Posted by: Margo Z
Topic: Why do men hate it when women ask, “What are you thinking…?”
In my experience, no matter who asks the question, 90% of the time it’s born of insecurity. Either the relationship is new and we aren’t yet comfortable with lulls in the conversation; or else our inner fears are screaming, “Oh no, he got quiet all of a sudden, what does it MEAN?!”
Broadcasting our insecurities drives people away. Habitually prying and probing into another’s private thoughts becomes a nervous tic of sorts, and can’t help but put the respondent in a defensive position – and what emotionally healthy person would find that enjoyable?
I agree with those who say men don’t like to be asked the question because they feel compelled to answer candidly, and they are all too often thinking something that would only lead to conflict. I mean, do we REALLY want to hear that he’s thinking carnal thoughts about the waitress… or that he just plain wishes we’d shut up sometimes?
Other times, he might be working out a problem in his head or going over something that happened at work that he now believes he could have handled differently. Our breaking into those thoughts, which have nothing to do with us, becomes an unwelcome intrusion.
One of my favorite passages from The Rules, that famous set of dating and relationship guidelines by Ellen Fein & Sherrie Schneider, suggests a positive reason a man might have clammed up:
Sometimes men just want to drive in silence without saying a word. Let them. Maybe he’s thinking about how he’s going to propose to you one day. Don’t ruin his concentration.
Reading that broke me of asking a man that question, ever. Now that I’m married, when Josh gets quiet I’ll say to myself, “Hmm, maybe he’s trying to figure out what to get me for Valentine’s Day; better not interrupt his train of thought.” And even if he’s really thinking that yes, my butt DOES look big in these jeans, because I don’t nudge him to share any thoughts he'd prefer not to, harmony reigns supreme.