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Your Partner Can’t Read Your Emotions



Pop culture tells us that men are from Mars and women are from Venus, but are men and women really as dissimilar as society would have us believe?

A new study from the LWL-University Hospital in Bochum, Germany suggests we might be quite different, at least when it comes to how we communicate and interpret emotions.

The researchers gathered a group of men and asked them to look at several different pictures of men and women. They examined the participants’ brain activity and asked them to gauge the men and women’s emotions based on their eyes and their expressions.

Their findings were quite interesting. The men in the study took a longer time deciphering the emotions expressed in the women’s faces, and they also were more likely to be incorrect when it came to women. In other words, they were better able to judge male emotions and male expressions.

 Why is this? The researchers theorize that it could be due to early socialization and gender roles. It might be that men are better able to decipher what other men are thinking or feeling because they spend more time with men or because they innately understand male expressions. Biology might also play a role. From an evolutionary standpoint, it might be more important for men to be able to read the expressions and intentions of other men, as these would be the individuals who would present competition for food and mates.

Whatever the reason, the study serves as a good reminder for couples. While we often want our partners to be mind-readers or while we often assume that they should simply know what we want and need, the reality is that men often struggle to read their partner’s nonverbal cues. 

Gender aside, all relationships require honesty and open communication, even when it comes to your close girlfriends, but as this study shows, forthright communication might even be more crucial when it comes to the opposite sex. While your best friend might notice a slight shift in your tone or a flash of annoyance in your eyes, your partner might be less attuned to such nuanced communication. Instead of fighting against this reality or complaining that your partner can’t read your particular brand of body language, simplify your life and your relationship by committing to authentic communication.

Don’t shy away from expressing your feelings and your desires, and remember to stay present and attentive when your partner is expressing his feelings in return. The best way to prevent issues from growing is by talking about them openly and honestly, and it’s also the best way to ensure that you both get what you want and need.

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