As I frequently protest when posting to this blog, my blog is not really supposed to be political, because what I know about foreign and domestic affairs is about what Ben Shapiro
knows about women. So I like to share little anecdotes from my personal life, or the lives of people I know, because that’s something I do know about, and perhaps hopefully add a little insight into the workings of human relations in friendships and families, if not on the world stage.
So I was inspired by this excellent piece of advice
for straight men, found over at Two Tears and a Bucket
, to issue my own public service announcement, mine for straight women:
Don’t take romantic advice from other women. Women give terrible romantic advice. Except for me, because having learned the reason most women give terrible romantic advice, I now correct for it in my own advice giving, and now my advice giving combines the best aspects of advice from both genders.
Who should you take romantic advice from? Men, straight or gay. Or women who’ve learned the error of their ways, like me.
Why should you never take romantic advice from women?
Women want to be reaffirmed. A lot. Because women want to be reaffirmed, they know that other women want to be reaffirmed. So when women are upset about an interaction with a man, their female friends want to offer reaffirmation. He's being a jerk, they nearly always tell the distraught woman. Also, it's a really unfortunate thing to admit, but Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus
has some valuable insights to offer. Actually, I've never read that book. I just think its thesis, as I understand it--that most men and women have fundamentally different communication styles, and this will be a source of conflict in most straight relationships--is true in my observation. Even the femmest guy I dated (who practically everyone thought was gay), was a Martian at heart, in fact, he may have been the most Martian of all. Women understand the communication style and behaviors of other women. They don't understand the communication styles of men. So when they hear about a dispute between a man and a woman, the woman's behavior makes sense to them. The man's does not. Furthermore, they identify with the distraught woman. Her conflicts remind them of their own. If she's right in this situation, they were just a little more right in all the arguments they've had in the past. You're absolutely right, they tell the distraught woman. He's such an ass. Even when the advice-giving women are hip to the Mars/Venus dynamic, which they probably are, it doesn't make a difference, because then they assume that the "female" style of relating is better: "Why can't men talk about their feelings? What's wrong with them? They're so repressed." They don't seem to realize that it's a brave new relativistic world we're living in, and there's just no objective reason to think that the woman's way is better than the man's. Even if there were, it wouldn't matter, because it's still a man you're trying to have a relationship with, and the way to resolve conflicts is to compromise, to try it their way for a while, and in my observation of advice giving women (which is not all-encompassing I admit; I think I am now an exception to this rule; there may be scattered others), they don't urge the distressed woman to compromise at all. They just affirm, affirm, affirm, and often, women's romantic advice is the direct cause of major trouble in a relationship.
Here is an example.
I have a friend. I'll call her Sally.
I love Sally. Sally, as a matter of fact, is more like me in the way her emotions work than any other human being I've ever met. As soon as I discerned this similarity, I didn't even have to know Sally that well in order to know her really well. I know how certain dramas in Sally's life are going to play out before they do. But Sally is really self-deluded in some ways, ways I've been self-deluded, although I think I snap out of it a little more thoroughly than she does.
In 2001-2002 my friend Sally had a gentleman friend who was a member of the special forces of the Air Force. (Here’s some gossip: Did you know that the stealth bomber might give pilots brain cancer? Sally’s gentleman friend was a stealth bomber pilot. Another stealth pilot and he both got malignant tumors in exactly the same part of their brains. They were both young men and they both had no history of that kind of cancer in their families.) I would call him a fuck buddy. They met occasionally to spend the weekend together. He never told her he loved her or anything like that. Sally, naturally, hoped for more, although she knew intellectually it was never going to happen. He went off to the Middle East post-September 11th (but came back occasionally, and they would see each other). He also had other girlfriends. She hadn’t heard from him for several months, and she got worried, since he’d had brain cancer and he was sometimes called off in the middle of the night to paratroop somewhere, or some such thing. Finally, she got through to him via email. “Sally,” he said, “I’ve been trying to email you. Life is good. Married, with a baby on the way. Will talk soon.”
