Saturday, September 7, 2013

On Being a "Typical" Girl

I always cringe when I hear girls talk about a situation with a guy they like (or are dating), and they end with something like “…of course I am over-analyzing the situation, like a typical girl.” On the most recent occasion, which prompted me to write this post, a girl that I know was causally sleeping with a guy who would sometimes be affectionate and boyfriend-like, but at other times would seem completely disinterested. She explained this to me, and ended her narrative with the line I quoted above.

There are three things that bother me about this comment whenever I hear it. The first is that it is an expression of voluntary ignorance. It can be roughly translated to mean:
"Something feels wrong about my relationship, but the right thing for me to do is sit back and ignore my feeling of discontent. Silence and time will make me realize that there really is no problem – aside my own anxious and emotionally-driven behavior."
However, the glaringly obvious reality in these situations is that there is a very legitimate problem that needs to be addressed – or at least admitted. In most instances, the problem is that the guy is less interested in the girl than she wants him to be. The guy's behavior betrays this in subtle (and sometimes not-so-subtle) ways, the perception of which the girl is trying to sweep under the carpet. The action of categorically blaming "typical" female tendencies is actually just a psychological reflex or excuse, designed to postpone the inevitable pain that will come with rejection.

The second problem is a more serious one: by calling herself a "typical girl," with negative connotations, a woman is categorically insulting her own sex. The obvious implication is “women are all idiots because we stress out about men too much, are overly-emotional, and can't think reasonably about our relationships.” Not only is this not true (see below), but it is self-deprecating. Talking badly about yourself – let alone your whole sex – is always a bad policy. It is never necessary, and it demonstrates a lack of confidence that is hugely unattractive. Even if being a “typical girl” were obviously a bad thing, voluntarily drawing attention to it (or any associated behavior) would be a bad move.

The third problem, which is the most serious, is that a women who dismisses her feelings by calling herself a "typical girl" has no confidence in her emotions. Of course, it doesn't help that when a woman voices her feelings about a problem in a relationship, men will often tell her that she needs to “chill out,” or “stop being so emotional,” or even that she should “stop being such a girl.” But listening to and agreeing with a man who says this kind of thing – especially one with a vested interest in winning the argument or discussion – is nothing short of spineless. You have feelings, and your feelings tell you that something is wrong. They are legitimate feelings; you have them for a reason. Yet the second someone tells you that you need to stop being so emotional (and sometimes even without being prompted), you immediately doubt everything you feel, apparently convinced that there is something wrong with you for feeling the way you do. And then you actually verbalize that conviction, going as far as to insult your whole sex by blaming it on your womanhood. It is the ultimate expression of self-doubt.

Imagine if men did the equivalent. Imagine if your boyfriend came to you with a logical and well-expressed concern about the way things were going in the relationship. Then imagine if you, in response, flared up with emotion and screamed at him, telling him that he was being too logical and needed to feel more – that he needed to stop thinking so much. Maybe you would throw something at him while screaming this, just to add emphasis. He would stop and think for a moment, then agree, and then say something like “Yeah… yeah, I mean… I guess you’re right. I guess I am just being a typical guy... I really need to stop rationalizing everything.” Then he’d walk away - a bit puzzled, but ultimately convinced, and wondering how he could go about becoming more emotional.

Yeah, exactly – it would be absurd.

But this is precisely what goes on when a woman calls into question her primary tool for navigating relationships - that is, her intuition and emotions. A man is more rationally-focused, more logical in his approach to relationships; but this doesn't make him more right. We live in a world where Reason and Logic are increasingly championed as the only legitimate sources of knowledge. A few hundred years ago, this was chiefly a western error, one that we now refer to as “The Enlightenment.” But the influence of that movement is slowly propagating across the world, and destroying in its wake all confidence in emotional and intuitive knowledge – women’s strengths. In fact, it wouldn't be an exaggeration to say that The Enlightenment induced Feminism, which could only thrive in a society that managed to convince itself that there was something inherently better about the masculine ways of operating in the world and understanding it - in other words, doing so via logic and reason rather via intuition and feeling.

