“You’re just being too sensitive.” Perhaps.
Often, however, these words are spoken by someone who’s actually . . . frustrated or afraid of your pain (or your anger).
I’ve observed we have a tendency to minimize pain. We ignore it, dismiss it, or medicate it.
We magnify fear, but we minimize pain.
We mask anger and anxiety in our minimization. We speak in code to protect ourselves and others. This isn’t necessarily a problem unless pain is not processed and becomes cumulative. Then it’s a problem.
So I’m going to de-code a few common communications for you.
“Just kidding.” is most often masked anger. It’s a jab or a prick with a smile, and it’s usually spoken out of fear or pain. Often it’s not even conscious; just a subtle putdown. But don’t be fooled; the message registers unconsciously.
“I don’t know.” might be code for I’m afraid to think about this or to feel or to tell you the truth because you will judge or reject me. Your opinion matters. I’m vulnerable and at risk. If I don’t think about it or plead ignorance, then I don’t have to feel shame or guilt or take responsibility.
“I don’t care.” often means we do care (a lot) but we think we’re not supposed to care or we’re ashamed that we care. Caring means a potential loss. Vulnerability and disappointment suck.
“It’s okay.” Is often a statement of forgiveness while still stinging from the disappointment. It’s polite, even gracious, but I encourage you to stay sensitive. It might not really be okay.
On a lighter note – here’s a quote you’ve probably seen, but it worth repeating.
What Women Say and What They Mean
FINE: This is the word women use to end an argument when they feel they are right and you need to shut up. Never use “fine” to describe how a woman looks. This will cause you to have one of “those” arguments.
FIVE MINUTES: This is half an hour. It is equivalent to the five minutes that your football game is going to last before you take out the trash, so it’s an even trade.
NOTHING: This means “something” and you should be on your toes. “Nothing” is usually used to describe the feeling a woman has of wanting to turn you inside out, upside down, and backwards. “Nothing” usually signifies an argument that will last “Five Minutes” and will end with the word “Fine”.
GO AHEAD (With Raised Eyebrows): This is a dare. One that will result in a woman getting upset over “Nothing” and will end with the word “Fine”.
GO AHEAD (Normal Eyebrows): This means “I give up” or “do what you want because I don’t care”. You will get a “Raised Eyebrow Go Ahead” in just a few minutes, followed by “Nothing” and “Fine”, and she will talk to you in about “Five Minutes” when she cools off.
LOUD SIGH: This is not actually a word, but is a non-verbal statement often misunderstood by men. A “Loud Sigh” means she thinks you are an idiot at that moment, and wonders why she is wasting her time standing here arguing with you over “Nothing”.
SOFT SIGH: Again, not a word, but a non-verbal statement. “Soft Sigh” means that she is content. Your best bet is not to move or breathe, and she will stay content.
THAT’S OKAY: This is one of the most dangerous statements that a woman can make to a man. “That’s Okay” means that she wants to think long and hard before paying you back for whatever it is that you have done. “That’s Okay” is often used with the word “Fine” and in conjunction with a “Raised Eyebrow Go Ahead”. At some point in the near future, you are going to be in some mighty big trouble.
PLEASE DO: This is not a statement, it is an offer. A woman is giving you the chance to come up with whatever excuse or reason you have for doing whatever it is that you have done. You have a fair chance with the truth, so be careful and you shouldn’t get a “That’s Okay”.
THANKS: A woman is thanking you. Do not faint. Just say, “You’re welcome”.
THANKS A LOT: This is much different than “Thanks”. A woman will say “Thanks A Lot” when she is really ticked off at you. It signifies that you have offended her in some callous way, and will be followed by the “Loud Sigh”. Be careful not to ask what is wrong after the “Loud Sigh” as she will only tell you “Nothing”.