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 VirtuallyLove
Joined: 9/8/2011
Msg: 1
Male - Female Interpreter Wanted Page 1 of 4    (1, 2, 3, 4)
Miscommunication is hardly an exclusively male - female phenomenon, but anyone who's been in a serious romantic relationship, or even a not-so-serious one, can attest, I think, to countless examples of being badly misunderstood - even when we're dead-certain that we've expressed ourselves with crystal-clarity.

Sometimes the miscommunications seem minor, sometimes they seem earth-shattering. I recall my girlfriend often saying things like: "The kitty-box is really smelly," "The carpet could stand some vacuuming," "My car is looking like it could really use a washing" - indirect suggestions obviously aimed at me. I found myself bristling at them, because what I heard was something like: "Well, I don't want to ask you directly, because you might get annoyed" or "Really, I don't understand why you don't just take it upon yourself to do these things, so I don't see why should have to ask."

My girlfriend, however, told me she was simply trying to be non-pressuring and polite in phrasing her question that way. (Another form of indirect requests that I instinctively disliked were of the "Could you do something or other," which raised the thought that either I was incapable of doing it or it was a complaint along the lines of "could you manage to find the time to do this.") For me, it was a no-brainer to simply ask for what you wanted in clear, unmistakable terms. That strikes me as the honest and reasonable thing to do.

A more disturbing miscommunication was when I was told, after three years of being in love, that I was not considered her "family." My interpretation was that I was not valued or considered to be a long-term prospect, and I did not take that well. What she says she meant, however, was that in a purely technical sense I was not family because we weren't married.

I'm wondering if POFers would be willing to share their experiences or thoughts on miscommunications/misinterpretations with their significant others?
 Revilors
Joined: 10/9/2008
Msg: 2
Male - Female Interpreter Wanted
Posted: 10/2/2011 9:33:17 AM
Your examples were not of miscommunication. You knew exactly what she was saying. You just didn't prefer the verbiage.

If she asks...are those your dirty underwear next to the bed...do you seriously think she's looking for information? The wrong answer is "well...if they're not...I have some questions of my own". The right answer is..."I'll put them in the basket".

You can choose to battle over semantics...but that's YOUR choice.

How's that been workin' out for ya?
 OyVay...
Joined: 7/15/2011
Msg: 3
Male - Female Interpreter Wanted
Posted: 10/2/2011 9:46:37 AM
My thoughts?

You and your GF have some problems, and don't directly address them!

Now I don't know what to tell you, if she was asking you to do those things, why not just do them? I have to ask though, you couldn't smell the kitty-box or see the carpet needed vacuming? As for her car, my reaction is "what you don't know where the soap and sponge are?"

Frankly why is her car's condition, your problem? If you 2 are sharing the same space, why wouldn't you vacum and do your share of sh1t around the house?

Finally, the family crack strikes me as a shot at your not taking it to the next level after 3 years. She seems a little passive/agressive. I hate that!

You both need to hold each other responsible for speaking your mind clearly.
 MagikMan59
Joined: 8/2/2011
Msg: 4
Male - Female Interpreter Wanted
Posted: 10/2/2011 9:50:00 AM
Men and women use language differently and it does cause numerous problems throughout a relationship. A lady friend of mine told me that her b/f wanted a new wheel-barrel for Christmas, but she thought he was hinting for something else. I told her get him something else if you want, but get him a wheel-barrel too. So she did, and was amazed how happy he was with his new wheel-barrel.
Women often hint and are indirect (not always) about what they desire and get upset when we men can't figure out what they mean. Men are usually (not always) straight to the point, but women will think he means something different because that's the way she communicates.
I'm not saying that men are right and women are wrong, but both sides need to understand that we each use language differently. Even if both sides understand that, it can still be quite hard for a couple to figure out what the other person want's.
When in doubt, I ask the other person to tell me what they think I meant, as compared to what I actually said. The answers never cease to amaze me.
Ahhhh relationships
 VirtuallyLove
Joined: 9/8/2011
Msg: 5
Male - Female Interpreter Wanted
Posted: 10/2/2011 9:51:57 AM

Revilor: Your examples were not of miscommunication. You knew exactly what she was saying. You just didn't prefer the verbiage.


