LIVING WITH WOMEN
 

BITCHING



WHAT'S A MAN TO DO WHEN A WOMAN GETS BITCHY?


Sooner or later, often when you least expect it, many women will get bitchy, mostly sooner than later. Mild complaining may escalate in time into full fledged bitchiness. A woman who is otherwise agreeable, accepting, understanding, and loving may suddenly turn into an outright shrew.

What's a man to do if he wishes to live well with women when they make this common and predictable transition?

First, I note that few men ever seem to learn how to survive well with female bitching, let alone to handle it positively. I, obviously, am still learning--and more often screw up than respond wisely. These, however, are some of the things I have learned so far, even if I yet find them difficult to follow, given my deep-seated habits of blind, unreasonable reactions to any signs of female displeasure.

When men are rarely able to hear female bitching without taking it personally or trying to do something about is, they may explain it to themselves (or try to excuse it) with such speculations as: "She must be on the rag (having her menstrual period)," or, "Her hormones are out of balance," or, "She probably forgot to take her medicine."

But even if these or other explanations are correct (and often they are not), female bitching is far more likely to be based in psychology than biology--that is, reflective of mental rather than physical issues. Monthly periods or hormonal imbalances may occasion or be a female excuse for bitchiness, but "escalated honesty" may often be closer to the truth.

But before delving further into possible meanings of female bitchiness, I jump to summarize what I have learned so far about "what to do" if you or I wish to live well with women.


Stated positively:

-- Stay cool.


-- Remain emotionally present with a complaining woman.


-- Listen to her; try to hear through her words for something she may be saying about herself, no matter what her subject may be.


-- Remain on your own "green spot"--that is, "in your own skin," thinking/feeling normally, as though what you are hearing is on TV or in a movie.


Stated negatively:

-- Don't turn (or run) away or make an emotional exit, even if you stay in the room with her.


-- Don't turn a deaf ear to what she is saying.


-- Don't take it personally, even if you are the stated subject.


-- Don't react blindly, dictated by old habits. Chances are, your learned way is less than positive and perhaps even destructive.


-- Don't rush to trying to fix things to remove the cause of her complaining (the stated subject).

Even if the issue is legitimate and deserves your changing or "doing something different," don't move immediately. Stay present, listening, for the moment, and take appropriate actions later.

If you react quickly--trying to handle the problem, you will only "support her habit"--that is, invite and train her to make this a regular mode of communication with you.


-- Don't try to calm her down, as though you are incapable of standing present with the full force of her negative feelings.


--Don't get defensive or try to explain yourself in hopes of getting her to drop the subject and return to normal. Remember "getting defensive" is like "raising ass," unwittingly inviting being kicked, even to possibly escalate her bitching.


-- Don't counter-attack, as though her bitching is only an attack on you (not about herself), even if you are the subject.


-- Don't plan Tit-For-Tat--that is, take the occasion to register your complaints about her, perhaps saved up for just such an occasion. Don't try to win by putting her down and yourself up, thereby turning bitching into battling for personal supremacy. No matter who wins a Mine's Worse Than Yours contest, you will both lose in the relationship.


-- Don't make fun of her--as though this were a joke, or try to play down, be-little, or otherwise make light of her complaining.


If or when you are able to follow these rules, if you have any mental energy left, give some attention to gaining a better understanding of the whole phenomenon of female bitching. What is truly going on for her, behind or beneath a stated subject, or even this mode of communicating itself?


Here are some of my observations so far: First, bitching is primarily a female mode of communication. Obviously we males have our own complaints about women, including this mode, and may even get bitchy ourselves on occasion. But by and large, females seem to do it more and better than most males.

Why? First, the mode itself is far more socially acceptable for females than for males. Whereas we males are socially trained to "suck it up"--that is, not to complain, to "take it on the chin," "keep a stiff upper lip," not to blame others, etc., females grow up with different messages. In general, complaining is acceptable in the female world, both privately and with other females.

Sometimes this becomes the main mode of communicating with other females who hear and respond openly, rather than putting down on "complainers" as males are more inclined to do.

