Traffic Laws and Stupid Boys: Why men don’t understand women

[Adir complained to me that my posts are often too short and leave him wanting more. As a response, this post is a little longer than usual. Give me feedback! Do you prefer the shorter or longer format? Comment below.]

via: Flickr user billaday

Recently, I discussed the issue of miscommunication between the sexes with my friend Lia. She said that “boys are stupid,” a common complaint I’ve heard from women, pretty much throughout my life. And being that I am a member of the male gender, I can say that, yes, for the most part, we are pretty stupid. But miscommunication is not entirely our fault.

The problem lies somewhere between our stupidity and the fact that women tend to be confusing, impossible to read, and generally inconsistent among their gender. The analogy I gave Lia is as follows:

Each of the fifty states has completely different traffic laws. Some only allow U-turns at intersections, some allow them anywhere, some anywhere except intersections. So we grow up and we learn the traffic laws of one particular area, then one day, enter a new state, and get a ticket for breaking the law.

If every girl had the same traffic laws, or better communication about their laws, boys wouldn’t be under the speed limit in some cases and running reds in others. But this is not the case. It’s unrealistic to suggest that drivers memorize the traffic laws of every state; even if one learns all about U-turns, there’s plenty of other laws that will surprise any driver. That is, we don’t know what girls want and they don’t communicate with us. (i.e. there’s no sign in Wisconsin that says “U-turns illegal at intersections in this state.” Had there been, I would have avoided a traffic warning.)

This definitely applies in the real world, especially in the dating world of young twenty-somethings such as myself. In discussions with my male friends, I find that no man is really aware of the proper etiquette before or after a date, and even though we try our best to do the right thing, inevitably we make mistakes.

A common example comes in the manners I display as a Southern gentleman. Thanks to conditioning by my mother from a very young age, I always hold doors open for women, allowing them to go in before I do so. However, though most women enjoy this treatment, I have noticed that some (let’s call them ultra-liberal New York types) find this to be offensive or even chauvinistic. Frankly I find this ridiculous, but nonetheless, it is the case.

More importantly, I have heard from many female friends that the post-date call is a serious point of stress. Some men call too early and sound too eager, but most men don’t call until much too late, causing their dates to think they are disinterested. This seems to be a major point of miscommunication, but really it all stems from the problem that different women have different windows of when the call should come, yet very few communicate what that window is.

Because there was no feedback in these and other situations, that is, no traffic signs or flashing lights from a cop car, men are often left in the oblivion of the murky inter-gender pit of miscommunication usually described in books with titles suggesting interstellar origins of the sexes.

Ultimately, I don’t think the onus is on men to become smarter or on women to become more consistent. But I do think it would be nice if the female highway patrol would let men off with a few more warnings before making arrests or issuing fines.

  • Cris

    But then you also have stupid women who communicate very clearly but who refuse – for a while – to accept that he didn't misunderstand you, he isn't deaf, and he's not simply ignoring you. Sometimes the problem is that he just doesn't care.

  • Mara

    Indeed, we learn certain signals growing up and then the signals change. I think this applies to everything. Notably relationships. Well put. There's definitely often a lack of communication on girls' parts when it comes to expressing what they want; it has been considered a "feminine" characteristic to be docile, passive, indirect. A clearer explication of signs, as you ask for, definitely helps balance things out, so word. However, to define this issue along gender lines, i think, reinforces the two categories' connections to the specified behaviors – like the idea of women being non-communicative. Clearly, you are pointing this out as a problem, though I can't help but feel that discussing these unclear signals along gender lines enforces the same system of stereotype reinforcement that often engenders this specific miscommunication.

    Also, besides that, i think it's fair to say that most people don't know exactly what they want from another person when it comes to dating. It's really confusing by nature. I think we're all just figuring it out as we go along, so inherently, signs cannot be clear.

    And word, I think it'd be good if all highway patrols, both literal and figurative, would let people off with more warnings before making arrests or issuing fines due to unclear signage.

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  • Yoni

    This is ridiculously inappropriate, but it has to be done.

    If traffic signs described women:

    Stop ahead
    Slippery when wet
    Do Not Enter
    Weight Limit
    Road Narrows = \Width Restriction\
    Toll Road
    Detour / Alternate Route
    Wrong Way

    It's bad enough that I posted this, I'm not going to explain them.

    • I'm actually surprised I even approved that comment. But it was hilarious. Especially coming from you, you sick SOB.

  • Hannah

    I'm a friend of Lia's and she recently told me this story. I have to admit, I think you left out a very important part of the analogy (although I did enjoy it). All of the states have many of the same traffic laws. For example, red lights mean stop and green mean go. Of course, in Boston, where I'm from, yellow means speed up to beat the red. However, there are many "rules" that apply to all women. Be kind, sincere, and funny, to name a few. Generally, if you can follow these, a second date will occur.

  • Shorter weblog posts. preferably 140 characters or less. al la

    • In that case, might I recommend following my twitter account?

  • Amy

    I agree about the door holding thing. In fact it drives me crazy when the person in front of you lets the door shut when you're two feet away. I'm just saying how hard is it to hold it that extra second. Granted that's not exactly what you were talking about, but oh well?

    • Oh that KILLS me even more. Wow. And I see it ALL the time in NYC. It's like people are in such a hurry they can't be bothered to practice common decency. Unreal.

  • I never call after a first date. Thanks to technology, its best to text…

    Text something flirty, telling them you had fun. If you played the night right, you should already set something up in the future. Even getting going shoe shopping with you is technically "setting something up."

    Than you can remind her in your text "Hey, I was thinking about some Steve Maddens, see ya on wednesday."

    And yes, you are allowed emotioncons when talking to women through text and being flirty.

  • Nathan- this was a great analogy! I might just quote you in an upcoming blog post. In general, I like short blog posts because I have a short attention span. I think it's really up to you though- write what you feel like writing- don't worry about length, just content. Make sense?

  • Adir

    props on the longer blogpost. It suits you. Also, apt analogy with the traffic laws as compared to women's inconsistencies. I've never heard it explained that way and it really covers the issue. Also, the lack of door holding in New York is one of my biggest pet peeves. Maybe it's my midwestern upbringing, but I find that people who don't hold doors are extremely rude. Even worse are those who don't say thank you. These fucking yankees.