Over a decade ago, I began studying men with this question: “What if men are responding to women?” I wanted to know what made the same man treat one woman so differently from another. He could be very attentive to one and completely ignore another. He could treat one like a sister, another like a barmaid, and yet another like a queen. Being the one that usually ended up as the sister or barmaid, and never the Queen, I had to know.
Since then I have found numerous ways in which men are responding directly, and in the moment, to the behavior and attitude of the woman in front of them. These behaviors are discussed fully in Understanding Men. In this online course, you’ll also learn how we can bring out the best in men in almost every circumstance and in every type of relationship, be it platonic, professional, family, or romantic.
In looking for the ways men respond to women, I discovered the other side as well – the many ways that a man’s behavior has nothing whatsoever to do with a woman, or anyone else. This article discusses one of the ways men are definitely not responding to women.
You may be thinking now that this is not going to be so interesting. Since the most interesting things are about us, right? Maybe so, but this will bring relief from thinking you could have or should have done something differently. And bring relief from thinking that if only you were more or less of some quality, then he would have done something better. And bring relief from it always being about you. Finding out something is not personal can be great too.
One of the things we learned about men is that their thinking processes work very differently than women’s. Men are single focused. This means that they pay attention to one thing at a time. Because they have diffuse awareness, which provides the ability to multi-task, women make the mistake of interpreting single focus as being stupid or stubborn. It is not. It is just a different way of thinking that is extremely effective for many purposes.
Because we have not understood single focus, we do things that really do not work for men and give us very poor results. For example, we interrupt a man while he is focused on something and expect him to shift to paying attention to our topic or our needs. Or we get between a man and the object of his focus, whether it is the TV, the newspaper or food when he is hungry. It doesn’t go well, as I am sure you know.
Being single focused does not mean a man cannot handle complexity. They can and do very well. Think of coaching football for example. There is an enormous amount of information being dealt with at the same time. During a football game, just to start with, he’s got the offense, the defense, the clock, the score, the down, the play book, his team’s strengths and weaknesses, and the other team’s, and his strategy and theirs. But he is not confused by it at all. All those things are dealt with inside of being focused on one thing – in this case, winning the game.
While I admire the advantages of single focus, I also urge compassion for one of its disadvantages. Being single focused makes it very hard to find things. Men do not scan a room the way a woman can. My son, when he was only 7, helped me to understand this. He thought he had a “broken finder.” He told me, “When you tell me to look everywhere in my room for something, first I look on the bed. Then I look on the chair. Then I look on the floor.” In addition, by being single focused on whatever they are pursuing at the time, men do not mentally note misplaced items as they pass through a room, as most women would. Both of these aspects make women much faster at finding missing or misplaced articles. To show compassion for men of all ages, cheerfully responding to the agitated, “Where are my keys?” would be a great kindness on your part.
Remember all those times your feelings were hurt or you got angry because your man was watching TV and ignoring you? Or reading the newspaper and ignoring you? Or driving and ignoring you? Or eating dinner and ignoring you? Or getting dressed for work and ignoring you? Or playing computer games and ignoring you? Or surfing the net and ignoring you? Or staring into space and ignoring you?
You might have thought if you were sexier or more outgoing or thinner or more beautiful, or something else, then he would not have done that. Guess what? He never did that. He was never ignoring you – ever.
Men are never watching TV and ignoring us – that would mean they were paying attention to two things! Isn’t that great news? All those times our feelings got hurt – they were not ignoring us! So you never have to be ignored by a man again!
We think men are ignoring us because that is what we can do. Being multi-tasking we can do almost anything while actively ignoring someone else! And we often do.
One more thing to remember. The next time a man is watching TV – or fishing, or driving – and you plop down next to him and ask him, “What are you thinking about?” When he says, “Nothing,” believe him. A glorious benefit of single focus is getting to think about nothing. I envy men for this!
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