Ok, first a little expectations management. I’m not going to talk about “breaking the ice” with girls in bars. I’m not going to tell you how to have a woman in every port, be a ladies’ man, or any other such dork.
I am going to tell you how to respond to a particular kind of situation, one that is particualarly important to handle well. This seems to be a deep dark secret that few men know. Even now that I know it have trouble remembering to use it.
One more thing before I get started: I don’t mean to generalize all women. Everybody’s different. I’ve observed over time that a lot of women verbally approach problems in a similar way and a men tend to fumble it repeatedly. This is just some non-obvious advice I learned from a Christian preacher. I’ve rarely heard it explained this way, and it’s a remarkably simple way for a man to get the right words out of his mouth in a sticky situation. ‘Nuff said.
Let’s begin with an illustration. What would you say?
She: “My landlord is a jerk. When I ask him to fix things, he’s always late and grouchy about it. He always brings up the time that I was two weeks late paying…”
You (reasonable but stupid): “Yeah, landlords are all that way. You just have to put up with it.”
Do not give advice.
You (stupider): “You should get a new apartment.”
Do not solve the problem.
You (stupidest): “Why didn’t you pay him?”
Do not criticize.
This is where the secret begins. Most men would have given one of the stupid answers. They seem perfectly reasonable from their point of view.
When a woman lets you in on a problem this way, the words she uses do not mean what you think they mean. Often a woman will frame a question or statement in a way that clearly begs advice or a solution. That’s just how you heard it. Remember this, she’s not stupid. She knows the answer already. There is something about the wiring in women that requires a kind of periodic verbal maintenance. She sounds like she wants advice, but really she’s going into this maintenance mode. Learn to follow the protocol.
Discipline grasshopper. When she presents you with the problem, close your mouth and think. Think about how she felt in the situation: angry that the landlord was late, annoyed that he’s lazy in fulfilling his agreement, and embarrassed that he keeps bringing up a past failure… Don’t let your curiosity about how she might have been out of work for two weeks distract you. I’d start with emotion of anger. Take a moment and empathize with her anger.
You: “Wow, that must have made you angry.”
Watch her face as you say this. Often there’s a look that will cross her face, kind of like shock and relief. You may be one of the first men in the world to actually listen to her.
She: “Yeah, I need to get a new apartment.”
Often she will solve her own problem. Really, there are three ways this can go. If she is just venting, she will solve the problem herself. If you guessed at the emotion wrong, she’ll correct you. You are still ok. You were listening.
The third option is that she will let you into a deeper friendship. The telltale sign is that she will immediately follow up this problem with another. The next one tends to be more personal.
I used to do this with a lot of girls. I don’t think it was a hot idea. Choose carefully.
Unless you are a therapist, don’t do this with married women. If her problem involves her mob-boss boyfriend, don’t do this. If you are married, realize that this seems to really poke a deep emotional nerve in women, and poking deep emotional nerves is something you should only be doing with your wife.