Talk Hurdle #1: In The Car
Guy style: He's into peace and quiet, and the open road; it's the perfect chance to chill out--in silence--with you.
Girl style: You see this as prime, uninterrupted couple time to discuss...stuff.
How to mesh: Try playing by his rules now and then. "Your guy relishes times like these: just being with you, in the moment, without the chatter," says Diana Ivy, PhD, co-author of Genderspeak and professor of Communication at Texas A&M University in Corpus Christi, Texas. "By learning to enjoy that time with him--and relaxing his way occasionally--you build a new kind of closeness."
But before that can happen, you need to get comfortable with that stillness. "Silence makes many women squirm, and the desire to fill the silence is strong," says Ivy. But you can change your mindset. "When a lull falls, rather than think 'We're incompatible,' switch up your self-talk with 'This is so nice--we're totally at ease with one another.'" After all, that's what's really going on.
Of course, it doesn't always have to be his way or the highway. In fact, when you have something to talk about, now's the time to bring it up. "Men feel more comfortable talking about serious things side by side, because face to face is a combative stance that can put them on the defensive," says Ivy. To raise a topic, be direct. Say, "I'd like to talk about X for a minute." Share your thoughts, and ask, "What's your take on that?" Then, give him time to mull over the issue while you enjoy the peace and quiet.
Talk Hurdle #2: After A Fight
Guy style: He wants to call a truce and move on, which roughly translates to "get naked, have sex, make up."
Girl style: You can't stop thinking about the argument and freak out even more because he's totally blowing it off.
How to mesh: First, understand that he's not (deliberately) being an insensitive pig. "He's thinking 'We fought, it's over; let's get close again,'" says Ivy. But of course he won't say that. "Men get over fights faster--their anger burns out quickly--and cozying up to you is his sincere effort to make amends," she explains.
The fact is, many guys consider making love and saying "I love you" to be the same thing, so attempting to get busy is actually his way of trying to make up. That doesn't mean you have to accept it. "Women often need to feel close to a guy again before they get physical, while the only way he knows how to restore intimacy is to have sex," she says.
So, you have the same goal--becoming close--with different means of reaching it. The best strategy for you is to declare a verbal truce. "Say to him 'I know the fight is over, but I still feel hurt,' so he gets that you haven't quite recovered," says Ivy. Then, suggest something that can prelude sex and make you feel tight again, like snuggling on the sofa. This way, your heart's in it when you're up for some hotter make-up action.
Talk Hurdle #3: First Thing In The AM
Guy style: He's focused on getting out the door, the commute to work, and the day ahead.
Girl style: You like to bond before your day apart and discuss plans.
How to mesh: Develop get-ready rituals that will not only give you the contact you crave, but will also still afford him the space he needs. You see, unlike the litany of thoughts you wake up with, your man is functioning on a more rudimentary level. "His pilot light isn't on yet," says Audrey Nelson, PhD, author of You Don't Say. "He's focused on the bare essentials." And, because he's tuned in to his morning tasks, adding to his list so early in the day will only irk him.
"Instead, look for practical activities that are essential to your getting out the door but that also bring you together," says Nelson. For instance, make coffee and drink them in the morning sun, or watch the news over breakfast. And as for discussing more serious matters, text or email him about errands and itineraries so he can respond at his own pace.
Go to the next page to read about three other common talk hurdles between guys and girls.
Talk Hurdle #4: On A Date
Guy style: He's up for enjoying good food and, between mouthfuls, a little banter with his woman.
Girl style: You envision romantic couple time and meaningful talks.
How to mesh: Unfortunately, guys don't switch from everyday chatter ("Hon, have you seen my keys?") to insightful conversation ("Did I ever tell you about my childhood?") just because there are candles on the table and it's Friday night. "Men respond to content-based communication rather than, say, a romantic atmosphere," says Ivy. "Most guys don't talk for the sake of it" (as you've probably discovered over countless meals).
To ensure your date discourse has spark, create some common ground. For instance, catch a movie or go window-shopping before dinner. "The topics might not be personal, but you'll find out more about him and get that sense of intimacy you want through backdoor conversations that have nothing to do with the relationship," says Ivy. And the benefit of having a conversation that's stimulating for him and insightful for you? The closeness it inspires will ignite that romance you've been lusting after, too.
Talk Hurdle #5: When There's A Problem
Guy style: He mulls it over without mentioning anything to anyone. When you prod for specifics, he gets annoyed.
Girl style: You spill every last detail. When he tells you exactly what you should do, you get annoyed.
How to mesh: When it comes to talking about a problem, he won't bring it up because (1) it requires talking about feelings and (2) it implies that he's asking for help. "Most men think discussing a difficult situation makes them look weak, even though they usually feel better once they've talked it through," says Warren Farrell, PhD, author of Women Can't Hear What Men Don't Say. So, you may need to coax it out of him.
He won't spill his guts the second you broach the issue, but he should come around if you ask an open-ended question like "You seem preoccupied. What's up?" Initially, he'll say, "Nothing I can't handle." So, nudge again with something specific, like "Is your boss still giving you a hard time?" If he wants your input, he'll talk.
You, on the other hand, are wired to workshop (and seek sympathy by proxy). "But when he hears you going on and on, he's likely to be overwhelmed by the volume of thoughts and feelings," says Nelson. In a word, it's torture. And to deal (read: shut down the noise) he goes into fix-it mode. So, if you want him to listen, preface your "sharing" with "I need to vent for a few minutes." "When he knows he just has to hear you out for a short period, he relaxes and takes in what you're saying," says Nelson.
Talk Hurdle #6: At A Party
Guy style: He banters with and teases friends, but he ignores you.
Girl style: You expect him to be the same attentive guy with you in public that he is at home, but he's MIA.
How to mesh: Climb inside his head. "He probably spends the majority of his out-of-work life with you," says Ivy. "So when he's out, he's not avoiding you; he's focused on his friends." And if he's a little more outgoing, it's because he's posturing for approval. A guy will be more social in a group because it's how he maintains his place in the hierarchy.
Anyway, you don't have to be joined at the hip to feel connected at a party. "Set up low-key check-ins that allow you to make contact without infringing on his social needs," says Nelson. Tell him you love it when he periodically catches your eye across the room. Or, make a standing policy that he always keeps an eye on your drink and fetches fresh ones. It's a tiny commitment, but it'll make you feel like he's looking out for you. And finding that middle ground with your man is what it's all about.
Talk Hurdle #1: In The Car