Why Men Don't Listen To The Women They Love (And Vice Versa)

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7 Reasons Why Men Never Seem To Listen To Women's Opinions
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Yes, you're just as guilty.

How many times have we all had an experience in which our partner tells us some brilliant insight someone just offered them in relation to a problem they've been facing and found ourselves replying, “But I gave you that same advice and you ignored me! Now, this person offers the exact same opinion and suddenly you’re convinced?!”

Here are 7 reasons men (and women!) hard a time listening when the people we love say important things:

1. Familiarity breeds contempt.

Our kids typically behave better for strangers than they do for us. When we are too comfortable with the people around us, it can become far too easy to treat their words casually and to ignore the importance of their concerns or thoughts.

2. Fewer words carry more weight.

When you hear things all day, every day, from the people around you, those important words can simply get lost in the mix. 

 

Related: Pssst, Ladies: Here's The Secret To Getting Men To Listen To You!

 

3. Reading the meaning between the lines.

When you talk to a stranger or listen to a person on television, you aren’t as prone to identify hidden meanings and undercurrents, as compared to listening to a loved one or a close co-worker. When someone close to us talks, their current words are interpreted in the context of all our past experiences.

So, it’s natural for us to draw connections between their current thoughts, and what happened last week: “You’re just bringing this up so you can say ‘I told you so’ about what happened at the grocery store!”

4. The "do as I say, not as I do" factor.

When your doctor tells you to stop drinking or smoking, you listen... But what if you knew that same doctor had received a DUI the weekend before? Would that make you less likely to acknowledge the wisdom in their words?

When someone close to you tells you not to do something and you know they don't follow that advice themselves, it's normal to simply discount their words as hypocrisy.

5. But it’s complicated! 

When we talk to strangers about problems, many of us cut to the chase, and get right to the heart of the matter. When experts like psychologists and advice columnists respond to questions, they’re responding to little snippets of people’s lives, and it’s easier for them to ignore those pesky distractions, but when we share problems with people close to us, we sometimes over focus on the big picture and extraneous details that cloud the issue at hand.

When that happens, it can be difficult to either listen to or give good advice, because it doesn’t address all of the complicated little details we stuck on.

 

Related: 5 Ways To Talk So He Will Listen — REALLY, Truly Listen

 

6. Confirmation bias.

What is confirmation bias? Sometimes instead of truly communicating, we go “shopping” and hunting for the things we want to hear, for the advice we think we need.

When we think we’re ready to tell that boss to go to hell, we go to that feisty friend who walked out of their last job after cussing out their boss. Think you want to break up with your partner? Why wouldn’t you go to that friend or figure who tells you to “dump them already.”

7. I’m really just not ready to listen.

Those people close to us might be sharing important information and alternative viewpoints, but when we're still worked up and our blood is still boiling, it’s just not the right time to talk. Sometimes our words might fall on deaf ears simply because it’s too soon for us to truly hear them.

So, if you've been frustrated wondering why it seems like men never listen to women (or vice versa), what can you do about it? 

Well, if you’re pissed off right now, feel like your partner is tuning you out, ignoring what you say, nobody listens to you, and you think I’m an arrogant SOB anyway, then you aren’t listening to a word I say.

(I appreciate you taking a look at my article though!)

If you're ready to acknowledge that the above reasons make sense and that sometimes not hearing or being heard isn't a personal reflection on you, your partner, or your relationship, here are some suggestions for overcoming these obstacles.

• Recognize that when you have something important to say, it’s equally important that you create a “listening environment.” This isn’t a Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood thing. It’s about creating a quiet, focused, distraction-free place where the person you'll be speaking with has the necessary time and frame of mind to allow your words in.

• This listening environment is just as much internal as it is external. If you are the one being spoken to and you are still pissed off and upset, acknowledge that by saying something along the lines of, “I’m not in a place to listen right now. Can we regroup when I am?”

• If there are things you simply cannot hear or do not want to hear, you need to own up to that. You can tell your partner something like, “I’m not in a place where I can hear criticism about this right now. I’ve worked on this for hours and if you point out the tiniest thing, even if you are correct, I think I will just start crying. Can we regroup when I'm calm am able to listen?”

If you want to be heard, you need to start listening. If you think someone doesn’t listen to you, your first response should be to listen to what they have to say. The main reason people don’t listen is that they believe others just don’t understand.

If you want to be heard — if you want your words to matter and you want to help the people around you — then start by closing your mouth, opening your ears, and listening until you do understand.

When you both feel confident that you do understand the situation fully and what the concerns around it are, THAT is when your pithy wisdom and questions can best make a difference in the life of someone you care about.

David J. Ley, Ph.D., is an internationally recognized expert on issues related to sexuality and mental health who has been published in the Los Angeles Times and Playboy and has appeared on television with Anderson Cooper and Dr. Phil, among others. His second book, "The Myth of Sex Addiction," challenged the concept of sexual addiction and triggered a firestorm of debate, allowing people to finally challenge the media hype behind this pseudo-disorder. His latest book, "Ethical Porn For D*cks: A Man's Guide To Responsible Viewing Pleasure," offers men a non-judgmental way to discover how to view and use pornography responsibly.

 

This article was originally published at Psychology Today. Reprinted with permission from the author.

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