Another in a series from the famous commenter detinennui32. One of the great difficulties of the SMP is not only that lots of men don’t understand women, but that women don’t understand themselves, and are often socially discouraged from doing so (except for the sex-poz movement which encourages women to discover their tastes in the sack).
Executive Summary: Women often don’t say what they really mean and speak in half-truths. Their conduct often does not comport with their stated intentions. The posited reason is a difference in the ways women and men perceive and employ relationships. Women value the opinions of others in their relationships far more than do men. Women resist and fear judgment and honest evaluations of their speech and conduct by men, other women, and society. As a result, women are less likely to speak directly or bluntly about their feelings, wants, needs and desires. Rather than attempt to explain themselves to their men, they simply act, behave, and proceed. Some women simply have not developed the articulation or maturity to give honest expression to their feelings and desires.
Men often try to decipher what women are, how their minds work, and their natures. Much effort has been expended trying to figure out why what women say often does not conform to what they do.
After getting past the initial attraction stages and seeing a woman who is physically appealing, the first avenue into the recesses of the female psyche are through your verbal encounters. These encounters should become easier over time, and they would if men understood the differences between what women say and what they really mean, as well as why those differences exist.
This is not to say that women are fundamentally dishonest (most are not), or incapable of truthfulness (they can be brutally honest, and when they are it is usually at the end of a relationship), or that they always lie (they don’t lie about everything). But I do believe that women have developed mechanisms over time to make sense of the world and of the men they deal with, and to navigate the changing dating marketplace.
I’ve often said here and other places that women don’t always say what they really mean. I’ve also said that sometimes what they say is only partially true. I stand by this. I express no judgments and cast no aspersions on women in general or in particular. My purpose is simply to explore why women’s communications are often obscure and unclear to men.
My experience gives me the following theories.
1. Women Have to Do the Rejecting.
Men pursue and approach, and are almost always rejected. If men are being rejected, women are doing the rejecting — and lots of it. (I say we should be approaching much more often, and making them reject us much more often. The law of averages says the more you approach, the more success you have. You ladies should get much more experience rejecting us so you can come up with something more original than LJBF or “I have a boyfriend”. But I digress.)
I posit that women develop a myriad of ways to reject either as kindly as possible or as quickly and discreetly as possible so as not to call attention to the fact that a guy is getting shut down, and she is the one closing the door. Sometimes she has to do the deed in public, in full view of others — most often her friends, and maybe other men she might be interested in. (Note that I’m not talking here about the protection shield or the cockblock. Those are other defenses that show up before rejection.)
Many women are approached frequently, others not so frequently. Women who are not approached as often get pointers from women who are. Perhaps this is why the “let’s just be friends” letdown gained such popularity. It’s kind and benign on its surface, even if it is insincere at its core. More on this later.
2. Women Often Don’t Know What They Want or Can’t Articulate It.
Women, like men, are a wide variety of personalities. They run the gamut of backgrounds and experiences. Some women are just not very good at telling a man what they want to say or do, or how they feel. They know how they feel (kinda, sorta), they just can’t put it into words. Other women have never been pressed to communicate honestly or articulately before. Still others are impulsive. They act first, and then try to explain it later (cue the hamster). Some are immature or at a place in their lives where they truly can’t figure out what they want, but are just out there doing what they see others doing. Still others are so accustomed to having men cater to their every whim and fancy that they have never been compelled to tell anyone what they want or need, and grow frustrated when a man doesn’t jump at their command.
Above all, while some women have a hard time putting their thoughts and feelings into words, they bristle at being thought of as unserious, flaky or just plain dumb.
3. Some Women Don’t Want to Admit to Others or Even to Themselves What They Really Want — Especially When It Comes to Sex.
I have heard many women say they want sex as much as men do, maybe even more so than men. I have also heard many women say they want the best men, or at least better men than they have. But I have also heard them confess to the difficulty and cognitive dissonance in admitting to those feelings and desires. Most can’t admit it even to themselves. There are many reasons for this, but they are beyond the scope of this post.
There have been many changes in the sexual marketplace resulting in more freedoms for women. The culture is drenched in feminism. Most women have more sex partners now than their grandmothers did 50 years ago. But women are still sensitive to male and societal pressures in the sexual marketplace.
