Men are allergic to being wrong. If they even sense that you think they are wrong they will react in all the wrong ways: they will withdraw, become defensive, or resist your suggestions. When you make a man feel wrong, he will retreat into his primitive brain, and will either fight, flee or freeze. None of these basic survival skills will help if you want to have a conversation to “discuss the issue,” because if your criticism has put him into his metaphorical (and sometimes literal) survival mode, he is not up for talking! He can’t hear you. He won’t even be logical! He will just be reacting.
This is because the male brain is wired for being right. He likes to be right! If you are focusing on understanding how men think, you need to appreciate that this is natural. Being right makes him feel comfortable, safe and secure. Being right is the one thing that makes sense to him at a deep level. If you are the reason he is often feeling “wrong,” because you are blaming him for how you feel, he may start seeking someone who makes him feel right. That’s how important it is to understand how men think about being wrong!
Often men will leave a relationship and find another because the new partner has no memory of all the times that he was wrong, just because she is new! Understanding how men think, in terms of their deep need to be right, will help you navigate your interactions with him. You need to find ways to express yourself that don’t involve making him wrong!
Let’s say, for example, Ted comes home from a run and leaves his dirty, wet, stinky clothes right next to the hamper! Let’s say this is the umpteenth time he has done this. If his wife Annie goes for the jugular and says something like “You’re such a slob! I’m not your maid! Why can’t you put your dirty clothes in the hamper?!” He is going to react to the blame, and go into one of the three F’s – fight, flight or freeze. None of these choices involve him choosing new behavior, such as changing his habit of missing the hamper when he tosses the clothes.
Annie would do better by saying something like “I really appreciate it when you put your dirty clothes in the hamper.” This is a positive reinforcement of the behavior she wishes to see! It affirms that he can and will do this more agreeable behavior. He is less likely to resist this message, and it will reach his “decision making brain”, the neo-cortex, instead of going straight to the primitive brain.
Understanding how men think involves understanding how your words, messages and meanings settle into his brain. If you blame him and make him feel wrong, his mind will make you the enemy, and he will be wired to win. He will dig in his heels and try to do it his way.
Blame is a huge part of our society. Everyone is always blaming someone else for whatever they perceive to be wrong in the world. It gets passed down from one generation to another, from one country to another. Blame is a habit. A bad habit! But it doesn’t have to be like this!
You can choose not to live your life wired for blame. There is a theory in many therapy systems that says you first need to know what happened in your past and understand its meaning in order to get well. Sometimes that can be very useful. But understanding doesn’t automatically result in change. What really makes the difference is the decision to change behavior. This is why it is so important not to make your partner feel wrong, because that rarely motivates them to change.
Focusing on understanding how men think, you can see that blaming them for how you feel is not the answer to your problems. If you want change in your relationship dynamics you need to do something different than making him wrong! The endless reasons why stuff bothers you is not good enough to adopt the losing strategy of making him wrong. It just isn’t the path to new behavior.
Remember, his mother probably told him he was wrong. So when you do it, you probably remind him of his mother. And that is not sexy! Blaming him, making him feel wrong for how you feel only deepens his resistance to change. This doesn’t mean that you can’t communicate about what it is you want. You can and you should ask for new behavior, but you have to discipline yourself to find a kind tone of voice and a choice of words that state what you want in the positive. Don’t keep focusing on what he does wrong. Rather, you can state the behavior you want as a sweet request. Then heap on the praise when he does it right!
There is absolutely no winning the “Blame Game.” It is a losing game. The sooner you stop playing that number (and the sooner you stop blaming your partner) the sooner your life will improve. Especially your love life, because when you drop your massive investment in blaming someone else for your lack of pleasure, you realize that you and you alone are in charge of making sure you get all the pleasure you want, need, and truly deserve.
Besides, chronically focusing on what went wrong in the past keeps you both from enjoying each other in the present. If you believe that what happened in the past has more power over you than choices you make in the present, you will continue to be a victim of the past. And if it wasn’t so great, why give it that much power? Some people are obsessed with regaling their partners with all the things they do wrong. It is a long and miserable story. So turn the other cheek in the sense of looking towards what it is you want, instead of making someone else wrong. Turn towards what is possible. Catch your man doing something right, instead of always telling him what he did wrong. That is the secret to understanding how men think.
You will be so much happier when you choose to stop blaming him for your unhappiness. For example, if you want a great sex life, stop blaming him for your less-than-great sex life. Start making it your responsibility to make sure you get the pleasure you want. This means, among other things, teaching your partner how to please you. You can read about that in our articles on Sex in Relationships.
Just keep steering toward what is right, to what feels good. If you want to understand how men think, realize that he really wants to please you. He may not feel like he knows how, so show him!
Sound simple? It is. And it works! By now you have probably realized the blame game doesn’t work, so try this new style of communicating without blame, judgments or “make-wrong-isms.” Nobody likes to feel wrong, and the secret to understanding how men think is to really understand and apply this wisdom.
Here is our question for you, “What are you willing to do now to have more pleasure in your life?”
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Photo Credit Bryan Lowe
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