Dear well-intentioned males

It happens now and again, I share stuff about issues I personally struggle with, and I get a response that I feel is patronising.

I’m sure they mean well. Seriously. It has happened not only with strangers but also with people I know and like. Always men though – so I’m wondering if it’s a gender thing, if it’s some kind of miscommunication between us.

The thing is, when I blog about stuff I’m personally struggling with, I’m not usually looking for advice. If I want advice about something, I will ask. And I will choose whom to ask.

And I find it disrespectful and patronising when someone offers me unsolicited advice, in a tone that implies: I have all the answers, just listen to me and you’ll be fine. Whether or not that’s how these guys mean it, the feeling I get is that I’m being treated as someone who obviously doesn’t know enough, hasn’t thought or researched enough, and needs this wise protective male to give her the benefit of his great knowledge and wisdom.

And I feel like screaming. Especially when it’s a total stranger – you don’t know me, you have no idea how much thought I’ve put into these things, what I have or haven’t learned or read or experienced, what methods I’ve tried – you don’t know where I’m coming from, so please don’t come over and tell me how to sort my life out. Go sort your own life out – or have you got it all sorted?

This is how it feels to me. I am absolutely certain that some of these guys don’t mean it like that. But you know what they say about good intentions…

Advice? no thanks, not unless I’ve asked for it.

2 thoughts on “Dear well-intentioned males

  1. I know I’ve done it to you before. So I don’t think it’s just a guy thing. It’s probably a T thing. (And more guys are T’s than gals are.)

    I usually don’t know what else to do besides offer advice. So now-a-days I try to not say anything. Or sometimes I’ll try to empathize by sharing something in my own life that’s similar. I don’t know if that works, but it’s probably better than advice.

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    • oh no, no way – you have never commented in a way that left me feeling patronised!

      yes, it may be a T thing to offer advice. I have come to understand that not everyone is good at the empathy thing, and I no longer get angry about that. All part of the learning curve…

      but there are ways and ways of offering advice. there is the “have you thought of…” or “you know, when I struggled with X I did Y and found it helpful”… offering advice with humility, which is a whole different ballgame from when someone comes along with an air of “right, you’re struggling with such and such, this is what you need to do about it” and a bullet point list with links to the stuff you really *must* read… and especially when it’s a total stranger.

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