Courtesy ElijahMaybe I’ll just tag this one under “Oh… really?” or “you don’t say,” but a new study out of the University of California, Davis, has shown that men are much more likely than women to misinterpret messages attempting to “deescalate sexual intimacy.” And, really, not so much “misinterpret” as “understand the complete opposite of the intended message.”
Let’s try a little non-sexual test:
Person 1: “I’d like another piece of cake, please.”
Person 2: “No, there’s no more cake for you.”
Person 1: “Thanks very much, I love cake.”
Okay, what did everybody think was happening? See, as a man, I totally understood “No, there’s no more cake for you” to mean, “One sec, I’m going to go get some more cake for you.” I mean, I came up with the question, and I still got it wrong. But that’s because I think with my tummy.
The Davis study worked a little differently. 30 female and 60 male UC undergrads were given multiple-choice questionnaires, which asked them to select one of with several options for the meaning behind a variety of statements. The statements ranged from relatively indirect (e.g. “I’m seeing someone else”) to pretty direct (“Let’s stop this”).
The results were…um…what’s the opposite of the word “surprising”? Oh, right, unsurprising.
Men, it seems, were much more likely to interpret a statement like “It’s getting late” to mean “It was a good hit, head for second!” while women thought that the message pretty clearly meant “Hands of, Grabby, I’m going to sleep.”
Men were pretty good at understanding very direct message, like “let’s stop this,” but, embarrassingly, were just as likely to interpret “let’s be friends” to mean “keep going” as to mean “stop.” Any easy mistake to make, am I right? Because, you know, everybody knows that “let’s be friends,” for the whole history of humanity, has meant “let’s do it, weirdo.”
A related study showed that women often use indirect signals out of concern that direct messages will offend or anger men. The same study showed that, on the contrary, most men accepted direct resistance signals easily and without negative reactions.
So, ladies, remember to be direct. Even if it seems obvious. And guys, remember, no always means no.