Communication Problems With Guys

Communication Problems with GuysNow let me ask you, do you believe yourself to be a good communicator?

Most women are good at communication, certainly when compared to their male counterparts. Yet as a dating coach, one of the most common issues I discuss with women is the frustration of communication problems with a new boyfriend.

It’s not at all uncommon for a woman who has excellent communication skills to find herself at a loss when it comes to reconnecting with her man when he’s shutting down or pulling away. Why does that happen?

The simplest answer comes down to emotions.

Have you ever noticed that we treat the people we are closest to the worst? Brothers and sisters pull out all the stops when arguing with each other as kids. Husbands and wives often talk to each other in ways they would never dream of talking to a stranger or someone they dislike at work. Why does this happen?

It happens because emotions run the show.

The closer we are to a person, the more our emotions get involved. It’s no longer a logical decision about how to interact with an annoying coworker. Our boss may anger us, but our desire to keep our job keeps our emotions in check. But when the relationship is about emotions, we don’t hold back.

Communicating Emotion

You don’t have a relationship with a boyfriend for financial gain or any other non-emotional reason. You have a relationship with your boyfriend because of the emotional benefits. So when the emotions go bad, there’s no longer anything holding us back from expressing our emotional dissatisfaction.

The result? We sometimes regress to a level of communication that is ineffective. We communicate emotion.

At this point I need to clarify something. Among women, communicating emotion works just fine. With men, you can expect very poor results.

Think about this for a moment. You know it’s true. I’m not going to go into all the reasons in this email, but suffice it to say men will irritate you and frustrate you if you try to communicate raw emotions to them with the expectation that they will understand and respond in a way that heals the relationship.

Here’s an example. Your guy starts to pull away from you. You know there’s a breakdown in communication. You’re not sure why he’s pulling away, but you’ve had a front row seat to the building emotional tension between the two of you.

You’re on a date with him, but it gets cut short. He awkwardly asks if you had a good time as he drops you off.

You look at him with furrowed brows and respond in a slightly sarcastic tone, “Yeah. I had a great time.” Your face says the opposite. You continue to hold his gaze for a few more seconds as a tear rolls down your cheek.

He just stares at you blankly. With a slight huff you step out of the car, close the door, and walk away.

That is an example of communicating raw emotion without words or structure. After stretching my male brain to become a more effective dating coach, I now know what your emotion was designed to communicate and what your heart longs for him to do in response. Unfortunately, you cannot count on most men to understand this level of communication.

Generally what happens is he takes your expression of raw emotion as some kind of attack. He feels frustrated and angry and pulls away more. It’s not your fault men are like this, and ideally a man should take responsibility for learning how to understand raw emotional expression. The only reason I focus on what you can do as a woman, is because you can’t fix his part for him. If there were men reading this email, my advice would target their part in learning to get over their phobia of seeing a woman cry.

Now let’s talk solutions. Guys are different. They respond to emotion, but not when you use raw emotion to communicate with them. Men will respond to emotion when it is expressed with clear words along with directions on how to respond.

For example, “Mike, I’m hurting inside right now. I feel sad. I also feel a little bit afraid. I’m sad because I feel like something has come between us and we’re not as close right now. I’m afraid because I value this relationship and I don’t want to lose you.” And now the clear directions: “I feel like there’s something affecting your feelings toward me that you’re not telling me about. I want us to work it out together. I want you to trust me and work through it with me. Tell me what’s bothering you.”

This approach works because of three main reasons.

First, it doesn’t require that your man read between the lines of raw emotion.

Second, it communicates the problem in a way his mind is designed to work. Men like to fix problems, so a clear problem and a clear direction to solve it are like a breath of fresh air to his male brain.

Third, your emotions are expressed in ways that cause him to want to come to your rescue and be your hero. Give him a chance to be your hero and he will generally respond with a degree of nobility and patience you would not otherwise receive.

In the end, the communication advice I’m giving you requires that you become solution focused. It’s too easy for all of us to fall into the trap of showing our painful emotions rather than talking about them with a solution-focused mindset.

