We all know that women speak in code. Women know they do it and men slowly learn as they struggle their way through the double speak of relationships. The question is why? Why don’t women just say what is one their minds?
Inside A Woman’s Mind
What goes on in a woman’s mind is a complex thing. While women are supposed to be the masters of communication in relationships, they often use code to test their significant others. Don’t be fooled. They also do it with their friends. It’s just that their women friends understand the code and are not as easily tricked. When women do not say what is actually on their minds, and in fact often state the exact opposite of what they are feeling (e.g. “I’m fine” or “Do what you want”), they are doing it for one of two reasons: to test you and how well you know them or because they are sick of doing all of the thinking in the relationship.
Women put a large stake in testing out relationships and they do this by talking in code. It is a way to find out if you “really know them.” Women are constantly testing your patience because, in a way, they want to test out, first, how well you really now them and second, how far they can push you to see if you really care. Women are constantly devising ways to find out if you “really care” in relationships. Sometimes they do this consciously, but just as often, they are doing it unconsciously.
Why the constant need to test the relationship? Women need to be reassured that you are committed to them, and they need to know to what extent. Everyone knows, on some level, that relationships can come and go, and we have all been in relationships that have ended unexpectedly. Testing you is a way to test your level of commitment in the relationship.
Here is a scenario: You have plans to have dinner together. Your buddy asks if you can help him move a couch after work. You say yes, and as you are having an after-move beer, you notice it’s later than you thought. Knowing that you have plans, you call her and tell her that you are running late. She says, “What are you doing?” You say: “Just helped Scott move a couch and he’s just showing me his new basement. Do you mind if we go in like an hour?” She says, “Ya, do what you want.”
“Do what you want” means exactly that. She is inviting you to do what you want. The test is: would you rather stay there and look at a basement or be on time for your date with her? Because if you would rather look at a basement than be there with her when you said, it tells her where she stands in your list of things you want to do: right after “looking at a basement.” While this might seem like a trick, it is just her way of finding out where she stands are in the hierarchy of your life so she can adjust her ability to depend on you accordingly.
What women don’t understand, and this is where the breakdown happens, is that men say what they mean and assume that the rest of the world works on that basic principle. The other principle they don’t understand is that, in male friendships, guys know that if you’ve hurt a buddy in some way and he says that “It’s fine,” then whether it is or it isn’t, the fact that they have exonerated you verbally is what counts.
For example, here is a male interaction:
Him: “Dude, that was lame. You totally ticked me off.”
You: “I know. That was not cool. Sorry dude.”
Him: “S’okay. It’s fine.”
You buy him a beer. If you are really close, there is an exchange of the dude handshake and it’s over. He said it’s fine, and even if he’s still a little stung, he has accepted your apology and the discussion is over.
Here is the same situation with your girlfriend:
You: “Baby, I’m sorry. I didn’t know you’d be upset. Really.”
Her: “It’s fine.”
You: “Honestly. Had I known, I wouldn’t have—Are you mad? You’re mad.”
Her: “No, I said it’s fine”
You: “You seem mad though. What did I do? I’m sorry.”
Her: “Don’t worry about it.”
This can go on for days. To you, it seems like she is going to make you live in relationship (and sexual) purgatory until she has decided that you have done your penance and shown adequate shame. Only when she is good and ready will she unleash why she was mad, how it made her feel, how she believes this reflects on the relationship as a whole (e.g. how it relates to patterns of neglect, your lack of thoughtfulness, and how it shows that you can’t “read” her), why you should have known better, and what you should do in the future.
How do you contribute to this type of behaviour? Sometimes, it is being truly thoughtless. Let’s be honest. So, if that’s the case, why won’t she just come out and tell you? The other major reason for the doublespeak is this: women get tired of telling men how to treat them.
Let’s be honest, with the death of chivalry (and yes, women contributed to its demise), many men are not sure how to treat women really well and show them that they are special. The rules are unclear, and many men depend on their girlfriends to teach them the boundaries of what they can “get away with.” Men can be lazy in relationships, taking their girlfriends’ small gestures for granted by not finding ways to reciprocate. Women are still expected to take care of their men, but men haven’t found a structured way, since the demise of the “breadwinner” role, to return that care.
When a woman is angry that she has been taken for granted or mistreated, and then has to also take time to explain why she is angry, it is even more disheartening. This is why she won’t just come out and tell you herself. She wants you to do the work for once and figure out how you misstepped or misjudged the situation and actually feel badly about it.
They don’t want your blanket apology for “whatever it was” they did. They want you to look at what you did, feel badly about it, and then apologize not because you made them mad, but because you are sorry for doing what you did. They, often mistakenly, believe that this will prevent future incidents in the future.
The bottom line is that women often use their doublespeak to mask insecurity and to register disappointment. They use it to try and get you to choose them over other parts of your life, to prove that you really do want to put them first. This makes them feel secure in the relationship. The other reason they seem to withhold their true meaning is that they are tired of explaining the relationship rules to you. It makes them feel like a nag, and believe it or not, no one likes to nag.
Your best strategy to combat the doublespeak is to learn it: “It’s fine” means you’ve screwed up and it’s not fine; “Do what you want” means “decide how important I am to you”; “Do I look fat in this” means “I feel fat and need you to tell me I’m hot.” If you need help, ask an expert: if you really can’t decode on your own, consult another female. Even if all women don’t use the doublespeak, we all know the code.