Why Men Find It Difficult To Listen To Women

A question that often comes up among women is “why won’t he just listen to me?” The woman feels like she has tried again and again to explain her feelings and needs to him, and yet she feels like she has been talking to a wall.

The thing is, it’s not that the man means not to listen, there are various reasons causing it. Just remember, there is an exception to everything, and many of these are not just applicable to men.

Their Brains Have To Work Harder

man looks confused looking at his laptop
Photo Credit: Andrea Piacquadio / Pexels
Photo Credit: Andrea Piacquadio / Pexels

There’s actually a study that found that men react differently to women’s voices than they do to men’s. The NeuroImage study showed less brain activity when the men heard male voices, but the male brain had to work harder to decipher and understand what the women were saying.

They’re Taught To Tune Out Emotions

man holds his head in his hands sitting on bench
Photo Credit: Inzmam Khan / Pexels
Photo Credit: Inzmam Khan / Pexels

Unfortunately, many men are taught from a young age to distance themselves from their emotions with statements like “boys don’t cry.”

They then tune women out when they start to talk about their deep emotions because they don’t know how to relate to them—or because they’re scared to let themselves.

The Power Struggle

close up of man's hand holding rope
Photo Credit: Evelyn Chong / Pexels
Photo Credit: Evelyn Chong / Pexels

Some men like to keep the upper hand in the relationship, meaning they want to feel in control. If a woman forces communication and begins to talk about feelings or gets upset with them, rather than communicate to resolve the issue, they might feel a need to make her feel like what she’s saying is illogical and not worthy of a conversation.

This makes them feel like they “won” the argument.

Your Expectations Aren’t The Same

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Photo Credit: Durong Nhan / Pexels
Photo Credit: Durong Nhan / Pexels

While you just want to vent and be heard, a man might lean more into wanting to play devil’s advocate.

It’s not that he doesn’t support the woman, but rather that out of his love for her, he wants to fix the problem for her and not suppress his honest opinion.

Women Have More Complicated Voices

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Photo Credit: Artem Beliaikin / Unsplash
Photo Credit: Artem Beliaikin / Unsplash

They may both have the same ears and lips, but there are differences between their voices. Some studies found that when women speak, they use more sounds than men and tend to speak more melodically.

This is another reason it may take men longer to understand what is being said.

She’s Using Too Many Words

two women talk over the laptop
Photo Credit: Mimi Thian / Unsplash
Photo Credit: Mimi Thian / Unsplash

When using too many words, the focus then shifts from what the words are trying to say, to the words themselves. It’s easy to get lost and to take away the wrong interpretation.

It’s often more useful to keep it straight to the point, without sugarcoating it.

They Don’t Take Women’s Voices As Seriously

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Photo Credit: Melany Rochester / Unsplash
Photo Credit: Melany Rochester / Unsplash

Due to many years of conditioning, men often perceive women’s voices as less authoritative.

Some studies have also found that the pitch of a person’s voice can affect how trustworthy they are perceived as being. A 2017 study in the journal Evolution and Human Behavior showed that women with lower-pitched voices were perceived as generally more trustworthy.

It’s A Blow To Their Ego

man sits on bridge and looks down in sadness
Photo Credit: Whoislimos / Unsplash
Photo Credit: Whoislimos / Unsplash

If a man feels blamed, proven wrong, or cornered, he may take it as a huge blow to his ego. Rather than face the problem and take accountability, it’s often easier to escape it.

This means shutting down the conversation or tuning out during it.

It’s Not Because Women Talk More

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Photo Credit: Christin Hume / Unsplash
Photo Credit: Christin Hume / Unsplash

The stereotype that women talk more than men is actually nothing but a myth that has been disproven by a lot of research.

It turns out that men and women talk the same amount, but it all depends on the context. Listening, then, is a choice for both.

Men Might Not Pay As Much Attention To Detail

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Photo Credit: Ketut Subiyanto / Pexels

Men are often not as attentive as women, so they can get overwhelmed if they are provided with a lot of detail.

