General Question

krose1223's avatar

What do you do?

Asked by krose1223 (3244 points ) December 17th, 2008

When you are letting steam out to your SO are you looking for advice or just looking to vent?

When your SO is venting to you do you listen or do you lecture them as soon as they finish?

My So is the worst about lecturing me whenever I am venting to him. Sometimes I just need to say some things that I can’t say in whatever situation is bothering me. More often than not I am not looking for advice I am just getting things off my chest. He drives me up the wall when he lectures me after my venting sessions and usually puts me in a worse mood! Any tips on how to handle this? I’ve tried mentioning it to him but he just doesn’t get it. I don’t like to be treated like his little girl, I just need to yell sometimes! Does anyone else have this problem?

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17 Answers

wundayatta's avatar

Men have to fix things.

Maybe telling him in advance that you just want someone to yell to, but you are not looking for solutions or advice, that might help.

A course in the communication styles of men and women would help, but I doubt he’d get that.

I have a question for you, though. Why do women want to talk about something if they don’t want to fix it? The only thing that needs venting, as far as I know, is the bathroom after I’ve been in it. ;-)

krose1223's avatar

haha@ daloon good explanation. And to answer your question when I talk about something I don’t want fixed it’s because I have been holding a lot in. I keep things to myself if I think they would hurt someones feelings if said. Or sometimes it’s just a battle I’ve chosen not to fight but I still need to yell about it to someone. When I vent to my SO I just want him to say “Hey, that sucks. I’m sorry.” Then he gives me a big kiss and I go on with my life. I just have a problem when he talks down to me like I am a little girl. It’s very insulting and really makes me wonder if he knows me at all. Sometimes he gives me advice that is so unneccesary and it becomes an insult to my character.

dynamicduo's avatar

Daloon is spon on. Men want to fix things, women want to share their experiences without necessarily finding a resolution. Women bond over such sharing of experiences – you and I (both females) can share how our days were, and sympathize/empathize with each other, and thus we become closer as friends. We get the burden of the day off our shoulders by talking it out, once we’ve replayed the event via talking it’s much easier to let it go and move on.

I have the same issue with my male partner. I can understand your frustration as I sure feel frustrated when he lectures me when I’m not asking for help. I find that if I tell him that I just want to share my day and that I’m not looking for any answer, he will not butt in with suggestions and lectures. I’ve also realized that no matter what I do this issue is simply a man/woman difference, so when he says suggestions or comments that I feel are belittling or obvious, I hold myself back from quarreling about it. That said, I have talked to him about this before, and in response he is taking efforts to hold back on interrupting me with what I should have done, etc. Sometimes something I say brings up a thought and then he’s off in his mind following that thought while I keep talking – again I found this irritating at the beginning, but now I realize it’s really just the way his mind works and I doubt he could change it if he could. So I am more lenient now when it comes to his interrupting my talking, and he also is improving by showing me he wants to get a thought in instead of just blurting it out and making me feel upset at the rude interruption.

I have a question for the guys, why do men always feel the need to fix something? What’s wrong with having a discussion without a purpose or resolution?

krose1223's avatar

@dyna- YES!! Exactly. Lurve lurve lurve. I don’t TRY to fight with it, but my hackles do go up and I tend to get defensive. I am working on biting my tongue but it’s just so frustrating when I am obviously already frustrated about something. I agree though, it is one of those battles better if left alone. I feel better just knowing someone else knows what I am saying. Thanks :)

wundayatta's avatar

Great Answer, Dyna!

As to your question…

It all depends on how you state the grounds of the conversation. You need to tell me the purpose up front, otherwise I assume we are problem solving, since that’s the default state of conversation for men. We don’t talk about feelings. These are gross generalizations, of course, and do not apply to many individuals.

My wife drives me crazy because she’ll start a story with some very petty details, and I’m wondering, “Why are you telling me this? Can’t we get to the point and be done with it?” A guy will always tell you why he’s talking to you.

So my instinct is to butt in with questions, in order to try to herd her to the point. I’m sure this goes over real well! Not! I wish she would just tell me up front, “this is a story,” or “this is a problem.” But I don’t know how to ask her to do this without annoying the shit out of her.

Anyway, as Dyna said, if you tell us what you are doing, we have a much better chance of responding in the way you want.

cookieman's avatar

I, as a man, am very guilty of this with my wife.

Daloon hit the nail on the head. I try like hell to just listen compassionately, give support and shut up. But as the story goes on, and on, and on – I can’t help but start to form plans of action in my head. To outline a strategy.

Then, finally, she’ll say, “So what do you think?”

