I have heard this phrase more times than I can count, only uttered by women in relationships with men. I have even said it myself. And I am tired of it.
I’m a very emotional person.
According to my therapist, I’m a “highly sensitive person,” something I have in common with over 15% of the adult population. I care deeply about what happens to those around me, I have strong reactions to events that trigger traumatic memories, and I can be oversensitive to physical stimuli like light and sound. I wear my emotions on my sleeve and do little to try to conceal them around people I trust. I learned a long time ago bottling-up was unhealthy for me, and usually resulted in becoming dependent on dangerous coping mechanisms. There is no denying that I am an emotional person.
Yet, I am also highly logical.
I have always excelled in logical academic areas like math and science. I’m good at mind games, solving puzzles, and thinking through a process from start to finish, anticipating the result of every move at every turn. I’m not often wrong about the long-term results of an action, and I’m great at creating a strategy around achieving a particular goal. As an undergrad I conducted graduate-level neuroscience research, developing and presenting my own original studies. I learned to code in two years and got a job as a software engineer at a decent agency.
The dichotomy between emotion and logic has a long history to it. Pathos and logos regularly find themselves at odds with each other, an experience which is not shocking given how maladaptive many human evolutionary emotional responses are in our current society. Yet the ancient Greeks were able to recognize that pathos and logos exist simultaneously within all of us. It is modern gender roles which have enabled the current perception of men as purely logical and women as purely emotional to thrive.
“He is nice to me. He’s just much more logic-based than emotion-based.”
A friend was recently venting to me about how her boyfriend of over a year failed to recognize the impact of his behavior on her fear of abandonment.
Her fear is well documented, rooted in childhood trauma, and has been proven time and time again throughout adulthood to perhaps not be entirely wrong. People often leave. She has been open and honest with him about her fears, the stories behind them, and what she needs in order to feel safe and secure in a relationship.
Despite this, he has repeatedly ignored her needs and continues to act as if he did not have this information about her. When pressed on why he thought that was okay she told me, “He is nice to me. He’s just much more logic-based than emotion-based.”
But this is an excuse — and not even a very good one.
Any person who was truly so logical, assuming they actually cared about you (or even wanted to pretend they cared about you), could put these pieces together.
Here’s the logic:
- The person I love has a reasonable fear based on her past →
- When something reminds her of her past, she gets upset →
- I don’t want someone I love to become upset →
- I will do what I can to not remind her of her past.
But what’s actually happening in his brain is this:
- I want to act a certain way →
- I will act a certain way regardless of how other people feel.
Refusing to slightly alter his behavior to accommodate the needs of his loved one is not being more “logical” than her. This is him not caring. It’s time women stop allowing men to excuse their shitty behavior by claiming they are more logical than we are.
Men have long claimed logical superiority over women. When women have dared to challenge this, they were burned at the stake, called “hysterical” and sent to asylums — or completely ignored altogether.
Men have historically been welcomed into “logical” professions, like lawyers, engineers, and mathematicians. Women have long been relegated to the “caring” professions of nursing, childcare, or social workers and teachers. Girls are taught how to pay attention to other’s feelings, especially men’s, and change their behavior to make them more comfortable. Men are taught to suppress emotions and many never learn emotional intelligence.
Just because women are more expressive with their emotions, does not mean that men’s day to day decisions are any less based on emotion. Men have become so used to being the “logical” ones that they can not perceive how their own emotions may be impacting a decision. Their decisions are assumed logical by default because emotions are meant to be suppressed.
Just because your boyfriend doesn’t know how to handle his own emotions (or yours) doesn’t mean he’s smarter, more logical, or right.
In a relationship, caring is logical
It’s time to stop letting men get away with not caring under the guise of logic, especially when caring is the logical thing to do. When two people are in a partnership, supposedly based on respect and caring, logic is no excuse to not care — in fact, caring is logical.
When a man refuses to act with basic empathy towards a woman because of “logic,” he is acting selfishly and emotionally. He is prioritizing his own comfort or convenience over the needs of his partner, often in a manner full of contempt because he was raised to expect that women should be catering to him. This is misogyny, and it is dangerous.
Next time you are trying to justify your boyfriend’s crappy behavior towards you, try saying “He just doesn’t truly care about how his actions impact others.” instead. This is probably what you really mean.
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