What women want

13 Jun

How much of our lives and energy have we balding white guys wasted in the fruitless attempt to understand what women want? Of course, the fact that it is all about figuring out what they want so that we can give it to them in the hope that they will reciprocate by giving us what we want is besides the point.

We know what we want. We are pretty straightforward about that. It might not always be kosher or prudent or politically correct or socially acceptable, but we aren’t often too terribly confused about it.

Women on the other hand, don’t seem to be so sure. Their style of communicating is so different that it could be easy to assume that they were playing some kind of devious game, scheming to drive us men crazy with some form of oblique reasoning that would make us their unwitting slaves. I no longer think that.

At this point my theory is that they have different conversational goals. They are also much more confused than we are, but don’t want to admit it. They have an amazing need to share information so they have to talk about how they feel all of the time, but they haven’t necessarily thought things all the way through so they aren’t really sure how they feel until they have talked about something for a number of days. During that time they swing back and forth on the issue, which drives us men loopy.

I call it the moving target syndrome. They say something. We take what they say and base a line of reasoning and a speculate on a plan of logical events and consequences. The fact that we do this seems to trigger some kind of response in them, convincing them to change their minds.

If there are other woman around to hear this they will sometimes commiserate in a supportive manner, enjoying a positive feedback loop of energy. That doesn’t often happen if the conversational partner is a man.

Of course, once the woman who started the conversation leaves, her friends will get all bitchy and say bad things about her behind her back. That is another thing that doesn’t often happen if the conversational partner is a man.

The problem is that men don’t know how to listen to a woman talk about something that they aren’t sure about without wanting to help. We like women. We want to be useful. We try to help. That is what we do. Women hate it. We don’t know why. They just want you to sit there and listen to them and let them know that you know how they feel and that you want to be supportive.

What good is that? Our whole lives have been about solving problems. School is about solving problems. Work is about solving problems. Heck, even the games we men play are about solving problems. The better we are at those things the more successful we become. Is it reasonable for women to expect us on a daily basis to be intuitive enough to understand the difference between when they want our help with solving a problem and when they just want to be heard? Is it reasonable of them to expect us to be skillful enough to bring all of those decades of problem-solving mental inertia to a screeching halt at a moment’s notice? Have they met us? What on earth leads them to believe that we will be able to do that?

To honor my self-imposed rule about no whining without offering some form of suggestion (I am a man, right?) I’ll finish by saying this: Fellow BWG’s, when a woman talks to you about something that you perceive as a problem, stifle your initial impulse to offer a suggestion until you can determine whether she wants help or just support. If she does not expressly ask for help, don’t offer it. No matter how much you want to tell her what she should do, don’t do it. You might be Einstein and she might be telling you how she feels about getting a bad grade in physics, but resist the urge to solve her problem unless she asks specifically for help.

That way she can be mad at your for being an insensitive lout who can’t pick up on a hint rather than for being a patronizing bastard who is always telling her what to do.

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