Men Who Placate to Avoid Disagreements

how men avoid disagreementsShe steps out of the fitting room, still fidgeting with the dress. He can see the question on her face before she says anything.

“How does it look?” she asks.

They’ve been at it for more than an hour, trying to find the perfect dress for the party. He’s having a hard time telling one from another. And, honestly, he thinks this one looks as good as the last three. He tells her so.

“Looks great,” he says without hesitation.

She turns away from him and looks herself over in the full-length mirror.

“I don’t know,” she says. “I think I’ll keep looking.”

He sighs, and the shopping expedition continues.

The above scenario is a common one. So much so that researchers from the University of Arizona used this very example to describe their findings in a recent article. “…men cooperate to avoid conflict,” the article states. “Women, meanwhile, tend to serve as ‘emotional regulators’ during cooperation and try to get at the root of a problem rather than brush it off.”

In other words, he’s agreeing so they can both move on. He’s really saying, “This dress will work just fine—now, let’s go do something else.” But she’d rather make sure she’s found the best possible solution. She’s saying, “I’m not completely satisfied. Let’s explore this further.”

Is any of this familiar?

In fairness, both strategies sound good in theory. After all, men and women ultimately want the same thing—resolution. They just have different preferred methods for achieving it.

Men (on average) tend to voice agreement more quickly during moments of disagreement. By telling you you’re right, your guy is using a cooperative technique that would work surprisingly well with other men. There can’t be a fight if both people are on the same page!

But in relationships, you sometimes need to get to the bottom of things. What if your man is voicing agreement, but he doesn’t really mean it?

To a man, saying he agrees even if he doesn’t feel it in his heart is a sacrifice. He’s wired to stand his ground. By giving in, he most likely thinks he’s giving a gift. He’s foregoing his ego and telling you what he sincerely believes you want to hear.

There’s just one problem with that. You can likely tell when he really agrees and when he’s just saying he does.

For that reason, most women push past a guy’s initial attempt to end an argument by simply agreeing. Women are interested in digging deeper to explore what may have caused the disconnection to begin with. That’s because women are often more concerned with the subtle emotions involved. If those emotions are addressed, maybe the same kind of conflict can be avoided all together in the future.

Both parties have their hearts in the right place. Both want resolution. However, these two dramatically different strategies collide. How do you get your man to talk to you about what’s going on beneath the surface without making him feel like you don’t appreciate his efforts?

Here’s what I suggest. When you recognize a disagreement and he seems over-eager to concede, make it a point to tell him you value his perspective even if it differs from yours. Tell him you’re primarily interested in open communication. Let him know you’re okay even if it turns out that the only solution is agreeing to disagree.

If you act frustrated because he seems to be pulling back, he’s just going to pull back more. He’s already taking a hit to his ego by offering to surrender. You don’t want to accidentally kick him while he’s down. That will almost certainly distract both of you from the core issue. It might even start a whole new fight!

Instead, build him up.

how men avoid disagreementsRemind him that disagreements are healthy and normal. Tell him you respect his opinions and you want to hear them, even if they differ from your own. This approach builds intimacy. It decreases the chance that the two of you will drift apart over small issues that could’ve been easily resolved if you had discussed them openly.

The key here is to affirm both his attempt to resolve the issue and his opinion. Once you create a foundation of mutual respect, you’ll both feel more comfortable discussing the core issue instead of just putting a band-aide on it.

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7 thoughts on “Men Who Placate to Avoid Disagreements

  1. Marlene said:

    You are funny Lester. A guy with a great sense of humour wins me every time. Love the small room..

  2. Kristy said:

    Lester, you made me laugh. “No, your bum IS big!!”

  3. Karen said:

    The example of the girl dragging the placating boyfriend to get dress approval is all wrong! I’d suggest that a.) he’s not interested nor in the fashion industry! Take a trusted girl friend, shop alone, bring mom, gay male friend. NO BOYFRIEND!
    As long as you look attractive, smell good and fix up for the occasion, ladies he’s clueless to hem lines, empire waist lines etc…. Just like we aren’t interested in mechanical things, how gold clubs have subtle diff., cigars etc…
    I’d not waste “together time” with emasculating chores such as these.

  4. Lester said:

    Sort of like

    Does my bum look big in this?
    No, your bum IS big.

    Or perhaps

    Does this make me look fat?

    Well to be fair, it is a small room……..

  5. Julia said:

    Wow, excellent article! After reading all sorts of relationship advice for a few years now, it’s rare for me to find something that I haven’t seen before, in one form or another. This time, I learned something new, and I will make sure to apply this strategy whenever it might be needed in the future. Thank you, James!

  6. Catherine said:

    I enjoy your wisdom James.
    As I get older I realize that we clearly want our man to be honest with his answers to all our questions. Sadly humans tend to know the truth period. But hate if the truth hurts.
    I notice men do not ask such stuff really.
    LOL! They know and why have to hear one is fat or had too much alcohol.
    Lastly though I find I love males more because they are logical and honest more.
    I do wish men loved us as biblical scripture teaches. For then we would see some happy relationships.
    My opinion of course.
    Keep up the good work James!

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