I guess what I am getting at here is that the modern philosophical trends aren't on a woman’s side when her feelings about a relationship are called into question – but that doesn't mean that those feelings are wrong. Likewise, a man who only wants to continue having sex with you isn't exactly going to affirm the emotions telling you that something is off; but that in no way undermines their legitimacy. Just because outside sources are telling you that your feelings are whimsical doesn't mean that you should second-guess yourself.

The next time you feel something inside of you sink at the attitude of a guy's text-message, don’t doubt that feeling just because he asks you “what’s wrong?” and you struggle to pinpoint it. Believe your feelings. Have confidence in your intuition. Similarly, the next time you feel undesired because your boyfriend is spending more time with his friends than he's spending with you, don’t call that feeling into question just because he coldly and “logically” argues that he would be a bad friend if he spent less time with them. Trust your emotions. You wouldn't feel bad about the situation if there was nothing wrong about it. (For example, in this situation the problem is probably that you want a man who loves you enough that he is at least tempted to ignore his friends for you, which he clearly is not.)

So to conclude: be vulnerable in acknowledging the reality of your relationships. Even if you struggle with this, stop talking down on your own sex by stereotyping your reluctance to face the truth as “typical.” Most importantly, stop undermining the legitimacy of your feelings by backing down every time they are questioned, or even mistrusting them yourself. Don't be shy about using your emotions and intuition to navigate your relationships; they are legitimate sources of knowledge, and they are your unique strengths as a woman: be proud of them.

Related Posts
1. Never Tell a Man Why He Shouldn't Want to Date You
2. Get Used to Rejection
3. The "Three Mistake Minimum" Rule on Dates
4. Femininity, Authenticity and Compatibility


  1. Good post and within good timing. I once read an article a man wrote about how carelessly men throw around the term "crazy when applied to women. That it makes them start doubt if they are crazy. In his article he reference the Ingrid Bergmann movie called "Gas light". In the movie the man rigs the gas light to flicker on and off. When his wife notices the lights he doesn't acknowledge that they are flickering. He slowly convinces his wife that she is crazy so he can have her locked up and steal her jewels.

    Recently I had an ex plead with me to stay friends. I kindly explained that I felt more than friendship for him and we could not be friends. He tried every possible way to make me feel guilty or that I wasn't making any sense. He tried to manipulate me. I am grateful that I didn't cave and cut him off. I know I deserve better than a sneaky friend.

  2. Your reasoning on this subject is very enlightening- extremely well written.

  3. This post reminds me of an article on gaslighting called "A Message to Women from a Man: You are not "Crazy"

    My roommate is in a lesbian relationship. Whenever they get emotional, they always excuse themselves and say that they are "just being a girl". This makes me cringe. They honestly believe that they are being emotional for no reason and don't need to find the root cause of the problem. Even if they know the problem, they don't want to speak out because they know they will get rejected. This behavior enforce men to believe that women's feelings are not important.

  4. Some of the self-bashing, though, is because of experiences girls have had over time with guys calling them "crazy" when they're too open with their emotions. Honestly, "crazy" is one of the most damaging things a guy can call a girl, right up there with "tease." Both of these, in fact, are probably worse than being called a b****.

    How does a girl maintain her emotionality while avoiding the dreaded "crazy" label? Because the reason we make the "typical girl" comment is so that you all won't think we're crazy and you'll give us credit for being self-reflexive and acknowledging the fact that women can be really emotional ways you find unappealing.

    1. Stop dreading the "crazy" label.

      Adopt the attitude "You can call me 'crazy' but all you really mean is that I am right and you don't want to admit it." If you really have confidence in your feelings, you will believe this.

      If you have a confrontation with your man about something you feel is wrong, and he starts to accuse you of being "crazy" or "too emotional," I recommend this response: "Look, I am not the best at articulating what exactly is wrong, but something doesn't feel right between us right now. You can call that 'crazy' or 'emotional' if you want, but that doesn't make my feelings false."

      I don't recommend arguing in these situations. You probably won't be able to out-argue a guy at this point (not because he is smarter, but because you are arguing based on different foundations - e.g. emotional vs. rational). And arguing won't accomplish anything anyway; if he really isn't giving you the love you need, there isn't much you can do to change that. You need to ACCEPT it.

      So rather than trying to argue, I suggest the comment above, followed by observation. If instances in which you FEEL bad accumulate and start to become more frequent, break up with him.

