Sunday, October 24, 2004

More whining about relationships

Okay, been thinking some more about men & women and their expectations, etc. Since my thoughts are so brilliant, I wrote them down…

Everyone wants their partner to find them fascinating, and be interested in pleasing them. (Whether we actually are or not. Fascinating, I mean.)

A typical man often spectacularly fails to remain interesting to his partner because he insists on pulling the same levers and pushing the same buttons that worked at the beginning. That is, he expects her to remain the same person, with the same tastes, forever. Not sure who said it (some French guy, I think), but there’s a quote that goes:

Women marry men thinking they can change them.
Men marry women thinking that they’ll never change.

Anyway, the point is that

a) guys need to be willing to mix it up a little, and try something new once in a while, and
b) guys need to keep paying attention to their women, because women change their minds a lot more than men do, and one of the ways women evaluate how much you care for them is by how well you’re paying attention to the priority-of-the-week.

On the other side of the coin:
Women want men to be interested in their opinions and likes and desires. But people (men, anyway) have a limited amount of space or energy to devote to this task. It’s like a big water glass – we can only fit so many desires/preferences/requests in it. What women don’t seem to realize is how many things they do to fill up that glass on their own:

1) Just talking. Women talk a lot – they verbalize their ideas and desires and wishes – you talk about what you’re thinking and feeling so much it feels to us like you’re talking all the time. When we talk about something, it’s more likely to be for a reason (we’re all about the Action Item, remember). We don’t say “The car needs an oil change” so that you can validate our feelings about it – we say it because someone needs to take it to JiffyLube and we need to decide who’s going to do it. When you say “The sink is leaking”, we (usually correctly) assume you mean we’re supposed to fix it. But then you also say things like “Susie’s having trouble with her boyfriend” which confuses us. What are we supposed to do about that? Do you want us to beat the guy up? Comfort Susie? (Is she good-looking?) Is this your way of hinting about something, an object lesson for us (ie, Don’t be like Susie’s boyfriend)? The point is that every time you say “I’m worried about my Mom” or “I’m mad at Kristine” or “The guy at the gas station was rude to me” or “I wish we could go to Jamaica” or “I hate my hair” or “My thighs are fat” or “Too bad we can’t do X” or "We never talk" or “I’d love to get a new dishwasher /car /apartment/house”, it may be that you’re just idly expressing your feelings, but all of those things go into the What She Wants glass, and they tend to crowd out all the stuff about what kind of lipstick you wear or what size dress you are or what perfume or flowers or music or clothes or whatever that you like.

2) Complaining: When you complain about things, we typically hear and record that one of two ways (or both):
a. “You’re a bad husband/partner/provider for letting X happen”; or
b. “I am not happy with life/you/me/us until you make X go away.”
Either way, it’s another thing to fill up the glass – another thing we must do in order for you to be content. Even if it’s not under our control, we still stress about it because we (and often you) seem to think it’s our job to make you happy.

3) Nagging: every time you “remind” us of something we haven’t done, you’ve just put more stuff in the glass. We’re thinking “Oh yeah, she’s unhappy because X isn’t done yet.”

Anyway, all this stuff tends to fill up the glass. And if the glass is constantly being filled up by you, we’re never going to be able to devote a lot of energy to figuring out how to please you on our own. So when you wonder “Why does he buy me lame gifts?” or “Why doesn’t he use his imagination and think up some romantic and exciting date or vacation for us?” or “Why can’t he remember [whatever]?”, ask yourself whether the stuff you’ve been filling the glass with is really what’s most important to you.


At Wed Oct 27, 08:29:00 AM PDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You may be onto something. Every guy should have a glass they carry around, and if they feel that demands are getting unreasonable, they hold up the glass and say, "almost full! is that all you want for the year? cause we're pretty much full here!!" :)

-Kire Tim

At Thu Dec 09, 12:28:00 PM PST, Blogger Stephanie said...

Love your blog...and I find your comments about men and women interesting. Basically, what you seem to be saying is that guys are waffles, can't multitask, and have a hard time compartmentalizing when lots of information gets thrown at them. So it seems you want us women to accept the limitations of your wiring, yet you find it annoying when women act based on OUR wiring.

What I don't get it this - if you intellectually understand that women like to talk, share, and vent, why you can't trigger your brain to relax and go..."Aahhh...the woman is simply sharing. It doesn't mean I have to DO anything about it." This is what I do not understand. How HARD is it to simply accept women for how we often are (talkative), relax, and just listen?

The alternative is that you ask us women to simply shut down on you guys and never say anything to you at all. But what you don't get is that THAT is the kiss of death to a man! When a woman is in love with a man and is HAPPY with him, she babbles. When she is NOT happy with him, she's either yelling...or worse, giving the guy the silent treatment. That's when you are in serious deep doo-doo.

In the absolute WORST case scenario, she is sooo unhappy with you, that she's met someone new on whom she now expends her verbal energy.

Accept your woman's babble for the gift that it is and stop overanalyzing it. It's when she STOPS talking that you need to be SERIOUSLY WORRIED.

At Fri Dec 10, 01:17:00 PM PST, Blogger bryan torre said...

You make some good points, and you're right of course about the need for mutual understanding and acceptance. I'm sure my posts are exceedingly one-sided. I'm not really trying for an even-handed analysis, I guess. I would say I'm pretty guy-centric, mostly out of a feeling of frustration and a perception that things are generally the other way around. That is, as men we feel we're expected to understand and accommodate women's moods, lack (from our POV) of logic, sensitivity, etc -- the more female way to Be in the world -- while being told that our way of being/thinking/feeling is wrong.
I imagine the truth is somewhere in between, but I suspect that wouldn't be as interesting to read, and I know it wouldn't be as fun to write. ;-)
Thx for your comments.

At Mon Dec 13, 10:43:00 PM PST, Blogger Stephanie said... ironic, because we women always feel we are expected to understand the many moods of man! And oh yes, are you moody, you dear sweet males you.


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