Jeff Wilser, Glamour magazine
Sheesh! Guys-why can't they straight-up say what they mean? Jeff Wilser decodes the secret language of men, and their weird texts too. Keep this handbook close!
Guys want to say one thing, but we end up saying, or doing, another. So how can you learn to read us right? I consulted a few experts to help unscramble some common scenarios.
You're talking to him-but he won't stop watching TV
What it means:
Probably nothing. (How could what you're saying compete with The Walking Dead? I mean, zombies!) As annoying as this common male behavior may be, "we all need a little zone-out time when we get home," says Carol Kinsey Goman, Ph.D., an authority on body language and communication. "Some women take bubble baths, do yoga. Men need to unwind too and often do it in front of the TV-or even in the car. I had a client whose commute went from 20 minutes to five minutes. He was miserable. He had lost his decompression time."
How to deal:
Does he do this every night? If so, for God's sake call him on it. But if it's sporadic, give him his downtime and try again when the zombies are dead.
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During a big discussion, he goes completely mute
What it means: Simply that he's male. Experts told me that guys are hardwired to derive less enjoyment than women do from deep, personal conversations. "Talking through emotional issues releases oxytocin, and, in women, estrogen enhances that hormone's calming effects," explains Kinsey Goman. Testosterone, though, blunts oxytocin's properties; that's why, for men, such discussions can increase anxiety and distress. And when that happens? "Stonewalling is an automatic response to feeling emotionally flooded," says Katie Ramsburgh, a marriage and family therapist with Seattle's Gottman Relationship Institute. "He is mentally fleeing the situation. It's a self-soothing mechanism."
How to deal:
"The heart rate of a man in this state can go up considerably," says Ramsburgh, "and parts of the brain actually shut down." And "flooding" is even more likely if he thinks you're blaming him for something. So come at a touchy topic in a nonaccusatory way. "For example," says Ramsburgh, "if the discussion is about how much time he spends at work, start with 'I know work is important to you, but you've been practically living at the office, and I really miss you.' This is less likely to bring on the poker face than 'You're always working, and we never have time together anymore.' "
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He puts a hand on another woman's arm
What it means:
Surprisingly, experts say you should be worried about this one. "Sometimes a touch truly is casual…but I'd be wary," Kinsey Goman says. This is Body Language 101: Our hands and legs point toward what we desire, even if we are not yet ready to admit those desires to ourselves.
How to deal: A touch below the elbow is in the danger zone, believes Lillian Glass, Ph.D., author of The Body Language Advantage. And Kinsey Goman says to beware repeated contact: "If my boyfriend put his hand on the small of a woman's back, if he leaned against her, if he touched her hair, if their feet touched-if I saw a combination of two or three of these, I'd know we were in trouble." But if it's not that extreme? Don't overanalyze. Sometimes a hug is just a hug.
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