It's not always about being funny.

“You know how women are”

“She told me explicitly that she didn’t want a gift. All she wanted was a nice card with some thought put into it.”

“Adam, you know how women are. She says that, but she doesn’t mean it.”

Over the past two years, it’s no secret that I’ve gone through a bit of a reawakening, to use a really douchey term, in my life. By relaxing my need to constantly control every aspect of my life, I’ve been able to enjoy myself in social scenarios significantly more (usually by drinking girly drinks). I’ve lost 150 pounds (and still need to lose another 60). I’ve started pursuing the potential of a career in comedy (and the potential of grossing out thousands of people instead of the tens of people I do now), and, most importantly, I’ve embraced the concept of honesty and trust.

It’s been said better by people who are better at self-analysis than I am, but this is about what I’ve learned and how I’ve decided to change the way that I live.

I am only responsible for my words, thoughts, and actions. I will be honest with others with regards to my motivations, desires, and needs, and I will trust that others will be honest with me.

That’s the simple way of putting it.  Here’s the complicated way:

It is an absolute mind-fuck to live your life in such a way that you constantly interpret what people say through a filter.  If you operate under the assumption that what you are being told is not the same as the intentions of the person telling you, you get caught up in a maelstrom of assumptions, suppositions, fallacies, and lies.

One perfect example of this is the world of dating.  If you were to rely on Maxim or Cosmopolitan for dating advice, you, whether you’re male or female, would be inundated with tips on “how to play the game”:

  • Don’t appear too interested
  • Wait two days to call after a date
  • Never be the last reply in a text conversation
  • Let a guy change his FB status to “in a relationship” before you do
  • He doesn’t want to hear the details of your entire day
  • Be an asshole so that she’ll come crawling to you

I despise these rules, and as I wrote earlier, I think that open communication is the key to everything.  If two people, whether they’re married, dating, friends, or even just two strangers on the street, can speak openly, trusting that the other person will be honest with his or her needs, wants, complaints, or concerns, we would be able to avoid misunderstandings and get a hell of a lot more accomplished.

That’s an impossible scenario, though, and I’m okay with that, because, as I said, I am only responsible for my thoughts, actions, and words.  And I choose to be the type of person who will say what he means, mean what he says, and expect that same behavior from someone else.  I will take you at your word when you say something, and I will not assume that you mean something opposite but are unwilling to be honest.

I never thought that I’d be someone who found value in honesty.  I can read people extremely well and have the potential to be tremendously manipulative.  But there’s a level of stress involved with maintaining a network of lies and half-truths in order to continue to control everything around you, and it’s not a stress that I want as a part of my life.  I sleep like a baby, with a clear conscience, and I like it this way.

And in conclusion: Mom, I know you don’t read this (although you might, Dad), but if you tell me that you don’t want a gift and all you want is a card, I’m going to pick out an awesome card that has a nice sentiment and I’m going to write a nice message in it, and that’s what you’re going to get for Mother’s Day.  Because I trust that you’ll be honest with me and tell me what you really want.

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22 Replies to ““You know how women are””

  1. jonniker

    All I wanted for Mother’s Day was to sleep in and pick out a special dinner solely of my own choosing. I got both. My husband also did a few other nice things, and while I appreciated them, I genuinely — GENUINELY — meant that if all I got was a sleep-in and a good dinner, I’d be happy. Mind you, I was also happy that he did other things, but if they weren’t there, I STILL would have been happy.

  2. Megan

    I no longer assume, and don’t expect others to either. If I say I want nothing, then I had better expect nothing.

    If there’s something you want from someone else, you have to tell them. Period.

  3. Suebob

    I have this communication culture clash with my mom. She grew up in a place and time where women saying what they want was not acceptable, so she never does. Yet she always gets what she wants. She does it through hints, manipulation, bad moods, tears, tone of voice…the other day my family was together and she said “Help me decide where to have lunch!” Everyone just looked at her and did not say a word. Why? Because she would get what she wanted, anyway, and no one was willing to go through the drawn-out exercise of making suggestions and having her subtly shoot them down over and over.

    I wrote a post about it recently – the middle conversation, about me going to Target, turned into being not about Target, but about punishing me for not paying enough attention to her and how she always thinks of me but I never think of her – see if you can pull that out from what she said:

    Because of this stupid upbringing, I work hard on communicating clearly. I get put down all the time for my bluntness, but I’m unwilling to go through life like Mom.

