your mom, your sister, or your friend?” because her stories often feature multiple people of the same gender. When she’s talking to her female friends they seem to follow along just fine.

Observing members: 0 Composing members: 0

27 Answers

Allie's avatar

Haha, the example in your description is so true. When I talk with my friends (the girls) and Casey (the one guy who doesn’t mind hanging out with only women) he has to ask so many questions. I think women usually want more details, too. My friend Andy rarely cares about the story – he just wants to know what happened in the end. Girls talk faster and, from what I’ve noticed, use their bodies more (like hand movements for example). Also, since I usually hang out with Andy and his friends instead of the other way around he doesn’t know some of the people I’m talking about, but if I give them other names (like the name of an athlete or something) he can follow along much easier.

squirbel's avatar

Not sure of your specific instance, but I hate it when I am describing a problem – just to express it and get if off my chest…. and the guy wants to fix it.

Just hush and listen, I’m just thinking out loud. It’s probably already fixed anyway.

marinelife's avatar

I find that in conversations have with a lot of emotional content, men take longer to process the issues than women. I read in a mens’ magazine that men need nine hours to process. Now, I ask my husband if he would rather discuss whatever the issue is the next day. That usually works for him.

susanc's avatar

Me too Marina but it took me about 25 years to think of it.

squirbel's avatar

@susan and marina – wow, I’m not married yet but i’ll try that and see if it works. Awesome!

Allie's avatar

squirbel: I think most guys are “fixers” in general. We talk to them about our problems and they suggest what they think we should do. My ex and I used to get into tiffs because I didn’t like the advice he gave me, so I wouldn’t follow it. Then when he’d ask if problem X was solved yet I’d say no. Then, when I DID ask for advice he wouldn’t want to give it to me. Whatever.. just one of the several reasons why he’s my ex.

marinelife's avatar

Good one, Allie. I agree. Women like to discuss something, and we are simply airing the issues and looking for a sympathetic ear, but men think we want them to “do” something about whatever it is..

phoenyx's avatar


My wife has to tell me straight out to stop fixing and keep listening.

As for women and details: I’ll ask my wife a simple question, expecting a yes or no answer and she’ll give me a bunch of details and expect me to infer the answer for myself. Yesterday I asked her as we were driving around “should I take take this street?” and she gave me a general description of the area, etc. I didn’t know what she wanted me to infer from her answer so I had to ask her directly: “Does that mean yes or no?”

Allie's avatar

Phoenyx: Sometimes I get the blank stare from Andy. That’s when I know he has no clue what I just said or what my response was supposed to mean.

PupnTaco's avatar

Women: it’s in our blood to want to solve problems and get over them. In our way, we’re trying to make things better for you the best way we know how.

marinelife's avatar

@PnT Awww, we know that and find it endearing except when we don’t want something fixed. If I was a better student of that thread on how to make a heart symbol, I would have added one.

I have also been accused by my husband of providing “too much information” to a simple question. We women want (and give) a lot more context for questions I think. So then when we hear a simple question without context, we frantically try to provide enough data to cover all contingencies.

jrpowell's avatar

Absolutely.. Just yesterday I got in a conversation with a roommate (female) about a problem she was having with another roommate. I told her I didn’t know how to help and she said that she just wants to vent. She was still talking as I walked away. I didn’t really care.

She kept repeating the same thing over-and-over and nothing could come out of the conversation to help the problem. I don’t really like her so I walked off.

edit :: I should add that I listened to the same sentences repeated 30 times before I walked out. I gave her about 15 minutes before I gave up.

Allie's avatar

JP: I think even some girls would walk away in situations like that. I know I would, or find a BS excuse to leave.

thebeadholder's avatar

I communicate and express too much and my hubby likes to sweep everything under the rug! It makes for a relationship in need of therapy!!!!

wildflower's avatar

Women: quote or paraphrase what others have said in previous conversations.
Men: give their interpretation of previous conversations
Women: highlight emotional impact of actions (someone was rude, got hurt, it was shocking, sad, etc.)
Men: state a judgement of actions (that was stupid, how moronic, absolutely brilliant, etc.)

girlofscience's avatar

Apparently, women use a lot more words per day than do men. I think the average is something like 12,000 words per day for men and 20,000 words per day for women.

