Social Question

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

Why do men try to fix things?

Asked by Hawaii_Jake (25799 points ) February 21st, 2014

Here’s an over-generalization that I have witnessed myself and other men doing, too.

I have been approached by a woman who may be a family member, friend, or acquaintance with a difficulty. She tells me about the situation, and my first instinct is to diplomatically tell her how to fix it. There have been many occasions when this reaction upset the woman who was talking to me. The woman’s response is sometimes that she wants to simply be heard, and they don’t care about fixing the difficulty.

Why do women want to be heard?

Why is a man’s first reaction to fix things?

Yes, this is a gross over-generalization. This question is meant to be light hearted. If you’re insulted, get over it.

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46 Answers

LornaLove's avatar

I really, really do not want to be heard, I want someone, anyone to give me an answer that may fix it. I know and have heard a lot of women (people?) say they just need to be heard. I don’t know why. I can hear myself I don’t need someone else to hear me. Unless of course they are the problem and I am trying to fix it. (I must be a man!).

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

@LornaLove I have experienced the other side, too. I have had problems that I just wanted to get out into the open. I wanted to talk about them, but I didn’t want an answer in that setting. I wanted to be heard. I must be a woman. :)

LornaLove's avatar

@Hawaii_Jake I actually burst out laughing at your response!!

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

I like to lighten people’s day.

Imadethisupwithnoforethought's avatar

I am a man. I have a lifetime of experience learning how to do things. I am aware other people have feelings and like to share them and gain validation when other people agree that their feelings are valuable.

My dad told me not to talk about my feelings.

Fix people’s problems. Take validation when you know you have. That is why I try to fix things.

glacial's avatar

Confirmation bias?

I’m a woman who likes to fix things. You may have noticed this recently.

LuckyGuy's avatar

This short video illustrates both points of view.

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

@LuckyGuy That is hysterical!

jerv's avatar

Broken is bad. In my line of work, broken is life- threatening.

Life’s too short to deal with broken things, and I don’t want broken things making that life any shorter.

If you want to waste your life dwelling over something being broken without making an attempt to fix it, then either leave me out of it, or extend my lifespan to compensate for wasting my time as well. Don’t get me wrong; I have feelings too. However, I’m also resilient enough to not squander my life stuck in the past crying; I bounce back and move forward.

glacial's avatar

@LuckyGuy Yup, that’s not offensive at all.

ibstubro's avatar

@LuckyGuy. Hilarious. Obviously not the first time this question has been explored!

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

@jerv I love asking computer-related questions and sharing them with you. You know your stuff very well. Thank you.

But

could you just this once hear me out? Can I just talk? ~

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

@ibstubro Are you implying this question shouldn’t be asked? Huh? Are you? Well!

*stomps away in a huff

He wouldn’t even let me ask a simple question without throwing in his 2 cents.

LuckyGuy's avatar

@Hawaii_Jake I can fix that for you. I’ve got the tools in my lab.

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

@LuckyGuy Talk to the hand.

Meaning stop.

ahro0703's avatar

Not sure. Just because habit. I guess

marinelife's avatar

I think it is that our brains are wired differently. Men have far less use for language (Source) than women: 7,000 words per day vs. 13,000. Women love to talk problems out. Men love to get things done.

Symbeline's avatar

Omg I can’t believe you posted this, you sexist bastard. I am OFFENDED. I will not get over it. Never.

Just jokin bro. :p

My guess is, some kind of gender role thing. For centuries, women have been inferior, and men superior; they deal with shit. Women don’t. At least, this was a mentality for a looong time, and in many places it still is. just glad I live where ah does
I have no idea if this is in people’s instincts or if it is fabricated by society, but somewhere it has to have some truth? What do you think?
I know there are some things which are innate to the sexes when it comes to procreation and the maintaining of the human race, as decreed by survival instinct. but even then, not all parents love their children But I don’t know where the line comes in, when it comes to separating what WE made and what is natural. Seems a big clusterfuck. Now fix it. :p

If you’ll also allow me to make a gross generalization here, I have an observation to make…not really related, but it still adheres to to gender and the traits; how come so many men like the idea of fighting so much? Like I mean fist fights, and kicking someone’s ass when they wronged you? Sometimes some guys will say things like this to impress women. I don’t find it impressive, personally. Not all guys do this, and it DOES seem to be a younger man thing to do, but still. I always wondered. Personally, what I think is, only martial artists know how to fight, and most martial art philosophies have nothing to do with kicking people’s asses just because you can. I get angry with people who wronged me, but the only serious time I would hurt someone is if I was in danger. But not to teach someone something, or let them know not to fuck with me.
Sorry, went off track and probably offended some people, but it was as good as any a time to throw that out there.