Many women want men to approach them, but they don’t want to advertise that fact aggressively because they are inexperienced and don’t want to be seen as sluts. Many women want the benefits of sexual promiscuity but, of course, try to shed all the burdens that accompany that lifestyle. They want to be promiscuous; but they don’t want to appear to be promiscuous. Promiscuous women want, even enjoy, their behavior — they just expect not to be judged for it. If they get into STRs or even LTRs, they often restrain themselves sexually or don’t demonstrate good sexual technique because they fear having to answer “Where did you learn how to do THAT?!”
Many women are exactly the opposite. They want their men to be more sexually assertive with them so they can assume a more sexually submissive role and follow their man’s lead. But at the same time they don’t want to be thought of as dependent doormats who can’t or won’t stand up for themselves. Some women don’t ask for certain practices in the bedroom, even though they want sexual adventure so much they can taste it. Although they want more from their LTRs, and even though Cosmo says the exact opposite, they have somehow internalized the message that “nice girls don’t do those things”. They don’t want their men to view them as having a checkered past and they don’t want to be perceived as ordering their men around sexually. And many women just presume their men should assume the sex initiator role simply because they are men, and they still buy into the canard that men always want more sex than women. All these unspoken requests and desires lead to frustration and dissatisfaction.
Many women know they want a better man than their current one. Even married women find other men attractive if their husbands dissatisfy them for whatever reason. This is hypergamy at work. But by and large, when it gets right down to it, women take a long time admitting to themselves that their relationships have problems or have failed. They don’t want to admit their own roles in their relationship failures. They don’t want to admit they might have made poor choices in their men or husbands. Or they don’t want to explore that perhaps their demands or their conduct are unreasonable and that it is they, not their men, who might be the real problem.
Many women don’t want to admit they are tempted to cheat or that they have cheated in the past. And they don’t want to admit that it is much easier for them to cheat and escape detection than for their men. This is simply because men are more sexually available to women than women are to men. Still others don’t want to face up to the fact that other men not their boyfriends or husbands are attractive to them and that they are being lavished with male attention and lucrative offers. They want to act on that attraction but for whatever reason, cannot bring themselves to do so or to shed a relationship that should have ended long ago.
Many women simply don’t want to admit to their ravenous sexual appetites because they fear the judgment and condemnation that they think might accompany giving voice to those desires. Others don’t want to admit they want a better man and they look for him by sleeping with men in serial succession. (They are willing to do this; they just don’t want to admit publicly that that is what they are doing.) Some can’t accept that they want the top dog alphas, but cannot attract or keep them.
The Overarching Principle: Women Are More Sensitive than Men to How They Appear To Others and to the World
This is the key: Women care very much about what others think of them. Women are especially sensitive to, and intuitive about, how other women perceive them. They know that both men and other women are constantly judging them on their physical appearance, the way they treat others, and their dispositions. Women know this because they themselves judge others on exactly the same criteria.
Most men don’t care much about what others think of them. We’re raised and trained to be independent, make our own decisions, and live with the consequences. If we fall down, we get back up, dust ourselves off, and hustle back out onto the field. We’re expected to speak candidly and articulately in our professions, and that carries over into our personal relationships. Men are trained and hardwired to be problem solvers. The most efficient and effective way to solve a problem is to identify it honestly, determine a reasonable course of action, and then implement that solution. This process requires candor, frankness and bluntness in determining what will work and what will not.
For most men, personal relationships with people who are not our sex partners tend to be more tenuous, superficial, and situation/location oriented than they are for women. We move away from our friends? We get new ones in our new city. Joe gets married and I’m still single? I accept that I’ll get to see him a lot less. If I’ve changed jobs, I don’t see my former coworkers all that much — even ones I really liked and hung out with a lot.
But most women value friendships and relationships more than men do. A woman’s personal life and relationships are dominated by feelings and emotions, not cognition. (This is not to say that women never think and cannot problem solve. They do think, and they can solve problems. What I am saying is that their hardwiring and default mode leads them first to how they feel rather than what they think.) They tend to keep female friends their entire lives, even after moving hundreds of miles away. They have usually kept friends they have known since they were young children. They talk to their female friends about everything, deep or superficial — their physician appointments, their periods, menopause, their children, and what lipsticks they like.
Again: Women care very much about what others think of them. Women are especially sensitive to, and intuitive about, how other women perceive them. They know that others’ perceptions naturally lead to judgments and conclusions about them. In personal relationships, women are more sensitive than men to the judgments of others.
