September 20, 2006
Just as horse and dog owners reach out to an expert who speaks their problem animal's language, so do women need someone who can help them understand the behavior of men — a boyfriend whisperer.
We look at our husbands or boyfriends and think, "I just cannot figure out what the hell that acting out is all about? Why can't he just do as I ask?" or "He used to be so good, what happened?"
Our fatal flaw is that we turn to other women to help us try to understand what is happening inside a man's head. This is like asking your father to explain menstrual cramps or a vegetarian to describe the steak selection at Ruths Chris. Clearly they have no idea.
Something is lost in translation as when you point your horse at the jump and count down the strides only to have him balk and toss you on your ass. Then he looks down at you and thinks, "Oh gosh did you mean I was supposed to go over that thing?" Or you're totally busy and doing everything on your own and you ask your husband to do one errand and he forgets. "What part of 'I'm losing my mind and if I get any more stressed will have a heart attack and die on this very spot, so could you pick up the dry cleaning on your way home so I have something to wear to my business meeting tomorrow morning,' did you not understand?"
Here's the thing, what to us sounds like a reasonable request sounds to them like nagging. Men in general do not like to be bossed around by women. They had to endure their mothers, but don't want to repeat the experience. We women don't like to think of ourselves as needy and yet we have needs and expect the men in our lives to fill them. One brave man spoke openly and honestly enough to say that women's neediness was "repellant but necessary."
While most therapists would suggest a course of communication which is clear and direct, I have come to believe that subterfuge is much more effective. You can lead a man to water but only if he thinks it was his idea in the first place. The best thing we can do is plant the seed of what we want and hope it will grow in his mind, watered with our silence.
Women have a tendency to read into situations so if a man is withdrawn and preoccupied we think it has something to do with us when it may be work or finances or yes, perhaps the fact that he's having a wild affair with a deaf/mute woman with thinner thighs. Unfortunately, some men believe that you cannot give women any personal information because they will use it against them so the women in their lives remain always on the outskirts of their past, present and future. We may not know he, like an abused animal, has good reason to be head shy or have convulsions when he smells Chanel #5.
But as anyone who works with animals knows, it is not so much the dog you need to train but the owner. If the boyfriend whisperer could speak with our guy then come back to us to tell us how we could change our tactic or understand what we're missing on his side of the story we might prevent all those chewed-up shoes and rug stains. As a culture we would never expect dogs and horses and people to speak clearly to one another and yet we take such different species as a man and a woman and think there should be no problem. Each side believes they have made a perfectly clear case in plain English yet it ends up going out in Mandarin and coming back in Farsi.
The problem with finding this boyfriend whisperer is that it will have to be a man and one who is willing to speak hard and honest truths to us gals about both our mate's and our own behaviors that fail us. He may even have to break a sacred oath of the "Don't Tell Her That Dude" Society. But if you could find this boyfriend whisperer I can tell you one thing. Not only would he get his own reality TV series, he would have every single woman in America hot on his tail.
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