If you are like most men today, you occasionally experience communication problems with your girlfriend. This does not mean you are doing anything wrong. All it means is men and women are different, and have different ways of communicating what they want and need.
If you start with these four easy steps, you can learn how to be a better boyfriend by knowing what your girlfriend is communicating to you.
#1: You Don’t Need To Solve Her Problem
This statement may sound odd to the logical male mind. Whenever there is a problem, you automatically assume it requires a solution. However, when your girlfriend is complaining or expressing anger, a solution may not be what is on her mind.
Resist the temptation to offer solutions. If you have tried offering solutions to her problems in the past, you know it is a losing battle. She became angrier, even though you were only trying to help.
When you know you must refrain from offering advice, it may be a much different approach from those you have used in the past. It may seem like a contradiction to everything you know about communication and relationships. Although it may take a little practice, not offering solutions when she does not directly ask for solutions will actually make your relationship better.
#2: Notice What She Wants From You
Your girlfriend is extremely angry about something. Perhaps the source of her anger is vague, or perhaps she is quite clear on what it is about. Her anger may involve her job, family, personal life, or virtually any other topic. The key to what she wants from you is simple.
All she needs is for you to listen.
When you can develop the habit of listening without solving problems, you are more than halfway through the communication dilemma. She want you to know about the problem she is experiencing, but she needs the chance to let off steam.
When you give her the opportunity to vent, you are making a contribution in the most effective way. After she vents, her mind will be clearer. She will feel more in control of her situation, and will be able to solve the problem herself.
#3: She Needs Validation
Refraining from offering solutions does not mean you must remain silent. If you do not say anything at all, your girlfriend may think you are not listening to her, or that you do not care about what she is experiencing. Although this may seem like another contradiction, it is not necessarily complicated.
There is a huge difference between solving her problem and validating her feelings. When you validate your girlfriend’s emotions, you are showing compassion and concern without taking over the situation. She will appreciate your thoughtfulness, even though she may not express it at the time.
If you are not accustomed to validating another person’s experiences, it can be helpful to rehearse some useful statements. All your comments need to reflect is that you understand her situation, empathize with the way she feels, and let her know you are on her side.
When she knows she is not alone with her problem, it can do wonders for her state of mind. Not only can she develop a clearer view of the problem and feel capable of dealing with it, it will increase her appreciation for you.
This can open her mind to the possibility of solutions. When she appreciates that you are there for her, and feels you can relate to her experience, she may be ready to listen to your input and advice. You are moving closer to the step where your opinion will be appreciated.
#4: How To Offer Advice So It Will Be Accepted
Before you offer advice, remind yourself again that you are not talking to one of your male friends. An approach that is too straightforward, harsh, or contains criticism is not likely to work. While these approaches may be useful with guys, your girlfriend may resent it and stop talking. She may even become angry again, but this time she will be angry with you.
Fortunately, it is not impossible to offer advice to a woman without causing her anger to return. First, keep your focus on empathy. When she feels you truly understand her situation and only want to be helpful, she will be more likely to listen to what you have to say.
Second, instead of proposing a solution to her problem, offer suggestions. Ask her what she thinks of specific ideas you have for solving the problem. Give her time to think about your idea, and listen to her response.
Third, avoid telling your girlfriend what she must do, or what she must not do, in her current situation. It will appear as if you are trying to control the situation, and that you are trying to control her actions. This approach is a sure way to create anger and resentment.
Instead, use phrases that show the decision is ultimately up to her. She will see you are not trying to take over the situation, and she will be more likely to appreciate your input. When she realizes she has the final say in how she resolves the problem, she will be more likely to listen to your advice.
If you think about it, you have two goals in these types of situations. You want to assist her with a problem, but you also want to strengthen your relationship. When you follow these steps, you can accomplish both goals at the same time.
You can communicate effectively with both the woman in your life and your male buddies. The most important point you need to keep in mind is they have entirely different communication styles. It is not impossible to master both styles, and develop excellent communication with everyone in your life.
Whether your girlfriend’s problem is minor or serious, it is an opportunity to share her experience. She will see you know how to be a better boyfriend, and will appreciate you even more.