There’s an age-old joke that women don’t want solutions to our problems, we only want to sit around and complain about them. The point of the joke, I believe, is to highlight how frivolous our problems are, how they could be easily fixed, but we choose to sit and dwell in order to give some validity to them. Bitching for the sake of bitching, if you will.
The truth to the joke, that people never seem to entertain, are that the solutions men love to give us never ever actually would fix our problems. In fact, most of them don’t even reference the problem at hand. It’s like if you complained that you had a headache from being in the sun too long, and a man suggested that you switch careers if your current job is causing stress. No matter how much you explain that their solution wasn’t relevant or helpful, they maintain their smirk and sigh that you just aren’t willing to solve your problems.
From now to my last, dying breath I beg of you, just let us vent.
Don’t try to fix what you think our problem is with wrong solutions. Don’t insist that you understand what our “underlying problem is.” Just listen, truly understand the words that are coming out of our mouths, and then don’t say anything.
I think an important thing to understand is that if someone wanted your help, they would ask for it. And if you were able to help them, they would thank you. It’s not that we’re ungrateful, but being told “based on the limited information I gathered from the two seconds of your frustrated rant I actually listened to, I assume that I know the situation better than you, I assume that it is actually a simple fix, and if it is a simple fix, that you are too stupid to think of the solution yourself” is just demeaning, not helpful.
Because think about it, if you were dreading an upcoming colonoscopy and some twit was like “well it helps if you relax” would your dread disappear? Were you originally planning on squeezing your sphincter tight enough to implode, but now, with that sound advice, you know exactly what to do without a worry in the world? Of course not, because you’re not a total fucking idiot. You know to relax, you plan on keeping your butthole relaxed, and shit still sucks.
So, the next time you have an “aha!” moment regarding someone else’s perceived dilemma, think to yourself “is this person a complete moron? Is this person completely incapable of making reasonable decisions? Before I showed up give my life-altering advise, was this person unable to survive without me? Did this person specifically ask the words ‘what do you think I should do?’?” If you answered no to one of more of these questions, reassess your role in this situation. I know it sounds crazy, but maybe if you aren’t a trained therapist, your role is to be an ear to listen, a shoulder to cry on, an overall supporting person, instead of, like, a therapist.
If you have found yourself in a similar situation with loved ones where “no matter what you say, it’s the wrong” or “you could fix it if they’d just let you,” consider doing the opposite of your instinct. The best way to support someone is to show that you believe that they can find a solution to their own problems without your unsolicited input, and to validate that even with a clear solution, sometimes shit just sucks.