What Women Want
June 10, 2008, 9:19 am
Filed under: daily | Tags:

I am an oversharer.

I know this about myself. I would probably tell the mailman my life story if given the opportunity. And then, I would spend the next 3 weeks telling everyone else the same story.

Roommate! has to hear the same stories repeatedly because of this. Roommate! I am sorry.

But other times, I am an undersharer. I will chew over a problem until it loses its flavor, and then I’ll stick it in my hair (name that movie!). I mull it over and over, turning it over in the back of my head, until it finally comes to a head and I let it out. Usually in one big burst. Tears are involved.

Yea, I’m fun.

Bear is the one who deals with the brunt of this. In 3.5 years, he’s gradually starting to learn the lesson that all men need to learn in order to be able to handle their women without going totally bald.

Men? Listen up. When women come to you with their problems, unless it involves a large spider or a broken toilet, THEY DO NOT WANT YOU TO FIX THE PROBLEM.

Now, read that one more time. Bugs and broken appliances require fixing. I know that your natural inclination, when your lady comes to you crying over something, is to try to fix it. I’m sorry, but you do not have the tools to fix it. The only thing you can do is be there. Hugs are usually recommended, maybe a tissue. Ice cream is always in order.

Most importantly, you need to truly listen. Give her your full attention and talk through the problem with her. What she needs more than anything, more than suggestions or offers of help, is for you to rub her arm and make every effort to understand and really hear her.

Even if she’s behaving like a lunatic.

Bear is getting there. I know we’re young, and we’ve only had 3 years to get where we are.

A few weeks ago, I found myself crying in the Wendy’s in Oakland over my french fries because of an angry phone call from my mother, with yelling and lack of understanding. I decided that I needed to chill out in the sun on Cathedral Lawn before my night class. As I was walking, I saw some people throwing around a frisbee, a fairly normal site on the lawn. As I got closer, I thought, “gee, that guy looks an awful lot like Bear’s best friend.” A few steps closer, and I realized that it was Bear’s best friend. SURPRISE! Bear was there, too. Serendipity at its finest, really.

A few minutes of talking and I started crying again, and Bear extracted himself from the frisbee flinging to listen to me and hug me. We stood there under a tree, me trying to compose myself while he rubbed my back and listened. 2 years ago, he would have offered suggestions and asked questions and tried to fix it.

Such a good display of understanding doesn’t mean that he’s perfect, of course.

Last night, we got into a fight. It was hot as Hades here, so that’s not really a surprise. I was sweaty, hormonal and I have a bug bite the size of a child’s hand on my leg. I’ve also spent 3 years chewing over a problem. I won’t go into it here, I can’t go into it here because I do have some boundaries.

But Bear turned around and called his mom, which is precisely the exact opposite of what I wanted him to do. So then we fought about it more in the park, on the swings. We chewed it out, and I cried a lot (because I’m fun). He just kept going back to trying to tell me to “get over it”, like that strategy was one I hadn’t thought of on my own.

I know I have to get over it. I know it’s my issue that I need to manage. I know that. I know that a lot of it is in my head, but a lot of it isn’t. I know I just need to deal with it, because confronting the problem is not an option. Knowing these things doesn’t make the problem go away.

That’s not what I needed. I needed understanding, and I needed him to recognize that even though he doesn’t think I should be reacting like this, that I’m still feeling it. I needed him to understand me, and to really hear what my concerns are. He can’t fix this. The only thing he can do is hear me and support me.

After an hour, a lot of tears, and one delicious chocolate raspberry milk shake,  I think we’re there. At least, for this fight, we are. We’ll see about the next one.

I’m just going to guess that this is a hurdle that we’ll be fighting for a long time. I’m ok with that. I’d rather be fighting for this with Bear than doing anything else with anyone else.

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