I met up with Sherry, a girlfriend of mine who I hadn’t seen in a few months. I was prepared to spend the next several hours catching up on everything I had missed since our last meet up. As we started to talk, I could tell that she was struggling. Every time I asked her about her new boyfriend, she would change the subject. She finally broke down in tears and told me that she couldn’t understand why they were always arguing.
As I listened to Sherry tell me about the relationship I could hear a few behavior patterns that I knew was causing part of the problem. She was using the word should very often. She kept saying that she didn’t understand what he meant by certain things. She was frustrated that he wasn’t a good listener. As she told me more about her frustrations, I knew that she needed to make some changes if she wanted to see her relationship improve.
As a therapist, I have worked with thousands of men and women over the years. Single, married, partnered, polyamorous, asexual, and everything in between has provided me with the opportunity to learn about relationship patterns. Through the women I have worked with, I have identified a few distinct reasons that drive the men in their life crazy. In the spirit of fixing yourself first versus trying to change your partner here are a few reasons you need to be aware of that may be affecting your relationship.
Thinking that a man can read your mind
When I was talking with Sherry, she continued to point out that her boyfriend knew what she wanted him to do. She was angry at him because he should have known what she wanted. I asked her if she had been clear about what she was expecting from him. She said she hadn’t spelled it out for him and assumed he would know what she wanted. I challenged her to think about what could have happened if she had told him versus assuming he knew. She stated that her boyfriend might be able to meet her needs. She realised that she was unrealistic in thinking that he could read her mind and know what she needs.
I can’t stress it enough that a man cannot read your mind. You have to speak up and let him know what you need, think, want, or desire. If you don’t then it is likely you won’t get your needs met. Don’t use this as a test to see how much he cares for you or if he wants to be in the relationship. If you want something or need him to know, then tell him. It is your responsibility in the relationship to speak up, assert yourself, and be clear in your needs. If you don’t do this then conflict will continue to happen. Many men will not remain in a relationship with a woman that causes conflict and won’t work on improving her end of the relationship.
Sherry shared with me a few different things that her boyfriend did. She continued to ask what each of these things meant. She was trying to figure out if there was more of a meaning to his behavior. For example, he told her that he wanted to spend the weekend with his friends and didn’t know if he would be able to see her before the work week started. She created ten different scenarios of what this could mean for him and their relationship. Her anxiety began to spin out of control with possible outcomes.
I asked why she was allowing her thoughts to become stuck in a cycle. She didn’t know what it meant that he didn’t know if he could see her before the work week. She was making a mountain out of a molehill. I told her that he wanted to see his friends and probably wouldn’t see her before the end of the weekend. Precisely what he said it was. It’s pretty simple if you listen to what your man is telling you. Everything doesn’t have to mean something deep or meaningful. Most men are direct, to the point, and clear about what they want. It drives them crazy when women try to make it more than it is. Some women create conflict out of nothing. Don’t fall into a pattern of thinking that every behavior and decision means more than it is.
Getting upset over solutions a man proposes
Sherry told me that when she started talking with her boyfriend, he often interrupted her and shared his thoughts on the topic. At dinner, she was sharing with him a work conflict with a peer and he kept making suggestions on what she should do to fix the problem. She got mad at him and told him that he isn’t a good listener. This is a great example of the difference in how men and women communicate.
Men typically talk to extract information to problem solve. Women talk to vent and share which allows them to problem solve. Men often feel that when women begin to talk they don’t know when to stop. Men quickly shut down and zone out once a woman starts talking at length. This isn’t because men aren’t good listeners. It is because it is too much information coming at them. They short circuit and shut down because they can’t process all of it. If men are problem solvers, they often jump in and give suggestions on how to fix it. I challenged Sherry to let her boyfriend know what she needs the next time she talks with him. If she tells him she just needs him to listen, then he can turn off his problem-solving brain and be there to support her without jumping in with suggestions. Most women can get their needs met if they communicate it effectively.
There are many not so obvious reasons why women drive men crazy. These three are the most common ones. The good news is that women can make changes in these areas so they can have better relationships. Women don’t need to change for their man; they need to change so they can get the relationship they deserve. Once they focus on the areas, they are responsible for it’s the man’s responsibility fix their end. When Sherry changes how she interacts with her boyfriend it is likely she will see improvements in the relationship. If the relationship doesn’t improve after she makes changes then she needs to reevaluate it to see if she stays or goes.
Do you know any other reasons why women drive men crazy? Share them in the comment section below!