Single at the age of 39, I’ve often wondered why none of my relationships lasted the distance, but had always put it down to luck and timing — assuming I had neither on my side.The core problem is that this obnoxious behavior is an accepted part of the female pecking order. Whoever is the lead hen gets to freely snipe away at all the others, so it shouldn't be a surprise that women whose behavior is accepted by other women don't realize that few men are inclined to tolerate it.
But recently, my friend Steven threw some cold, harsh light on the subject.
‘Your problem is that you’re really snippy,’ he said.
‘Snippy?’ I asked, not entirely sure what he meant.
‘Yes, snippy,’ he said. ‘Abrupt. Critical. If someone says or does something wrong, then you’re onto it straight away. Men will ignore a lot of things if they fancy someone — a weird dress sense, or taking hours getting ready to go out — but they hate being put down or made to feel small. You can be funny, but sometimes it’s way too close for comfort.’
Perhaps, women my age are putting men off with our demanding, critical natures?
This wasn’t a nice thing to be told. But what he was saying did have a ring of truth about it.
I’d thought I was quite witty, to be honest, with my quick quips and smart comments. Now it seemed that what I thought was funny could be completely off-putting to men.... My sister agreed with Steven. She said that what I thought were entertaining and witty comments could come across as criticisms or complaints.
The two types of men who are willing to put up with critical women are on opposite sides of the male desirability spectrum. The omegas and low gammas who are desperate for female attention and subscribes to the "any attention is good attention" philosophy, and the utterly narcissistic alpha who hears most female communication the way children hear the schoolteacher in the Peanuts television specials. "Whuah-whuah-whuah". The problem, of course, is that there aren't enough narcissistic alphas to go around and they require a level of youth, beauty, and sexual fitness that is well beyond that of the average amateur life critic.
The thing is, I understand the temptation to correct people who are blundering as they babble. I figured out that most people were idiots when i was five years old and my kindergarten teacher complimented me on my carefully cut-out "triceratops" nametag. WTF? It was an allosaurus, although I would have accepted tyrannosaurus rex from the non-dinocognoscenti. But when you're a boy, other boys are inclined to follow an informative three-step process upon being factually corrected:
1. Shut up, [insert name].
2. I said, shut up already!
3. (Punch face)
It is a succinct and persuasive method of communication. Pretty much any boy with an IQ over 75 rapidly learns the importance of keeping one's opinion of the factual accuracy of other's statements, however wildly agley they might gang, to oneself. This, like many other examples of of delayed-gratification and long-term thinking, is an important aspect of what is called "civilization". Girls, however, are seldom taught this lesson by their female peers, and they aren't going to learn it from men once they're older either. If a woman is attractive enough, men will nod, smile, and put up with the nattering. If she's not, they will nod, smile, and back away slowly.
At no time are they likely to hear what they really need to hear, which is "shut up already or I will punch you in the face".
The ironic thing is that the woman's entire perspective is based on the very sort of misguided thinking that she finds so tempting to call out in others. Very few women are witty and even fewer are funny. So, her entire perspective on the subject was based on a false foundation from the start. And though she is to be credited for finally acknowledging the error of her ways and seeking to practice keeping her obnoxious mouth shut, her use of the term "intimidating" indicates that she hasn't truly absorbed the lesson but has only grasped it on the superficial level of consequences.
How do you know if you're a snippy woman who isn't funny?
1. People are often seeking to defend themselves in conversation with you. This is not normal human behavior, this happens because you are attacking them.
2. People usually react to your bon mots with polite, slightly pained smiles and fake chuckles rather than the genuinely explosive laughter that greets the genuine wits and storytellers.
3. After you offer a helpful correction or criticism, the individual you are helping nods, smiles, and immediately changes the subject.
4. If you find yourself tempted to bring up the phases of the Moon when someone brings up the subject of the relationship between darkness and night, you definitely have a problem.
Conversely, how can you deal with a snippy woman who isn't funny and get her to tone it down without actually punching her in the face?
1. Criticize her every time she offers a critique. This is most effective when she screws up in her criticism, as is frequently the case.
2. If you want to amuse yourself and make her look like a complete ass in front of others, lay traps for her. It doesn't matter how obvious they are, this sort of woman can't help herself and will leap into the biggest, shiniest bear trap without hesitation. I once had a highly critical woman attempting to argue, in public, against the controversial proposition that "it is dark at night". My male friends were nearly wetting themselves; my female friends were mortified with embarrassment on her behalf.
3. Overlaugh at her "funny" comments and then explain why it is so funny to everyone who didn't laugh. I've never been able to do this, but one of my friends is a master at it. It's remarkably effective and you can almost see the woman shrivel before your eyes.
4. Ask her to walk you through her remark. This usually has the benefit of demonstrating how totally fucking obvious her supposedly "smart" comment was. For example, suppose the writer had given into temptation and failed to bite back "the smart ‘Thanks, I think even I could have worked that one out!’" One might respond: Are you sure? Don't you think we should probably check the math right now? As a wise philosopher once said, math is hard! Okay, so sixty divided by, let's see, one, two, that goes into six three times, right? Now carry the 10....
5. Tune it out. I've largely given up bothering to attempt explaining nuance, complexity, and probability to the mid-wits of both sexes who attempt to reduce everything to binary. All it does it upset them; if they could think in sufficiently abstract terms, they wouldn't be offering that sort of unsolicited "correction" in the first place.
On a tangential note, I'm toying with the hypothesis that women are relatively deaf to voice tone. I'm convinced that it can't be an accident that women so often misinterpret male tones while also failing to hear the difference between the pleasant and unpleasant tones in their own voice. This could also, in part, explain why women like the author so badly fail to grasp how others hear them.