Are men relationally challenged?

June 10, 2011

in Her Needs, Intimacy, Seeing Clearly

Fake colourblindness test © Paul H. Byerly

Men as a group are not as good at relationships as women as a group. At birth, the female brain is better wired for relationships than the male brain, and because of this, women are better at empathy and reading others. Add to this the difference in how we are taught and raised, and the difference in how we do at relationships is understandable. It’s not that I am saying men are stupid – just that we are less programmed for relationships, and get less instruction on relationships. Like many things, those who don’t fully “get it” also tend to not be aware that they don’t get it.

Imagine if all men were completely colour-blind, while all women could see colours. Men would have no problems communicating about what they see with other colour-blind men, but would be frustrated by women who claim to see things that they cannot see. The women would get on just fine with other colour-seeing women, and would be frustrated with men who say they can’t see what is so clearly there in front of their eyes.

While that might help you see the issue, colour-blindness is a poor metaphor because men can learn to be much better at relationships. We can learn to be more empathetic, and to notice subtle clues about how others are feeling. Given the handicap we start with, we will never outclass some women, but we can get much better, and that can make our marriages better.

Am I saying the guys should change to be like the woman? Why not ask them to be more like we are? The reality here is that the women are seeing something that is there. This is not about right and wrong, but about seeing and not seeing. It would make no sense to say the people who can see colours should pretend they don’t exist – especially if there is a way for those who don’t see colours to learn to see them.

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3 comments
Some married guy
Some married guy

Women are not better than men at relationships. Men and women are different with different priorities. When one is better at something, the lesser almost always yields to the wisdom and experience of the greater and makes the relationship unequal at best and domineering at worst.

Louise
Louise

We have a friend who is color-blind and he has figured out (with the help of his color-seeing family) how to determine likely colors based on the hues he does see. He has learned how to thrive by accepting cues from those around him.

Tony
Tony

I totally agree. It's utter nonsense to say that men are not as adept, or well equipped to conduct relationships. They simply approach relationships using the tools God has imparted in them, just as women approach relationships with the tools given them by God. To say one is worse than the other is to suggest that God did not give the one asserted to be inferior an inferior tool set. That simply is not true. The marriage relationship was designed so that neither had all the tools and it worked best when the tools brought to the table by both the husband and the wife were both used and valued. If we discount or place a premium on any of the tools, we put ourselves in a position of saying we know better than God with respect to what is needed to have the marriage relationship He designed. Therefore, any suggestion that men (or women) are lacking what it takes to have a good relationship indicates they don't understand or value what God has created.

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