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An Open Letter to the Guy Who Won't Ask For Relationship Advice

Tearing through relationships equipped with just "an innate gift for putting things back together" won't cut it.

Dear Guy Who Won't Ask For Relationship Advice,


Art Credit: Kitchener Photography

Let me first say that I’m not mad. I’m a little exasperated and mostly just confused. You’re dating this woman, but things aren’t going smoothly, right? Perhaps communication is not as clear as it should be, you feel like you’re getting mixed signals, you’re going in circles, not sure how to move forward—in other words—you’re lost. So why won’t you stop and ask for directions?

I know, I know, “you got this.” But do you really? We are not talking about some one-way destination that Google Maps mistook for a parking lot. We’re talking about a relationship with a woman—there are more than a hundred ways to get there, but only one right answer. Older, wiser men than you have set off on this journey and can still be found years later roaming in circles with no end in sight.

There are, however, some men who have figured it out. Ask any of them, and they will tell you that the secret to their success is to never get too cocky. These men are the guys you whiz by going 80 mph when the speed limit is a cautious 25 mph. They have been around that bend in the road you are just about to hit and know that, at the speed you’re going, you are seconds away from spinning out of control.

I will concede that there is a recognized psychology behind your can-do attitude, and it’s not a bad thing. It’s actually really good—it’s a unique aspect of being a man. Psychologists explain that the male brain is characterized by systemizing tendencies and mechanistic thinking. In short, you are hardwired to figure things out. The female brain, on the other hand, is characterized by empathizing tendencies and mentalistic thinking. Which means I am hardwired to figure people out—in this case, you.

But just because you are “being a man,” doesn’t mean it’s cool for you to go tearing through a relationship equipped with just your jumper cables and an innate gift for putting things back together.

As a woman (and therefore a natural relationship guru), it’s tempting to think that I know exactly where to go and that I’m just sitting in the passenger seat waiting for you to figure it out. But this is simply not true. I don’t always know what you’re thinking, I can rarely decipher what it is that you really want, and sometimes your erratic driving makes me wonder if you even want to arrive at our intended destination. It makes me wonder if I want us to arrive at our intended destination.

I go to my girlfriends to ask for advice, and if I’m lucky enough to have a male friend to prod for some noncommittal guesswork, I’ll ask him too. But at the end of the day, I feel confused, insecure, and frustrated. I need your help and—whether you like it or not—that often means I need you to take my hand, tell me “don’t worry I got this,” and then pull over for directions.

Relationships between men and women have never been easy. But it seems to me, our generation has quite a bit more baggage that comes along with us, and it’s unrealistic to think we can handle it all alone.

Navigating a relationship with a person who operates on a different frequency is difficult, but it’s not impossible. Ask a man who has been on the road longer than you. My bet is he will tell you that seeking help isn’t failure—it’s resourcefulness. He may say that figuring out a relationship with a woman solo is like putting together Ikea furniture by yourself: You stare at the manual for hours only to discover that it’s actually instructions for toasting a bagel. Next, you bang two seemingly congruent ends together for another few hours, then you finally have a mental breakdown and phone a friend. Why not skip the drama and ask the guy who has already put together the bookshelf to walk you through it?

In the end, the guy who has been around the block will leave you with the single most valuable tip he has picked up along the way: Talk to her. You can’t figure this out on your own because getting to your destination isn’t all on you.

So after you get back in the car—maybe a little sheepishly because you have been told that your right turn was several miles back—tell her what happened, tell her where you are hoping to go, and ask her for help. It may be a little awkward at first, but once you get going, you will find that two heads are definitely better than one.

Do us all a favor and think about it.


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