Men need to see a solution before they feel comfortable admitting to certain kinds of emotions. So give him a specific “problem” to chew on. Make it clear that you believe a solution exists. Then ask for his help to find that solution.

I hope these concepts will empower you and give you a solid sense of direction the next time you find yourself needing to break down communication barriers with your guy.

Talk to you soon.

James


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54 thoughts on “Communication Problems With Guys

  1. Hetty Frederik said:

    Thank you for your advice James. I didn’t know before that men don’t really understand why tears are shed by a girlfriend under emotional stress. Like most women I had thought that tears might instantly melt their heart. I know now that a more successful solution exist in getting to the point of the problem, focus on solving the problem together. I don’t really have a boyfriend, just someone who has held my interest in him for quite sometime.
    Our contact is by email as we live in different parts of the world. Hope to hear from you soon.

  2. Natalie said:

    Thanks Fames, for the articles. This one is really good! I have tried your advice twice today in communication with my college and friend males, and it also works if the relations are not exactly romantic! I was angry they missed to do what was obvious thing for me to take care about, and instead of sending ‘raw emotions” I responded the way you recommended. The intention to correct the situation as their reaction back was stronger than I expected 🙂

  3. Natalie said:

    Dear James, please post on my behalf this instead of the previous one where I misspelled your name… it was too late when I was writing that comment:
    James, thanks for the articles. This one is really good! I have tried your advice twice today when spoke to my male colleges, and it worked even if relations were not romantic! I was angry because they did not bother themselves to do what was obvious thing for me to take care about. Instead of sending ‘raw emotions” I responded the way you recommended. The reaction was surprising – they were eager to correct the errors and improve the situation!

  4. maria said:

    Wow, I didn’t know men think so different the women. Why is that women have to figure out men and not the other way around? It seem like women still do a lot more in a relationship to make things work.

    • James Bauer said:

      Maria,
      Men need to do as much as they can to understand women if they want to have a good relationship. If you ever find yourself dating a man who does not put in the effort to understand you, I would question the value of dating him.

  5. James, your own level of communicating is just great. While
    it is overtly about men and women it is, even more , about
    human relationships. It is so well written and so respectful in
    its tone. Thank you.

  6. sayonara said:

    “Ideally a man should take responsibility for learning how to understand raw emotional expression”. I like this very much, because it is missing in most man, I am living in a third world country where communication or the lack of it is extremly rampid. In addition the word honesty does rarely exist, it is a way of living, we take the truth as untrue and use the untrue as the truth, these ways have been indoctrinated by the long history of colonialism, therefore it is ingrained in peoples mind. The honesty between men and woman is lacking. My question is how come that men are so poor when it comes to social skills and knowledge, not only in my world. I believe and know that woman for the most part are still looked upon as thing to use, a commodity. Bottom line, the respect of woman and their intelligence is still a tremendous issue. I really hope that one day we have a better world between woman and men!!!

    • Cecilia said:

      I believe it is because woman have lost sight of our role in society, how can a man find his, if the mothers, daughters, sisters, aunts, girlfriends, and wives of this world are themselves insecure or squabbling amid themselves …it has been our role to guide, teach, comfort, and love our sons, and here we have failed because men don’t believe we love them if they don’t see us loving ourselves first, if they don’t see us setting the examples (and not by manipulation, by living it), in this new age women have more freedoms yet many have used this freedom unwisely which has made us weak and men shudder at weakness… women should be educated, enlightened, and firm with their values (which may include personal morals and standards, yet values can stand on their own), most women have never even evaluated their own beliefs, how can you teach what you don’t understand yourself… it is time to place our men back in the roles that enable them to be honest, hardworking, thoughtful human beings… not man vs. woman, human being sharing with human being!!!

  7. Eni grace said:

    Thank you sir for this article,cos two days ago my boyfriend just cut me off in a meddle of a discussion, and a was so angry that even when he call me yesteday I refuse picking up his call still wondering what next to do so as to pay him back.

