Solipsism. It’s been hashed out, rehashed and will be discussed over and over again. While the philosophical term of solipsism isn’t exactly on point for what it is in women (and men, though not nearly to the same degree and it also doesn’t appear to be constant in men) it seems to be the closest word we have right now to describe this phenomenon.
Solipsism is defined as a theory holding that the self can know nothing but its own modifications and that the self is the only existent thing; also: extreme egocentrism.
This phenomenon in women is best described as relating everything around her to her own experiences and feelings. Anything that a woman has not experienced herself, or at least been witness to, is far more difficult to comprehend or even believe. We hear something and we immediately go inside the file box in our brains to consider if we can empathize or sympathize with it (it also manifests in how any given situations will affect us personally, which in relating to the men in our lives, conflates the problem even further). We use it to aid in understanding a particular thing. It can really hinder us in certain situations and we have all seen examples of that in the manosphere. We read something that doesn’t jive with our experiences and we rebel against it (mostly because it causes some kind of pain). This pain can make it remarkably difficult to see past ourselves, our lives, and our exclusive experiences.
I’ve seen men complain numerous times that they will tell women a story about something that happened to them (or witness this happen to someone else) and then the woman comes right back to talk about herself. The complaint is about how self-centered women must be to hear someone complaining about something only to turn around and talk about herself. While I have no doubt that there are many women out there who are only interested in hearing their own stories and their own voices it occurred to me that the reason women will often do this is because it is their way of attempting to empathize or at least sympathize with the other person. When a woman talks with her friends about something she experienced, her friends will almost always chime in with their own similar experiences. I think we women do this with one another to give reassurance that what happened or what the first woman did is not out of the ordinary and will not get her kicked out of the herd. The other women are giving her comfort in saying, yes, something very similar happened to me, I understand how you feel and your feelings aren’t crazy. You still belong with us here. Whatever anxiety the original woman was feeling is now gone as she just discovered she is not atypical and her friends can vouch for her. It’s an incredibly comforting thing.
Problems arise, however, when women do this same thing to men. Men talk about their experiences and their problems in an effort to find solutions or to simply get something off their chest. They don’t much care about the herd or belonging, or even sympathy in many cases (at least from women. I am not sure how this works in a men only dynamic). Sometimes they may be seeking the woman’s comfort, but not in an effort to belong, rather in an effort to be supported and loved. When they express a problem with a woman and she then relays something that she’s witnessed or experienced, it comes across as the woman only caring about herself. She might only be trying to understand, to sympathize or empathize, but men don’t really want that from the women in their lives. A man wants solutions and if that is not possible he wants to know that he has her full support regardless of whatever problem he is experiencing. He doesn’t much care about belonging. What he does care about is that you have his back no matter what.
Olive had an excellent post up recently about support in this fashion and how her silence gave her boyfriend the space he needed to deal with a problem. She intentionally stayed back, close enough to offer her support, but far enough off to let him deal with it in the way he needed to. She was there when he needed her, backing him up with her presence but giving him silence and the room he needed to fix his problem. The second he needed her, she was there.
It’s often hard for women to realize that men do not need us to be their friends. They do not always need us to understand or to empathize. Often men and women simply cannot ever understand what the other is going through. Men want the women in their lives to be a source of comfort and support, a soft place to land when things get tough so tomorrow, the world doesn’t seem so cold, rough and hard.
**I know I missed somethings here. I can feel it. Heh. Give me some of your thoughts in the comments.
UPDATE: Athor Pel had some excellent insight on this:
For women out there, if you want a guy to be impressed with you or interested in you or otherwise see you as valuable in some way, stop trying to impose a frame on every situation, specially with respect to men. Let the man set the frame. Relax, wait to see where he takes you, literally and metaphorically.
If you can’t tell what the frame is, wait. Stop talking and wait. Let the guy finish his story. If he isn’t looking you directly in the eyes while waiting expectantly on you to say something then don’t say anything. It’s a simple rule, really it is.
Before blurting out your story about yourself and your friends and family ask yourself one simple question, “Will he find this story interesting or useful for the right reasons?” If you don’t know what the right reasons are then don’t say anything, you need more remedial help. If you don’t know what he finds interesting then endeavor to find out and you can’t do that while talking about yourself.
If you see all this as being all about the guy and not enough about you then you are exactly correct. This is a good thing because if the guy is a keeper then he’s already got you covered. You don’t need to worry about you anymore. Your job is to worry about him.
with the added explanation of . . .
Now that I’ve thought about this a little more I’m remembering some girls I dated when I was younger. They were like bumps on a log in that they seemed to almost have no personality of their own. If they did anything it was in response to something I did. They followed the “stop talking” rule to an almost absurd degree. They seemed to genuinely have nothing to say or they were afraid to say something, which is sad.