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/ Why She Wants You to Be a 'Mind-Reader'

Understanding women and covert communications.

<em><strong>Brooke:</strong> “Gary, you know I don’t like waking up to a dirty kitchen.”</em>

<em><strong>Gary:</strong> “Who cares?”</em>

<em><strong>Brooke:</strong> “I care, all right!  I care!  I busted my ass all day cleaning this house and then cooking that meal and I worked today, it would be nice if you said ‘thank you’ and helped me with the dishes.”</em>

<em><strong>Gary:</strong> “Fine.  I’ll help you do the damn dishes.”</em>

<em><strong>Brooke:</strong> “Oh, come on, you know what?  No, see, that’s not what I want.”</em>

<em><strong>Gary:</strong> “You just said that you want me to help you do the dishes.”</em>

<em><strong>Brooke:</strong> “I want you to <strong>want</strong> to do the dishes.”</em>

<em><strong>Gary:</strong> “Why would I want to do dishes?  Why?”</em>

<em><strong>Brooke:</strong> “See?  That’s my whole point.”</em>

<em><strong>Gary:</strong> “Let me see if I’m following this, okay?  Are you telling me you’re upset because I don’t have a strong desire to clean dishes?”</em>

<em><strong>Brooke:</strong> “No, I’m upset because you don’t have a strong desire to <strong>offer</strong> to clean the dishes.”</em>

<em><strong>Gary:</strong> “I just did!”</em>

<em><strong>Brooke:</strong> “After I asked you!”</em>

<em><strong>Gary:</strong> “Jesus Brooke, you’re acting crazy again.”</em>

-- <a href="">The Break-Up</a> (2006)


I highly recommend you watch this scene from the movie “The Break-Up” if you haven’t seen it yet.  I consider it a perfect example of men communicating <strong>overtly </strong>and women communicating <strong>covertly.</strong>

As men, we’re used to <strong>overt communication.</strong>  The primary intention of our communication is to <strong>convey information.  </strong>The value of any communication is based on the <strong>content.</strong>  Say you’ve made plans with your friend Paul, but he cancels at you at the last minute.  If he rarely flakes out on you, then you’ll probably just give him the benefit of the doubt and respond, “sure, no problem.”   Or if he flakes out on you constantly, you may respond with, “dude, you’re being a shitty friend.”

What you <strong>won’t</strong> do is tell him “that’s cool” but then analyze what that last-minute cancellation “meant.”  But this is what women do, because they use <strong>covert communication</strong>.  The primary intention of women communicating is to <strong>convey feeling.</strong>  The value of the communication is based on the <strong>context.</strong>

So if you were a woman, and your friend Andrea flaked out on you, you’d wonder if she was really telling the truth about why she flaked, and if she’s hanging out with Sarah instead of you, and does that mean she values Sarah’s friendship more than you, and does that mean Sarah’s been talking shit about you, and should you invite all your friends to your birthday party next weekend but exclude Andrea and Sarah.

<h3>The Hollywood Translation</h3>
The reason why I like this clip in “The Break-up” is because Jennifer Aniston is using <strong>overt </strong>dialogue to communicate her <strong>covert feelings, </strong>which makes this concept easy to understand.  Anyone watching this clip, even men, would think Vince Vaughn’s character is acting pretty selfish and boorish.  They know Vince Vaughn’s character could easily avoid the conflict if the exchange went like this.

<em><strong>Brooke:</strong> “Gary, you know I don’t like waking up to a dirty kitchen.”</em>

<em><strong>Gary:</strong> “Who cares?”</em>

<em><strong>Brooke:</strong> “I care, all right!  I care!  I busted my ass all day cleaning this house and then cooking that meal and I worked today, it would be nice if you said ‘thank you’ and helped me with the dishes.”</em>

<em><strong>Gary:</strong> “All right babe, thank you for cooking and cleaning.  Go get ready for bed and I'll deal with the dishes."</em>

This would be easy enough to do.  However, very few women will translate their covert communication this overtly, since by definition, it's intended to be covert.  This is more likely to happen.

