What Woman Don't
Understand About Guys
By Dave Barry
Condensed from "Dave Barry's Complete Guide to Guys"
as printed in Readers Digest January 1996
Contrary to what many women believe, it's easy to develop a long-term, intimate
and mutually fulfilling relationship with a guy. Of course, the guy has to be a
Labrador retriever. With human guys, it's extremely difficult. This is because guy's
don't really grasp what women mean by the word relationship.
Let's say a guy named Roger asks a woman named Elaine out to a movie. She
accepts; they have a pretty good time. A few nights later he asks her out to dinner,
and again they enjoy themselves. They continue to see each other regularly, and soon
neither is seeing anybody else.
Then one evening when they're driving home, a thought occurs to Elaine. She
says: "Do your realize that we've been seeing each other for exactly six months?"
Silence fills the car. To Elaine, it seems like a very loud silence. She thinks to
herself: "Geez, I wonder if it bothers him that I said that. Maybe he feels confined by
our relationship. Maybe he thinks I'm trying to push him into some kind of
And Roger is thinking: "Gosh. Six months."
And Elaine is thinking: "But hey, I'm not so sure I want this kind of relationship
either. Are we heading toward marriage? Toward children? Toward a lifetime
together? Am I ready for that level of commitment? Do I really even know this
And Roger is thinking: "So that means it was...let's see...February when we
started going out, which was after I had the car at the dealers, which means...lemme
check the odometer...Whoe! I am way overdue for an oil change here."
And Elaine is thinking: "He's upset. I can see it on his face. Maybe I'm reading
this completely wrong. Maybe he wants more from our relationship- more intimacy,
more commitment. Maybe he senses my reservations. Yes, that's it. He's afraid of
And Roger is thinking: "I'm going to have them look at the transmission again. I
don't care what those morons say- it's still not shifting right. And they better not try to
blame it on cold weather this time. It's 78 degrees out, and this thing is shifting like a
garbage truck, and I paid those incompetent thieving cretins six hundred dollars!"
And Elaine is thinking: "He's angry, and I don't blame him. I'd be angry too. I feel
guilty, putting him through this, but I can't help the way I feel. I'm just not sure."
And Roger is thinking: "They'll probably say it' only a 90-day warranty. That's
what they're gonna say!"
And Elaine is thinking: "Maybe I'm too idealistic, waiting for a knight to come
riding up on his white horse, when I'm sitting next to a perfectly good person who's
in pain because of my self-centered, school girl fantasy."
And Roger is thinking: "Warranty? I'll give them a warranty!"
"Roger," Elaine says aloud.
"What?" says Roger.
"I'm such a fool," Elaine says sobbing. "I mean, I know there's no knight and
there's no horse."
"There's no horse?" says Roger.
"You think I'm a fool, don't you?" Elaine says.
"No!" Roger says, glad to know the correct answer.
"It's just that...I need some time," Elaine says.
There is a fifteen second pause while Roger tries to come up with a safe response.
"Yes," he finally says.
Elaine, deeply moved, touches his hand. "Oh, Roger, do you really feel that way?"
"What way?" says Roger.
"That way about time," Elaine says.
"Oh," says Roger. "Yes."
Elaine gazes deeply into his eyes, causing him to become very nervous about what
she might say next, especially if it involves a horse. At last she says, "Thank you,
"Thank you," he responds.
Then he takes here home, and she lies on her bed, a conflicted soul weeping until
dawn, whereas when Roger gets back to his place, he opens a bag of chips, turns on
the TV and immediately becomes deeply involved in a rerun of a tennis match
between two Czech players he has never heard of. A tiny voice in his mind tells him
that something major was going on back there in the car, but he figures it's better not
to think about it.
The next day Elaine will call here closet friend, and they will talk for six straight
hours. In painstaking detail they will analyze everything she said and everything he
said. They will continue to discuss this subject for weeks, never reaching any definite
conclusions but never getting bored with it either.
Meanwhile, Roger, playing racquetball one day with a friend of his and Elaine's,
will pause just before serving and ask, "Norm, did Elaine ever own a horse?"
We're not talking about different wavelengths here. We're talking about different
planets in completely different solar systems. Elaine cannot communicate
meaningfully with Roger because the sum total of his thinking about relationships is
He has a guy brain, basically an analytical, problem-solving organ. It's not
comfortable with nebulous concepts such as love, need and trust. If the guy brain has
to form an opinion about another person, it prefers to base it on facts, such as his or
her earned-run average.
Woman have trouble accepting this. They are convinced that guys spend a certain
amount of time thinking about the relationship. How could a guy see another human
being day after day, night after night, and not be thinking about the relationship? This
is what women figure.
They are wrong. A guy in a relationship is like an ant standing on top of a truck
tire. The ant is aware that something large is there, but he cannot even dimly
comprehend what it is. And if the truck starts to roll, the ant will sense that
something important is happening but right up until he rolls around to the bottom and
is squashed, the only thought in his tiny brain will be Huh?
Thus the No. 1 tip for woman to remember is never assume the guy understands
that you have a relationship. You have to plant the idea in his brain constantly
making subtle references to it, such as:
"Roger, would you mind passing me the sugar, inasmuch as we have a
"Wake up Roger! There's a prowler in the den and we have a relationship!
You and I do I mean."
"Good news, Roger! The doctor says we're going to have our fourth child,
another indication that we have a relationship!"
"Roger, inasmuch as this plane is crashing and we have only a minute to
live, I want you to know that we've had a wonderful 53 years of marriage
together, which clearly constitutes a relationship."
Never let up, woman. Pound away relentlessly at this concept, and eventually it
will start to penetrate the guys brain. Someday he might even start thinking about it
on his own. He'll be talking with some other guys about women, and out of the blue
he'll say, "Elaine and I, we have, ummm . . . We have, ahhh . . . We . . . We have this
And he will sincerely mean it.