  4. TyKes Mom

    I’m all into the psychology stuff and I would be very fascinated to find out your Myers Briggs Personality type ( I am personally an INFJ ( and you remind me very much of me, particularly in the way that you can easily read and manipulate others as well as how much the emotions of others directly effect you. INFJs are the rarest personality type out there and we have it the damned hardest. If you get a chance, what is your type?

  5. Wendy Thomas

    I find this really amusing because while I’ve always been honest and assumed other people were, I’m turning into the type that doesn’t believe a thing a guy tells me. I can still be honest, but I’m finding that other truly honest people are too few and far between for me to keep putting that kind of trust in anyone else. I’ve been hurt one time too many.

  6. LeSombre

    “It is an absolute mind-fuck to live your life in such a way that you constantly interpret what people say through a filter. If you operate under the assumption that what you are being told is not the same as the intentions of the person telling you, you get caught up in a maelstrom of assumptions, suppositions, fallacies, and lies.”

    You are right; that’s not a life. That’s a job.

    BTW: I got my mom a PS3 for mother’s day, and I’m keeping it at my house as leverage for her to visit.

  7. Sybil Law

    I was very clear about what I wanted – a $15 fern from Sam’s for the front porch. That’s all I wanted, and I stated it 3 times. Know what I got? A dozen long stemmed roses. GAH. I mean, yes – they’re pretty, but they’ll die in a few days and the fern would’ve lasted all summer.

  8. TheQueen

    On honesty: one time Mom was going in to the hospital and SAID, “don’t visit me.” So, I didn’t. She was being honest, but when she got in the hospital she realized that what she wanted (distance, no emotional ties) was not what what other people expected, or what she should have wanted. A nurse asked where her family was and she burst into tears and said, “I have created my own monsters.” So, sometimes people are honest, but don’t have enough self-awareness to know what they want most.

  9. Kimberly

    Ain’t that the truth! I too am very honest when it comes to the way I feel about someone or something…Ya I want a present! 🙂 Seriously though, a lot of people don’t like brutal honesty, which kills me because I hate the fake “I’ll say what you want to hear” crap! I’m not willing to do it, and often that bites me in the butt.

  10. Blondefabulous

    I try to treat people how I’d like to be treated in kind…. but unfortunately for me, most people don’t know the Golden Rule anymore. When I mention the actual phrase “Golden Rule”, they just try to pee on me, thinking I meant golden showers. Sigh…..

  11. Lisa

    Yes, yes, exactly this! I refuse to play guessing games – just be honest about what you need from me because I will definitely be honest about what I need.

    Trying to get someone to understand that sometimes *not* getting me a present is what I actually want (I’m trying really hard to get “us” to stick to a budget) is surprisingly difficult.

  12. Loukia

    I often think people can read my mind, and sometimes that leaves me sad when I don’t end up getting what I thought I’d get. Like, if I don’t email my friend, I’ll get an email from them first. And then nothing. And then I’m like, WTF? In all reality, when it comes to presents? (Oh, God. So bad of me.) I will never say “I don’t want anything!” because that’s lying. I always want something! I also think cards are very meaningful, if you write more than your name in them.
    I’m pretty honest, though. I almost say too much sometimes!

  13. J

    I’ve believe in honesty. Luckily, so does my husband. And at the same time, we know each other well enough to know that when he says it’s OK to not do anything for his birthday, like TheQueen said, he might come to regret it later. And when I say all I want for Mother’s Day is a nice breakfast (at home), and maybe a card, I’m thrilled to have that. Of course, I was even happier to receive earrings from my MIL, and a gift certificate for a massage from my husband. But you know what? Those were a bonus. We’ve been married for almost 18 years, and together for almost 24, and we’ve been parents for 15…some of those Mother’s Days I’ve gotten just a card, sometimes a brunch, sometimes the chance to sleep in. I love it all. I admire your working for honesty, and wow, 150 lbs? That’s crazy. In relationships, be they friends, families, or love, we need to know the person we’re with, so we can know whether they mean “nothing” when they say “nothing”, or whether they mean, “I was brought up to think that asking for what I want is rude and means you don’t know me well enough to get me what I want”, or “nothing”. Not easy.

  14. Nina

    Oh, I disagree with you here, Adam.

    I mean, I appreciate honesty. I see it as practical–necessary even–for somewhere around 89% of life’s transactions. But still, there’s got to be a place for surprise, for wonder, for love.

    Life would be WAY TOO BORING if I had to spend it asking to have my hand held and asking for the necklace with the little feather on it that I spotted at the art fair this weekend and asking for a little love note to be taped inside my lunchbag and…

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