    2. Hi Andrew, I love your posts and look foward to your new ones. I've been friends with a guy for 7 years, during that time I was married and he was engaged to be married. Since then, we've both divorced. Recently their has been a change in the dynamics of the relationship. We text almost everyday. Which is new. I think I'm starting to fall for him but the things that he does/says confuse me. Sometimes he becomes possesive, but in a good way, other times he's distant. Other times we're flirthy but doesn't go much further than that. We took a break from talking with eachother (my choice) and after 5 days, he reached out to me. When I told him I had a blind date, he was upset, he didn't think that I should go on dates so soon. Nothing has happend between us, as we're both extremtly busy with our lives. He still isn't completly over his ex, but I'm ready to move on. I don't get this at all. I thought guys were simple but he isn't a typical guy I suppose. Any input would be appreciated

    3. Mary Ava,

      I agree with you that it is the most damaging. Growing up we weren't called crazy for being emotional. No father has ever told his daughter that she was crazy. Typically when a man says a woman is crazy it is to manipulate. To me being called crazy by a guy is code for "I screwed her over and she got mad". I think Andrew is right on this article, but I do agree that the "typical girl" response comes from being called crazy.

    4. There needs to be a balance between accepting and expressing one's intuition and emotional feelings. A woman can't tell a man over and over again, louder and louder, how she feels, hoping he will understand or at least regard what she is trying to say. She needs to say it once, maybe twice..if he disregards her, she should cut him off. Men often will use the crazy label to get out of a relationship with her, whether it's casual or serious. They will allow the woman to act "more and more crazy" until she breaks it off or makes it extremely easy for him to tell her that her behavior is unacceptable and he no longer wants to deal with her. It's a win-win situation for him. If she sticks around, he can still have sex with her. There's no need for him to discuss how she feels any further than telling her her feelings are not worth his regard.When he is tired of her, he can sit back and let her "crazy" herself out of the relationship. After it's over,he can tell himself that he's a good guy and it was all her fault because she was crazy anyway.

  5. Yes, when someone mistreats you, they may talk you into believing that they are actually being nice to you with their reasons, but your feelings of being treated badly does *not* go away. They can fool you with arguments but they can not fool your heart.

    Eventually the feelings are accurate signals to about something being wrong. Say, if you reason more deeply something actually is wrong too.

    I had problems on this too when my logical brains and emotional brains hold different opinions to each other, I would believe the logical one temporarily but eventually the emotional one would prove to be right when after hindsight and more life experiences.

    But emotions are signals to solid issues behind too. They are real. Usually feelings of disgust signal bad things and feelings of pleasure signal good things. (David Hume had good arguments on why feelings have rational grounds behind them.) If only I trusted my own emotions more, I would have saved myself from a lot of troubles which I did not have to go through.

  6. Wow, I finally have to comment on your blog. It has been an insightful and refreshing read. Thank you for taking the time to write it. I thought you'd peaked with the Personal Boundaries post, but I'm pleasantly surprised to find that isn't the case. I think this post is your best and the most important for female readers (at least this one). In my opinion your Personal Boundaries post is only second to this, because what you describe here plays into a woman's ability to create and maintain those necessary personal boundaries.

    I tend to be analytical and respond logically rather than emotionally to situations. For the most part, I don't let little things bother me and I try not to take people's actions personally. This means I get to enjoy a life with little confrontation. But now, I realize this has still led to me putting myself in the position you described above, whenever I do feel something strongly. I often analyze my way out of the emotion to keep the peace, finding logical reasons to put my mind at ease (as in, reasons that don't include calling myself "a typical girl"). I have confidence in my feelings, but what I didn't realize is that by trying to avoid confrontation, I'm still undermining that confidence. I've been saying, "I have confidence in what I feel, but I don't have confidence in my ability to express it or stand up for it." Maybe because subconsciously pushing down emotion has led to all my confrontations being more tense necessary... By the time I acknowledge the emotions, they're convoluted and intensified from time spent being shoved aside. So, I've always thought I was someone who had difficulty expressing my emotions. However, if I acknowledged my feelings initially, I could handle the situation the way you described above, express myself clearly, and find resolution. Then, I could continue enjoying a life with little confrontation, only it wouldn't be silently building in the background.

