He said She said – Compartmentalizing


Holly Headrick

Austin Grumbles and Meredith Turner show how men and women think differently

Men and women have two ways of dealing with issues.  Men tend to compartmentalize while women let all their problems run together.  Staff writers Austin Grumbles and Kendall Silvers attempt to explain each side.

What is it?

Have you ever separated a pack of Starburst into the different colors? You want to be able to pick which flavor you want first so it isn’t a jumbled mess.  You’re going to get to all of them eventually, but why not pick the one’s you want first.  This is the way guys approach problems; they compartmentalize them into different “colors.”  Women on the other hand are like a bucket out in the rain.  They take on every issue at the same time, small issues collecting into a 50-gallon drum waiting to poured out onto some poor fella.

So you just had a fight with your boyfriend, and you can’t get it out of your head. You think about this all day, spending every moment racking your brain, trying to figure out every detail and analyzing every hidden meaning. Your boyfriend on the other hand, doesn’t do this. Instead, he easily turns his attention to something else and erases the fight from his mind like it never happened. When you meet again later, a girl immediately wants to talk about what happened, but a boy has already moved on from the situation and doesn’t feel the need to bring it back up. This is compartmentalizing—when the mind either sections off different thoughts from one another, or intertwines them all at once.

How is it different for boys and girls?

A man gets into an argument with his wife and halfway through he gets called into work for an emergency. He goes into work and focuses solely on the problem at hand, pushing the argument aside until he gets back home.  Meanwhile his wife is reading into every word they said and trying to figure what is going through his mind.  The man cares about his wife and will put in the effort to show her, but he compartmentalizes the issues based on which ones he can fix at the time.

Austin Grumbles stares off, deep into thought as he compartmentalizes.
Holly Headrick
Austin Grumbles stares off, deep into thought as he compartmentalizes.

Compartmentalizing is very different for boys and girls where boys are typically compared to being like waffles and girls like spaghetti. Waffles are sectioned off into boxes. Boys tend to stay in one box at a time. Girls, however, are more like spaghetti in the sense that everything in their mind is intertwined and can’t be easily separated. Just like all the noodles in a bowl of spaghetti, their thoughts and emotions are connected to another situation in their life.

How can it affect the relationship?

These two thought processes are on opposite ends of the spectrum and they will cause the eventual demise of any relationship if both sides aren’t willing to compromise.  Guys have to be willing to sit down and listen her side of the story with every detail and emotional rabbit trail.  Even though the story may seem exaggerated and irrational, if you don’t listen, she will feel invalidated.  Putting you even deeper in the dog house.  For women, don’t rush your man. Let him compartmentalize.  It gives him time to be level-headed, collect his thoughts, and get his to-do list done.

When compartmentalizing takes place, it can cause stress on any relationship. A girl will typically want to talk through the situation and make connections, while the boy has already moved on to a different box in his life. This tends to make the girl feel like he doesn’t care since it seems that he is not thinking about her. The girl doesn’t seem to understand how he couldn’t be thinking about it, while the boy doesn’t understand how she still is. This in turn creates a bigger problem than the initial one. So next time a problem comes up, boys, be willing to talk about it sometimes, and girls, try to understand that he can still care about you even if his focus isn’t always on just you.