What Are Men Thinking? Understanding the Secrets of the Male Brain
"What are men thinking" is a question asked, more than a few times in their lives, by women all over the world. Like men are confounded by the female brain, so too are women confounded by the male brain. It's an age-old problem that has never been solved: how to make women understand how men think.
Below are several scenarios that illustrate the differences between how men and women approach the same situation.
A couple is traveling together, heading to the mountains for a relaxing weekend at a popular resort. It's Friday afternoon and the woman is driving. They stop briefly at a gas station to refill their tank and get some snacks. The cashier is a tall, muscular teenager who thanks them for their purchase. On the way out, they bump into a local woman who apologizes, but doesn't look up on her way in. As they approach the car, the man offers to drive. The woman hands him the keys and they get in the car. They're on the road in a matter of minutes, on their way again.
Woman thinks: It's so nice to get away and spend some time together.
Man thinks: Thank god I'm driving so that we can stop moving in slow motion and actually make some good time. If only we could have left sooner instead of spending that time to pack all this crap we're never going to need. I wonder if her suitcase is actually slowing down the car. If I have to listen to another Sarah McLachlan CD I swear I'm driving off a cliff. Is the fact she doesn't like Led Zeppelin a deal breaker? I wonder if I could beat that kid the convenience store in a fight. Sure, he's big, but I think I could take him. I wonder if his unit is bigger than mine? That woman who bumped into us was kind of hot.
A married couple awakens in the morning to discover their toilet has overflowed. As a result, water has caused the linoleum on the bathroom floor to bubble and there is toilet paper and other nasty stuff on the floor.
Woman thinks: Call the plumber.
Man thinks: Let's flush the toilet again and see if more water comes up. I wonder if the kids I dropped off at the pool yesterday did that. Cool. Let's rip up the floor and replace it with something else which I will install myself. I wonder if I can lift that toilet or if there's something I can smash with a hammer.
It's a Sunday in October. A husband and wife wake up in the morning around 6am to prepare meals before their kids get up at 7am. They discuss the plans for the day, which involve taking the kids out for lunch after a trip to an indoor pool, buying some groceries, and grilling chicken at the end of the day. They hope they will have time to watch a movie with the kids after dinner.
Woman thinks: what a beautiful day we have planned out for the family. It should be really wonderful and a great bonding experience for everyone, yet productive too.
Man thinks: Football! How do I figure out how to watch some football today? I should make sure to bring my phone wherever we go so I can check scores. Maybe they'll have a tv somewhere near the pool and there will be football on it. Instead of a movie, maybe the kids would want to watch football or maybe The Matrix or Star Wars and then we can stop every fifteen minutes to check the score of the game.
A couple wants to redecorate a room in their house. As they enter, the woman begins talking about paint color and furniture location and the man offers up some suggestions. After 30 minutes they make a plan to paint the room a neutral color and to buy some new shades and furniture.
Woman thinks: I'm so glad we could take the time to do this. I think we really work well together on stuff like this and I'm really happy with the outcome. This room is going to look great.
Man thinks: I can't believe it took 30 minutes to do something I could have figured out in 30 seconds. And does she not realize I don't care about paint colors? She always says my taste is borderline frat house anyway. Why can't she just do these things herself and let me go play video games?
A guy hits on a woman at a bar. She tells him to go away, that she thinks he's ugly, then proceeds to toss her drink in his face. He walks away looking dejected.
Woman thinks: I can't believe that guy thought he had a chance with me.
Man thinks: I wonder if sex is out of the question.
Common Questions, Common Answers
Men often do not say what they are actually thinking for fear of offending women because men know that women won't understand how much we're thinking about sex or how often our answer to most questions is "I don't care". Here are some common exchanges between men and women showing what a man will say, but what he is actually thinking.
Woman: "Which earrings do you think I should wear? These or these?"
Man: "I think either would look nice on you."
Man is thinking: "What difference does it make and why do you think I care or even have an opinion? Besides, what do I know about earrings?"
Woman: "Can we make a plan to clean the bathroom over the weekend?"
Man: "Sure. Anytime is fine."
Man is thinking: "Okay, I understand that you're cleaner than I am, but that bathroom is perfectly clean. Maybe it's not free of every germ in the world, but you look at it and it looks clean. Do we really have to clean it again?"
Woman: "Why do you look at other women all the time?"
Man: "I think women are beautiful, but I'm with you, and I think you're the most beautiful woman there is."
Man is thinking: "Because I'm imagining myself having sex with all of them and it's fun to fantasize."
Woman: "Don't you care about how our house looks?"
Man: "Of course I care."
Man is thinking: "No, not really."
Woman: "You realize this isn't about leaving the milk out. This is about our relationship."
Man: "Of course."
Man is thinking: "I don't have the slightest idea what you're talking about."
Scientific Differences Between Male and Female Brains
Here are a few scientific differences between the male and female brains that may help aid in the understanding of how and why men think the way they do.
- Men can often be left-brain dominant - what this means is that men can be more task-oriented while women are more intuitive and are better at communicating. Women are naturally skilled at reading communication signals when men tend to focus on the meaning of words. Thus, a woman may ask about how she looks and the man will take it very literally, but the woman is really giving the man an opportunity for communicating more than is just supplied by a simple, direct answer.
- Math stuff - the part of the brain that controls mathematical function is larger in men than in women. One might extrapolate from this that men tend to be very direct and linear while women are more circumspect and perceive emotional complexity better.
- Reactions to stress - Evolution has left men with a fight or flight response, reflective of their historical roles as hunters. Women employ a more loving, caring response, which is related to their motherly roles. Thus, when men and women fight, men can be more more combative while women try to mend situations.
- Language - The language centers in the female brain are larger than in males. Thus, women perceive more subtlety and complexity in language while mend tend to be very single-minded in their understanding of things.
- Feelings - The emotional center in the brain is larger in women, so they tend to be more connected to their emotions. Thus, they connect emotions and words. They read emotions better. This is why when situations between men and women turn emotional, men tend not to understand why.
- Spatial abilities - Men have better spatial recognition than women, so when a man tries to explain the solution to a problem involving visualization, women often cannot "see" the solution. And although it may be a generalization, it may explain why men are more confident drivers than women.
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