I’m big enough and old enough to realise that I don’t need to have arguments with my girlfriend. When I was younger and – well, basically, more stupid – I would resort to arguments to force my viewpoints across and it was no surprise that my relationships with girls didn’t last. Then one day I read “Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus” and it was like a fog lifting from inside my head. If you read a book like that and realise that you’re not perfect and some of what it talks about might actually refer to you (rather than many who will only see what they want to see then completely miss the point) then you can come out the other end a better person for it. I spent a good while replaying events from my past in my head realising a lot of the mistakes I made and how they were for a large part my fault.
So the bottom line is that I don’t tend to have arguments with my girlfriend (which is where I came in). Arguments occur when communication breaks down and very often the best way to communicate is to just shut up and listen. When guys moan about something they are really looking for solutions to their problems from those they speak to whereas girls tend to just want to let off some steam. Trouble is, if you don’t know this and a girl is bitching about work, you keep cutting her off and telling her she should quit her job or beat up her boss when all she wants to do is share her troubles with you then she’ll feel better. Anyway, it’s a great book and I’d recommend it to anyone (just like I’m doing now). But I’m not perfect. While I can pretty much diffuse any potential conflict, I can’t diffuse them all.
Take shopping for clothes. My girlfriend and I are going to some friend’s wedding at the weekend and she had already bought a very nice dress that she looks fantastic in. The only thing to spoil her outfit would be me standing next to her looking like a scruffy programmer who doesn’t really care how he looks because he isn’t vain and, to be honest, seldom looks at his own reflection in the mirror and wears a shirt even less. So in a typical boorish male fashion (pun intended) I suggested that she pick out exactly what I should wear from top to bottom. What a guy – the perfect boyfriend! Of course it just doesn’t work that way…
Let me take you to Sunday night. We’re sitting on the sofa and we’ve just watched 24 (or, as I like to call it, The Jack Bauer Show ). She picks up the Next and Debenhams catalogues with the mission to find me some clothes to wear. After a time she shows me about 3 pairs of trousers, 5 shirts and a page of shoes. So I say “okay, pick the ones you want me to buy” and she says “I just have”. And this was where our worlds diverged.
Her attitude is to just buy everything, try it on at home, then take back what I didn’t want. I, on the other hand, have a right-first-time policy that means I’ll go into a shop, pick up a top or pair of trousers, try them on in the changing rooms, confirm that they fit perfectly, buy them and wear them to death from that day onwards. It appears that these two approaches just don’t mix well. I’d press her to make a decision and she’d argue that she never sees me in a shirt so can’t picture me in the ones in the catalogue. I’d offer to go and put a shirt on but that would only seem to raise her blood pressure. I’d try a different tack by saying “look at that model in that shirt, now pretend I’m standing in front of you with that shirt on and tell me what you think”. She’d say that she can’t picture me in a shirt and the whole thing would go round and round.
After a couple of cyclical arguments she snapped and suggested I just choose my own damned clothes. Naturally I responded by pointing out that it was me doing her the favour by letting her dress me which, it turns out, was precisely the wrong thing to say (unless you’re really looking for a proper argument). After a few terse words were fired my way in a tone that didn’t exactly say “I love you” I decided to stop being a pig-headed tosser and compromise. We decided on 3 shirts, one pair of trousers one pair of shoes and a tie. We also decided that she hates clothes shopping and that Sunday nights can be better spent than leafing through catalogues.
I’m sure I’ll look fine, albeit not as good as those hunky models in the catalogues, but it just goes to show that men really are from Mars and women really are from Venus. And I wouldn’t have it any other way. Makes life much more interesting.
I really think you should take her advice at all times – you usually look a right mess.
Thanks, I admire your honesty! 😉
What’s up with the whole “you never wear shirts” thing? If you’re walking around half-naked you probably do need her help dressing yourself. :^)
I agree with her technique for buying clothes, though…maybe it’s different for guys, but most women I know (myself included) have ended up buying things in a shop only to get home and discover something horrible about how the clothes fit. Think about it, the only perspective you get in a shop is you wearing an outfit in bad lighting, no privacy and standing straight up. You need the whole, “How does this fit when I sit down/reach for something on a high shelf/tie my shoes while wearing it?” Makes sense to me.
I’ve heard a lot about that book and will probably pick it up now – my technique for dealing with conflict is to stop and say, “Is this worth it?” Simply the act of stopping and asking myself that question halts a lot of potential arguments.
I just always find that when I try clothes on in a shop they look exactly the same when I wear them at home. Maybe I’m just an optimist!
Well, guys don’t have to worry ’bout them pesky curves, so it’s probably different.
First I find out that you were a raver and now you admit to reading relationship guides and not even being able to buy your own clothes. Whatever happened to the manly action hero who used to ride up Mount Everest in the dark, come back and bash out 100K lines of C# and then write a blog entry all about it with a title like “Pushing The Zone”? Now he was a man’s man!
I just don’t feel like I know JB Conners any more! 😉
Watch this space Joel…
i’ve made this mistake too, however i did out shopping for trousers so i got to try on 8 different pairs, which all felt ok, looked ok (to me) but i didn’t buy…
i wanted approval for the purchase from my girlfriend, whereas she was picking things off the rack that she already liked, the final choice being mine!
of course i should have gone with the first pair i tried on as these were the cheapest
still as you say the differences in approach are interesting, this is why men shopping on their own go into a shop and 5 minutes later walk out with all the clothes they will wear for the next 6 months and head to the nearest pub to celebrate that the shopping is “done”
Amen to that!
Great blogging!I’ve been enjoying reading it recently 🙂
My husband and I have been intending to read that book…and based on your dialog here, I believe we will. I thought you were talking about my husband and me for a second 😉
It’s no exaggeration to say that the book changed my life.
i’ve looked at the book a few times and thought i’m not reading that kind of book…. maybe nom i will (but not in public)
Do you own one pair of every day shoes? I mean a pair you wear everyday! Wear them until they are knackered or you spill paint on them? Then buy another pair.
Maybe you have another pair or two for going out or 5 aside etc. but thats it.
My fiance has bought shoes for this wedding and an entire outfit to match.
What planet is she on?
There is also an EC mountain of used female shoes in our home.
Do you really need a new outfit for this wedding? or are you simply pleasing your girlfriend?
To be honest, I have two shoe racks full of shoes! But I have a pair of Vans I bought in Vegas a couple of years ago that I’ve worn almost every day since.
It’s the latter I’m afraid, I’m just pleasing my good lady – although I must say, I do look pretty good in the evening wear (black boot fit dress trousers and a black with silver stripes shirt)… You’ll see!
Van’s are so cool.
Sketchers are also top notch!
See yoy on Sat
I’ll be the one in the kilt!
A true scotsman to the core!
My strategy is pick or choose the clothes you like at the shop, and then let her give you advice in which ones are better. There are less arguements that way.