One of the biggest complaints women have with men is they often try to fix our problems instead of simply listening to us. Sometimes we’d like to vent without being offered a solution, right?
A hilarious example of this was portrayed in the movie “White Men Can’t Jump.” Rosie Perez is in bed with Woody Harrelson when she tells him she’s thirsty. He offers to get her a glass of water. This is how she replies:
“If I’m thirsty, I don’t want you to bring me a glass of water. I want you to sympathize. I want you to say: ‘Gloria, I too know what it feels like to be thirsty. I, too, have had a dry mouth.’ I want you to connect with me through understanding the concept of drymouthedness.”
I didn’t particularly care for the movie, but I thought that scene was genius. Yes, it’s hyperbole. However, it demonstrates a very real difference between men and women; namely, women want to connect over problems while men want to solve them.
Take, for example, this common scenario. There’s a woman at work or school (or wherever) who’s making our life miserable. After a particularly rough day, we want to complain to our honey about her. We want him to listen. We want him to empathize and sympathize with us. We certainly don’t want him to break out an Excel spread sheet in order to create the proper formula for keeping her in line. In short, we want him to act the way we act with other women.
However, men don’t work like that. Instead, he’s much more likely to say, “Ignore her,” “Forget about her,” or “Do XYZ and that’ll stop her.” This very often makes us feel slighted, like he doesn’t care that much, or as though our feelings don’t matter.
In order to handle a “Mr. Fix It,” here’s a trait you should remember about men: When they love someone, they don’t want to see them hurting. That’s why he goes into “fix-it” mode in the first place. It’s not him being dismissive so much as it is him trying to help you to stop hurting. In actuality, he is attempting to be your hero.
So what do we need to do? How do we get our emotional needs met while still allowing him the opportunity to be your Superman?
The best way to approach a man with a problem is to also tell him how he can solve it for you. How about telling him this:
“Honey, Jane is really making life tough for me at work (problem). If you could just listen to me vent about it for ten minutes, I know it would make me feel so much better (solution).” Guess what? Your hero will give you his undivided attention. Probably for more than ten minutes.
Or try this: “Honey, Jane is really making life tough for me at work (problem). Could you spend an hour tonight helping me strategize how to handle her? You’re so good with people and I could really use your advice (solution + admiration = bonus points).” Dah dah dah dah! Here comes Superman to the rescue!
When you present your problems to a man, always be sure to tell him how he can solve them for you. That way, you both get your needs met.
It is important to note that if a man is unwilling to help you with your problems, you have an even bigger problem on your hands. But no man, even one who is crazy in love with you, wants you to drone on and on and on about how awful Jane is. He wants to know the problem, figure out how he can help, and then move on. There’s nothing wrong with that! So if you’re tempted to occupy his entire evening with tales of how hideous Jane’s shoes were or how her new haircut makes her look like a troll, I suggest you pick up the phone and call your girlfriend instead.