Posted by: CJ | March 27, 2011

Asking me how I feel is a bad idea…

Just found this piece of advice today. At a dominatrix’s blog, linked to from Savage Love. The author talks about differences between men and women, but outside the quote she mentions that she really means “men” and “women”. She’s referring more to the differences between two personality types, one more concerned with internal state than the other, and how they can interact without explosions.

The idea that a woman can change how her male partner feels about things annoys me. Of course, I don’t think anyone should try to control any other person’s feelings, regardless of gender. But I get a lot of letters that sound much like this – and they are always from women. Men have their own brand of bad habits (Lord knows I have discussed them extensively here), but I just cannot imagine a guy writing me this sort of letter.

I place the blame on women’s magazines, publishing all those stupid articles about Ten Tips For Fixing Whatever The Hell Is Wrong With Your Man! It’s sort of borderline when said fixes are purely external. I have known and loved men who I thought really needed a different haircut, or some clothes from, say, the current decade. That’s minor stuff, and some men are happy to have a woman tactfully offer help with such things. Some aren’t, and then you have to either deal with it or not. But he couldn’t be that awful, or you wouldn’t be with him in the first place, right?

However, I strongly disagree with the idea that a woman should try to redesign the inside of a man’s head. If you want a romance with someone who thinks just like you, date other women. Men are different from us. Really. Their view of the world is neither better or worse than ours, it just – is. I myself think men are sort of like the Federal government. They do certain important jobs really well, but it’s best to keep their official duties simply defined. As far as I am concerned, the duties of the men in my life are: lift heavy things, defend me from hostile insects and rodents, tell me that I’m beautiful, and make with the sexy.

Perhaps there are some refinements to those tasks – cooking dinner, helping me with my taxes, clearing paths through crowds, et cetera. But I think with men, it’s best to stick to job requirements that are observable to the naked eye. If you tell a man what you wish to have done, he’ll either do it, or else he won’t. But if it’s something both of you can see, then it’s easier to discuss. Telling a man you want him to feel differently is hard to measure, and doing so rarely yields a satisfactory result for anyone, in my experience.

The quote seems particularly relevant to me after a bad date last Friday. Sane people never ask me how I feel if they’re looking for love or validation. Sane people that are also smart just ask me directly to do something to make them feel special, aware that I’ll do all sorts if things if asked and absolutely nothing otherwise.

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