Do male/female relationships have more
difficulties? And whos to blame for our conflicts and misunderstandings?
by Janet Jacobsen
Recently we conducted a small survey at a singles event, to make a start
at looking at how single men and women see misunderstandings and conflicts
between the sexes. Do we see conflicts and mis-understandings as fairly
similar things? Do we see such problems in male/female relationships as
more or less common than in other relationships? Our sample was just 22
singles (8 men and 14 women), but this preliminary look says that we may
have some interesting similarities - and differences.
Our first question asked participants to rate their agreement with the
statement Misunderstandings happen more often in male/female relationships
than in other relationships. Among the men, 75% agreed, compared
to 57% of women. Responding to the statement Conflicts happen more
often in male/female relationships than in other rela-tionships,
about 65% of the women agreed, compared to just 40% of the men. Nearly
equal ratios of men and women (20-25%) disagreed with the conflict statement,
but men were more likely to mark dont know (40%) than
were women (15%).
So while about equal numbers of women indi-cate that both misunderstandings
and conflict are more likely in male/female relationships than in other
relationships, men feel the same about misun-derstandings, but not about
On both questions, we asked who was most often at fault when misunderstandings
or con-flicts happen in male/female rela-tionships: the man, the woman,
both parties, or no ones fault. In both misunderstandings
and conflict, about 70% of women said that both parties were to blame,
but women were more likely to say it was no ones fault in misunderstandings
(20%) than in conflicts (15%). Men preferred the no ones fault option
in misunderstandings (50%, with 40% blaming both parties), but thought
that both parties were more often at fault in conflicts (about 65%, with
25% selecting no ones fault).
So we seem to have a different perception on when a dispute is based on
equal blame, compared to when such difficulties just happen,
with no one to blame. Both sexes, however, are more likely to see both
parties as being to blame in conflicts than in misunderstandings.
As a check on singles views about male/female inter-actions in general,
we asked for responses to the statement, Good friendships are possible
between single men and women. Interestingly, 100% of both sexes
agreed with that single men and women can be friends.
Single men and women seem to agree that misunderstandings and conflicts
are more likely in male/female relationships than in other relationships,
yet they see the possibility of good friendships with the opposite sex.
Talking generally about when difficulties arise, singles of both sexes
seem to rarely blame each other, but have somewhat different views about
whether both parties share the blame, or no one is at fault.
Our sample is too small to draw any major conclusions at this point, but
it does suggest that these are definitely issues worth pursuing, which
we plan to do. Well give you the results in future issues.