  8. Karin said:

    James, I just wanted to say that it is so refreshing and interesting to read what you write, because I can always get many tips out of it in comparison to those who write about a topic up to the half and then doing publicity about something to buy in order to know more! I hate that! You don´t do that and that is GREAT. Every day I can´t wait to get an email from you, Continue like that and you will always have happy readers. Thanks so much 😉

    • James Bauer said:

      Thanks, Karen. I do have to include occasional prompts for people to check out my training courses, though I try to provide a balance of free valuable information as well. While I love providing free information and helping as much as possible, those of you who purchase my courses allow me to make a living and continue providing the free content. Nonetheless, I appreciate that you noticed my efforts to not always try to sell something every time I contact you.

      • Paula said:

        I would like to say Thank You James!!! Because right now I cannot afford to buy anything and your articles are very helpful!!!

      • Lorna (LaLa) said:

        Here here – let’s hear it for James!! I have been following James’ advice for several years now and have gleaned such a lot of insight into the male psychy, and applied it to good effect – even though I am still struggling with my man (but that is another – long – story!!). And I now see that a lot of the problems we have come from me and my reaction. Even though I was married for almost 40 years to my now ex, I never understood all the things that James has explained – maybe I’d still be married if I did. Unfortunately, I am one of these women who get upset, get angry, start crying, shut down then retreat to the bedroom for a good long howl on my own. Then I feel thoroughly depressed and misunderstood, so it is hard to “come round”. So much easier if I had learned how to keep calm and talk things through. And I was like that as a child. Is it nurture or nature? You are doing such a wonderful service, James, as I keep tellng you. It’s just a pity we do not have more men on the site giving their opinion. Thank you Colm for your comments below, they are invaluable, too. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if this sort of thing could be included in the school curriculum? Lorna (LaLa)

    • Marina said:

      To Karin, I totally agree with you…

      Thank you James. I really love the above article and apparently a lot of other women agree.

  9. Thank you James,I have come to be addicted to your publications,its so helpful in terms of building relationships and general communications with people,I really appreciate.keep up the good work!!! Thanks a lot.

  10. thank you james, just the right time when i needed this thanks

  11. Nancy said:

    Dear James: I’m a fairly new subscriber to your emails and truly finding them invaluable! Your comments are always helpful and MUCH appreciated. It seems like men and women both are too quick to react and make incorrect assumptions based on their own thoughts and feelings. I feel sad when I read posts of women who seem focused on simply “paying him back” instead of being open and willing to learn how to communicate effectively with their men 🙁 My husband and I have been together for 32 years and our relationship has had it’s good and also very bad times as well, but we still genuinely love each other and communication has been the glue that has held us together… Even after this long, I still struggle to understand how my husband thinks and why he reacts the way he does at times. Your advice has really opened my eyes and helped me look past the raw emotion of my own feelings, allowing me to be more objective about these matters. Thanks SO much for your efforts and please keep the great advice coming!!

    • James Bauer said:

      I really appreciate feedback like this, Nancy. Thank you very much for encouraging me with your kind words.

  12. rayva said:

    Pls don’t stop mailing these free lectures and advise, they are invaluable to me.Thank you also for being different from other writters in your approach when it comes to maters of the heart, I have gained so much from the application of these simple principles.

  13. Isabel Besangre said:

    Hi! James, in my understanding i should be open of what i felt.. no drama..Tell the guy what is bothering me.

  14. Isabel Besangre said:

    Thank you so much! I learned so much..

  15. Colm said:

    Good article. As I guy I am reading your blogs so I can learn women’s frustrations and communication methods and then come to see my side of the miscommunications. It is a fascinating journey. I offer a slight expansion. I and other men I have talked with feel alive as long as we have a direction we are moving in. If a person “throws” something I don’t expect in front of me blocking it blocks my movement and it instinctively feels like a threat so I go into caveman protect mode. When a person lets me know what is going on in the fashion you suggest it establishes a sense of challenge and safety, by letting me know my direction/intent is fine and I need to make course corrections. Even better it invites me to move with the woman. It feels great to have a sense that I am moving in the same direction with others. I feel incredibly alive when the woman I am close to is moving with me, the dance of life.