    Your post made me realize that the fact that I'm less emotional means I should trust my intuition ten fold when it pops up! Trust the emotion rather than disregard it, then I can analyze and use logic to accept the situation as it is.

    Thank you, Andrew!

  7. Us women need to learn to trust ourselves more. It's obvious that men that start labeling women as "crazy" are just trying to manipulate, since they wouldn't date you if they thought you were really crazy. Great post as always Andrew

  8. Hi Andrew, I do so much enjoy reading your blog and I've learned a couple of things here. Do to ever reply to the emails asking for your advise? I wrote you an email about two weeks or so ago and haven't heard anything back.

    1. I get far more email these days than i have time to answer, so i only reply to SOME of the messages that meet the criteria on the "how to ask me for advice" page.

    2. This comment has been removed by the author.

    3. If you shorten it to meet the requirements, sure.

    4. I just shorten my email and sent it again. Hope is good now.
      Thank you!

  9. Out of all the posts on your blog, Andrew, this by far is the best and most important one for your visitors to read.

    Over time I have learned to "trust my gut" more and it has never lead me wrong. My gut feelings have told me that I should not trust a guy, even though my "heart" wanted to. When I have listened to my gut I have never made the wrong decision.

    When I listened to my "heart" I made the wrong decision.

    "You wouldn't feel bad about the situation if there was nothing wrong about it."

    Thank you for acknowledging a woman's sources of strength - her emotion and intuition and telling us we should listen to them.

  10. I just can't thank you enough how much better this post had made me feel when I am sad.. most of all, I thank you for making me feel stronger during a difficult time. :)

  11. A propos of women using their emotional radar to help them choose a mate wisely:
    (I did not treat my emotions with respect, to my detriment, am now thankfully divorced, and now using my emotional radar to filter and choose wisely.)

    I'm in a great new relationship and trying to find the right balance between pleasing my man (who I adore) and (until I know him & his thinking better) being taken for granted that I will please him. Just found an article (that I thought was fantastic) on the GFE, "Girl Friend Experience". Andrew, and other men, would be interested in your comments on this article, link below:

    Why I thought it was good: being happy in a relationship is about choosing your mate wisely, then showing them how much you appreciate what a gem they are.

  12. By far your most well-written post. Shared!!

  13. A most timely post Andrew!

    one again I am back and asking for advice. one thing I've learned is that when I have to come here for advice it usually ends poorly :(

    Instead of writing my life story here, I just have a simple question. When you have that sinking feeling that something is going wrong or feeling helpless... Should you just confront him? I want to know if the man I am dating thinks there might be a real future. He's recently divorced and much older than me. The chances are low, but should I ask anyway? I am worried he'll lie because we haven't slept together.

    What do you think?

    I'm really glad Andrew addressed this, it's best not to rationalize. Admit to yourself that things aren't working. Stick to your boundaries. I say it, but then I struggle :(

    1. Please...--ASK HIM and tell him your concerns and be prepared for a positive or negative response. The good thing about dating and getting more experience in dating is that you're better able to discern things. Sinking feelings come and go, and you won't always make good choices, but hopefully you learn from the bad choices and not make the same mistakes in future relationships. This blog offers good advice for the most part, and Andrew writes well, but I'm sure Andrew can attest that following advice he gives has failed in at least some instances. I suggest you give it some thought, weigh the pros and cons, and ask him; no regrets.

    2. Wait until he brings up what he wants from the future. Few things are less attractive than a woman asking, "So, where is this going?"

      If he doesn't bring it up on a timetable that works for you--asking him will not speed it up at all. End it; there are many other much-older, recently-divorced men from which to choose.

  14. Hi Andrew,

    I have a question that touches upon this subject. My new beau has a TON of photos on his social media of his ex girlfriend and a few of his previous relationships. While it's a little uncomfortable for me, I feel as if this falls into the actual "insecure, typical girl" category.

    Is it petty of me to want him to hide these photos, or should I just woman up and get over it? I don't want to begrudge him for having a past.

    My solution so far is to just avoid his social media.

    1. He should know that it would make you uncomfortable. He should hide or delete some of them, i mean , why would he even want them there. I know this might not be such a big deal for the younger guys, but I still think you have a valid point. Bring it up in a reasonable manner ..

