How Men Read Women's Signals

While discussing a breakup story with a co-worker, I learned yet another scary lesson about women for me to add to the existing volumes of scary women lessons that grace my mental bookshelves: Women don't always mean what they say, and they expect us guys to know when they mean something and when they don't.

Now, my co-worker (Allison) explained that the event that kicked off her descent into breakup was her boyfriend missing an afternoon flight to visit for Valentine's weekend. The boyfriend is older, and she was gradually getting fed up with his irresponsible ways. Missing this afternoon flight wasn't the best thing for his relationship resume.

Then, a defining moment: during the conversation, Allison's boyfriend apologized for missing his flight. Allison angrily told him:

"You know what? Don't even come here. Don't worry about getting another flight."

So, he did what he was told, and didn't visit her in NYC. In fact, on Valentine's Day, he went "radio silence," as Allison put it. I guess he figured he was already in the doghouse after the blowup over the missed flight, so he thought it best to lay low.

A few days later Allison broke up with him. She told me:

"Obviously I didn't mean for him not to visit. I meant the opposite. He should have known that. And when he didn't make the effort to visit, that was it."

Somehow he was supposed to know that "don't come up here" meant "get your butt up here somehow, some way." I couldn't figure out the logic behind this. The correct thing to do is the opposite of what she's telling him to do?

Now, I've complained that men are a disadvantage in the dating world because women are totally confusing. But how are we supposed to know when disobeying a request is the right thing to do?

I can tell you that men think: "When in doubt, just do what she says." But nearly every woman I've spoken with regarding this story admits she has meant the opposite of what she said, and expected the guy to know this. You have to understand, if I'm in trouble and my girlfriend tells me not to do something, logic tells me I'll anger her even more mad if I go against her wishes.

The women I talk to about this tell me that "men are simple," so they just "do what they are told" instead of considering what the "correct" action should be. We mean what we say: Don't give me a hard time when I want to hang out with my friends, watch the big game, or any other stupid thing I like to do. So, please do that, and not the opposite.

Because it's impossible to tell what women mean, their words are like riddles written in a different language. We have to stop, think, and then fight our instinct, and hope whatever we choose to do is right.

Do you ever say anything and mean the complete opposite, and expect guys to know what you mean? Do you agree with the opinion that guys oversimplify things by doing what they are told without thinking? And, have you ever broken up with a guy because he didn't understand what you meant during an argument? Do you think my friend was being too hard on the guy by breaking up with him because he didn't understand that she actually wanted him to visit?

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