John Gray in his book book Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus is based on the premise that women and men would get along better if they understood the differences between them.  In the book he mentions that when women tell men their problems they often just want to be heard and that men when they hear these problems want to fix them.  I remember when a girl I knew poured out her problems to a 12 step group and everyone in the group started giving her advice.  She suddenly yelled at them that she didn't want their advice, she just wanted them to listen.  

    I had another experience which confirms what John Gray wrote.  I recently had a conversation with my girlfriend in which she started to tell me how someone had cashed a check of hers that was meant for someone else and in so doing stole her money.  I told her to tell me the story in detail later so we could decide what to do about it.  She then said I shouldn't be telling her what to do and she just wanted to tell me what happened.  She told me that men liked to tell women what to do.  Her interpretation of my trying to fix her situation was that I was trying to order her around.  This was an overly paranoid interpretation of my desire to help.  (More on paranoid interpretations are in the communication page of this web site).  In the future I will try to remember to ask if she wants my help before trying to help.

    If a woman tried to help a man by giving him advice he might react in a hostile way as well.  In fact a woman I know told me how she tried to help her boyfriend quit smoking and that he reacted by telling her that he wasn't going to take orders from a girl.  The truth is that both men and women tend to interpret advice as orders on occasion.  I'm not sure if John Gray's statement that this is a problem due to differences between the sexes is accurate.

 

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