I spend my days talking with men and women about relationships and relationship failures.   And I find their views on the latter to be oddly gender-specific.

Men often say something like “God, was she crazy.  Am I glad to be done with her.”

Women often say something like “God, I hate myself.  I can’t believe how badly I screwed up.”  Or “I’m so stupid.  How could I have picked him in the first place?”

Sometimes the same woman says both.

All this has less to do with who really screwed up than with how the genders view relationships.

Men are socialized to see work as their main responsibility.  So their ideas of success or failure in life are all tied up with doing their job and making money.

Women are socialized to see feelings and relationships as their main responsibility. So when someone’s unhappy or a relationship fails, women feel, well, responsible.

Both views are lopsided, of course, and terribly unfair.  It takes two to tango, and it usually takes two to screw up a relationship.

Which explains why I spend so much time trying to get men to take more responsibility for relationship problems, and women to take a bit less.


One response to “Lopsided

  • d00fus

    Insightful. My professional life is going very well, I am financially secure, have wonderful friends and family, decorated my home and opened it up for meals, and look good–but I felt like crap, experienced profound failure. Only because I cut one individual out of my life. And I have been telling myself this for the past week–the objective measure of the quality of my life couldn’t have decreased so much by removing a person who caused me that much pain. I can’t be doing that badly. That has really helped.

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