Defining Relationships: Men, Women & Communication Breakdown

No Knight in Shining Armor?

This blog is an excerpt from the book Business Networking and Sex (not what you think)the book I co-authored with Frank De Raffele and Hazel Walker.  Enjoy!

Bill asks Candace out on a date. They have a great time. They then start to date regularly.

Six months later, while driving home from their dinner date Candace says, “Do you realize that tonight is our sixth-month anniversary?” For a few seconds, there is silence in the car and to Candace it seems like deafening silence. She thinks to herself, I wonder if it bothers him that I said that. Maybe he’s been feeling confined by our relationship. Maybe he thinks I’m trying to push him into some kind of obligation that he doesn’t want, or isn’t sure of.

Meanwhile, Bill is thinking, Hmmm, six months.

Candace is percolating away in her head with, But, hey, I’m not so sure I want this kind of relationship, either. Sometimes I wish I had a little more space, so I’d have time to think about whether I really want us to keep going the way we are, moving steadily forward. Where are we going with this thing, anyway? Are we just going to keep seeing each other at this level of intimacy? Are we heading toward marriage? Children? An entire lifetime together? Am I ready for that level of commitment? Do I really even know this person?

At this point Bill is thinking, So that means it was . . . let’s see . . . February when we started going out, which was right after I had the car at the dealer’s, which means . . . lemme check the odometer . . . Whoa! I’m way overdue for an oil change!

Candace is now at the point where she’s thinking, He’s upset. I can see it on his face. Maybe I’m reading this completely wrong. Maybe he wants more from our relationship, more intimacy, more commitment. Maybe he’s sensed it, even before I did, that I had some reservations. Yes, I’ll bet that’s it. That’s why he’s so reluctant to say anything about his own feelings. He’s afraid of being rejected.

Bill is thinking, Yeah, and I’m gonna have them look at the transmission again. I don’t care what those morons say, it’s still not shifting right. And they better not try to blame it on the cold  weather this time. What cold weather? It’s 87 degrees out, and this thing is shifting like a garbage truck, and I paid those incompetent thieves $600.

Candace is thinking, He’s angry. And I don’t blame him. I’d be angry, too. I feel so guilty, putting him through this, but I can’t help the way I feel. I’m just not sure.

Bill is thinking, They’ll probably say it’s only a 90-day warranty. That’s exactly what they’re gonna say, the scum.

Candace is thinking, Maybe I’m just too idealistic, waiting for a knight to come riding up on his white horse when I’m sitting right next to a perfectly good person, a person I enjoy being with, truly do care about, and who seems to truly care about me. And now this person is in pain because of my self-centered, schoolgirl romantic fantasy.

Bill is thinking, Warranty? They want a warranty? I’ll give them a warranty. I’ll take their warranty and…

“Bill.” Candace says aloud.

“What?” answers Bill, startled.

“Please don’t torture yourself like this.” she says, her eyes beginning to brim with tears, “Maybe I should never have. . . Oh, I feel so. . .”

She breaks down, sobbing.

“What?” Bill asks, wondering what just happened.

“I’m such a fool.” Candace sobs. “I mean, I know there’s no knight. I really know that. It’s silly. There’s no knight, and there’s no horse.”

“There’s no horse?” says Bill and wonders, What horse?

“You think I’m a fool, don’t you?” Candace asks in self-blaming tone.

“No!” says Bill, thinking, Why should I?

“It’s just that . . . it’s that I . . . I need some time.” Candace says.

Dead silence again. Bill is trying to find what the right answer is here. Finally he comes up with one that he thinks might work.

“Yes,” he says.

Candace feels so touched that she puts her hand on his.

“Oh, Bill, do you really feel that way?” she says.

“What way?” says Bill, thinking, What are we talking about?

“That way about time?” asks Candace.

“Oh.” says Bill. “Yes. Of course.”

Candace turns to face him and gazes deeply into his eyes, causing him to become very nervous about what she might say next, especially if it involves a horse. At last she speaks.

“Thank you, Bill.” she says, lovingly.

“Thank you.” says Bill, thinking, Whew. Got that one right.

Then he drops her off at her house where she lies and weeps on her bed, a conflicted, tortured soul, whereas Bill back at his place opens a bag of Doritos, turns on the TV, and immediately becomes deeply involved in a rerun of a tennis match between two Czechoslovakians he’s never heard of.

A tiny voice in the far recesses of his mind tells him that something major was going on back there in the car, but he’s pretty sure there is no way he would ever understand what, so he figures it’s better if he doesn’t think about it.

Candace calls her closest friend and they talk about this situation for two hours. They analyze everything she said and everything he said, going over it many times, considering every word, expression, and gesture for nuances of meaning, and any possible ramifications. They’ll continue to discuss this subject, off and on, for weeks, maybe even months, never reaching any definite conclusions, but never getting bored with it, either.

Meanwhile, Bill, as he plays plays racquetball one day with a mutual friend of his and Candace’s stops before shooting a basket and says, “Steve, did Candace ever own a horse?”

Does this story have just a little ring of truth to it? It seems that often men and women communicate differently and define relationships differently.  

Do you agree or disagree?  I’d love for you to share an example in the comments section of a situation which has formed your opinion about the ways in which each gender communicates and defines relationships.

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7 thoughts on “No Knight in Shining Armor?

  1. I started up a working partnership with a younger female co-worker at the start of the year whom I had introduced to our firm the prior year. Gradually, as we brought each other cases, me giving her individual health cases and she giving me investment cases, the partnership seemed to grow. Since she has only been in the business a matter of a few years, and I am a veteran of almost 27 years, I thought of her as a junior partner with me in a mentoring role, especially in the area of long term care insurance.. Recently, I discovered that she was viewing our partnership as an equal partnership Because I had treated her as a junior partner in an open networking group, where I had presented myself with expertise in the issue of long term care, she became highly insulted and accused me of using her for my financial betterment, even though we are splitting commissions on cases we work together. I was surprised and hurt, but now realize that all along, we were thinking differently about the relationship. Is this another case of an obtuse male and an overthinking female? At this point, I am inclined to suggest each of us go our separate ways with mutual respect because we work in the same firm. It does not seem to be about the money to her, it seems an issue of pride. At least, that;s how I view it. Any comments?

    1. Bob,
      I recently attended a seminar that addressed your relationship, as you have described it. What you have described sounds like it is more generational that gender related.
      I learned in the seminar that Gen X & Y place value on ability and don’t place much value, if any, on seniority.
      I learned that what is most important is to accept that neither point of view is right or wrong, just different. We can all learn extremely valuable information from others, regardless of their age.
      If both of you can learn and understand the differences about how the other generation thinks, and accept that the other point of view is a valuable asset, you should be able to develop your relationship into a mutually beneficial and highly profitable one.

  2. So hilarious and so true! I was once accused of being “simple” and I took it as a great compliment. “You’re just so………simple! It doesn’t take ANYTHING to make you happy!” “Why thank you very much!”

  3. So TRUE men and women do comprehend what the other one says differently. When the conversation starts to sound weird, it is time to say “what are we talking about,’ it will surely keep things calm and going in the right direction. Even after being married 41 years, my husband and I still have to stop and say “what.”
    What was it like without cell phones, 3 TV channels, iPods, etc.?. Just want we are tryng to do even today through BNI: direct communication, time to listen and reflect on the other person.

  4. Wow that was funny and sad but lots of truth in it!
    Assuming we know what others are thinking can get us into sticky situations that we create.

    Thanks for the great post. I found your blog through The Bomb where I’m a fellow contributor.

    Funny thing was I was just talking about BNI for great networking yesterday on my new video training. 🙂

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