Thursday, September 16, 2010
I recently witnessed an interaction between a boy and girl in my daughter's preschool class that convinced me that this behavior is inborn to us as human beings. A group of kids were playing at the table with some sort of blocks or building toys. This little girl, Emily,* took something that a little boy, Aaron,* really wanted. He looked up at the teacher and said "Emily took that piece I wanted." The teacher said "why don't you go ask Emily if you can have that piece back." So, Aaron walked over to Emily and stood with his face 2 inches from hers. She did not acknowledge his presence. He said "Emily... Emily... Emily... Emily..." while she continued to ignore him. The teacher finally stepped in and said "Aaron, it looks like Emily is really focused on what she's doing, why don't you talk to her later."
Clearly Emily just wanted to be left alone and thought that if she just ignored Aaron, he'd go away. Aaron did not get the hint and would probably have stood there all day repeating her name if the teacher hadn't told him to stop.
So, to repeat, boys cannot read your mind. They also cannot read your visual cues, pick up on hints, or detect your mood and adjust their actions accordingly. You have to actually tell them what you are thinking and what you want from them. Of course, there is a limit to this. You don't need to tell them your every thought. But if you want something, for example, if you want a boy to empty the dishwasher (whether he's your friend, roommate, boyfriend, husband, etc.), you need to say, "will you please empty the dishwasher." Emptying the dishwasher yourself while sighing loudly and slamming cabinets while he watches football is not going to get the message across.
Also, do not say one thing if you mean another. If you want a boy to watch Grey's Anatomy with you instead of a baseball game, don't say "no, please go ahead and watch the baseball game," and hope that he'll choose to watch Grey's Anatomy with you instead. If you do, he will go watch the baseball game and will be confused if you are upset.
My advice - you will save yourself a lot of frustration if you stop trying to be subtle and just speak your mind.
*Names have been changed to protect the stupid and crazy.
(Special thanks to Barry for finding the best images.)