Symbeline's avatar

Now come fix my hearse, it isn’t working right.

jerv's avatar

@Hawaii_Jake The only person who I will talk with for any length of time gives me dinner and sex. What are you offering me to listen to you?

hominid's avatar

While this is certainly true, I have yet to come across an explanation, other than the obvious speculative evolutionary psychology explanations.
Anyway, no need to worry about “offending” here. One of the biggest challenges in male-female relationships has to do with this difference in communication. It took therapy – and my wife explicitly telling me – before I really believed it and started using it. She occasionally has to remind me (“Remember, do NOT suggest a solution. Just listen and acknowledge my feelings.”). It is still quite an effort to not try to just fix it. But I am getting better.

ibstubro's avatar

Actually, @marinelife, the statistics were men, 7000, women 20,000 or 13,000 more than men.

Gays, unfortunately, were not included in the study.

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

@jerv Now you want me to give you something?!

stanleybmanly's avatar

It must be a matter of wiring. I’ve noticed that men WILL tackle jobs, and have a tendency to take things apart, prudent or otherwise. Women do want to be heard, and they assume that men want to listen. Women have this fantastic ability to multitask. It must have something to do with child bearing, but it’s a skill lacking in every man that I know. So the scenario- the wife enters the kitchen while the husband’s under the sink working with a big wrench. She immediately launches into a conversation about her mother and the mother’s cat. The husband is thinking to himself “what’s the matter with this fool? can’t she see that I’m working on this garbage disposal?” That’s what he thinks. What he says (due to experience) is “uh huh”. So the monolog continues until the wife catches on that the husband isn’t paying attention, and no man living wants to be caught not paying attention. The trouble is that the wife thinks the husband is perfectly capable of wielding the wrench and chatting because she can do 2 things at once as a matter of routine. Conversely, the husband will walk into the kitchen, notice the wife with the mixer in one hand beating eggs, while she reaches for the vial of vanilla with the other. The man will assume that she doesn’t want to be disturbed because she’s concentrating on baking the cake, while the wife is convinced that he just doesn’t want to talk to her.

talljasperman's avatar

Brownie points.

stanleybmanly's avatar

I’m cashing them now. Please bake them soon (with lots of walnuts or pecans). Will gladly pay shipping, handling, taxes, customs—- whatever it takes. Address to follow.

tedibear's avatar

I suggest that anyone who is interested in the subject read, You Just Don’t Understand: Women and Men in Conversation,” by Deborah Tannen. She touches on this very subject, among others.

For me, sometimes I just need to get it out. If I want help, I will ask for it. Just talking about something that’s bothering me is venting. I may want your empathy or sympathy, but until I ask your opinion or for your advice, just hush! :P

talljasperman's avatar

@stanleybmanly Sorry my postal service won’t allow food to be shipped. I’ll give you a high five (((high Five))) instead,

longgone's avatar

Because they’ve seen their dads do it? There are countless exceptions, though. I try to fix things, and listening to someone else’s whining is incredibly annoying to me. What’s more: the best listener I know is a guy.

SavoirFaire's avatar

I think a lot of people fail to recognize that just talking things out is a solution to many problems. Stress and frustration are often facts of life. Working a job is a good example here. Even if you love your job, there will be moments when it is difficult or demanding. That’s why it’s work. The solution isn’t to quit or change something about the job. It’s to have some time where you can wind down. Talking out one’s frustrations is often the best way to get over them, and someone trying to offer solutions just adds back stress during what is supposed to be a process of release. In other words, it is counterproductive: those who try to fix things in these situations are actually making them worse. They are failing to see that talking about the problem is the solution.

So why might this be a more common problem among men than women (granting, as @Hawaii_Jake does in the OP, that this is an overgeneralization)? It likely has something to do with the oft-repeated fact that men—in our society, at least—are typically socialized to be quiet about their emotions and to engage everything actively. In general, they are taught to see passivity as a bad thing, and the socialization here is not nuanced. It doesn’t point out the cases where withdrawing from the problem is actually better than trying to engage it. Women, meanwhile, are often socialized into the opposite tendency. Thus they are more likely to understand listening as a solution.