    2. It would be exhausting to excise every photo of my ex from social media. When I run into one, I usually delete it, since it usually annoys me. But it is not a high priority of mine to go and hunt for pictures of my ex. I do not want to spend hours looking at her. We had 7 years of shared history together.

      His ex used to exist, and still does, regardless of pictures.

      If he has not yet got over her, trust me: he has plenty of pictures of her in a place where you can't find them or see them.

      A reasonable request? Boyfriends shouldn't be friends on social media with their ex-girlfriends unless they've got a darn good reason, like kids together.

  15. Andrew,

    I've been reading you since January, and I just wanted to say thank you. I know your posts can sometimes stir up controversy, but I really believe you actually like women and want to help us. I appreciate your honesty, and am applying these lessons daily. I'm 37, never married, no kids. I didn't realize I wanted to potentially get married and maybe have a family until my early/mid thirties -- so needless to say, the ship may have already sailed on that one. But with your helpful advice, I feel like my head is on straight for maybe one last fighting chance at this thing. Thanks again.

  16. Andrew,

    Absolutely frigging awesome.

  17. Anyone who accuses you of being anti-feminist or anything like that needs to read this post.

  18. on the subject of emotions:

    Women are told that in dating, men have no emotional connection through sex.

    Women are also told that in, say, marriage or LTR, men need sex to feel loved or to feel an emotional connection. (i.e. women can do this through verbal communication, men do it through physical.)

    Men, please explain this paradox.

    1. Haha! Yes! That is true. I have read and heard the same contradiction!!
      Men, please explain..which is it??

    2. Men do establish emotional connection through sex.

      However it happens once a certain threshold of knowing the woman as a human being is passed. It is also important to pinpoint that sex is a bit more complicated than rubbing genitals. Human sex has 3 functions:
      1) reproductive - as a way of making babies
      2) hedonistic - as a way to experience the pleasure
      3) intimacy - as a way to feel emotionally connected to each other

      To put it more simple in a life-like scenario, if a man meets a hot woman at a club, they are both drunk and the music is too loud for conversation and they eventually end up having sex, then sex played only function 2 (+ function 1 if no birth control was involved). No emotional connection is made this way and in most cases man will not want to see this woman again, unless the sex was good so he can have an f-buddy for function 2 in the future.

      And function 3 is achieved once both people get to know each other a bit more and are attracted to each other. How much time is needed it depends on individual people, also intensity and openness in the communication takes part (the more open the communication is the less time it takes).

      For me personally sex on Day 1 is the emotional connection breaker, and the best seems to be the Day 3 to 5. And if I keep seeing a woman of several weeks and sex isn't happening I feel like this woman does not want to experience intimacy with me so we are both better with more compatible partners.

    3. Generally speaking, men who are not smitten with a woman will not experience intimacy during sex. High-value men are less likely to be smitten by a particular women; thus, it is much more difficult to convert sex with such a man into an emotional bond on his part.

      It is in a woman's best interest to delay sex until a man is genuinely smitten with her and he is committed to her. It is a challenge to the woman to ensure the commitment is real. Commitment is generally defined on the woman's terms, with exclusivity being the most common manifestation.

      Once a man is committed to a woman, sex achieves intimacy as described in Vytautas's post every single time he has it. There is precious else that can cause the level of oxytocin release that sex can in a male. If this oxytocin is associated in his mind with the commitment he made to a woman, his resolve to maintain that commitment will be even stronger.

      If this oxytocin release is associated with, perhaps, choosing a particular club, or executing a smooth pickup line, his resolve to continue that behaviour will grow strong. A one night stand will reinforce whatever led to the one night stand, which was not commitment.

  19. Awesome Article.
    The Germans need to see this. I was kicked out of my Job just because Inot to change from the feminne myself which was taken as being 'weak' despite the efficient work to prove. I was told by my German female friends on why most of them end up cropping their hair, almost never wearing skirts or end up talking walking and acting like men is because it is considered weak and not worthy enough at work both by their men and by the population.

