I don’t consider myself a hugely irrational person, and yet I still find it to be one of the most highly insulting things that someone can throw at me in the heat of an argument. We are fighting; we are yelling; we are acting like soap opera maniacs – of COURSE I’m being irrational right now – but so are you.
I also suffer the trauma of having been a bit of a “drama queen” back in my day, and in spite of the fact that this was all predominantly during my teenage years, it haunts me to this day. Any time I raise my voice, throw a tantrum, cry hysterically – it’s all about how I’m being SUCH a drama queen which, I suppose, isn’t entirely unfair.
What this brings me to is the issue of this being a female condition. How often do you have to tell a guy to please stop crying and snotting all over his face so that you can at least understand what he’s saying? How many times have you had to tell your boyfriend to stop being so unbearably dramatic?
More often than not, we are begging them to show a little more emotion, a little hysteria, a few tears – if women’s emotional needs from men are “drawing blood from a stone” then the men’s version is trying to get that stone to stop bleeding so profusely – excuse the graphic metaphor.
The movie "Gone Girl" showed us a badass Rosamund Pike who was sick and tired of being the “cool girl,” so she flew off the handle and became a murderous lunatic. I don’t think I’m quite there yet, but I do feel the strains of having to be the cool girl.
The "Gone Girl" book definitely focuses on this more, and Gillian Flynn’s depiction of these nonchalant, Zoey Deschanel, “one-of-the-lads” stereotypes is pretty accurate.
This girl is never stressed, or under pressure. She totally understands why her man does absolutely anything, and if there’s something she doesn’t understand, like him ignoring her or just treating her like crap, she shrugs it off as a “man thing” and goes about her cool, calm, casual life. Then she books them a fun trip for that weekend and he loves how spontaneous and carefree she is, and they live happily ever after.
This is not real life. I do not know any existing women who can comfortably (and honestly) say that they do not over-think and obsessively analyze male behavior that is possibly, and probably, completely negligible.
See, it’s this “rationality” that we miss out on to tell our uterus brains to just chill out and relax, man.
Reading about this “cool girl” character has stuck with me since I read the book almost 18 months ago. I find myself doing it all the time.
There might be a tiny, minuscule issue that I want to bring up and deal with and get over in the most efficient and painless way possible, but the combination of wanting to approach it like a cool girl, and the animal desire to wildly claw things in vicious frustration, results in a highly unnecessary internal chaos.
Hypothetically – boy and girl are texting about weekend plans. Boy stops texting back mid-conversation. Girl texts again, an hour later, just to see if boy still wants to hang out. No reply.
Girl decides that if she texts AGAIN, she will look desperate, but if she doesn’t text again, then they won’t get to hang out. Decides to text again once more and then leave it. Boy replies the following morning saying, “Hey, sorry – battery died. Sup?”
Now, the “cool girl” reply is this: “Hey, no prob. Just chillin – you?”
The actual human wants to reply with this: “Bring a charger with you at all times so that you can stop wasting my time and be a functioning and polite member of society. That was mind-blowingly rude. What the hell is wrong with you?”
So – to combine – what usually happens is something along the lines of this: “Heyyy, I’m fine. You have fun?” which includes two MAJOR traps into which he can fall so that you can sink your argument claws into his vulnerable flesh.
1. “I’m fine” – no you’re not. If he cannot mind-read that, he fails.
2. “You have fun” – if he had fun having bailed on you, he fails. He must not have had any fun without you, ever.
To me, this seems pretty rational. Fight fire with fire, right?
No. I have done this too many times and it absolutely always 100 percent backfires because – apparently – being passive aggressive isn’t fun for the other person and is a really immature way to deal with problems. Fine.
I have developed a new method of controlling spiraling irrationality. It’s a combination of “cool girl” attitudes and strong, female forwardness.
It has to be quick and succinct, like a swift but delicate punch. If you ramble for too long, you start to lose them, so it is crucial to play to their short attention span.
In our hypothetical situation, the ideal response would go a little like this: “No prob, just waited by the phone for hours.” Now – check you out. You’re making a point and making a joke all at once.
Granted, if this kind of thing occurs with someone who you’ve been going out with for a substantial period of time rather than someone you’re casually dating, you can push the boundaries a little further:
“No prob, just waited by the phone for hours. And no one you were with had a phone you could borrow to let me know you were alive/abandoning me? Thanks.”
Here, we are still definitely joking but throwing in a casual reference to the abandonment that they inflicted upon you.
This new “method” is still in its early stages of development, so maybe come back to me in a few months and see if I’ve accomplished the most grownup and comedic arguments of all time that are resolved in a timely and hilarious fashion, or if my relationship is in tatters because I have insisted on making jokes out of absolutely everything.
Bottom line is, how the hell can one be the “cool girl” without some level of acting, pretense, or general mockery of real life, real feelings, and real anger? How are we supposed to do this in a way that works for men, and works for us?
Basically, how do you start a fight without starting a fight? Suggestions are welcome. I’m still not “cool” enough to have figured it out.
* Originally published in March 2014.