For example, instead of, "Now don't go getting emotional or excusing yourself"--a typical male response, females are more likely to hear, "Tell us more; how do you really feel?," or, "I know just what you mean; my husband.....," etc. In which case the whole session may turn to sharing complaints about different subjects.

Next, I find that complaining itself has different meanings to each gender. Strangely to me, the same subject ("bitching") seems to mean something different to men and to women. To men, noting dislikes ("problems") is more a matter of bringing up and examining a subject with an eye to making improvements, rather than simply a mode of communicating.

Obviously, at least among ourselves, we men often bitch about women we feel helpless to change; but by and large, noted dislikes are a call for personal action, the first move in "doing something about it" or "fixing the problem," not an acceptable way of thinking or conversing with other men.

With women, however, "bitching (as men hear it)," is often quite different. First, the name itself is mostly a male term, and derogatory at that. Females, as best I can tell, rarely see what they do as "bitching" or even as "complaining" in many instances.

Instead, contrary to male perspectives about ourselves as well as females, what we call "bitching" is more like one of many ways of thinking/feeling/talking, rather than a demand for action, either for themselves or those who hear them. Women, I observe, are far more openly emotional than men. They are more sensitive/responsive to immediate circumstances and stimuli than men who try to remain focused on longer range goals, often ignoring present limitations.

Women, we might say, "feel more (and think less?) than most men who think more (and feel less)." Consequently, in most situations they actually have more immediate perceptions (emotions and observations) than do men. This greater amount of sensory data gives them a wealthier reservoir of undigested information--that is, perceptions and emotions yet to be de-coded into conceptions (Stages 3 and 4 of the Creative Process).

What men commonly see as female "bitching" is, I conclude, more often but woman's mode of moving along in the normal process of expanding perceptions into feelings and images on the longer path to de-coding them into mental concepts--that is, of becoming more conscious and clear about what she sees and feels, than "complaining," as men tend to think.

Also, because females are typically more verbal than males, even from early age, saying (speaking) tends to become their mode of thinking. Whereas males tend to see and silently reflect on what we perceive privately (in our own minds), females more naturally use talking to evolve their thoughts. Men tend to think first, speak later (if at all), while women more often talk, I suspect, "to find out what they are thinking"--that is, they may speak first, think later, in contrast with the typical male mode.


In summary: What men may see as a call for action, a "problem" to be solved or corrected, women are more likely to see as noting or clarifying an observation. What men see as "bitching" may be, for women, more like "thinking aloud" than a calling for change--either by themselves or those who hear them.

"Complaining," as men hear, may be more like "please listen to where I am" than "you do something about it (a demand for action)." Even when the subject of a woman's complaint is a man's behavior, her deeper needs are more likely for "being heard" than for "you to do something."

Recognizing this difference in male/female perspectives about "problems" may be crucial in improving a man's response to what he sees as female "bitching." In general, this means learning to "really listen" for the heart of a woman being brought to light in the cloaked form of negative observations, rather than rushing to personal action, as in, defending or explaining oneself, trying to solve a problem or resolve a misunderstanding, or in any way to "do something about" what one hears.


ADVICE


If you would live well with a woman, as her self-honesty with you (in the form of bitching) increases (later if not sooner), give most of your attention to improving your hear-ability--that is, standing openly and acceptingly with whatever she is "complaining" about.

Let her know by your staying emotionally present, "standing tall," as it were, without being negatively moved by what she says, that you are strong enough to love her even when she "feels negative" and dares reveal herself honestly with you.

A woman is far more likely to move beyond "being bitchy (as men are apt to see it)" when she has been "well heard," than when a man reacts in either of the above noted typical male ways. "Good listening," it turns out, is more powerful than anything a man can do to move past a woman's "bitching."

As noted before, even when legitimate actions are appropriate (her complaints justified), making changes later and silently is more likely to be effective than stopping listening falling into any of the "Don'ts" listed above.

Rule: Stay present, listening well, and keep on loving her while cloaked in negativity at the moment.


BITCHING ANALYSIS


Obviously, understanding bitching will not make it go away; but as a song says, "Things get a little easier, once you understand." And so I have found it to be with my understanding of this familiar phenomenon so far.

