I (Jasper) once read that girls desire love, while guys desire respect. It’s as simple and as complicated as that.
Certainly, I am not suggesting that girls do not need respect and guys do not need love. Girls do need to be respected and guys definitely need to be loved! Especially in the context of any friendship or relationship, love and respect are important ingredients to ensure that a healthy and honouring relationship lasts a long time.
However, I do think that the statement perfectly captures what fundamentally empowers and enables both genders, and such differences can potentially result in misunderstandings when we don’t understand how our friends of the other gender feel most valued and appreciated!
But all this just goes to show that understanding one another can sometimes be complicatedly simple and simply complicated.
NOT THE SAME?
It is indeed complicated … just kidding. But I (Dorothea) do concur with Jasper that both guys and girls do have different ways of feeling loved and appreciated.
I remember that years ago, I actually hurt one of my male friends quite deeply without even knowing it! We were conversing over Whatsapp and he was telling me about something that had happened during the day. When I received the text, I happened to be in the midst of something else and I absent mindedly replied something along the lines of, “Oh … I see. Haha.” I never got a reply back that night and I thought to myself that that was pretty rude of him! A couple of days later, I decided to ask about the situation he shared with me. To which he replied, “Oh, so you do care and you do remember.”
I was astounded and hurt by his actions (of not replying back) and his words (when I tried to show concern). It led to him sharing that my response came across as indifferent and bored when he felt he was sharing something important. Whilst that was not certainly my intention (I was multi-tasking at that moment!), it unfortunately came across that way. I had thought that a quick reply was better than none, as it showed that I cared and was listening.
That day, I learnt a lesson — what I thought of as encouraging and loving came across very differently to my friend! If such a simple situation could cause misunderstanding, what more when it involves the differences between guys and girls and how we most feel loved?
Perhaps if we girls are able to better understand how God has created and wired guys, we will be able to empower and build them up a lot more in our everyday interactions with them!
TO A GUY, OFFHAND REMARKS CAN OFTEN BE MORE DAMAGING THAN ONE INTENDS
THREE IMPORTANT LESSONS ABOUT GUYS
We conducted interviews with ten teenage boys to ask the questions you have probably wanted to ask but never felt you could! Here are the top three lessons we learned about what makes them feel most encouraged and built up:
1. Your words matter, A LOT
Most guys expressed that words of affirmation from a girl really encourage them, and while they may not necessarily show how pleased they are, deep down in their hearts, they do hold these words of affirmation in high regard!
Conversely, our negative words can really hurt as well. Yu Chen, 19, remarked: “It is especially edifying when girls point out and affirm certain intrinsic traits, beyond the superficial aspects like physical fitness or intellect; on the other hand, offhand remarks can often be more damaging than one intends. Phrases like ‘Don’t bother with him,‘ or ‘He’s always like that lah’ may sound really dismissive to a guy. I believe that even if you do find some faults in a guy, there’s always a way to speak the truth in love that instead of tearing down, helps to build up another person.”
So, girls, remember that our words do matter, for better or worse! Most of the guys mentioned that even a thank you or a gesture of appreciation is enough. According to Timothy, 19, “just having our efforts acknowledged by girls encourages us a lot!”
Jasper: This is really true. A friend once casually remarked that she thought I was a gentleman because of some small gestures she noticed that I do. It was surprising to me because I didn’t do those things to gain affirmation, but I was heartened because she noticed and even affirmed me!
2. Respect is VERY important
Arkash, 16, said, “Sincerity and respect are two things that I really value in a friendship, and when my female peers display these to me in our interactions it really makes me appreciative of them and builds me up as a Christian and a friend!”
Almost every guy mentioned respect when asked about what helps to build them up as a man. At the same time, every single one had a story to tell of when they felt disrespected by their female friends!
In particular, at least half of them said that they felt most torn down when girls “talked trash” about guys in front of them, making over-generalisations like “You’re not man enough,” or “You are seriously so immature”. I (Dorothea) do confess that I have done this knowingly and unknowingly before in the name of fun. According to the guys we interviewed, such statements make them feel disrespected and undermined.
HOW CAN WE BUILD UP THE BOYS IN OUR LIVES? SIMPLY BY SHOWING RESPECT.
The next time you’re tempted to criticise a guy (even if it’s not directly to his face), pause for a moment and think about how you could encourage and edify him respectfully instead! If you’re struggling with this, memorise Ephesians 4:29: “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.”
3. Don’t assume they’re just trying to chase you
As a teen, I heard girls sharing about how they were slightly wary when a particular guy texted them often and tried to start conversations. At the slightest hint that the guy might be interested in them, they would shut down the conversation and ignore him or try not to speak with him again.
Seems normal to us, but for the guys, it can be frustrating and hurtful when girls are suddenly hostile or ignore them although the conversation had seemed to be going well! One of the guys told us that when girls think guys are just after a relationship, it can make them feel quite annoyed. “When girls are too quick to form opinions and just assume instead of clarifying face to face, and in some sense judge me, that really annoys me. In addition, if they spread rumours due to their preconceived notions, it really hurts.”
Just as we’re not romantically interested in every guy that we speak to, guys are pretty much the same. Going cold toward them all of a sudden can make them feel clueless about what they have done wrong and also make them feel hurt that they’re not worth your effort!
Jasper: I cannot speak for all the guys out there, but it is true that when I text a girl, the thought in my head is not simply about chasing her!
TO BUILD, OR TEAR DOWN?
The guys have spoken, and now the question is, are we willing to listen and act on it? How can we build up the boys in our lives? Simply by showing respect, being careful to edify instead of discouraging them with our words, and being kind in the way we respond to them. It’s complicated, yet simple, and I’m sure it’s a challenge we are all willing to accept.