I disagree. Whenever someone says something and your interpretation of that is not what was intended, then you have a miscommunication. Semantics is hardly an unimportant issue in any case, since such misunderstandings lie at the heart of most if not all relationship problems. We battle over "semantics" precisely because we often misinterpret what our partner is saying.

You can't come with any examples of what you consider to be misinterpretation/miscommunication in your own current or past relationships?
 VirtuallyLove
Joined: 9/8/2011
Msg: 6
Male - Female Interpreter Wanted
Posted: 10/2/2011 10:00:32 AM

OyVay: You both need to hold each other responsible for speaking your mind clearly.


I strongly agree with that part. And that's basically the problem I have with "indirect requests." It's really not a question of fairness - whether or not I should've cleaned the kitty litter box or vacuumed the rugs - it's about clearly asking for what you want and clearly expressing your desires. If she wanted me to clean her care, why not: "I would appreciate it if you cleaned my car?" or "Would you be willing to vacuum the carpet?" For that matter, the sharing of labors in a house is something that also should be clearly discussed.


Finally, the family crack strikes me as a shot at your not taking it to the next level after 3 years. She seems a little passive/agressive. I hate that!


I intensely dislike passive aggression as well. I firmly believe you should say what you mean and mean what you say at all times. I'm not sure that comment was essentially passive aggressive. There was a somewhat complicated context involved (as there so often is). However, there is absolutely no doubt in my mind that there was an aspect of complaint involved. She knew it would be a hurtful comment, of course.
 VirtuallyLove
Joined: 9/8/2011
Msg: 7
Male - Female Interpreter Wanted
Posted: 10/2/2011 10:07:17 AM

Magikman: Men and women use language differently and it does cause numerous problems throughout a relationship. A lady friend of mine told me that her b/f wanted a new wheel-barrel for Christmas, but she thought he was hinting for something else. I told her get him something else if you want, but get him a wheel-barrel too. So she did, and was amazed how happy he was with his new wheel-barrel.
Women often hint and are indirect (not always) about what they desire and get upset when we men can't figure out what they mean. Men are usually (not always) straight to the point, but women will think he means something different because that's the way she communicates.
I'm not saying that men are right and women are wrong, but both sides need to understand that we each use language differently. Even if both sides understand that, it can still be quite hard for a couple to figure out what the other person want's.
When in doubt, I ask the other person to tell me what they think I meant, as compared to what I actually said. The answers never cease to amaze me.


Right on. Zeus in heaven, I truly dislike generalizations about men and women, but sometimes it seems impossible to avoid the reality that some fairly distinct differences exist, and surely female "mind-reading" is one of them.

That was something John Gray wrote about in his infamous "Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus." Women, being naturally more intuitive about and interested in feelings, assume that men are the same way - that if we truly love them and are interested in them we will always be trying to figure out what they want without those wants being clearly expressed or even expressed at all.

Being a guy, I of course never stop for directions (well, almost never...just in truly dire emergencies ), but when it comes to relationships and women...I think specific directions are a VERY good thing.
 Fleuron
Joined: 8/18/2010
Msg: 8
Male - Female Interpreter Wanted
Posted: 10/2/2011 10:12:47 AM
Are you deliberately misinterpreting your girlfriend only when she would like you to do something, or when you perceive a personal slight? Do you understand her when she wants you to come to bed, or do something enjoyable with her?

So….she’s not clear about vacuuming or cleaning, but she’s “purely technical” in not regarding you as part of her family. You’re not happy with either way she is communicating with you, and you think this is a gender-based issue. How would you like a man to ask you to clean the litter box?


I recall my girlfriend often saying things like: "The kitty-box is really smelly," "The carpet could stand some vacuuming," "My car is looking like it could really use a washing" - indirect suggestions obviously aimed at me.



Whenever someone says something and your interpretation of that is not what was intended, then you have a miscommunication.


You said in your OP her remarks were obviously aimed at you. You knew what she was saying, you just didn’t like it.
 VirtuallyLove
Joined: 9/8/2011
Msg: 9
Male - Female Interpreter Wanted
Posted: 10/2/2011 10:19:57 AM

You said in your OP her remarks were obviously aimed at you. You knew what she was saying, you just didn’t like it.