Even though I know all she wants to hear is, “I think that sucks. Sorry.” I go ahead and start going through my outline.

She is immediately annoyed and derails my plan of attack.

Emotionally I understand her need to vent, BUT…
after 20 years together, I still do not understand it intellectually.

I ultimately think it’s a waste of time to discuss something unless we’re trying to fix it.

Sorry – I have a schlong. Can’t help it.

augustlan's avatar

I found it helpful to tell my partners that there are only 3 acceptable responses to my venting.
1) “I’m sorry. I love you.”
2) “Everything will be ok. I love you.”
3) A good hug. “I love you.”
A nice “I love you” never hurts ; )

charliecompany34's avatar

he is not listening to you.

Sloane2024's avatar

My SO is usually wonderful about just listening to whatever it is I must vent about. He provides excellent advice, but only if I ask for it, and always waits until I’m finished before he asks any questions or makes any comments. It’s just when he vents that is the problem… He tends to take the anger out on me as opposed to just telling me what the problem is and allowing me to help him work it out. I really just think it depends on the personality of your SO… whether they like to take control and fix things immediately, or listen and rationalize before taking any action.

bythebay's avatar

In my house we call that “Mr. Fix-It Mode”. My husband mysteriously turns into freakin MacGyver and takes on all my issues and attempts to fix them in 20 minutes or less. It makes me insane; but after reading the thread I think I have better insight into his pathological need to “fix”.

galileogirl's avatar

My brother gave me great insight into this issue. I was telling him about a problem I was having at work, I ihought I had a good relationship with the people I supervised but one day my boss asked me what was going on with ‘Mary’. Evidently she was complaining about me, she couldn;t be specific about anything I was doing wrong but I wasn’t accessible or easy to talk to.

This stunned me. As I explained to my brother ‘Mary’ shared a very dramatic personal life and I always tried to give her suggestions about dealing with her problems. This was partly because I am very good at problem solving and partly because it allowed me to get on with my work and keep her on task. But I was always polite and I thought sympathetic.

My brother came up with the answer quickly and clearly. He said ‘Mary’ didn’t talk about her problems because she wanted help solving them, she probably wanted someone to listen and validate her ie to vent.

There are basically two kinds of people, the active problem solvers who look within themselves for answers or are more proactive. They are constantly processing challenges internally and setting up Plans A, B, and C without a lot of consultation. A lot of men fall into this category but also some women do.

The other group is considered the more female response. They work things out by bouncing things off other people. They deal with things by validating they understand various components and get a range of input. They clarify by saying things out loud.They want to work out their own issues but they use feedback to make sure they aren’t overlooking anything.

The problem arises when we are dealing with the opposite personality types.

She: He never shares with me about his issues and he doesn’t really listen to mine, so he must not love me…People who love you want to share things so they can help each other….Look at him, I’m telling him something important to me and he won’t even put down the remote, TV is more important than I am. click

He:She has a problem so I love her and want to solve her problem for her…..Again with the issue? I already told her what to do, why doesn’t she just shut up and do it….Yak, yak, yak evidently she doesn’t respect me enough to take my advice, where’s the remote? click

scamp's avatar

I have a similar problem venting to my SO, and this is how I remedy the situation. When I just want to vent and don’t really need the answer, I talk to a girlfriend or co-worker (female, of course)

If there is something he can do to fix my problem, I tell him. It just seems to be much easier that way. I just wish he would extend the same coutesy to me, because I really don’t like hearing him talk about his troubles with his transmission.

I can’t relate in any way, shape or form. to “nuts and bolts” conversations. I’ve tried telling him this, but he then tries to explain how some paticular engine part works so I will understand what he is trying to talk to me about. My remedy for that is to start talking about my uterus… It shuts him up every time!!

Trustinglife's avatar

This topic is exactly why Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus has sold more than 14 million copies. John Gray clearly explains this dynamic, helps women to understand, and men to stop fixing. That’s all I’ll say. @krose, have your SO read it.

basp's avatar

At my house it is husband who goes on and on and on with details and sidetracking without ever getting to the point….in fact, many time the point simply gets lost after the subject morphs several times.
My urge is to scream, “get to the freaking point!!!” but, he gets insulted if I try to get in a word edge wise claiming I am always interupting him.
I hate to admit it, but I have become very good at selective listening and that seems to work.

Mizuki's avatar

Men lecture because they are by nature problem solvers. Women vent as an act of expression.

scamp's avatar

@Mizuki You sum it up perfectly..short and sweet!!

tiggersmom's avatar

I listen, and hope that he will listen to me, it doesn’t always work, but, I do try to always make sure that I am listeing.

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