I’m not a complete cynic. I still think that when many women get an LTR or a husband, they want that relationship to work (as long as he keeps the tingles coming, and for a while after the tingles dry up). They will tolerate much, ignore much and do much for the man who brings the tingle (and even for a little while after he doesn’t).
And don’t forget that the rationalization hamster is always at work, smoothing everything over and trying to make sense of everything around her. She knows that very often, she can’t say what she really thinks or feels because that would bring social ostracism, end friendships, injure others, and result in relationship destruction. But most importantly and fearfully, she wants to avoid a valued person in her life bringing down the unforgiving hammer of judgment on her head and heart. To a woman’s mind, brutal honesty accomplishes nothing other than putting the hammer in that valued person’s hand.
To relieve all this, the hamster concocts something more palatable. It’s plausible, even mostly true. It’s less insulting or abrasive, and makes her look, well, pretty good, or at least not bitchy. And out of her mouth it comes.
Despite how some women behave, I still believe that almost no woman wants to be viewed negatively. No woman wants to be thought of as unattractive, dull, indecisive, materialistic, self-centered, vulgar, profane, rude, cold, shallow, caustic or abrasive — even when her speech and course of conduct unmistakably reflect those traits.
All of this can lead women to engage in what appears to be duplicitous speech and behavior. They say things they don’t really mean, or that have hidden meanings. They will say things that are only half true or somewhat true. Many women shade the truth or outright lie about their sexual pasts when directly questioned about them (and make no mistake, in an LTR, women WILL be asked about their sexual histories). Women often come at the truth or act on it in a glancing, oblique manner. They say they want or intend one thing, then do something different or exactly the opposite. The most common fitness test consists of women asking men questions to which they don’t really want direct answers. (“Does this dress make me look fat?” “You were looking at that other girl, weren’t you! Do you think she’s hotter than me?”)
Women tend not to say what they want or intend. Rather, they demonstrate to others what they want or intend by their actions and conduct. To decipher what they really mean requires some insight into women’s natures. It also requires a man to watch with a discerning eye what she does, and putting less importance on what she says.
Watch and observe a woman you are interested in. Look at how she lives her life. Watch and take careful note of what she does, what kind of family she comes from, where she goes, where she works, how she spends her money and time, who her friends are, who she dates, and who she used to date.
Every woman I have ever known has said something like this: “I just want a nice guy who will treat me right.” This is partially true. When she says this, what she really means is: she wants a good looking, confident alpha man who will be nice to her, commit to her only, have sex only with her, and treat her right. This is why the manosphere is rife with stories of women who say they want nice, sensitive, caring men; yet they repeatedly date and have sex with “bad boys” or layabouts or thugs. This is because they want a confident man, not a “nice guy”.
Truthfully, can anyone imagine any polite woman announcing in public: “I just want that beautiful drummer up there with the tattoos and the long hair to screw me until I can’t walk, and I bet I can get him for more than a pump & dump”? Certainly, some women act precisely like this, and many more have certainly felt it, wanted it and believed it.
Women say they want stability, predictability and routine. Perhaps women want this most of the time. But they also want their lives laced with excitement, mystery, spontaneity and adventure — and they gravitate to men who can give them a taste of it.
If she likes a man or finds him attractive, she will almost never come right out and say it. She will try to spend time with him, seek him out, laugh at the stupid attempts at humor he makes, volunteer information about herself, maybe even touch him lightly or let him into her personal space. This is the reason for the instruction to look for indicators of interest (IOIs).
“Let’s Just Be Friends”
Men will hear this phrase literally dozens if not hundreds of times in their dating careers. If she does not like him or finds you unattractive, she will not come right out and say it. She will almost always say “Let’s just be friends” (LJBF) or some variation thereof. She will ignore him, avoid him, avoid eye contact with him, clam up, and not return his phone calls or texts. This is because most women don’t want to crush him and look like an uncaring, unfeeling person, especially in public. Remember: she cares very much about how others perceive her.
“Let’s just be friends” does not mean she wants to be his friend. It is really a nice way of saying “I do not find you at all sexually attractive. I don’t want to date you, I will never want to date you, and I certainly don’t want to have sex with you.” This statement, while candid, is universally viewed in polite society as unnecessarily rude, cold and harsh. She is saying this because despite her rejection of him, she does not want him or others to think of her as a cold, uncaring, unfeeling woman. And she certainly does not want him telling her friends, her coworkers, her family members or anyone else that she is cold, uncaring or unfeeling. Though it is difficult, men should not take LJBF personally. And the man should not spend another minute on her –not because she is shallow, uncaring or a worthless human being, but because there is simply no point to it.