  20. This might be my favorite of all your posts.

  21. I've been reading through some of your posts & while your thoughts are interesting & have a lot of merit, I find myself thinking that if it has to be this hard to date then it's not worth it. I'm 42. I was married once & have recently had a string of horrible relationships/break-ups. I know alot of my problem is insecurities. However, I just think I'd rather be alone.

  22. It is important not to confuse providing an explanation for an emotion with providing an excuse - if one is not able to fully provide an explanation, it could be any of the following:

    1) you lack sufficient emotional self-awareness (know thyself .....)
    2) you are inarticulate (you are simply not a good communicator....)
    3) you are a coward (you fear the response of the audience... )

    If a person cannot or will not explain their emotional state, there is no need to make excuses.
    men do understand emotions - one simply has to be clear in communicating and explaining them.

  23. Girl age 16: “You’re such a nice guy.”

    Translation: ” I don’t want to hurt your feelings, or come off as a bitch to my friends, but I’m really much more attracted to Bad Boys – outlaw bikers, the football team’s quarterback, basically any guy who appears dangerous and exciting. You’re Nice, nice and mundane”

    Girl age 22: “You’re such a nice guy.”

    Translation: “Thanks for listening on the phone to me cry, fall into verbal hysterics and drone on for hours about my Jerk BF (oh, and my little dog too). You’re really sweet, and deserve a girl (which isn’t me) who can appreciate how nice (i.e. mundane) you are.”

    Girl age 28: “You’re such a nice guy.”

    Translation: “I know you’ve always been (an) my emotional tampon, and thanks for sticking with it – any sane guy would’ve found a far better prospect by now. And while I’m beginning to see that guys like you are stable, dependable and tend to make a lot more money than the Jerks I’ve dated, I think I’m gonna hold out for a hotter guy than you while my looks still hold up”

    Woman age 32: “Why can’t I just find a nice guy?”

    Woman age 35+: “You’re such a nice guy.”

    Translation: “Oh, you’re a Nice Guy,, let me suck that for you. See? Being a Nice Guy does get you laid!,..thanks for being there for me when I needed you; my fatherless kids appreciate your generosity too. How chivalrous of you to forgive my past indiscretion and take us in, I wish there were more guys like you. I really pity the women who can’t appreciate your kind of dedication – you are so different from “other guys”".

  24. Do you think there are ever situations where it /is/ actually the girl (or it could happen to a guy as well) just being a bit 'crazy'? Ever since discovering that I'd overlooked the fact that my first boyfriend didn't actually like me (he used many external excuses to not go out with me which I believed, eventually only going out with me because his friend convinced him to and then 9 months later revealing that he hadn't actually liked me) I've had a lot of anxiety when being with guys. I'm very uncertain about whether my instincts are correct or whether I'm hyper aware of anything that might be a sign a guy isn't interested and overemphasise anything indicating disinterest while under-emphasising any interest he shows. I guess the simple explanation is that he's just not into me, but I am noticing patterns in my behaviour and wondering if it's not something else.

    1. Yes, but there are also instances in which men act "crazy" in excess of what is reasonable or in excess of what the situation demands.

      My main point in this article isn't that women are always right to be emotional, but that they aren't always wrong either, and that, when they are emotional, it is probably justified more often than they think.

    2. Thanks for the reply. I guess I'll have to wait and see a bit to be sure about the extent to which my anxiety is justified in this situation.

      On one hand I'm finding it a tough call because there's evidence both ways. I don't want to hang around to get hurt more, but on the other hand I think I'd always wonder 'what if' if I ended it before I was certain there's a good reason for my anxiety.

  25. @Sebastian: this is one of, if not, my favorite of Andrew's posts, how do you reconcile this w. a precursor to knowing what love is?

  26. إذا أراد تحقيق أعلى مستوى من خدمات النقل خارج الأحساء أو داخل الأحساء فعل كما تواصل مع شركة النقل والانتقال المميزة بالأحساء هرع خدماتها في مجال النقل والفك والتعبئة والتركيب وكذلك شركة أثاث مخزن الأحساء للاتصال بنا لا نضيع الوقت في البحث عن الشركات العاملة في هذه الخدمة الآن.شركة نقل عفش
    شركة نقل عفش من الرياض الى الدمام
    شركة نقل اثاث من الرياض الى الدمام
    شركة نقل عفش بالخرج