Posted by: Sherry Amatenstein
Topic: Why do men hate it when women ask, “What are you thinking…?”?
Memo to the people who came up with this topic: "What are you thinking?" Actually it's a juicy subject but there's an underpinning of sexism in thinking (whoops, need to stop repeating that word!) that women are the only ones who pop that particular question.
In some relationships – okay, in mine; the guy might be more the babbling brook when it comes to revealing feelings, fantasies, hopes, fears and wants. In a dating scenario, at least in the early stages it's typically the person least secure of where he/she stands who seeks reassurance by blurting out those four little words. As the relationship gains traction the more forthcoming partner tries to provoke a connection by burrowing further into the labyrinth-like depths of his/her partner's brain.
How do I feel when it's asked of me? Initially there’s guilt with a side order of discomfort. My “off” switch automatically activates as I struggle not to emotionally shut down. If I'm still pondering how deeply I want to be in the relationship this question might rekindle waning doubts.
Maybe I’m thinking I don’t want to hurt the person until I’m sure what I want. My mind might not even be on the guy but on some ridiculously mundane or uber-profound issue. Or perhaps I’m thinking of an ex…Or that I need to shave my legs. Or wondering if I set the VCR for the American Idol Results show. Not everything needs to be shared. Sometimes my mind is in its own personal twilight zone. Even when we’re together, do we always have to be together? If the relationship is more solid but I’m in a contemplative, honey-get-the-beer (in my case Pino Grigio) mood I just want to chill, not engage.
The way I react to the question often depends on how it’s asked. If I sense true curiosity (versus the person just needing a reassurance fix), even better, humor, I might be jollied out of my shell. The guy I’m seeing now says joshingly, “Don’t let the train leave the station unless you take me with you.” I laugh and respond. My ex used to whisper into my ear on a regular basis, “Tell me your secrets.” He was so insistent in a seductive, not obnoxious way that eventually I did. “Spilling” didn’t save the relationship but it did bring us closer.
My point is not to assume that all women want connection 24/7 and all men, Garbos with penises, vant to be left alone. Each relationship is unique. With some men I’ve been more verbal and open without prompting… with others it’s been a more uphill process. Different people bring out different sides.
As Oprah says: What I know for sure is that I hate feeling like I’m being nagged or when I know my answer will be something it's obvious my partner would rather not hear.Don’t jump into the pool unless you're positive you're ready to swim.