Partly true. A lot of times, probably the majority of times, you may know *literally* what a person is asking or saying. You know, in my examples, that she's asking you to wash her car or vacuum the litter box or whatever. But what's missing is the "subtext," and in that lies plenty of room for misinterpretation. For example, the way one asks for something might convey irritation, dissatisfaction, resentment - or approval, neutrality or any number of other possible underlying emotions.

For example: "Could you take out the garbage?" is easily understood, but if someone says it with an irritable expression or tone of voice you might wonder if they're suggesting you've been unfair in not taking it out enough, or perhaps you are being accused of being indifferent or unobservant, etc.
 OyVay...
Joined: 7/15/2011
Msg: 10
Male - Female Interpreter Wanted
Posted: 10/2/2011 10:30:14 AM
"both sides need to understand that we each use language differently."

No not differently, more like "not effectively". Many women don't like confrontations. So they hint, guys don't pick up on hints, either because their stupid or don't want to hear what the hint was about! Hahahahaha!!

Then later when the women is down to her last nerve, and the relationship is in the toilet, the guy goes "I don know wha happened!"

Let lay something out right now, if you want to get this sh1t out of your relationship.

1. You can't listen, unless you are. That means don't tune her out while watching TV or something else. Use the old railroad metaphor, stop, look and listen. So stop what your doing, look her in the eye when she is talking and listen to what she is saying.

2. Use the meat of what the other person says in your reply. That means if she or he says, "the red table cloth is dirty", your answer should include the red table cloth, such as " do you want me to wash the red table cloth".

Then there will be no gaps in what you are discussing, no signals to miss, since you are watching them while talking and getting their message clearly and seeing the body language they are sending.

Finally never go to bed angry or frustrated. Talk it out, put any problems to rest, do not let them fester, or resentment sets in.

Some thoughts...

edit to add: "irritable tone or expression" about the garbage.

Then you should reply "I will take out the garbage, what is the reason for your irritable tone?" That will accomplish both, eliminate the problem with the garbage and get to the reason for the underlying problem.
 MikeWM
Joined: 2/7/2011
Msg: 11
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Male - Female Interpreter Wanted
Posted: 10/2/2011 10:43:44 AM
I have a classic example of this but bear with me as its a bit long

A couple I had as clients many moons ago were on the brink of ending their marriage the final straw was over the rubbish bins

Some background

The man worked shifts, so one week nights, then afternoons then earlies

The binmen USED to collect from the back of the house, so thats where the bin shed was, and because of cats and foxes they couldnt leave the bins in the garden. But at somepoint the route had changed and the bins had to be put at the front of the house which meant dragging them from the bin shed to the front, then afterwards dragging them back

For the same reason they couldnt leave them in the garden. leaving them out the front for too long wasnt an option either

So, when the man was in and not sleeping the night before he would put them out then, when on mornings he would do it in the morning, but the third week he couldnt do it at all, so his wife did

For a LONG time she frequently said things like "I really wish the bins were collected from the back still so I didnt have to drag them up the garden"

So, one weekend she was away at her mums and despite being an office worker he nipped to BandQ, bought the materials and had been reading some DIY books for weeks

So in two days having never done anything like that before he built a new bin shed right by the door near to the front of the house our of bricks, put a roof on, made a door with a lock and for a giggle put a big pink ribbon around it

So, she comes back and he shows it to her, at which point she turns around goes back to her mums after saying he was taking the piss and KNEW that what she had REALLY meant was HE should drag the bins up every week even though his shift pattern meant he could only do it two out of three weels

The more we went back into their past, and the more disguntlements we analysed the more we found this was a common patter with them except that when he hadnt understood her correctly she had just stewed over it rather than saying anything and always without exception assumed that the missunderstanding was done deliberately and was designed to annoy her even though she rarely even came close to saying what they REALLY meant and even when, as with this case what she wanted wasnt even reasonable or didnt make sense

So the examples the OP gave might not be "ideal" ones, but it IS something that happens very frequently with couples and does tend to be far more commonly the woman not being clear rather than the man


