Do Women Speak A Different Language?

My older son’s friend, Jake, who’s 29, and a good guy was talking about what he’s still learning: “When a woman says yes but really means no; when she says no but really means yes; and when, when…does she say yes or no but not expect you to read between the lines?”

Here’s the example. Jake had asked his girlfriend if she minded if he went surfing one day. She said, No, and he went surfing. When he came back, however, she was angry because she couldn’t believe he didn’t really understand what she wanted.

“It sounds a bit manipulative…” I speculated.

“No,” my son interrupted, “Women are like that! They say one thing and mean something else and then get angry we don’t understand!”

That got me thinking about things. Maybe we expect people to read our minds. Maybe we say, “I don’t mind,” when we mind dungloads! Maybe we’re even thinking, “How does he even think I don’t mind?”

Your mind is your mind. Nobody can read it. (Thank goodness!) And you have to say what you mean, mean what you say, and don’t say it meanly. But say it whatever it is. Don’t give the answer you think is right and then get angry because it wasn’t what you really wanted.

The guys are right this time, I’m sad to say. I think because women are not leaning in to stand up for their truth (see an article about Sheryl Sandberg’s fascinating book here). All too many women want to play goody-goody (see my post on that here) to please other people (to avoid the discomfort that comes with not getting approval) and then get upset because they don’t get what they really want.

Think your thoughts through. Then know what you want and say no when you mean no and yes when you mean yes. That way people really understand your yes and your no. Don’t speak with hidden meanings–that’s manipulation.

Don’t let your mouth say one thing when you mean the oppositeSay what you mean, mean what you say, and don’t say it meanly. But say it whatever it is.

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About dianabletter

Diana Bletter is a writer living in northern Israel whose novel, A Remarkable Kindness, is forthcoming from HarperCollins in August. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Commentary, tabletmag, and other publications. Her first book, The Invisible Thread: A Portrait of Jewish American Women (with photographs by Lori Grinker) was nominated for a National Jewish Book Award.
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8 Responses to Do Women Speak A Different Language?

  1. I have to agree with the men this time too. 😦 Diana, I like your saying and I meant what I said. 🙂

    • dianabletter says:

      Thank you, Tracy! I think in this case, the guys really want to be sensitive and understanding–but have a hard time reading the body language and unspoken cues.

  2. While the guys are right, they are also guilty. Men do the same thing with different examples and body language. Both sexes are at fault. We ALL need to say what we mean, mean what we say, and never say it meanly. (That phrase should be on bumper stickers and T-shirts, Diana!)

    • dianabletter says:

      Marylin, that is a good point. I’d love to read an example of when men use body language to give an under layer. Maybe men use sarcasm more? Interesting!

  3. stuartart says:

    And let’s all remember WE choose how we feel at any given time – Viktor Frankl taught us that when he stated: “Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of human freedoms – to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.” So we must always ask ourselves ‘why’ we feel the way we do. Once we engage these kinds of thoughts we can better articulate what we really want and why – with no obligation falling on another.

    • dianabletter says:

      Hi Stuart, I appreciate your reminding me of Viktor Frankel and his words. I deeply admire him so thank you! You’re absolutely right. Thanks for writing!

  4. Anonymous says:

    The question was rhetorical….because he knew the answer would be yes because no one wants to appear a bossy boots ….and he asked because he wanted to simultaneously manipulate her and play the good guy….
    We do not ask our partners if we can go to work, go to the gym, clean the house, see our parents or our BFFs, grow a beard, buy flowers for the weekend….
    We ask when we know what we want to do is something during what is supposed to be “couple time” ….. It isn’t a question it’s a statement ….if you have to ask, it’s probably something u shouldn’t, be doing at that time….but you want to nevertheless

    • dianabletter says:

      Good point…Maybe the question was rhetorical. One of those “Do you mind if…” that leads to one “correct” answer. You have a very good point! So what’s the solution? I’m open to hearing suggestions!

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