Wednesday, October 10, 2007

HTT, in the middle of an argument, my boyfriend asked me if it was "that time of the month"!

Dear HTT,

I need your help. In the midst of an argument, my boyfriend committed a cardinal sin. This is a man who is normally very kind, supportive, and understanding. This *event* might have been a minor lapse in judgment. However, I'm still pretty steamed over it -- so I need your help to figure out, objectively, if I am overreacting!

OK -- here was the situation. He and I started to have a disagreement about something that he felt was trivial. The fact that he thought the issue was trivial caused this disagreement to blow up into a full ARGUMENT. At this point in the argument, I'm feeling really frustrated that he appeared to have a complete lack of regard for something that I felt was very important. So, we go 'round and 'round... things are getting really heated... he still thinks this whole thing is ridiculous... when he says, "What time of the month is it?" OHHHHH let me tell you, I was NOT amused. I flew off the handle. What started as frustration because he wasn't giving as much care to an issue that *I* felt was important - became anger that he overtly stated that I was irrational for even feeling upset in the first place. Like I said, he's normally very kind and supportive. What he said really shocked me. Is he secretly a real jerk?

Am I overreacting? What should I do?


Not Laughing

Dear Not Laughing,

At first, this line of questioning struck me as extremely sexist. If a woman and a man disagree about something, what makes it o.k. to assume the only cause of the disagreement is the woman’s hormonal state? Why can’t it simply be because the man is wrong? I mean, having a period is not the same as having a botched lobotomy. And I don’t know any women who, when arguing with a man, say something like, “Oh you just can’t think straight because you’re still distraught over your failure to achieve an erection last night.” Or, “honey, your sensitivity about your ever-growing bald spot is really clouding your judgment.”

But then, to be fair, I’m also willing to admit that some of us (and by “us” I mean some of womankind in general…certainly not me) do become a little emotional, a little hair-trigger-tempered when Aunt Dot comes to town.

So, for the sake of argument, let’s even say your hormones did rear their heads that day. Still, even if your boyfriend guessed correctly, did he actually gain anything by smugly mentioning it? Clearly not; you became more enraged.

So, guys, a tip from me to you: pulling the “is it THAT time of the month?” card will never help you win an argument. I’ll bet that no woman in the history of menstruation has ever, when confronted with that question in the middle of a heated discussion, responded, “Gee, you’re right honey, I’m just being totally irrational because my hormones are screwing with my head and my entire torso is wracked with cramps. Don’t even bother paying attention to my opinions for another four days.”

Now, men, if the woman in your life does suffer from mood swings when her period rolls around, and if you choose to track her cycle clandestinely for your own well being (or, better yet, to avoid arguments and to remember to bring home chocolate and red wine), feel free to do so. But mention it at your peril. And remember, just because we’re crabby doesn’t mean we’re wrong.

Yours truly,


Anonymous said...

Sage advice, HTT. It made me question the motivation of N.L.'s partner in making the comment. There are guys that are clueless enough to make this sort of comment, but then there are also guys who would say something like this just to "go for the jugular." In an effort to get a guy's opinion, I read this letter and HTT’s response to my husband, who is a guy’s Guy in every sense and whose most sensitive activity happens to be that he keeps track of my cycles (Supposedly in the interest of getting us pregnant, but maybe he's tracking my mood? Nah, he's marking his desktop calendar for when he can expect his next blow job!).

First, Hubby expressed appreciation for HTT's honesty about the effects of hormones on some of us. He carefully said that Aunt Dot was a serious concern in one of his previous relationships, but even if he did wonder whether hormones were contributing to his ex's exhaustion and weepiness, he would never ask the question. When asked why he said “Because that question is guaranteed to piss her off!” So basically we both felt it likely that the point of the comment was purely to incite anger.

From there, our opinions were split: Assuming that the issue of argument really wasn’t important to him, I felt that this guy simply had a need to win the argument. Some people need to win arguments no matter what and will say whatever it takes, push whatever buttons and cause whatever damage necessary to make them feel like they’ve won, even if the issue of disagreement isn’t critical. If that’s the way this guy is, expect more fights like this in future. My husband’s opinion is that the guy is really angry at N.L. about another issue and for whatever reason doesn’t want to tell her what’s really bothering him. This fight was an opportunity to vent some of the anger that has been building. If hubby is right, future arguments might be avoided by identifying the real issue here.

Just some more thoughts from your loyal readership. Sharing this post with my spouse gave us an opportunity to talk about fighting, and our motivations for doing so, without actually involving us in an argument. I really appreciate that!!!

Anonymous said...

To add another take on this. Isn't it wrong (if not illegal) for a boss to ask if your hormonal when you don't agree with their decision?

Can anyone shed some light on this?

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