This isnt by any stretch of the imagination "communication" no point has been "communicated"

All that has actually happened is one person has said something that THEY think is so clear anyone on the planet "should" be able to understand, and the other has heard it and read it as what they would mean if they worded it in the same way

In communication its the person who has a point they want to convey however who is ultimately responsible for getting that point across, not the audience as they might think they know what you mean but could be wrong as everyone has their own unique ways of wording things and each has its own subtle nuances as a result. So the same thing said by a dozen people can have a dozen slightly different meanings
 coastalmermaid
Joined: 1/23/2011
Msg: 12
Male - Female Interpreter Wanted
Posted: 10/2/2011 10:58:04 AM
If I'm unsure what a person is saying or asking....I ASK them for clarification at the time. Too easy.
 hello099
Joined: 8/16/2007
Msg: 13
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Male - Female Interpreter Wanted
Posted: 10/2/2011 10:58:43 AM
[I'm wondering if POFers would be willing to share their experiences or thoughts on miscommunications/misinterpretations with their significant others? ]

OP.. four out of the twelve responses to date are from you... I dont think someone should ask a question seeking people to share their experiences with them only to then tell them that their thoughts are right or wrong. Did I communicate that properly ?

And. I agree with comment 2/ You know what someone is asking when they say ".The carpet could stand some cleaning". The only thing you dont know is whether they are peeved with you for being a lazy slob or merely asking you to do it. But the aim of the comment is to have the carpet cleaned ... People understand that there is no communication issue on what needs to be done.
 smua
Joined: 4/20/2010
Msg: 14
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Male - Female Interpreter Wanted
Posted: 10/2/2011 11:01:20 AM
You're playing games. You are diverting attention to how she makes her requests rather than taking responsibility for the fact that you are being an ass. And it is a dangerous game. From what you are describing, you are the one being passive aggressive. She is communicating clearly enough that you know what she wants. You are the one that won't say you aren't going to change the cat litter, pick up your socks or marry her.
 MikeWM
Joined: 2/7/2011
Msg: 15
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Posted: 10/2/2011 11:04:00 AM
They could ALSO be saying

"yes I already know the carpet needs cleaning, before you mention it. So please give me some positive feedback that its not "that" bad and could wait a little longer"


Depends who normally does it really and that fishing for validation in delaying a task is also a very common use of vague language too
 Landra2
Joined: 6/4/2009
Msg: 16
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Posted: 10/2/2011 11:21:10 AM
I really can't stand that kind of nonsense. ("The kitty-box is really smelly," "The carpet could stand some vacuuming," "My car is looking like it could really use a washing")
Say what you mean, tell me what you want, or shut up and do it yourself. Don't make me try to guess what you're really saying.
It's not "non-pressuring and polite" to me-- it's annoying and borders on passive-aggressive (I won't say what I mean, then I'll get mad at you for not guessing)
And that's how I really feel!
 inthroughtheoutdoor
Joined: 1/1/2011
Msg: 17
Male - Female Interpreter Wanted
Posted: 10/2/2011 11:47:49 AM
I don't think it's so much a female/male thing as much as it's a people thing - different people communicate differently. My mother and I, obviously both of us women, can chit-chat for hours but when it comes time to communicate at a deeper level, it's difficult - we both end up spending the majority of our time trying to explain what we mean.

There are many men on this board whose communication style is in sync with mine even if I don't always agree with what they have to say. On the other hand, there are many women I don't have a clue where they're coming from.

I also have three daughters (G-D included in the three), all loved and cherished equally by me...all three have different communication styles and each one requires me to put a special ear set (and mouthpiece;) if we're going to communicate effectively with each other. I'm not talking about general everyday chatter but the heavier stuff, the stuff that exists when you have a relationship with someone.

In my opinion, it is you who appears to be passive aggressive...there is nothing I hate more than finding myself in the position of having to either do the thing that needs to be done myself or having to remind someone (ie: child, mate, roommate, co-worker, etc.) to do it.

It's a terrible and most unfair position to be in - either you do it (sometimes for the millionth time) and shut up and slowly start to feel resentful or you say something (again, sometimes for the millionth time) and are accused of being a nag. It's like you can't win - shut up or put up.