Once LJBF’d, the man should not try to be her “friend”, thinking that if he befriends her he will have a chance with her. He does not. Spending any time with a woman who has LJBF’d him is time poorly spent in the dating market. Once she has made up her mind to LJBF him, he will never have a chance with her. This will not change. He should move on to the next girl.
So, what does all this mean?
Men, learn the IOIs. Get out there and make the ladies reject you. Learn how to interact with women and find the quality ones. Understand that women care about how they come across to their friends and the rest of the world — and they care more about that than you do. Above all, women want to avoid negative judgment. While you should care about how you are perceived in the world, you should care a little less than women do. While you should care about how you are perceived in the dating market, you should not care about rejection. Most of the time, it’s not about you.
Let’s be careful out there.
Badger’s commentary on “The Female Condition”:
1. Like many men, I was raised (by men and women who both didn’t understand women) with the idea that women were inscrutable. I don’t believe that anymore. Every woman is different and there’s no accounting for taste, but generally once I learn a woman’s verbal and nonverbal expressive style, and run enough comfort game to get her to open up about herself, it’s not hard to figure out what’s going on in her head.
A large reason guys find women difficult to understand is because they are applying the data they observe into false models, and instead of updating the models to reflect reality, we’ve been told to give up and presume it’s all random. I guess I choose to respect a woman enough to discern her model rather than stuffing her into some stereotyped template.
2. Deti waxes eloquently on the anti-slut defense and the rationalization hamster, both of which work in tandem to allow a woman to present a congruent and ennobled image to the public. These are prime reasons that a woman’s communication is so subtextual and indirect.
3. It is sad, but true, that many women don’t have the first clue what they want. They’ve been following what other people want them to think and say, never being honest with themselves.
Tip: one of the best things a young woman can do for her personal life is to exercise some discernment about what she’s really attracted to. (By using what and not who I mean to say traits, not guys.)
Now I am not saying “go bang that biker because you’ve discovered he’s what turns you on.” I am saying to understand your desires so you can screen for them the same way you screen for all the other things you want in a relationship. Attraction is a critical element in a long-term relationship and it has to be managed, so you better know what you really want before you lock down some guy who makes all your girlfriends jealous of you but doesn’t really rev your engine.
4. Deti didn’t explicitly mention this, but all this talk you might read that women mature faster than men is total bullshit. It’s gyno-normative shaming designed to invalidate men’s concerns and anxieties. It appears to be based on the idea that women generally are eager to “settle down,” which means get married and have children, at a younger age than men. But that’s just women wanting to fulfill both their biological programming to bind a man’s commitment an and cultural pressure (which tells young women that being married is the ultimate social status). There’s nothing mature or immature about our biological leanings; chomping at the bit to have kids is good from an evolutionary perspective but not necessarily a societal or lifestyle one.
5. LJBF: I’ve been fortunate enough to only receive an LJBF two or three times (one of which was from a woman I’m almost certain was a lesbian.) In retrospect a lot of that is due to the fact I would back off on pursuing a woman I was interested in to avoid another possible smackdown. Now that I’ve learned to read women a lot better, I doubt I’ll be getting many more since I’ll know before I advance whether my advances will be welcome.
If you get an LJBF, the best move is to take her out of your life and pay attention to another woman you are interested in. Continuing to be “friends” with a woman who has sexually rejected you puts you in a very submissive and unvirile position, unless you can display to her that it didn’t have a real effect on you and if she didn’t want a piece of your pie, there’s another woman who does.
There’s a slight possibility you can leverage your “friendship” to meet her female friends and date them, but remember that her rejecting you reduces your preselection and thus her friends may not find you attractive either.
And for God’s sake, don’t listen to anyone who says she wants to “be friends first.” If she’s attracted to you, she’ll want to be more than you friend; if she is attracted but insists on BFF, she’s got some kind of a sexual or relationship hangup going on.
6. “Get out there and make the ladies reject you.” Spot on advice. Approach. A lot. Anyone who strikes your fancy. You have no idea whether she’s interested or not, and you won’t until you approach. If you know the IOIs, you’ll be able to read interest, so you won’t be getting a lot of overt rejections because you won’t be pursuing unless you know she wants you to.