Communication breakdown? Why men don’t listen to women.

Communication breakdown? Why men don’t listen to women.


If you’re a woman, you’re probably familiar with this situation – you have been talking to your partner for several minutes, and he suddenly reveals his lack of attention: “Sorry, what were you saying?”


Men, on the other hand, have often been reproached: “You never pay attention to what I’m saying!”


Why is this scenario so common among couples? …and why is it we feel men don’t listen to women?


There is a popular myth suggesting that women are more talkative than men and utter around 20,000 words a day, compared to men’s 7000.

A study completed several years ago, however, shows that the difference between the number of words spoken by women and men is insignificant and ranges for both genders around 16,000 a day.

It seems men don’t fail to listen to women because they talk too much, but for different reasons.

Let’s dig further into the matter and see why ladies feel frustrated when men are not active in a conversation.


Women want to be heard first of all.


Women want to be heard.

Women want to be heard.

When a couple is having an argument, the man closes himself thinking the woman will express her discontent at his expense. If the cause of the argument is having forgotten about her birthday, the man is expecting to be reminded of other faux-pas as well, like refusing to dine with her parents last Sunday or not joining her at a concert.

Men usually talk when they consider the discussion can have a constructive outcome, while women do it to share their feelings and vent. And, the more ignored she feels, the more she will overreact and end up thinking that men can’t communicate.


Men think they should be dominant.


Men don't listen?

Why men don’t listen to women.

In order to listen to women and become an active partner in debates, men would have to use emotional language, which would make them into wusses – and there’s nothing that a man doesn’t want to avoid more!

Allowing emotional ventilation would make them lose their dignity, and it’s also worth remembering that men are usually not encouraged to express their emotions, starting with early childhood education.


Listening requires effort.


Couple talking.

Listening is more than just hearing what the other person is saying.

You need to internalize their ideas, have an opinion, respond to their inquiries and come up with solutions.

Too much work to do when you’re thinking about something else or you’ve just come home after a long day at work, right?

What solutions are there to solve this problem?


Advice for men.


  • Focus on what the other person has to say and provide answers on the spot.
  • Find the key message – a long speech will get you distracted, but if you discover the central idea and talk about it, your spouse will feel appreciated.
  • Reformulate their message in order to show you have understood it –just contradicting her at every step will add more fuel to the fire.
  • Ask questions – this is the supreme proof that you care about what she is saying and value her opinions. You may even discover the reason why the long discussion you dreaded has started in the first place!


Advice for women.


  • Get used to the idea that some topics are simply uninteresting to your partner, like fashion, your best friend’s break-up story, or what happened in the last episode of your favorite show.
  • Be brief and avoid repeating yourself – after all, nobody likes being told something twice or receiving long sermons. Keep it short and you’ll get better results, no matter how tempted you are to rephrase your ideas just to help him understand better.
  • Avoid gunny sacking – or bringing back in an argument bad things that happened in the past. Men are usually afraid they’ll be reproached for past mistakes, so focus on current issues instead.
  • Be careful about the way you educate your sons – when they become adults, they won’t listen to their partners and express their feelings if they have been taught their entire life they always need to be tough, strong and macho.


To sum it all up, trying to understand your partner and paying more attention to their needs is the key to becoming better listeners and to being listened to more attentively as well!

Published by Couples Clinic

By the Couple Clinic, a company of Winnipeg therapists (