(For those who are into Eastern philosophy or familiar with the relevant concepts, the notions of yin and yang are applicable here. Talking things out is a yin solution. It goes under or around the problem. Trying to fix the situation is a yang solution. It goes over or through the problem. Many people think entirely in terms of one, but you need both for balance. To put it in slightly more concrete terms: I’ve just started learning a new technique in kendo, one that is absolutely devastating when done correctly. It starts with a retreat.)

jerv's avatar

@SavoirFaire And that’s why I say “Fuck!” a lot. It focuses my frustration and casts it away quickly.

ibstubro's avatar

@jerv Puck is a much easier word to say!

SavoirFaire's avatar

@ibstubro Yeah, but is it as fun to say?

Paradox25's avatar

I don’t think I can answer the question without considering that it’s likely based upon gender stereotyping. Many ‘experts’ have written books pertaining to how men and women think so drastically differently. I’m of the opinion that these behaviors in men and women are mostly the result of social constructs, and not biology, and I’ve read a great deal of books from both sides of the fence on this topic.

Concerning myself here I’ve played both sides of the fence here too. It’s not always my ‘instinct’ to want to fix things, but sometimes I just want to be heard too. In these cases where I had discussed private issues with a close female friend or relative I became the ranter while the woman played the part of the fixer. Sometimes having a person hearing us out can be a fixer too in my opinion, or at the very least a stress reliever.

SavoirFaire's avatar

@Paradox25 First of all, @Hawaii_Jake has already noted that he is overgeneralizing. Not all men do this, and some women do. Second, that the tendency may be the result of sociology rather than biology in no way changes whether or not men and women do—in the present, when considered statistically and in groups—think and act differently.

jerv's avatar

@ibstubro And a dishonest one. I saw what I really feel. The reason expletives work is that they’re strong words with negative connotations, thus allow for the venting of negativity more than a random word does. Keeping a clean mouth often requires an unhealthy amount of repression.

ibstubro's avatar

Actually, @SavoirFaire, I think “puckered up” is funner to say than “fuckered up”. It’s punny. Everyone (including the Tea Baggers Partiers) get your meaning with a touch of humor instead of offense, @jerv

Believe me, I’m one of the least repressed people on Earth, not living in a cell.

LuckyGuy's avatar

I read the comments above with interest. But after watching the video again, still, all I want to do is yank the nail. “The pressure, the snagged sweaters, ...”

jerv's avatar

@ibstubro Try pucking a flaming goat sideways with a chainsaw. It works better with an F.

SavoirFaire's avatar

@ibstubro Fair enough.

@LuckyGuy But as @glacial already noted, the nail analogy is offensively misguided. In fact, perhaps it should be turned around. As the saying goes, “when all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.” Men are typically socialized to react to problems in a particular way. Thus they are less able to recognize that some problems require different solutions. There is no nail. You just think there is.

hominid's avatar

@SavoirFaire – “offensively misguided”?

This video was so popular last year because women related to it. My wife sent it to me as a reminder. The phenomenon is real. We’re just not sure why it is. You seem to be saying that it is purely a cultural thing – or that it is a result of socialization, rather than biological in some way. Is there evidence that points in this direction?

Anyway, everyone I know who is happily married is so because they understand that men and women communicate differently – and with different purpose. Once we understand this – and understand the differences – we can put a stop to the resentment and frustration that is often a result of simply talking past each other.

And the acknowledgment of differences in no way implies judgement. We’re not talking about one way being better than another.

But back to the nail. In real life, there is a nail. But in general, women come to a solution to the problem through a different method than men. Men just want to remove a problem immediately and make the problem go away. Again, this isn’t making a judgment about which way is better. It’s possible (if not probable) that the better way in the long term is the approach that women take, which is to slowly reveal the web of problems via patient conversation. And it’s also possible (if not probable) that the motivation for an immediate fix to a woman’s problem is to eliminate the “problem” the man has, which is a partner that is unhappy.

LuckyGuy's avatar

@hominid You can relax. We all know and lurve @SavoirFaire. I am never offended. He was smiling when he wrote that.

“There is no nail.” And yet they both yelled “Ouch!” when their foreheads bumped during the kiss of understanding. At least I think they did. ;-)

@hominid I like your take. The man’s problem is having an unhappy woman.

hominid's avatar

@LuckyGuy – I suspect @SavoirFaire is about to come back and school me, causing me to reassess this whole thing. He has done it a few times in the past.

@LuckyGuy: “I like your take. The man’s problem is having an unhappy woman.”

Communication and relationships is such a fascinating thing. The scent of a woman’s tears apparently lowers testosterone levels in men.

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