Two things I have recognized beneath the surface of female bitching:


1) Bitching is self-expressive. No matter how objective it sounds, 99% of bitching is, I think, cloaked confession--that is, an expression of a woman about herself, only hidden in language about circumstances, others, or often, yourself.


2) Bitching is projection. Allowing 10% for legitimate observations about negative external circumstances (or yourself, etc.), probably the remaining 90% of female complaining is unconscious self-repression being projected onto outside mirrors, often a man.

A man can, as many do (and I, when I forget what I know, often still do), take it personally and fall for it. But energy given to, e.g., trying to make a woman stop bitching, cannot but be drawn from resources otherwise available for practicing standing with her complaining and learning to improve skills for coping, where odds of success are far greater than mostly wasted efforts given to trying to change a woman in this regard.

Better, I conclude, to learn to live well with a woman and love her as she is than to try to change her--which, paradoxically, is far more likely to result in real change than are a man's best efforts to do so directly.


1) BITCHING IS SELF-EXPRESSIVE


Bitching always sounds objective, that is, to be about something other than the woman who is doing it--either circumstances, other people, or, often, about the man who hears it. On analysis, however, I figure that almost all bitching (99%?) is, beneath its stated subject matter, self-expressive. Even if you are the chosen subject (as is often the case), when able to get past taking it personally and falling into efforts to correct the bad situation or change yourself so as to relieve the practice, you may hear a cloaked message or revelation about the speaker.

A bitching woman is, in all likelihood, truly bothered, upset, or in some way off her own "green spot"--that is, dissatisfied at the time. But instead of consciously confronting or trying to figure out herself at the time, she takes the path of blaming others (or circumstances) for "making her" unhappy.

Obviously it takes emotional strength to stand unmoved, and "good ears" to listen through the stated subject for a cloaked personal message; but the often missed point here is the fact (if my analysis is correct) that even so, bitching is self-expressive most of the time.


2) BITCHING IS PROJECTION


Which leads me to this deeper part of the analysis, namely, that most all bitching is rooted in repression, that is, some element of personal denial. The cloaked self-expression, noted above, has been pushed out of personal awareness, so that a bitching woman is in all likelihood unconscious of what she is avoiding within herself. She truly thinks, e.g., that you are causing her dissatisfaction.

But the second part of repression is projection--that is, what is "pushed down" within, inevitably appears to be mirrored without--that is, only seen as unwittingly projected onto some external source which does indeed then seem to be the cause of discomfort.

Following repression (inward denial), a woman is out of conscious contact with some aspect of herself. She is unaware, for example, of her compulsion for cleanliness, and only sees it as projected or mirrored in, say, crumbs on the counter. If a man happens to have left the crumbs, then his action, evidenced in the crumbs, seems to be the true source of her discomfort. Consciously then, she "blames him" for "making her upset," since she is unaware of her own repression.

In like manner, I analyze, some 90% of a woman's bitching is in fact a projection of some repressed element in herself. Certainly it may be well hidden (unconscious) to herself, and hence in need of a "mirror" to project it onto. In which case, bitching may then become a functional form for dimly recognizing a dark part of herself as, e.g., reflected in some male action (or inaction).



LISTENING


Learn to listen rather than react


"I feel like you don't.... (help, support, do such and such, make up the bed, pick up, etc.)"

Listen through such statements, rather then falling for them (e.g., getting defensive as though attacked). Instead, hear the self revelation: "I feel.... like = metaphor. She is using your actions or non-actions to describe her feelings. Don't take it personally; Don't get defensive.

Even if no "I feel...." begins the sentence, that is, if she starts with "You never help me, (don't love me, etc.)," still, listen through rather than simply reacting.


BETTER STILL


Better to listen to a woman's questioning

than to try to give her answers


Better to acknowledge a woman's problems

than to try to fix them


Better to hear bitching and stay present

than to take it personally and run away


Better to stand your ground pleasantly

than to give in resentfully


Better to grin and bear a woman's jabs

than to fight back or get defensive


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