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On Being a "Typical" Girl

September 7, 2013
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

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