That's the kind of BS that slowly but surely will kill or seriously damage any relationship...why does your girlfriend even has to mention that the kitty litter box smells, don't you smell it too? Or that the carpet could use a vacuuming or the floors needs sweeping?

Not saying that you are but are you the type of person who claims or brags of being an equal partner yet needs to be told what to do before he does anything? Because I'll tell you what...having to think of and constantly wonder when the things that NEED to be done are going to get done is worse than having to do it yourself.

Unless you're a child or incompetent in some way, there is no reason why any adult should need reminding of what needs to be done. Ugh. I know a guy (won't mention any name) who will step over a glass or a book or anything that's on the floor that shouldn't be there because no one has told him to pick it up.

Touchy subject this is for me because as I have mentioned on another thread or two, I'm currently sharing my space with a teenager and while she's an all around good kid, I am tired of being in that put up or shut up position and as the flying spaghetti monster is my witness, I will never, and I mean never ever never, put myself willingly in the position to be in that position again. Never. Ever. Did I say never?
 abelian
Joined: 1/12/2008
Msg: 18
Male - Female Interpreter Wanted
Posted: 10/2/2011 11:49:14 AM
Are you deliberately misinterpreting your girlfriend only when she would like you to do something, or when you perceive a personal slight?

It doesn't matter. If she actually asked him to do something directly, he would have no opportunity to misunderstand, voluntarily or not. If she doesn't want to be misunderstood, she should be precise when she says something. If she wants to leave it up to interpretation, she'd stuck with how her words are interpreted.

If someone says, ``the carpet needs to be vacuumed,'' I'm going to look at the carpet and render my opinion on whether it does or doesn't. My fiancee has an rather annoyig way of doing the same thing. Her version of that is, ``If you wanted to, you could vacuum the carpet.'' Well, given a choice, I probably don't want to, and if I'm doing something, I certainly don't want to do it now. That sort of thing did cause problems initially, since it was never clear whether something like ``the carpet needs to be vacuumed'' was just a comment, a comment indicating we need to vacuum the carpet sometime today, whether she wants to do it right now, or what.

So, I just decided to take those commets literally. If something needs to be done, I'll render my opinion on whether it needs to be done. If I'm asked if I might want to vacuum the carpet, I'll say that I might want to vacuum the carpet and if I want to vacuum the carpet at some point, I will. However, if she wants me to do something, I want her to tell me that along with when she wants me to do it so Ican do it in a timely fashion. Communication has improved greatly since we had that discussion and I told her that if she wants something, she needs to tell me what she wants. Everyone prioritizes things differently, so even if we both see something needs to be done, we may not agree on when to get to it.

There's no reason to passively aggressively hint about anything. I no longer want to figure out what people mean when they say something in some quirky way that I'm just supposed to divene through clairvaoyance.

There is no reason to consider difference in how men or women speak. The way to speak if you want to be understood is to speak with precision. English is a rich language, so there's no real excuse for not using the right words to make yourself understood to anyone who takes the words at face value.
 valenciacityx
Joined: 3/10/2009
Msg: 19
Male - Female Interpreter Wanted
Posted: 10/2/2011 11:53:56 AM
Her : my car is looking a little dirty..... implying that I should wash it
Me: Go look at my Jeep
Her: its FILTHY ! Its got mud everywhere
ME : That is a little dirty. I will wash your car when you wash my Jeep.