    • Lorna (LaLa) said:

      Thank you Colm for your comments on here. (See my comments above, too). It is so good to hear it from the man’s perspective, please keep your comments coming – and maybe you can get some of your friends to comment, too. This is what we need. We are all wanting the same thing, ultimately, you know. Just to be loved and understood. We should not feel that it is “them and us”, as it seems to be mostly these days. I think a huge problem has arisen because of “women’s lib”. We women are not against you, you know, we do still love you and want you in our lives – we just need to know that WE are respected and “heard” now, after being so repressed until very recently. It has been a huge struggle for women to be taken seriously – I have seen a huge shift even in my lifetime (I will soon be 68). My mother, my mother-in-law, my sister, my sister-in-law and I were all “stay at home Mums” – doing a wonderful job, too. That was the norm then. I now have three daughters and four nieces and I can see how things have changed completely in the last 50 years. And not for the better, in my opinion. My father used to proudly say “No wife of mine will EVER have to work!!” and my mother-in-law was not allowed to drive the car (but she was a wonderful back-seat driver!), yet my mother learnt to drive young and always did the driving. I wonder how long it will be before things settle down and we all stop feeling “badly done to” – men included!! I doubt if I’ll see it in my lifetime. Of course, I live in England, so can only comment on my own culture and experience. I am sure things differ from culture to culture and country to country. All very interesting. We could write a book – maybe we should – there’s a thought, maybe I’ll make my fortune!! Love to you all – keep smiling! Lorna

  16. Very useful article, thank you!
    Only this type of response requires emotional balance and maturity, and when you’re upset this thing is missing completely:)

  17. Kita said:

    Perhaps this explains a situation i was in recently that I was completely baffled about. I was hanging out with an ex I still like. We were getting along great, talking heaps, he admitted we were “more than friends”, he was even talking about wanting to visit me on my overseas holiday. Eventually though, halfway through the evening he started acting a bit distant and that made me feel hurt, and I could not help looking visibly upset. He then got annoyed at me for “pulling the sads”, snapped at me and asked me to leave. I was completely confused for ages by what I had done to annoy him, but maybe this article explains it a little… I do think he took my sudden change in mood as some kind of attack on him.

    Any solutions about what I should do now to fix things though? Things have been… friendly but awkward and distant between me and him since that day, whereas before it seemed like we were getting closer.

    • James Bauer said:

      That’s a frustrating experience. I wish things had gone differently. At this point you can just work on building positive interactions (and let time heal the past) or you can speed things up (at a small risk) by asking him if your interpretation of what happened between the two of you was correct…and by asking him if he wants to join you in learning from the past communication problems and try moving past them.

    • Colm said:

      As I read your description of what happened I remembered being the guy in similar situations. From my perspective, my “guy vision”, what I experienced was,
      1) She said something that seemed to “block” how I thought we are in agreement and going in the same direction. My internal dialog of something like, “Crap. I screwed up. Stop and figure out how to get us moving together. Gotta have a win-win. I am responsible.”
      2) That causes me to go into “figure it out” mode, to draw inward and be unavailable. My male plan being “I am going inward for us and will be out soon.” My assumption being she will sense what I am doing and be pleased with my efforts for us.
      3) Next thing I know her expression and words are screaming that she is upset. Of course, being a guy, I feel responsible and feel like a failure, having just failed my friend. The failure is made worse by what I interpret as her obvious disdain for me.
      4) I am in a no-win situation. I have failed and it looks like there is no way to recover. I am confused. I am hurt by her apparent disdain. I don’t understand what she needs. Anything I do only seems to make her more upset which makes me feel even more of a failure. We are clashing instead of moving together.
      5) I am done for now! Better to spare her and myself further pain and upset. Better to withdraw and give myself time to come to an understanding of how I can make things better. I need space.
      6) Once away I set my path, I will stay away, or at least distant, until I know I can re-engage in a way that we can be open with each other and we both win, until I know we can enjoy being together.

      • Angela said:

        Hi Colin

        If no one else is reading your response, I sure am! Thanks for your input, this is great stuff and confirms a lot of things. It’s great to have a man intervene and enlighten us with what goes on in a male mind, even if James is allowing us to see this also. To hear you break it down as you have is phenomenal. It answers a lot of questions. Thanks!

