1. Difference: Women have diffuse awareness and men have a single focus. What this means is that women are often aware of many, many things at one time. They see all that needs to be done, all that is out of place, all the tasks still on her list. It is as if each task, each out-of-place item is screaming at her … and there is no quiet in her head until things are in their place or off her list. Men on the other hand are single in their focus. This allows them to shut off distractions and attend to the issue in front of him. His single focus guides him to accomplishment and results without getting lost in other distractions.
Why? The evolutionary purpose of this difference is men as hunters, protectors, providers needed to be single focused and determined. Staying on the trail of a deer or other game, meant singular focus and strategy. Protecting his family from a potential threat required the same focus. If men were constantly distracted, loved ones would starve or be threatened. Women on the other hand, need to be constantly aware of her environment in order to keep herself and her young cared for and safe.
Frustration: This is frustrating for men who find her unable to just stop and sit with him or stop and do something with him. Also, her stress and frustration gives him the sense she is not happy and thus he is doing something wrong. Men’s single focus is frustrating to women who think he is purposely ignoring all the details that are overwhelming her because he doesn’t care. She does not understand “Why he can’t see all that needs to be done!” Another place this difference shows up is in conversations. Women’s minds are going a thousand miles an hour and she tends to talk in the same quick fire circular motion. He on the other hand is likely to stop and think about the question or comment before he responds. He might seem slow to answer a question or elaborate his thoughts. Since his pace is slower and more deliberate, she assumes he is either shallow, unemotional or doesn’t care. Women who interrupt and rush their husbands, often complain he does share his thoughts with her. Her pace and criticism may have shut him down.
Clues for Women: He needs time to switch attention and focus on what you may have asked him. He is single focused in his thinking. He will not say what is on the top of his head and then process out loud like you might. He is more likely to offer one thought at a time – each with more depth. If you want him to go deeper – don’t interrupt - be patient - give him time to go back to the well of his thoughts.
Clues for Men: Understand that her environment or tasks may be screaming at her and distracting her from her own needs and from you. Ask how you can help her and love her in her stress and ‘to do’ list. This will help her tap into her gratefulness and happiness – and help her feel seen, known and loved by you.
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Tina Schermer Sellers, PhD
Author, Speaker, Couple's Intimacy Retreat Facilitator, Licenced Marriage and Family Therapist, Certified Sex Therapist, Medical Family Therapist, Clinical Sexologist
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