Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Mysterious Female Behavior


The lives of (most) men and women are very different. We're raised in different ways, we pay attention to different things, and we socialize differently. As a result, as female as I might feel inside me, I haven't had the same experiences most women have lived through. My upbringing and social encounters differ from yours.

Occasionally I come across female behavior that mystifies me. I scratch my head and can't grasp its genesis or purpose. One of those instances occurred today. Let me convey it to you and ask for explanation. My question is: Why do women do this?

When speaking to a man they don't know, women often make conspicuous mention of their boyfriend/husband -- even when there's no logical reason to refer to them. This is obviously a coded message ("I have a boyfriend/husband"), but I don't know why that message is sent. Are women pre-emptively warding off sexual or romantic gestures? Are they establishing themselves as "normal" or socially-conforming? Or are they simply declaring pride about their long-term romantic relationship?

Your thoughts?

26 comments:

  1. "Are women pre-emptively warding off sexual or romantic gestures?" YES. Talking to many men in a friendly way can be misconstrued very easily, both as me flirting with the guy, or that I would be open to flirting advances from him. I always drop "my husband" into a conversation as quickly as I can. I've had it happen (in my long-ago past) where I have not done this, and the guy I've been talking to has actually gotten mad/aggressive with me. It can be scary! And the onus is placed on the woman to do this.

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    1. The straightforwardness of your answer is fascinating, Sheila. And so obviously true. Thank you for helping me understand.

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    2. It's true, sadly the least provocative thing a woman can do to turn down a man's advances is to signal she "belongs" to another man.

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    3. Oop, other folks downstream have already chimed in and said it, and better than I could!

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  2. Yes, very much yes, I agree with Sheila!
    Whether we need to do this everytime is questionable. But just get it wrong once and it will reinforce the behaviour.
    Women just don't feel as safe as men.
    Mind you raising boys is helping me see, as they become teens, that boys and men are seen as more agressive and dangerous to society which can also be problematic.
    xo Jazzy Jack

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  3. Yes, I agree with Sheila and Jazzy Jack. It's sort of a way to set the boundaries of any future relationship with the man you are talking to, saying 'I can be your friend but don't expect anything more'. Also, it can be a way of reassuring the guy: 'I'm not after you, just being friendly' (because there are men who think all women are nymphomaniacs who go gaga when they enter the room).
    I remember girls using the 'I have a boyftiend' line even when they were single, just to get someone to leave them alone. When a certain type of man thinks of you as 'property of another man' he leaves you alone, but if he knows you're single, the next question will be 'are you a lesbian' as if there must be an explanation why you don't like his advances...

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    1. That "lesbian" thing is weirdly true. I've heard men say it as the only possible explanation for why a woman turned them down -- when in reality they just aren't attractive people.

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  4. I agree with all of the above comments, getting it wrong once and having someone come on to you can be more than awkward and what I find is that often, friendliness from a Woman, to some Men, is seen and misinterpreted as an Invitation so to speak. Yes, Men and Women are very different, and setting appropriate boundaries is something as a Woman you need to learn early on to be Safer. Dawn... The Bohemian

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    1. I learned early on that friendliness from a woman is friendliness and not a romantic/sexual invitation. It boggles my mind that some men can't see that. Their perception of women is so warped and limited.

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  5. My brain does this unconsciously when talking to men and I hear myself refer to my husband numerous times in a short exchange and it's like I'm looking down at myself thinking "WHY DO YOU KEEP SAYING THAT?!" -- but I agree it's after so many years of men misconstruing friendliness as an invitation and the awkwardness that then follows. What mystifies me most about female behaviour is the bitchiness and mean girl cliques that still exist waaaay past your school years. I'm nearly 40 and I can't believe I'm still dealing with it!

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    1. Thanks for explaining. And what you say about meanness is sadly true. It disheartens me. I believe most meanness in women stems from social and personal insecurity; they deploy it as a defense-mechanism. Not an excuse, but more like an explanation. It's unfortunate when other women get hurt by it.

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  6. I agree with all the responses above, particularly Sheila's. I've only been in 2 relationships in my life, once when I was aged 20-22 and from the age of 28 onwards when I met my current husband and thus I did not had this 'protection' from unwanted attention for most of my adolescence and around 6 years of my 20's. I say this because I have always been awkward in situations involving ambiguous situations with males. I have always wanted to be interested in, kind to and really listen to people I meet, I think that is my duty as a human being. But, I have been in situations where I've been consequently hit on and I do not know how to deal with it, a because I've never been sure if THEY are just being friendly OR are interested and I never want to be arrogant enough to assume someone is interested in me or say anything to avert it or resolve it so this awkwardness ensues. And in a few cases, where I haven't been able to resolve the ambiguity or uncertainty, it has led to awkwardness. One case, a fellow flute player who I liked very much as a friend but always was slightly wary of his feelings who eventually told me he wanted a date and a possible future with me which was veeeeeery difficult to respond to as a shy girl who didn't want to hurt feelings or humiliate a decent guy in any way. Another case, at my music camp, a guy I was friendly to because he was new and didn't know people, one night, I fell asleep on a sofa wearing a skirt and woke up to find him stroking my legs up and down in a way I was not happy with and I was mortified and walked outside and sat on a bench and ended up talking to another got who construed it that I was interested. These were both pre-boyfriend and they have all made me very cautious! Sorry, a bit waffly here but I know you'd appreciate a bit more in depth answer!

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    1. Thank you, Kezzie, a lot for sharing your personal history. I'm sorry about the awkward situations you found yourself in. It saddens (and frightens me) to hear how aggressive some guys are toward women.

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  7. P.S. I love the fact you asked this! You are such a thoughtful and caring soul Ally.

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  8. I do it too. I did it today,across the pond, - in Portugal, amidst strangers- mentioning both my husband AND my son ( speaking to a group of men my son's age). I am so naturally friendly , I am a bit defensive that my outgoing social tendency not be misconstrued...
    Great topic Ally,
    xx, Elle
    http://www.theellediaries.com/blog/

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  9. Echoing all the others - yep yep yep. It's about avoiding come ons.

    The concept of how men and women talk (even gay and trans individuals) is a really unique exploration. I highly recommend Men and Women: Talking Together by Robert Bly and Deborah Tannen. It's from 1993, but I actually saw a video presentation of their research together. Not only is it funny and engaging, it takes a good look at how our language shapes us and our relationships.

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    1. Thanks, Megan. I saw that book when it came out because this subject has always been on my radar. The gender differences in communication are striking when you look at them.

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    2. Definitely. And after they are pointed out, it's hard not to see them everyday.

      I like to believe consciousness of this will help adapt what we teach our future generations, maybe bridge the gender - speech gap. Language defines so very much about our perceptions and how we view the world.

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  10. Follow up - You can get a free download of the audiobook here - https://www.betterlisten.com/products/men-and-women-talking-together-deborah-tannen-and-robert-bly

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  11. It sounds bad, but sometimes you feel obliged to as some say : politeness has become so rare that some people mistake it for flirtation.

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  12. WOW! Ally ... Awesome subject and some amazing answers all of which ring so true! You are so aware of things that happen around you and always get us thinking.

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  13. I think a lot of the reason can be found in this article, which (sadly) is completely based on truth:

    https://goodmenproject.com/featured-content/the-reality-that-all-women-experience-that-men-dont-know-about-kelly-jrmk/

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