They might end up focusing on the wrong detail or misunderstand how the details add up together unless it’s spelled out.

They Worry It’ll Encourage The Complaints

dressed up couples talks on the couch
Photo Credit: Mike Lloyd / Unsplash
Photo Credit: Mike Lloyd / Unsplash

Although they want to be a safe space and a shoulder to cry on, some men might worry that if they listen to constant complaining, that they’ll reinforce it.

They might turn to sarcasm or nod while distracted hoping the woman will realize that what she’s complaining about isn’t a big deal and not worth dwelling on. The intention might be good, but it doesn’t come off so well.

They Don’t Relate To The Topic

woman lays on man on the couch
Photo Credit: Cotton Bro / Pexels
Photo Credit: Cotton Bro / Pexels

Sometimes, women talk to men about topics they genuinely do not understand because they have never experienced them.

This doesn’t mean that the men can’t ask questions and learn more about those topics, but it can make it harder for them to show they’re listening.

They Were Distracted At A “Bad Time”

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Photo Credit: Alex Carmichael / Unsplash
Photo Credit: Alex Carmichael / Unsplash

Multitasking is harder than it looks. If she asked them a question while they were watching a game or writing an email, it may have looked like they were listening when they were too distracted to actually retain anything.

It’s better to dedicate an allotted time to get the message across with their full, undivided attention.

She Gets Caught Up In The Heat Of The Moment

woman lies in bed in sadness
Photo Credit: Yuris Alhumaydy / Unsplash
Photo Credit: Yuris Alhumaydy / Unsplash

When emotions are running high, logic often takes the back burner. This can happen to anyone, but if she’s trying to communicate through heightened emotions, she might not be making much sense.

It’s always best to take a moment to calm down and collect your thoughts.

If The Woman Is Monopolizing The Conversation

woman stands over man lying down
Photo Credit: Cottonbro / Pexels
Photo Credit: Cottonbro / Pexels

She may not notice she’s hogging the conversation while trying to get her point across, but if he can’t get a word in to explain his side, he might not bother listening anymore.

A fair conversation should give both parties a chance to talk and explain their point of view.

The Pressure To Share The Same Interests

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Photo Credit: Brooke Cagle / Unsplash
Photo Credit: Brooke Cagle / Unsplash

It’s okay to have varying interests, just because you want to talk about the latest episode of The Bachelorette doesn’t mean that he has to fake interest in it. He may do his best to listen to you, but a lack of interest can make it seem like they’re bored or tuned out.

He Feels Like He’s Being Nagged

woman lays her head on man's shoulder who faces the other way
Photo Credit: Milan Popovic / Unsplash
Photo Credit: Milan Popovic / Unsplash

This can come off in small ways such as if you ask him to get the extra skim milk, and he brings home two percent every time, so you get mad at him. Not everyone remembers by hearing.

This can be worked out by texting him, for example, and turning demands into questions such as “do you remember which kind of milk to get?”

Using Generalizing Words Like “Always”

Man and woman back to back
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Photo Credit: Henri Pham / Unsplash

If the woman is constantly coming at them with statements like “you never listen to me” or “you always do this,” it can make him feel discouraged and defensive.

This can in turn make him retreat and disconnect from the conversation altogether. His focus is turned to feeling attacked.

The Past Never Stays In The Past

woman looks out car window into a field
Photo Credit: Anastasia Shuraeva / Pexels
Photo Credit: Anastasia Shuraeva / Pexels

Some men might find it easier to let go than women. Once an issue has passed, they put it past them and they don’t want it brought up any time an irrelevant issue comes up.

If any issue has been resolved, there should be no reason for it to be used as blackmail.

Men And Women Are More Alike Than We Think

woman looks at man who looks away
Photo Credit: Sergio Souza / Unsplash
Photo Credit: Sergio Souza / Unsplash

When it comes down to it, most of the reasons that men don’t listen aren’t that different from ones that women experience.

More often than not, it comes down to communication issues that can be resolved on a case by case basis, such as getting caught up in emotions or a lack of interest.