Why aren’t there more guys sitting around at cafes, talking about their feelings and building their friendships? Quite simply, it’s because guys just aren’t wired that way. Women can get together for the express purpose of catching up, and share some of their greatest hopes and fears over a cup of coffee or two. If you sit a guy down for a heart to heart, unless he is particularly articulate and self aware, chances are he will play with his coffee mug, read the menu five times and draw things in the sugar he spilled on the table. The one thing that won’t usually happen is a cohesive conversation about anything of any real importance in any depth.
And why is it that when a woman calls her friends on the phone, the conversation flows freely, but when a guy has to ring one of his pals, it sounds like they are working with some sort of check-list? Information is shared quickly and succinctly, quite often in barely coherent grunts, but once all the data is swapped the call ends. Trying to prolong one of those calls is an exercise in frustration or outright futility.
But guys do have friends and good friends at that. So how is it that those friendships develop and what does it take for a man to open up? The answer would have to be bowling. Or fishing. Quite possibly both. Because men don’t talk for the sake of talking; they do stuff. And when they are doing stuff, they talk. If women understood this, a huge range of inexplicable male activity would not only make sense, but be seen in a whole different light.
When the guys get together to go bowling, or fishing, or one of those other mysterious male pastimes it is often a cover for an opportunity to bond. Not many guys will think about it in those terms, and the few who recognize the phenomenon would deny it with their dying breath, but it’s true. Poker nights, hunting trips and golf are actually carefully camouflaged opportunities for guys to open up to one another. It has something to do with the focus of the activity being elsewhere that makes us guys feel safe enough to talk a little more freely. If we are semi-occupied lining up the tee shot or casting a line, we don’t feel like the spotlight is on us quite the same as when we are sitting at a café table with nothing else going on. And in that semi-secluded environment we feel brave enough to share some of the more important and honest things we usually keep to ourselves.
The solution for women who want to see that side of their man is really quite obvious. Learn to bowl. Or fish. Or do whatever it is your man is into. Hiking, golf, long drives or board games – whatever the environment, engage in the activity as an avenue to hearing what is really going on inside your guy. And don’t make the mistake of then going to a café to discuss the experience; your shot at building intimacy comes on the fairway and baiting the line and choosing how to bowl the split. In those spaces, while everyone’s attention is focused on the activity, if you listen right and leave room for him to talk you will find that he will let you in on things he otherwise might struggle to express. While you are doing something like that side by side, you will find yourselves standing closer together in every way.
P.S. Do you have a question you would like Dan to answer, or any of the other guys at Decoding Men:
1) Please be specific when you ask your question. Asking questions like “Why are men jerks?” is not enough information to go on, to provide a decent response. What exactly did this guy do to make you feel like he was a jerk?
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