Sometimes men think that women are mysterious because women often do not behave the way we expect. That in and of itself does not mean women are inherently “mysterious.” It simply means that most of us, most of the time, perceive the world from our own personal worldview. We base our expectations of how other people will act on how we see the world.
We have all heard, seen, read and imagined things that give us a framework by which to understand the world and make sense of it. Our worldview includes all the unconscious ideas and understandings that come to us in ways in which we are probably not even aware. Traditions, customs, the culture you live within and social practices you adopt, morals you have learned and even the words you use carry embedded meaning most people scarcely even think about. Your mind is developed to remember, recognize and decipher a world of signs, signals and meanings.
Since our individual worldview is also framed by what we think we know, (and a lot of what we don’t even realize we think we “know”) then that helps to explain why sometimes other people’s behavior may seem incomprehensible and often mysterious. This is most often true in communicating with strangers. We think we are communicating one meaning and they may see and sense something quite different. Often the difference is subtle. Sometimes it is just enough to leave you confused. How often do you come away with the feeling of “What just happened here?”
So, if each person’s worldview is slightly different then how do we manage to communicate so successfully most of the time? The answer is that despite individual understandings we share much more in common than most people realize. If you were dropped into a place where you did not speak the same language then chances are you would still understand a lot of non-verbal clues. You could probably tell if a women was interested in you being there and if the guy standing next to her was not happy to see you.
This applies to people as a whole and it seems to apply most strongly within genders. Men and women have adapted remarkably well, even across cultures and languages, to recognizing signals that are of particular importance both to men and to women. Men have developed a lot of communication signals in common with other men. Women have developed a lot in common with other women. Oddly, while men/men and women/women have a lot in common, men/women still remain a bit of a mystery to each other. Why is this?
Perhaps it is because women compete with other women for mates. Men compete with other men. It may not have been as important, over the course of thousands of years of development, for men to “understand” women as it was to recognize who would make them a good mating partner. The same principle has applied to women, generation after generation. One could say that effectively, women have selected men to be the way they are, over and over. And again, the same has applied to men selecting women, over and over, to be just as they are.
So why the mystery between the sexes? One would think that over hundreds and even thousands of generations “the mystery” would have been sorted out by now.
So why do women sometimes seem mysterious to men? Here is my working hypothesis: “Both genders have been under complex and competing pressures to adapt to the changing social and physical environment for a long time. The pressure for each gender to understand the other in the same way has just not been the predominant requirement for perpetuating the species. Recognition of other social traits has predominated for many generations; “understanding” in the contemporary sense has only developed more recently and is not as deeply embedded in people’s hierarchy of needs.”
Contemporary studies do not tend to support the popular myth that women think in terms of cooperation and men in terms of competitiveness. Men and women are not remarkably different in how they think or communicate. They seem, however, to be different in how they feel about the world around them.
If you were to ask most men about how they imagine themselves in the world around them, they would likely say that they want to anticipate and control a situation. They want to be able to “sort it out” and make sense of it. The whole idea comes from wanting to be able, at least as much as possible, to predict the outcome of a situation or interaction. Men would like to believe that when interacting with a woman she would tend to act a certain way because it makes sense.
Much of how people feel about the world around them is shaped by how they imagine they will feel or should feel under certain circumstances. The process of imagination may be fundamentally different between men and women. I think our “gender based imaginations” are different, and I think this is the basis of the perception that women seem mysterious to men.
Please continue on to article part two.
Copyright Arcmission Productions 2011
Stirling Grey is an author and researcher with Arcmission Productions.
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