A great girlfriend will put on the bikini and make sure there is beer in the garage fridge and we will wash them both.
An ex girl friend will throw a grump about me not washing her car. And she can take her passive aggressive subjunctive butt down the road.
 Maleman999
Joined: 2/14/2010
Msg: 20
Male - Female Interpreter Wanted
Posted: 10/2/2011 11:56:29 AM
What I find strange is when women get together with their women friends, they have no problem expressing what's on their minds and clearly expressing their views and no topic is off limits. But when they're with their guy, a "gender bias" wall goes up, meaning things must be said a certain way to avoid disagreement or disapproval or unknowingly become very confusing to maintain an image of the way the relationship is suppose to be like. And some topics they freely talk about with their same gender friends are off limits to talk about in a relationship, even if they have good communication about other topics, unless those off limit topics start affecting their relationship. Then they accuse each other of playing mind games, making communication even harder.
 DudeistPriest
Joined: 3/30/2009
Msg: 21
Male - Female Interpreter Wanted
Posted: 10/2/2011 12:04:36 PM
Let me make myself perfectly clear. By the information you have given, you sound a bit anal-retentive. There is nothing passive aggressive about the way she she gives you information. The litter box smells, the carpet is dirty, the car needs washed. She gives you the info and leaves it up to you to decide what YOU are going to do about it. Pretty simple. By insisting that she frames her question in a way you approve of, frankly, sounds a bit controlling.
 VirtuallyLove
Joined: 9/8/2011
Msg: 22
Male - Female Interpreter Wanted
Posted: 10/2/2011 12:08:20 PM
inthroughtheoutdoor :

Well, you're projecting your frustrations and sense of unfairness from your own experience onto me.

My OP was not about asking for advice or a relationship diagnosis - let's face it, no one here knows me or my ex-girlfriend, and not nearly enough data has been provided to do more than wildly speculate - but rather was offering some examples of miscommunication and asking for same.

I've seen over and over again on forums like these that people either sympathize or not with certain scenarios based mostly on their own experiences. This thread is a perfect example of that. That's fine, but one must keep in mind the tendency to project one's own experiences onto a stranger, and that such projections are highly speculative.
 daynadaze
Joined: 2/11/2008
Msg: 23
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Male - Female Interpreter Wanted
Posted: 10/2/2011 12:08:45 PM
I don't feel the need to ask a grown man to do things around a home we share. Anyone can tell when the cat box needs cleaning (at least once a day) or the carpet needs to be vacuumed, or the dishwasher is full...why should anyone have to ask or suggest? Just get up and do it like the rest of the adult community. If you have to be prodded then you get snippy for having to be asked because you can't seem to do it on your own--why should anyone want to live with you? Some women may get validation from having to mother a grown man, many of us do not. This isn't about communication, it's about whining and having to be told what to do because one apparently can't just do normal household cleaning on their own...waiting for mommy to do it I guess.
 IgorFrankensteen
Joined: 6/29/2009
Msg: 24
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Posted: 10/2/2011 12:16:15 PM
Sounds like a combination of things to me.

Were this available to wager on, I would put money on that you have a PAST problem with feeling manipulated using indirect communication. Hence your hostile reaction to your friend using it in HER way, to be "gentle" about her requests. That's something I had to deal with myself, a long while back.

As for the "not family" thing, again, I suspect a set up of sorts, causing you to be sensitive. In addition on that one, I would wonder about the CONTEXT of when it came up. I can imagine circumstances where you SHOULD have known what was actually being communicated, as well as some where it would have been logical to be upset.

But you obviously don't need a male-Female interpreter for this stuff, you need to discipline yourself not to mix ASSUMPTIONS with the words you are hearing, before processing the information content.
 VirtuallyLove
Joined: 9/8/2011
Msg: 25
Male - Female Interpreter Wanted
Posted: 10/2/2011 12:17:19 PM

What I find strange is when women get together with their women friends, they have no problem expressing what's on their minds and clearly expressing their views and no topic is off limits. But when they're with their guy, a "gender bias" wall goes up, meaning things must be said a certain way to avoid disagreement or disapproval or unknowingly become very confusing to maintain an image of the way the relationship is suppose to be like. And some topics they freely talk about with their same gender friends are off limits to talk about in a relationship, even if they have good communication about other topics, unless those off limit topics start affecting their relationship. Then they accuse each other of playing mind games, making communication even harder.


That's actually a subject I was considering for another thread. While I think it's appropriate to share things with, say, your best friend that you might not want to share - at least in the same words - with your romantic partner, I don't believe you should be communicating more freely and honestly stuff with your friends than you do with your significant other.

I've learned that my SO spoke from her heart to her best friend about a lot of stuff that I would've appreciated hearing about. I'm not saying she might not have had her reasons, but ideally, it is surely best to clearly express your views and your feelings to your romantic partner. Every barrier you raise to such communication simply removes another part of yourself from the relationship, in my view.
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