12/ 09/ 2008
Ok, enough MH bashing for the week (it was all in good fun, though). I found a list that I think is atually a worthwhile read for both men and women: how to calm an angry woman down.
The title of it is a bit angering, but let’s forget about that in the spirit of understanding that this publication is catering to the male perspective. The gist of the list is what all women wish men understood–when we’re angry, the best thing to do is to address it, even if it means getting in a little spat, because all parties involved will regret it if the situation escalates from being ignored.
I was telling a friend last week that the biggest downside to dating a young never-been-married man is that this demographic is the least skilled at handling women. Though we all acknowledge intellectually at least that “handling” any person is inherently condescending, but I’ll let y’all in on a secret: we LIKE being handled. We need it, even.
Handling women requires some mild manipulation, yes. But I’m not talking about leading a life of deception and making her think you love her when you’re out banging 15 other chicks. When I say “handle,” I mean a man should make it his priority to know what to say and do when his woman is angry. There are times when we are clearly serious, and need to talk about the issues–that’s when you engage. There are other times when we flip out about things that seem exaggerated, and those are the times that men should be stepping in and making an educated assessment of what we really need. Most times, it’s affirmation–either of your commitment or attraction to us.
My friend disagreed, claiming to be a romantic and saying he thinks women want to be respected as equals. We do, but having our emotional needs understood doesn’t make us any less respected. Fighting can be our code for “I need you to coddle me and I don’t want to ask for it.” If he only knew the truth, he’d have much less drama in his life. Eight out of ten fights I pick with my boyfriend can be diffused with some good handling. When he does it right, he remains calm, tells me he knows I’m frustrated because he’s far away or whatever (cleverly assuming blame without actually assuming blame), and says he’s doing everything he can to fix it and he loves me, or I’m beautiful, or (insert some other flattering statement that makes me feel needed and/or hot). Most times, though, he just argues with me, which inevitably ends up in some inane conversation about random details that have no relevance to our lives. He gets caught up in “winning” the argument, and always loses. Why? Because men have nothing on us when it comes to couple-fighting. Just face it.
The end product of the mishandling, of course, is that both of us are unhappy. And for what? Because he couldn’t muster the maturity to smile and respond to my being unreasonable with an expression of affection? It’s just silly. In fact, it reminds me of the style that teenagers employe to argue with their parents, which is also a downhill battle.
Was it worth it?
Not all older or formerly married men know how to do this any better. But having the benefit of experience helps some, and I’ve seen it time and time again. We’re so busy idealizing Hollywood (on screen, not off screen) relationships where couples have everything in common and people get what they deserve; but the happiest couples are the ones who understand how to make the other happy, even if it requires a bit of handling.