By Laura J. Schaefer
How many times have you heard a woman say, “Can’t live with ‘em, can’t live without ‘em!” when it comes to men? Ten? Twenty? A thousand times? No matter how much women love men (and vice versa, of course), they drive them crazy sometimes! Here are the top five things that make gals bonkers when it comes to guys.
1. Trying to “fix” things instead of listening.
The terrific show Modern Family
addressed this common point of contention between the sexes when Phil Dunphy went to the spa and his wife Claire called him with a problem. He tried to fix it, but fortunately, the spa ladies set him straight. All she really needed (and wanted) was a sympathetic ear and some recognition for all the things that she did for her family.
There are no shortcuts when it comes to being a good listener — and women can tell the difference if a man is faking it. If you’re a man who wants to be a better listener, try maintaining eye contact, reframing what she’s said to make sure you understand it, and uttering affirming statements, such as: “That must’ve been really hard,” “It sounds like you handled it very well,” or asking, “Is there anything I can do to help?”
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What should you do if your partner is a perennial “fixer” instead of simply listening to you? Chances are, you’ve already tried to explain why his fixation on fixing things doesn’t work for you. The next step might be to remind yourself that, despite this annoying habit, your man isn’t all
bad. When it comes to dealing with his shortcomings, “the key is to focus on what you like about the person, not what you don’t like,” counsels Marc Muchnick, Ph.D., author of No More Regrets! 30 Ways to Greater Happiness and Meaning in Your Life
. “What about this person is unique and special? The answers should help minimize the [impact of] annoying behaviors.”
2. Behaving in a way that could be perceived as lazy or indecisive.
“Women are made crazy by men that don’t ‘man up,’” says Marni Battista, expert dating coach, co-author of The Three ‘Musts’ for Becoming Relationship-Ready
and founder of DatingWithDignity.com. “From saying they will call and not following through to texting instead of picking up the phone to make a date, women are learning that it is less common to find a man who embodies chivalry and good, old-fashioned alpha male energy.” Women hate it when men are lazy with maintaining their personal appearance, forgetful about making plans, or avoid making decisions. And they particularly dislike it when men are emotionally passive by saying things like “I’m sorry you feel that way” instead of really apologizing when it’s called for during an argument. Ask yourself: Do I take the path of least resistance when it comes to dealing with women and with my life?
If the answer is “yes,” chances are good you’re guilty of this one. Try a little harder to impress her and make her feel valued, and you might be surprised at how much happier and more fulfilling your relationship becomes.
And if you’re a lady who’s dealing with a lazy dude? Pick your battles wisely. You’re not going to turn a hoodie-wearing Xbox addict into James Bond overnight. By being clear about what you expect (and by asking for realistic things, like the occasional fancy date night), you’ll see some progress. If you don’t, tell your man-child to take a hike.
3. Not paying attention to her feelings.
Women are emotional beings. They notice things — like stand-offish body language or the time a guy paid more attention to other women on their date — and they don’t like it. Why do men sometimes act so callously? “These [behaviors] persist because people don’t work on dealing with their issues as much as they should, and they simply leave a relationship when they’re frustrated, even though the same problems often rear their heads in the next relationship,” says Dr. Seth Meyers, a Los Angeles-based psychologist and author of Dr. Seth’s Love Prescription
. In a society rich with dating options, men might think they can get away with unkind behavior; it’s up to women to tell them that they can’t. “If he drives you crazy because he’s inconsistent, uses language that puts down women, is secretive about himself after months of dating, or prefers his time alone over time with you, you’re probably better off moving on,” advises Linda R. Young, Ph.D., a psychologist and relationship coach who blogs
for Psychology Today
4. Paying too much attention to technology toys.
We get it; smartphones and their attendant text messages, Twitter feeds and Facebook status updates are fascinating
. But when a man spends more time looking a tiny screen instead of the face that’s right in front of him, there’s a problem. “Tell your partner what effect his behavior has on you and be specific about what you want to see [him doing] instead,” says Young. “For example: ‘When you keep texting other people while we’re having dinner, it sends the message to me that I am not your priority when we’re out together. I understand your needing to stay in touch at work during off-hours, but I think not using the phone while we’re eating dinner (barring emergency calls) is reasonable. What do you
think is reasonable?’”
5. Taking her for granted.
A good relationship is not one in which the male half is spending most of his free time with his buddies in dives, playing video games or watching sports. If this is how you’d prefer to spend all your time, why even bother having a girlfriend? Obviously, women need to give their partners space to socialize outside of their relationship, but the key is finding a good balance. Communicate with your partner about what she feels is reasonable when it comes to deciding how you’ll both spend your time. If her expectations are completely different than yours about the amount of quality time she requires, you may not be a good match. “Overall, for a relationship to work long-term, your partner’s personality has to be one that yours meshes smoothly with,” explains Meyers. It’s the same with setting expectations.
Laura Schaefer is the author of The Teashop Girls and The Secret Ingredient, two novels for young adult readers.