I also think women have more of a tendency to be long-winded in their storytelling. No doubt, some men do too, but I think it’s more common in women.

nikipedia's avatar

@girlofscience: I call shenanigans! That’s an urban legend.

I spend most of my day talking to men and women about depression. One thing I’ve noticed is that in this particular circumstance, men tend to have a very strong and clear narrative, or a very set way of thinking about their mental health. They tend to classify their experiences in terms of specific events that happened rather than feelings they had. Also, they tend to have trouble applying a more flexible framework, so they are more likely to disregard the questions I ask and tell me their version of their experience.

Women are usually very apologetic when they fail to answer a question “correctly” and are much better at understanding the questions I’m asking and giving me the kind of information I’m looking for. (Women also volunteer for this type of research twice as often as men, so I have a lot more experience talking to women about it.)

And I don’t mean any of this to criticize men—more than that I see it as evidence that we as a society are still much more compassionate and sympathetic toward women in pain than men.

phoenyx's avatar

When I’m talking to other guys our conversations tend to be linear, have a single topic and a sense of resolution. When my wife talks to her friends the conversations will have a variety of topics and will jump around between past, present and future.

At work, when we are trying to decided where to go for lunch, everyone gets together, some people throw out some suggestions, we get a consensus, and we go to lunch.

My wife and a friend: start talking about where to go to lunch, resume some conversation they had last week, talk about what they want to do later this week, talk about some aspect of raising kids (meanwhile I’m desperately trying to figure out how all of this is helping them make lunch plans) and then they notice the time and decide they’d better leave. I’m still trying to figure the conversation out: “so where are you going?” “We’ll decide in the car.” They haven’t made any decisions yet! This conversation makes no sense to me! Nothing was resolved! Aaaarrhhh!

marinelife's avatar

@phoenyx I am so busted. Guilty of being a seriously tangential thinker and talker!!!

@nikipdia Your answer was interesting with detail on how the two sexes talk about emotional and mental health issues. I have one tiny bone to pick though. I’m not sure I agree that society is more compassionate and sympathetic to women in pain. It was not that many years ago that women’s emotional issues were labeled as hysteria. I have had the abominable experience as I can imagine many adult women have had of expressing a strong emotion (such as anger or passion) and being asked if I was “on the rag,” a disgusting characterization.

nikipedia's avatar

@Marina: I completely agree that mental illness is absolutely awful on both genders, and the social stigma is very painful. But it has been my experience that men are expected to “man up” and “just get over it” much more than women. I don’t know; perhaps there’s research on it. Would be interesting to find out.

PupnTaco's avatar

That’s true.

Question: is it ever OK to ask if emotions seem out of whack and it’s coming up on a certain time if the month if perhaps recognizing this possibility could put a calming perspective on the situation?

Allie's avatar

PupnTaco: I think it’s ok if you’re clarifying that it’s her time. But if you say something like, “No wonder you’re so crabby,” or “It must be that time again” then you had better watch out. That only makes it worse.

marinelife's avatar

@PupnTaco The best way to think of this is to imagine some feeling or opinion you have expressed, and then picture how you would feel if your perfectly legitimate thoughts or feelings were ascribed not to you having thought them through and honestly holding them, but to testosterone poisoning. It is invalidating and patronizing.

that1mom's avatar

Fact: Women speak and think while focusing on th emotional connection while men think and speak while focusing on the plain-jane subject for what it is. Men are also competitive thinkers.

PupnTaco's avatar

@ Marina: So, are you?

just kidding! <ducks and runs out of the room>

charliecompany34's avatar

men just need and want to solve problems. men show their affection in only two ways: logical and creative. i think i am the only man on the planet who enjoys talking and sharing. it’s probably my piscean disposition. women want to be “listened” to and not just “heard.” each relationship between a man and a woman is genuine, so communication styles vary. for me, i communicate by “doing.” when you “actively” communicate, it gets results because it’s more than just words.

mikkicmark's avatar

we communicate differently because we feel comfortable with that same sex. they understand what the same sex is goin through so it lets us talk about…anything in our own terminology

Answer this question




to answer.

This question is in the General Section. Responses must be helpful and on-topic.

Your answer will be saved while you login or join.

Have a question? Ask Fluther!

What do you know more about?
Knowledge Networking @ Fluther