Naturally, Sally got this and was upset. She likes to think the reason she was upset is the way he told her (but he said he had sent her other emails; she doesn’t know what the content of those was), but in fact, she was upset because she was jealous. He had gone off and gotten married and didn’t want to be with her any more.
If she had been interested in being friends with him, the logical thing to do would have been to send him an email saying “Congratulations! Whoah, that was sudden. I’ll have to get details. Here’s what’s going on in my life.” She could talk about how upset she was, how he didn’t even have the consideration to pick up the phone and call her, how they promised that if they found another relationship they’d tell each other, etc. etc. to her friends. That’s the appropriate outlet for those sentiments. In fact, something along those lines was her first impulse. But then, she got The Advice.
“Sally,” said her friend, who is also my relative, “Nowhere in this email do you say that you’re angry at him. You should tell him how you really feel.”
So Sally writes him a big email telling him how mad she was (I didn’t see it). He wrote back (she didn’t tell me what was in it). She wrote him back telling him she didn’t like his response. And that was it. Later she told me, “I didn’t like the way he behaved, but I don’t need him in my life.” Oh the irony! She was supposedly mad at HIM for trivializing the value of their relationship, but stuffing it for a moment and extending a simple, uncomplicated congratulations was too much for her to do to preserve that relationship. In fact, she wasn’t interested in a real friendship, but she managed to turn it around so that he was doing the rejecting.
But anyway, the advice. If Sally had asked a man, the man would have said, “Look, the guy just got married. Who knows, maybe he got cornered into it by the baby. He’s not ready to talk about it right now. Cut him some slack and be understanding if you want to keep up the friendship.” Or something like that. And that advice would have encouraged compromise. Maybe sometime later, when their post-marriage friendship was in a less vulnerable stage, she could bring up that she had been hurt. Contrary to the Venutian ethic, it is not advisable to express one’s feelings at every moment of the day, especially when dealing with Martians.
In fact, that’s just about the advice I gave her, except I combined the best elements of female and male advice giving: I reaffirmed her and then I told her to stuff it: “I know, that’s just awful. He couldn’t have picked up the phone? I would be so upset if some ex-boyfriend of mine got married and didn’t even tell me. I totally understand. But you know, you don’t even know what’s going on with him right now; his life is probably really complicated. You don’t know why he got married. Maybe it was because of this kid and he might even be a little embarrassed. Men aren’t good at expressing their feelings like we are, so we just have to tolerate that. Also, another thing I’ve noticed that men often can’t do that well is maintain truly intimate relations with women other than their romantic partner. I’ve gotten totally dumped as a friend by some men as soon as they found girlfriends. So probably it’s hard for him to talk to you with the same frankness he did before. Your relationship will probably have to redefine itself. It’s totally natural to be hurt and jealous though, I would be. He didn’t treat your relationship like the important thing it was. But he probably just needs some time.”
Tragically, I came to the situation too late. She had already gotten The Advice and sent the angry email off. I did, however, have a temporary salutary effect, and a few days later she said she had been thinking about what I had said—that the news of his marriage was an ego wound, and that she was being narcissistic. I didn’t, in fact, say that, but I wouldn’t have disagreed, exactly, either. Anyway, she actually seemed to be drinking the notion in. But then she got an email from him and fired one back and that was that.
It may be that their relationship was destined to end anyway, and that it’s all for the best. But my point is about advice. My relative’s advice was designed to HELP THE RELATIONSHIP. I ask you, was it not terrible advice? Tragically, I’ve witnessed this advice being given by female friends all across the nation. It’s possible the phenomenon’s reach is worldwide. So if you’re a woman, and you take advice from women, try to discern whether their advice fits the pattern I’ve described. Do they endlessly support you while never seeing the man’s point of view? Do they encourage you to express your feelings at every turn? Do they tell you all about how this bastard is just like their jerk of an ex-boyfriend? If they do, those are tell-tale signs you’re getting some bad advice. If you’re interested in relationships that work rather than end, don’t take it. Get your romantic advice from a man. Be prepared for some ego bruising and some total incomprehension on their part, but they’ll know better than you do how to relate to your boyfriend.
Thus concludes my public service announcement.