The other day I was reading about What Women Really Want in a Relationship, as theorized by TIME magazine. As is usually the case when I read about things pertaining to “understanding” women I left more confused than when I showed up. Despite my fabled history in writing about the opposite sex if there’s anything I’ve learned to understand about women over the years, it is the fact that I do not understand women – and if history is a predictor of the future – I likely never will. It does keep things interesting, but the reason I don’t understand women is because of findings like this:
According to the new study published in the Journal of Family Psychology, relationship satisfaction has a lot to do with the way partners are able to read and empathize with each other’s emotions. For women, that applies more to their negative emotions than their positive ones: women are happy when their boyfriend or partner understands they’re upset.
For men, it’s somewhat simpler — they’re happy when their partner is happy. Men report more relationship satisfaction when they know their woman is happy, and not when they know she’s upset or angry.
Say what now?
If I understand women correctly, and as I said above I likely do not, women are not happy when a problem is resolved that may lead to their unhappiness being alleviated. No. They are happy when men recognize they are upset, regardless of if we try to resolve the problem that they are allegedly upset about in the first place? … Oh. Ok. Yeah, I got it.
Because I’m apparently a masochist and therefore enjoy pain and suffering, I turned to the women of Twitter to provide further clarification on how women think. I immediately regretted this decision.
Women (AND I LOVE YOU GUYS TO DEATH) are like weathermen. Women claim to be the more evolved of the sexes but when you ask a simple question, you get a complicated answer. Alas, like your local weatherman who claims he can tell you the seven-day forecast when he can’t even get tomorrow’s forecast right, you begin to heed their advice with a cautious ear. In other words, you can ask a group of 100 women the same question and get 103 different responses. This talent would actually be really amazing if it wasn’t simultaneously infuriating.
What confused me about the article is the fact that women appeared more focused on a man understanding the problem than fixing the problem. Mind you this is the same problem, or so I thought, apparently incorrectly, that started the very conversation we are having. And by “we,” I mean she is forcing me to have, since yours truly would not start a convo about a problem in which I didn’t want a resolution to, bro.
That doesn’t make sense to me. When people come to me with a problem, my natural reaction is to try to fix the problem. One woman on Twitter told me, AND I QUOTE, “When you constantly respond with solutions, SOMEtimes it feels like you’re trying to shut down the convo.”
If I only listen, won’t the problem remain? Why are we even discussing a problem without the need for or a goal of resolution? What good is listening if nothing is resolved?
More importantly, why the hell are you talking to me about a problem you don’t even want fixed in the middle of the game?
At this point, I was drawn deep into the enigma that is the vortex of the conundrum that is the black hole of the female mind. It was very frightening. Eventually I found myself asking the question that spurred this blog, “How do you use your man?”
If you’re not coming to me, your man, to fix your problems, then who are you turning to? By the very nature of us having this discussion, I assume, you recognize there is a problem that needs to be resolved but while you have turned to me to listen, you have not come to me to provide a solution. I’m tasked with empathizing, not resolving. So, who is responsible for resolution?
This question is not without merit.
I have any number of female friends who turn to me to vet questions about their relationship and their respective significant other. Some of these questions are more personal and/or serious than others. I’m not positive but I’m fairly sure they do not discuss all these questions with their significant other. However, because my female friends are actually FRIENDS I can provide an honest, non-biased opinion on the subject. Her and I know she can come to me and I’ll tell her the truth without the cushy goodness her significant other is forced to use when responding to her
ridiculous perfectly reasonable questions because he wants to access her pum pum star that night and maintain peace in their home so he can watch the NCAA games. I, on the other hand, have nothing to lose when I inform her, “You’re being completely unreasonable right now… He’s right. You’re wrong. Apologize, immediately! Then give him some brain like you went to Yale but you probably went to Howard and make him a sandwich.” Because that’s what real friends tell their friends when they’re being immature idiots.
This brings us to the Q&A portion of the show. To varying degrees, I believe we’re all guilty of turning to others for help in our relationships when the people we should likely turn to first, our significant other, is not always the first to hear our grievances. Therefore…
For the ladies: 1) How do you decipher between the man that can give you open and honest feedback on the various issues affecting your relationship and/or life because he genuinely wants you to succeed versus the man who is secretly trying to sabotage your relationship from the outside in? 2) Furthermore, why are you even having this discussion with another man instead of your man? 3) Why do you confide in others outside of the relationship – not limited to men, as your single friends can cause the same if not worse damage? 4) At what point does confiding in a man outside the relationship about problems in the relationship constitute being unfaithful? 5) Would you be fine with your man confiding in a woman about problems affecting your relationship?
For the men: 1) Do you play the role of confidant for a committed women in your life? 2) If yes, was there ever a time when you used this role to your advantage to purposely sabotage the relationship? 3) Do you turn to women outside your relationship to get a better understanding of your significant other? 4) Do you believe this constitutes unfaithfulness and if not, how do you safely tote the line of committed man and shy away from women with ulterior motives, especially when the majority of men’s female friends generate from X’s or past romantic interest? 5) Are you ok with your woman confiding in another man about personal problems affecting your relationship?