Fixing vs Listening

4년 전

It’s been said: women don’t want you to fix their problems, they want you to listen. Often men look at this and say, “That’s so illogical, why would you bother complaining about it if you don’t want advice on how to fix it?”

Well, I have a secret. This isn’t unique to women, not by far. And it’s not really as illogical as it appears.

It’s not that they wouldn’t want a solution. If you had a really good solution, they’d appreciate it. If you could magic the problem away and effortlessly fix the damage it caused, that’d be great! But you don’t. Because that solution doesn’t exist. Sure, you might see solutions. But the solutions that do exist are unsatisfactory.

It’s like if you were mourning your friend, and someone told you, “Hey, you can get new friends now!” Look it solves your problem. Your friend died, and now you’re without a friend. So, if you make new friends, that fixes things, right? No, no it doesn’t.

Firstly, you already knew that. They aren’t fixing anything by suggesting something you already knew. They’re just annoying you by stating the obvious.

Secondly, it doesn’t really solve the problem. It solves a symptom, but it changes other things too. The solution you need is to turn back time, so that it never happened in the first place. But that’s not possible.

Thirdly, and most importantly, it completely fails to acknowledge the pain. You’re not talking to them to solve your problem. That’s impossible and you know it. You’re talking to them because you’re alone, and you’re hurting. What you need is someone to be there for you, not someone to suggest shitty solutions that don’t fix anything.

And that’s what this is. It’s a microcosm of mourning. Mourning for a lost job, a spilled coffee, or an afternoon wasted. This is not something only women do. Everyone feels these pains, and needs to cope somehow. And when they come to you to help them cope, this is what you need to understand.

They don’t need advice. They’ve been thinking about this far more than you, it’s unlikely you can say anything that will help fix things. But you can be there for them. You can listen, and try to understand their pain. You can’t make the pain go away. But you can make them feel like they’re no longer alone. That’s the best you can do, and no one is asking for anything more than your best.

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