Every once in awhile I get to experience what it’s like for a man when a woman tries to control, rescue, or fix him. Every time it happens, I get a hint of how humiliating it is for men to have women mother them in this way.
Did you know that women do to other women what they do to men? They try to control, rescue, and fix their friends. I don’t know how other women react to it but I don’t like it. I have a mother. She’s the perfect mother for me and I don’t need another woman attempting to fill that role. Gentlemen, does this sound familiar?
Depending on which woman friend in my life attempts to control, rescue, or fix me determines the degree to which I feel humiliated by her efforts. Some friends are so endearing in their approach that I can’t resist them. To be perfectly honest, when I get in the same mothering mode, I try to be as endearing as possible! I admit it is sheer manipulation meant to make me feel better about interfering in my friends’ (or my husband’s) lives. Yet I can fall for the manipulation when it’s delivered in a sweet and loving way.
Manipulation vs. Sheer Will
Today, I felt manipulated in a way that irritated me. A friend interrupted my attempts to clean up after a social event. I thought I was done clearing away trash and had washed my hands. She had more to add to the garbage bag. Because I mentioned I’d washed my hands, she tried to take the task away from me whereas I’d resigned myself to complete the task and just wash my hands again. She argued with me and tried to physically take over. I wouldn’t let her and as I was finally finishing up, she shoved one of those hand gels in front of my face to rescue me from having to rewash my hands! I chuckled and said, “No thank you. I’d just as soon wash them again.” She sort of stormed away at that point.
Why didn’t I just let her take over? Because I took pride in the task and wanted to take care of it myself. With each attempt on her part to rescue me, I felt increasingly manipulated and patronized. If you are a woman reading this article, you might not be able to empathize. But if you are a man reading this article, I bet you understand. It feels awful to have a woman try to mother you by attempting to control, rescue, or fix you. When you are handling any situation, you don’t need rescuing. And if you need help, you will ask for it!
So, to help my female readers gain some empathy with a man on this issue, let me put it another way. Chances are you have someone in your life that makes you feel patronized every time she belittles your efforts, tries to rescue you as though you are a child, or attempts to make you better by making you over in her image. If you will bring that person to mind and remember what it feels like to be treated thus, I guarantee you can empathize with your man when he resents your attempts to make him better – or make him over.
When Women Manipulate Men
For my gentleman readers, if you have a lady in your life who tries to control, rescue, or fix you; pay attention the next time she complains about the manipulative woman in her life. Then the next day (not in the same conversation), gently and lovingly say, “Would you like for me to confide in you something that is very tender for me? Something that makes me feel vulnerable with you? Sometimes you want me to open up. I have something to share but I need you to really listen to me. Are you ready?”
She’ll look at you with big, puppy dog eyes ready to lap up this self-disclosure. Depending on her personality, you may have to add, “Now, this may strike you as offensive but if you’ll stay with me, I think we can help each other and improve our relationship. Would you like to try?”
“YES!” she replies.
Then in your own words and as gently as possible tell her that the way she feels when her friend patronizes her is how you feel when she tries to ________ fill in the blank______.
When He Opens Up
If you are gentle and loving and if her heart is in the relationship, she ought to be able to hear you. Tempers might flare a little bit. But if you stay with wanting to let her know how you feel rather than make her wrong, you will go far with this. You can even say, “Listen, this is a problem all men have. It takes even less manipulation for us to feel the way you feel when your most manipulative friend does her number on you. I’m just laying it all out here. Because the more you trust me to be the man, to take care of things in my own way, the happier you will be because there will be less tension.”
I have one more piece of advice. If your woman is the kind who takes advantage of your opening up in order to dig really deep inside you, don’t let her. Assure her that this piece is huge. It’s enormous! If she will absorb the information and integrate it over the next several days, she will see how very much she has been given with this one self-revealing topic.
Ladies, if you can respect how meaningful this is and not require him to go deeper or share more, you’ll reap big benefits. In addition, within about twenty-four hours, you’ll have your new understanding tested as something happens and you find yourself itching to control, rescue, or fix him. The real work begins when you choose to not go there!