Ok, ok. I admit it. We do this.
A lot of us women do this. We are upset, we make it obvious, and you finally work up the courage to ask us what’s wrong, bracing yourself for whatever response we may throw your way. And our response?
“No, I can see that you are not fine. Tell me what’s wrong?!”.
I have heard many a guy ask the question – why do women say they are fine when they’re not? If you take the answer “I’m fine” at face value and leave it alone, you know you are making the situation worse. You feel like you just can’t win when this is the response you get from your wife or girlfriend.
1. We haven’t really nailed it down yet.
Often times when you guys ask us why we are upset, we don’t really know yet. We are still working through how we feel about whatever the circumstances. Sorry, we just need a little more time.
2. We are afraid you’ll think we are CRAZY.
You may not realize it, but women are called crazy kind of a lot. Guys will casually say their ex is psycho. You hear a difficult co-worker referred to as nuts or a weirdo. People say their sister is acting crazy.
Almost all of us women have been told at least once in our lives (some of us much more) that we are overreacting.
So, now she is hurt by you or someone or something….being told that how she feels is too much would just make it hurt worse. A big fear in the current issue she is upset about is that she is making something a bigger deal than it is.
She will tell you how she feels and the proposed solution (by you) will essentially be that she just needs to get over it. No thanks.
As women, we know that feelings and facts are not the same. She may even know that how upset she is right now is extreme, but it’s because she cares. She is hurt. Please, guys, look past how she is acting and hear what she is saying.
And whatever you don’t, DO NOT use the words, overreacting, big deal, crazy, psycho or “acting like your mom” in this situation.
3. She’s afraid you don’t care/it won’t change.
She may think you already know what you did. You unknowingly go about your day acting like everything is fine, It feels to her like the grievance is not that important to you. Which means she is not that important to you. Meanwhile, she is losing sleep and heavy-hearted throughout the day.
Or maybe this is an issue you have already talked about several times and nothing has changed; you did it again. If you haven’t shown that you care to change, she feels frustrated that it’s something that she needs to bring up again (see #2, she feels like you think she is overreacting).
To be clear, we do this too. You talk to us about stuff and we don’t change right away. I know, but bringing that up now is not productive.
Bottom line, she needs to know that you DO care and if you have a part to own, please do.
4. Old wounds.
Maybe her family didn’t handle conflict well.
Maybe she has been vulnerable in the past and gotten really hurt (or, ahem, been made to feel crazy. Seriously, we need to know that you don’t think we are overreacting and that how we feel is important).
Maybe she was in an abusive relationship in the past and now that she is in a healthy relationship with you, she doesn’t really know how to deal with stuff.
We have all lived years before meeting each other, there is a lot of life behind how we handle hurt. If you know that she has some of that, gently show her a better way. You could even GENTLY bring up these issues and ask her if that has something to do with what’s going on now, if it feels appropriate.
Your suspicions are true, we have a ways to go.
So do you. We all do.
So while a woman may know that the best thing would be to calmly talk to you about an issue before it gets worse, she may just bottle it up. Or say she is fine, then act really upset and cold. As mentioned above, you can show her a better way to handle the issue.
If immaturity feels like a factor in her “I’m fine”, you meeting her with immaturity will not help. It’s time for you to rise to the occasion, because she can’t right now. You may just need to be the bigger person and remain calm, speak to her with grace and have patience.
Any reasonable woman will snap out of that after a few conflicts IF you don’t stoop to her level.
If you are newly married, remember that she is dealing with stuff that she has never dealt with before in a way she has never had to. Old family stuff can creep back up, she is sharing a life with another person (you), that’s a huge adjustment. She has never been here before.
So, if she is acting immaturely, have grace for her. She will come around and grow if you don’t embarrass her. That goes for anyone that needs to grow in maturity.
6. It doesn’t have anything to do with you, so she doesn’t want to unload on you.
For this, you can be thankful. But if you can tell that it’s really weighing on her, it may be worth asking again, “Is everything ok? I’m here to listen if you need to talk”.
7. She really is fine.
Maybe she is just tired. Maybe she is really stressed about work. Maybe she is an introvert in need of some time alone. Sometimes, we really are just fine. But not always, we like to keep you on your toes.
So how do you respond without making it worse?
Ultimately, she wants to know that you care and that how she feels and what she needs is important to you. So, whatever you say, say it calmly and kindly (even if she wasn’t very kind to you. Sorry. See #5). Here are a few things you want to communicate verbally and non-verbally:
- That you care
- That when she is ready to talk, you are there to listen
- If it’s something you’ve done, you can’t know unless she tells you (don’t say that with sass, I know it’s tempting)
- If she needs time alone, you are secure enough to give her space
Read more from Jenny at In The Everyday.