        • Lorna (LaLa) said:

          Colm, I agree, thanks. My understanding is that men are, actually, very sensitive and ego-driven and proud. My man is SO proud and wants to “fix” all his problems himself. He has a massive drink problem, brought on by his terrible past circumstances. I am a “do-er”. I usually get results and will not stop until I do. I have read everything I can get my hands on, talked to people for advice, and I think I know the solution – but, no, he is hell-bent on doing it his way. Especially as he feels he “failed” in the past with his family and he wants to prove himself to me. So we are getting no-where very slowly. It is SO frustrating – I can see the solution (or at least a possible solution, which I am willing to try) but he digs his heels in doing it his way. Problem is, we are getting older by the minute – heading on for 70, so there is not much time left to enjoy being together. And I just love him so much – he has so much to offer the world, such a lovely person, such a waste! MEN – can’t live with them, can’t live without them !!! Lorna

      • Angela said:

        Sorry Colm my phone mispelled your name on my first response even though I did put the right letters in.. need to check before I post next time.. sorry!

  18. James, just look at all the response you get to your advice! You are awesome! I wish I could afford personal coaching with you! Keep up the amazing work you were clearly put on this earth to do!
    Bonnie

    • James Bauer said:

      May life repay you with the same kindness you bestow on others. 🙂

      • Angela said:

        Thanks for your articles James, the are invaluable ☺

        • James Bauer said:

          I appreciate that, Angela!

          James

  19. Eunice John said:

    Thank you so much for the usefully article

  20. KLuz N said:

    This is the version I have heard so far about understanding and communicating with man. Thank you.

  21. peace said:

    This has really change my way communication with my friend.Thanks so much.

  22. smy said:

    Hi James, that was a short article but succinct and perfect. You have written it like a male and the way communication issues should be dealt with from a males perspective but really helpful to us female readers. A great article, thank you!

  23. vil said:

    thank you james..you are such a blessing

  24. Ann said:

    Thank you. I have something new.

  25. Ann said:

    Sorry … I meant that I have learn something new..

  26. Maricris Guzman said:

    thanks James its very nice and interested advice.

  27. Adriana said:

    Hi James, I am Adriana from Argentina, and I just want to know, why is so difficult to men to apologize for any offense they cause you?
    I am talking about a man who is not my partner, we are just friends and I care a lot for him, and some weeks ago we had a discussion by e-mail. I was very upset about a particular situation and told him things in an offensive tone, I admit it.
    But, to my surprise, he answered it in a way that was much more offensive that mine. We know each other for almost ten years, and as I told you before, I really care about him and our friendship, so I was the first trying to fix things, and called him to apologize for the tone of my mail.
    He didn´t answer that time, but a few days ago we met again and talked about that, and he said to me that he answered me that way because my e-mails were too agressive. He said to him then that his answer had been even more agressive. So he told me “¿what did you expect me to answer when you are talking to me that way?”…so, as you may see, he not only didn´t apologize, but he justified himself and blamed me. And since then, he became more cold and distant.
    This is not the first time that happens to me, and unfortunately, the result is allways the same: men just seem to hate you when you try to notice them that they are having a bad attitude towards you or when you say them you think they are making a mistake, or being agressive, or unfair with you, and then they become distant, defenssive, and they pull you away.
    It´s so frustrating, you know, it´s the same story over and over again in my life.
    I really care about him, and I don´t want to keep this distance between us. He used to be so cheerful and fun with me, and I miss that. ¿Is there any advice you could give me in this situation to be close to him again?
    I thank you in advance, and I expect my english isn´t too bad 🙂
    Best regards

    • James Bauer said:

      Hi Adriana. I am sorry to hear about that negative exchange. It’s amazing how quickly people can harden their hearts against each other.

      However, the situation you described is very common. One person’s agitation creates defensiveness and agitation in the other person. Then both people feel hurt. You both feel an injustice has been done to you because of the other person’s tone. In reality, you’re both just people responding to the frustration you felt inside.

      Letting go of that frustration sometimes does not require a “fix” so much as just “acceptance.”