<em><strong>Brooke:</strong> “Gary, you know I don’t like waking up to a dirty kitchen.”</em>

<em><strong>Gary:</strong> “Who cares?”</em>

<em><strong>Brooke:</strong> “Okay, fine.”</em>

<em><strong>Gary:</strong> “What, are you mad now?”</em>

<em><strong>Brooke:</strong> “No, just play your game, I'm fine.”</em>

<em><strong>Gary:</strong> [continues playing Grand Theft Auto, and then wonders why Brooke gives him the silent treatment for the rest of the night and refuses to have sex with him for a week].</em>

<h3><strong>“It’s like she expects me to be a mind-reader.”</strong></h3>
If you've been a relationship before, you've probably said this.  You didn't mean it literally, but that doesn't make it any less <strong>true.</strong>  Women <strong>do</strong> want you to be a mind-reader, because they aren’t going to tell you what they really want <strong>because they are bad at it.</strong>  We’ve covered <a title="Asking What Women Want Is A Bad Question" href="/articles/view/asking-what-women-want-is-a-bad-question/">why asking women “what they want” is pointless</a>, and this article is really just a deeper dive into that point.  <strong>You’re asking women to deconstruct their feelings and communicate overtly, but that’s not something they’re going to be good at doing.</strong>  In other words: it would be nice if they could communicate as clearly as Jennifer Aniston’s character does, but they don’t.

This isn’t just limited to their interactions with men.  If you have any female friends, you’ve probably heard them complain about another female friend.  “Monica is such a bitch.  I planned this great birthday party for her, but then she won free tickets to a concert at work, and invited Nicole instead of me.”

And your first reaction is probably to respond, “okay, why don’t you tell Monica about this?”  And your friend’s face kind of scrunches up into a frown, and there’s a long pause, and she’ll say:  <em>“Just tell her?  I mean, I guess.  Yeah.  I don’t know.  I mean, I should.  I’ll do that next time I see her.  Well, maybe.”</em>

The idea of communicating overtly is so foreign to her that she <strong>never even considered it</strong>, she still can’t quite wrap her mind around it after you suggested it to her, and just thought of it making her feel awkward and uncomfortable.

<h3><strong>Women Don’t Want to Communicate Overtly</strong></h3>
I’m not saying women have some genetic defect that prevents them from plainly speaking their thoughts.  You won’t get very far in school or in the workplace if you don’t use overt communication, and learn how to navigate conflicts and negotiate issues doing so.  But when it comes to their romantic life, they’re going to appreciate a guy that “can give her things she didn’t even know she wanted.”

This is also why women struggle so much when they’re attracted to <a title="She’s Not Actually Attracted to Assholes" href="/articles/view/shes-not-actually-attracted-to-assholes/">a guy like Mike</a> who doesn’t seem to have any interest in an LTR.  They’ll analyze all of Mike’s actions to death in some attempt to determine how serious his feelings are.  <em>Well, he blew me off on Valentine’s Day, but then he sent me a cute text with a heart emoji the next day.  Doesn’t that mean he cares about me?  Why would he text me if he didn’t like me?</em>

All her friends will say, “Why don’t you tell him how you feel and ask him how he feels?” And she’ll respond with the same: <strong>“Just ask him?  I mean, I guess.  Yeah.  I don’t know.  I mean, I should.  I’ll do that next time I see him."</strong>

<strong>"Well, maybe.” </strong>

<h3><strong>This is Your Rosetta Stone</strong></h3>
You probably have had some intuitive sense that woman communicated this way, but you probably chalked it up as "I just don't understand women," or “women are so confusing or complex,” or the less charitable, “women get too tied up with their emotions.”

But this isn’t true.  <strong>You just haven’t understood women because you never realized they were speaking a completely different language the whole time.</strong>  And while it’s easy for them to understand men speaking overtly – after all, it’s <em>overt!</em> – it’s harder for men to understand women speaking covertly.  <strong>And it’s impossible if you don’t realize they’re speaking covertly to begin with.</strong>

The good news is you know this now, and you can use this to your advantage in several concrete ways.  You can, in fact, be the mind-reader that she's looking for.  How?  I’ll describe that in a future article.


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