FRIENDS BETTER KNOW THEIR ROLES

The following excerpt is from the self help
psychology book, Be Your Own Therapist.


What men expect from their male friends is usually very different from what women expect from their female friends. Yet, both sexes' expectations lead to difficulties with friends.


For example, consider a situation where a couple, John and Mary, have an hour-long argument over their child's schooling. Afterwards, Mary talks to her female friend for a long time about the argument: what he said, what she said, what she felt, how inconsiderate he was, a long drawn-out almost blow-by-blow description of what happened together with her feelings about the entire situation. Mary's friend is always supportive: asking what he or she said next, agreeing with Mary about how inconsiderate John was, saying how right Mary was to feel the way she did, etc.


John, on the other hand, probably won't mention the argument at all to his male friend. If he does, it will be a very brief comment such as "Mary and I had a fight last night about Sonny's schooling." John's friend, if he ventures more than "Oh", may say something along the lines of, "Have you sent her flowers recently? Let's go play golf." John's friend does not want to hear all the details and would probably have preferred that John not raise the topic at all. Yes, this is stereotypical behavior by both Mary and John (and their friends), but such behavior is widespread.


Women and men think very differently, on average. They seem to prefer different sides of the brain.

What neither the women nor the men in the above situation recognize is that both behavior patterns are faulty. Mary's pattern is faulty because: (1)She is always looking for support when she might often serve herself better by acting independently. (2)Frequently she is denying responsibility for her responses and digging herself a deeper rut by not looking for ways she might change. John's pattern is faulty because: (1)he is too often trying to make-it-on-his-own and (2)he avoids any leftover feelings by not talking with anyone, thereby not changing any rut he may be in. (If they fail to continue talking with each other about the topic, both Mary and John are displaying faulty communication patterns.)


Women like Mary will get most offended if their friend starts to ask questions along the lines of, "What might you do differently next time?" or "How might you respond differently next time?" John will tend to avoid the male friend who really tries to be supportive and elicit what really was going on inside John during his fight with Mary. Yet these changed responses from their friends could be useful in eliciting happier change for both John and Mary.


Do you have the courage to look for a friend who could be there for you in much deeper ways, rather than be unquestioningly supportive (Mary's friend) or be in total avoidance (John's friend)?


Next Excerpt  

More Excerpts This Chapter
   WOMEN & MEN: OUR MASCULINE-FEMININE MISCONCEPTIONS
   I WANT A CHEESE SANDWICH
   MEN DON'T LISTEN; MEN DON'T COMMUNICATE
   LEFT BRAIN - RIGHT BRAIN
   THE HOUSEWORK BATTLEFIELD
   FRIENDS BETTER KNOW THEIR ROLES
   SUPPORT MAY BE DANGEROUS TO RELATIONSHIPS
   THE INSENSITIVITY OF MEN
   THE SAGA OF JOHN DOE (white male, average guy)
   THE INSENSITIVITY OF WOMEN
   FEMINISTS ARE A DIVERSE GROUP


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