      In this case, it may be that acceptance of his frustration and negative response is better than an insistence on getting an apology.

      • Adriana said:

        Thank you so much, James! You know, this is not the first time somebody says to me that “acceptance” would be a keyword in order to face my life. However, I still think I have so much to learn about men, so I ordered your material, I´m reading and working with it, and seems like a well beginning to me. Thanks 🙂

  28. Claudia said:

    Chiming in here. Your transparency in explaining a man’s thoughts, James- are invigorating . Insight is helpful and so needed for our female brains. I have many male friends that I have wonderful communication with – but I suppose that I’ve understood the differences in makeup and have clearly just been authentic and not tried to win a mans heart- by doing that- I feel I’ve been so privileged to have many quality relationships that I continue to treasure. That being said – I’m in no rush to find that special person and have discovered that my male friends appreciate that 😉

  29. Alima said:

    Thanks alot James ur article was soo helpful at this particular moment in my life ,I dont understand why my phone does not read the videos but when its an article, I can read it .what I’ve learnt from it will enable me better communicate with my new boyfriend.Thanks again

  30. Pulane said:

    Hi James just want to let you know that I read all your message you send to me, and their inspired, keep on doing the good job to help women like me. who sometime feel like abundant.

  31. Suzan said:

    Dear James,
    I wish I had seen your articles earlier. I met a man in the summer, two days before he was due to leave the country. After a couple of months, he got in touch and we talked every day for two months even though he was in a country with limited Internet access. Most of our talk revolved around sex, and he made no plans for the future, which I realise was a silly situation to get into. I began to feel also that I was doing all the work. Then two weeks ago he withdrew. When I asked and said we could just be friends if he wants, he claimed that I had done nothing wrong, he had a lot to deal with there, and he’d be back soon. etc. But no Christmas or New Year message – I don’t understand.
    I know as I’m writing this the stupid mistakes I’ve made. The question is – is it too late to turn it around, or should I just write him off?

    • James Bauer said:

      Hi Suzanne. I’m an advocate for dividing your time and energy rather than putting all your eggs in one basket. Until he shows a desire to form a committed relationship with you, I think it makes sense to leave the door open to see what happens with him while also pursuing other relationships.

      In this way, you allow your relationships to unfold naturally instead of trying to force them to go according to a plan you’ve created ahead of time. If he really values the connection he has with you, he will pursue you again. Time will tell.

      James

      • Suzan said:

        Thank you so much, James, for your response. I do really appreciate your advice and agree with everything you said. You’re absolutely right that I created a plan ahead of time, and am now going to take a step back and let things unfold naturally. Thank you xx

      • Coll said:

        Hi James
        Thank you so much for this excellent article. I always enjoy reading from you. Like many others, I really appreciate the free advice and personal responses. I am writing my PhD and not working so I cannot afford the presonal coaching right now. The free advice is so much appreciated. Keep up the good work James. And as we say in irish: Go maire tú an céad agus bliain chin aithrí!! (may you live to be a hundred with a year for penance!!)

    • Coll said:

      Hi Suzan
      I am in a fairly similar situation to yourself and was glad to read from you and also get James’ advice. I guess if these guys are worthy of us… they will come back to us 🙂
      All the best

  32. Isobel drysdale said:

    Hi James
    Everything you say feels like it arrives in my mail box just as I require it to the point I actually smile and chuckle as I read your words.
    It is all so simple and sensible when we dare to believe that we are responsible for our actions and the most effective way of addressing them.
    I was previously such an angry person who has had to take the lesson on acceptance and reflection time and time again. Like everything our behaviour becomes our habits and often these do not serve us well.
    Sadly very recently I met the most amazing man and without awareness my emotions were in overdrive.
    I lost the knowledge that men think differently and as a result he has pulled back. I have spent the last three weeks feeling devastated and confused. However, the veil is lifting and with your wise words I am seeing clearly where my emotional reactions were out of control to a new relationship.
    I’m still visualising a reunion and will apply the approach you speak of in my pursuit of happiness with this wonderful man.
    Keep your fingers crossed lol
    Issi

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