Rules and Definitions
©Arlene R. Taylor PhD
Paula and Jake were discussing the “rules are sacred” perspective of the male brain. “I have the list of rules,” he said, grinning.
“The list?” Paula asked.
“Yes, the list,” he confirmed.“Ten rules.”
- We need the toilet seat up. If you need it down, put it down. You don’t hear us complaining about your leaving it down.
- Birthdays, Valentine’s Day, and anniversaries are not exam situations to determine if we’ve found the perfect gift. Ask for what you want. Don’t hint. Just say it! We cannot read minds. Our lack of mind-reading ability is a genetic thing, not evidence that we don’t care about you!
- Dates are extremely energy-intensive to track. If you want us to pay attention to specific dates, mark them on the calendar. In addition, if they are really important to you, remind us frequently ahead of time. We’re happy to remember, we just need the reminder!
- Christopher Columbus did not need directions, and neither do we. We’ll still get there faster than he did!
- Sunday and sports go together like a full moon and tides. Accept it. Whenever possible, say whatever you have to say during the commercials. By the way, shopping is not a sport and never will be.
- Yes or no are perfectly acceptable answers to almost every question you can think of. And if you ask a question for which you really don’t want an answer, expect an answer you really don't want to hear.
- Bring us a problem only if you want help solving it. That's what we do—fix things. Get sympathy from your girlfriends.
- A headache that lasts for 17 months could be a definite problem. Make an appointment with your doctor. And while you’re at it, check your oil. Please!
- If we ask what is wrong and you say nothing, we will take your word at face value. We may think you’re lying, but it’s too much hassle trying to help you figure it out.
- Ask us to do something or tell us how you want it accomplished. One or the other! If you already know the best way to do it, why not just do it and get it over with?
After a pregnant pause, Paula said, “Well, I have ten definitions.” She went on to explain to Jake that the definitions were designed to help males understand women’s speech more easily.
“Ten definitions,” she repeated. “Here they are.”
- Fine. This word signifies the end of any argument when women feel they are right but can't stand to hear you argue any longer. It means that you should shut up. By the way, this is not the word to use when you’ve been asked to describe how she looks. To do so will likely lead to one of the arguments mentioned above.
- Nothing. Actually this word means the opposite from its usual definition. It means that you need to be alert and pay attention. This word is often used to indicate that a woman feels like she’d like to turn you inside out, upside down, and backwards¾at the very least! It is usually the signal for an argument that will last at least ten minutes and end with the word fine.
- Go Ahead. This phrase often means the opposite from its usual definition, too, especially if a raised eyebrow accompanies it. These words do not indicate permission to do something. On the contrary they represent something of a dare! If you mistake them for permission, the result will be that the woman may upset over nothing, and you’ll experience a ten-minute discussion that will end with the word fine. On the other hand, this phrase without a raised eyebrow does not indicate permission, either. Rather, it signifies that the woman really means, “I give up,” or “Do what you want because I don’t care. It is frequently preceded by a few seconds of raised eyebrow and followed by nothing and fine. Not to worry. She’ll likely speak to you again in ten or fifteen minutes when she cools off a bit.
- Ten minutes. These words actually define the space of approximately half an hour. It is the equivalent to the ten minutes that your sports broadcast is going to last before you take out the trash, or let the dog to do its thing, or come to bed. There shouldn’t be anything complicated about this.
- A Sigh. Although not actually a word, sighs are an important form of communication, and one of the few non-verbal sounds that are common to female speech. Men also frequently misunderstand them since sighs are rarely used in male speech. A loud sigh indicates that the woman is beginning to wonder if you are a complete idiot, and asking herself why she is spending her time arguing with you over nothing. A very soft sigh, on the other hand, suggests that the woman is momentarily content. Males are advised to remain still and hold their breathe in the hope that the moment will last for a long time.
- Oh. Generally, the word “oh,” especially when followed by almost any other statement, signifies that big trouble about to break over the landscape of your life. For instance, you might say, “I told your mother what you were up to last night.” If the woman opens her mouth and says, “Oh,” and looks like she is going to say anything else at all, do not walk—run from the room. Eventually she may say she isfine, but don’t expect any level of quality conversation for a minimum of two weeks.
- That's Okay. Pay close attention to this one. This phrase constitutes one of the most innuendo-laden statements a woman can make to a man. It indicates that she wants to think long and hard before deciding what the penalty will be for whatever you have done. This phrase is frequently used in conjunction with the word fine, accompanied by a raised eyebrow. Don’t be misled. Once she’s had sufficient time to plan, you may be in for some mighty big trouble. Refer to “Oh” above.
- Please Do. First of all, this is not a statement. It is an offer. Avoid confusing the two. When she uses these words, a woman is giving you the opportunity to come up with an excuse for what you have done. Sometimes this is a chance to get into even more trouble! The good news is that if you handle this correctly, perhaps you can avoid hearing the phrase, that's okay.
- Thanks. If you hear this word, don't faint and don't look for hidden meanings. The woman is simply indicating her appreciation. Just say, “You're welcome,” and let it go at that. Avoid shaking your head in amazement for the next hour. It’ll take more energy than it’s worth.
- Thanks a Lot. Although you may not realize it at first, this phrase differs dramatically from the word thanks. A woman tends to say thanks a lot when she is majorly (if not monumentally) ticked off, usually at you. Sometimes this phrase is followed by a loud sigh. If this occurs, it is usually a signal that her feelings have been hurt in some way. It is usually unhelpful to ask what is wrong after hearing a loud sigh. At that point in time, she will likely tell you nothing (see above definition), and if you can avoid an argument, it is prudent to do so.
Although both the rules and the definitions are, of course, tongue-in-cheek, it’s amusing to note that the definitions took more words than the rules.
This can help to point out how much adrenaline human beings can pump, how much energy they can expend, and how much ado people can often make over much of nothing!
There is a better way. Understanding more about gender tendencies can offer options for more functional behaviors.