Insight #1: The first insight is about the natural emotional cycle of women. Not understanding this can cause many problems in a relationship.
“Women are like waves”:
John Gray uses the term “waves” to describe a woman’s natural emotional cycle. Like waves, women naturally go up and down in how they feel about themselves and their lives. When they are ‘up’, they are able to be more giving, loving, and tolerant. But just like a wave has a peak, it also has its’ dip. And the ‘lows’ are a natural part of the emotional cycle. When a woman is in the low part of her wave, she is not feeling as good about herself and her life. During this time she is not as able to give as much, and is more in need *receiving* assurance, love, validation and understanding.
How a man can misunderstand:
1. He may feel responsible for the low and therefore become defensive when he sees it. The defensiveness may lead him to do exactly what he *SHOULDN’T* do: Explain why the woman shouldn’t be upset or down! He thinks he’s helping her by convincing her that whatever she’s upset about ‘isn’t a big deal’, but he’s really making things worse by invalidating her feelings! All she needs at this point is understanding and empathy—not someone to tell her that she’s ‘overreacting’ or being too ‘sensitive’ or ‘emotional’. Saying these things will often actually make her feel worse, as she begins to feel that she must defend herself and her feelings, therefore escalating them and often leading to an argument. She is not feeling understood or validated. She will likely feel that the man is being ‘insensitive’ or not understanding her. When the man tries to convince the woman why she shouldn’t be upset, he will likely become frustrated. He will express this frustration by making the woman feel that she’s just overreacting and overly sensitive. But deep down, he is actually frustrated because not being able to ‘fix’ the woman he loves when she’s upset makes him feel like he’s failing. So women, he’s not actually being insensitive. He’s actually just frustrated that he can’t make it better right away.
2. He may feel that it is his job to ‘fix’ the situation by offering solutions to her problem. Unlike men, when a woman is upset, she is often not looking for solutions or advice; she is looking for compassion, reassurance and empathy. She is looking for validation and understanding. Here’s the secret that a lot of men don’t understand: The fastest way to ‘fix’ a woman when she’s upset about something is to do the *opposite* of what comes natural to men. Don’t minimize the situation. Don’t offer solutions to make her feelings ‘go away’. Just be supportive and empathetic. Just try to listen and validate. Doing this will make a woman feel better very quickly. By the way, this is what women do for other women. If a woman goes to another woman with a problem, the other woman empathizes. This is the women code that men would do very well to understand: Never minimize another person’s pain or feelings.
Note: These insights are only *general trends* and will not apply to all people in all situations.