Monday, March 26, 2007

Straight up: no added ice, water or soda

I have been thinking recently about what to to write about on this blog. There are so many things to discuss. There is no shortage of foolishness in the world, giving bloggers much to gripe about in this medium. Because I usually leave commentary on specific events to others, today I would like to return to the larger issue of human interaction, something I seem to revisit often in my blog posts. Specifically, I thought I would expand on a particular point about men, the fact that, unlike most women, we don't like to share, in conversation, issues that trouble or frustrate us. This reticence on our part, sadly, then troubles and frustrates the women in our lives.

I know from personal experience that women are often at a loss to understand why we men don't like to discuss things that are problematic in our lives. Women are much more apt to discuss these things with their friends, or siblings or parents, than are men. Men, on the other hand, like to keep things to themselves. There are reasons for this:

Men see themselves as doers, as problem solvers. If they discuss problems with others, it seems to them to be akin to asking advice. That diminishes their role as efficient problem solvers, so they don't do it. They tough it out instead.

Men often feel embarrassment when they feel that something has gotten out of hand. It means, to them, that they weren't paying attention, or doing their job efficiently. So, they keep things private.

Men like their aggravations and frustrations straight up: no added ice, water or soda. In order to be dealt with properly, a problem has to command the attention of enough brain cells to do the job right. Sharing the issue with someone else takes the edge off it, dilutes it. Then, there is less urgency to actually deal with the problem, because something has already been 'done,' even if it (the sharing) hasn't really accomplished anything.

I am curious about how much of this other men agree with -- it is after all mostly based on my own peculiarities, and on my observations of other men, hardly enough to make scientific psychological generalizations.


  1. I am assuming we are discussing personal/emotional type problems here. I've never yet met a guy who won't ask for help when his jeep's brakes fail ONLY when it is turning into a parking place at idle and he cannot for the life of him figure out why, especially after replacing the master cylinder and the booster and rebuilding the brake cylinders. just for example, like.

    I know I was "taught" (by example) by my dad that being responsible meant you dealt with your own problems. I felt that I had failed if I couldn't resolve a personal problem. It was embarrassing to fail - admitting weakness.

    Also, personal problems were just that - personal - and weren't for the world to know about. Consequently, I find it difficult to this day to talk about things that upset me. It nearly cost me my marriage about 10 years ago.

    Mostly because of my marriage, I have been trying to unlearn these habits and instead share what I'm feeling with my wife. She feels more of a part of my life and our marriage is stronger for it.

  2. Can a woman pipe in here, too? :)

    I've noticed this difference between men and women and celebrate it. It is a good difference!

    None of the men I've ever been involved with have liked to "process" the way we women do. However, I don't see it as problematic. That is why we women have female friends.

    I never, ever, mind anyone asking for guidance and advice ~ as long as that is what it truly is. Sympathy-seeking is a major turnoff though and it's not attractive from either sex.

    Guidance, I firmly believe, we all need.



  3. Good points, Bob and Chani. Still, I don't like to ask for advice and don't like to get unsolicited advice from anyone. I like clear cause/effect situations. For example, I don't use the services of financial advisors. That way, if I am successful in investments, it is due to my efforts and I can celebrate my good choices. If I fail (yes, Virginia, it does happen,) I can't blame anyone else. I screwed up. I have no problem taking blame for idiotic things I have done. However, there are times when a paid professional is necesary, for example to navigate through myriad tax laws and, I suppose, advice from them is acceptable.

    In purely personal situations, I sometimes 'bounce' things off my wife. She is a smart woman and has good insights. However, if our points of view differ, and the decion made would fall under my 'domain' or responsibility, I go with my choice. If the situation is reversed, and she has to make a career choice or something that falls under her responsibility, I support her, 100%.

    And Chani, I agree with you about sympathy-seekers. Usually, they don't want advice or help, what they really want is a ready ear to listen as they blame friends, spouses, relatives, storekeepers, garbage men and the man in the moon for their troubles.

  4. At, this is trrific. It is different, and it's a fascinating difference. I've often thought it would be much harder to be male - that the acceptable and ingrained emotions are few, and the rest of the time you need to suck it up.

    it seems harder that way, but that's because i am looking at it from my perspective.

    i'll be back to see what others chime in.

  5. *sigh*.. you would have to be married, already, wouldn't you.

    Very interesting post, Atavist, thought provoking.

  6. I was hoping to have more male input here, but maybe some is still to come. I am gratified to see that the women commentating here are not dismissing my views and ideas out of hand. It reafirms my belief that deep down all we really want to do is communicate and function with each other with the least amount of drama and confusion.

    I have no desire to control anyone but myself. My biggest problem has always been (because I am by nature a very easygoing guy) to avoid being manipulated. None of us, male or female, are puppets.

  7. None of us, male or female, are puppets.

    I agree. You know, just in thinking about this I realize that I've rarely been manipulated. (Not that it hasn't been tried.)

    When I came out of the desert, somehow I ended up with a BS detector that is rather continually set at DEFCON 4. I see it coming, can tell when someone is being insincere and wander away from them. I've been truly alone. It doesn't scare me ~ so I have no reason to put up with it.

    I've always wondered why it is that people allow themselves to be manipulated. Is it really just a fear of being alone?

    (Hoping for some more male input, too.. :)



  8. Men (or women) sometimes allow themselves to be manipulated to avoid conflict. Sometimes the drama is so great if the other person doesn't get his/her way that giving up some relatively insignificant thing seems like a really good tradeoff. Of course that speaks very badly of the relationship, doesn't it?

  9. Your assertion is basically accurate.
    I find it applicable to real-world physical problems as well as personal ones.
    All this popular, touchy-feely, psychobabble gets in the way of a solution: Take meetings at work, for example. I'm thankful to work in an environment where they are kept to a minimum...NOTHING is accomplished most the freaking time in the few we have, other than the Maint.Chief brown-nosing the Department Super, and when it's all said and done, too much has been said that was never meant, and little done but waste of a perfectly good hour.

  10. I can see your point, galt, conflict-avoidance can take place anywhere. And I hate meeetings too.

  11. And, many people are addicted to drama. 'The Game', is a game of power-struggles, manipulation, coersion, winning, losing, gaining and retaining. I found, in my twenties, that most single people were masters of the game. In my thirties, I find three groups: Those who are sick of the game. Those for whom the game has become a way of life. And, those who never played the game and are attempting to enter relationships in which the other partner has and is either sick of and wary of the game or for whom game tactics are constantly monitored by radar.

    Mistrust is pervasive.

  12. "And, many people are addicted to drama." So right, Penny. And what a waste of time and energy.

  13. "Conflict avoidance/resolution" in our modern time seem to revolve too much around appeasement and bribery, and not at all in victory of principle. Take our current situation with those camel-fuckers in the M.E: The logical question everyone's avoiding is, why are we doing business with a bunch of murdering religious fanatics with a 500-year supply of oil under our own soil? The right wingnuts point fingers at the environ-MENTALLY ILL but there's more than enough blame to go around when you follow the money trail: From the oil companies to the earth-worshippers!
    There's too much of this kind of manufactured conflict. I think that's what Penny calls "the game".