If Jessica Achtman’s boyfriend and was blowing her off she would be depressed and would probably offer some excuses as reasoning. If he called a few hours late she’d be upset, but at least he called. Achtman, a hospitality business sophomore, confesses to the realities of typical dating scenarios.
Chances are, if you’re a heterosexual woman, no matter how liberated, you have probably given a man the benefit of the doubt, as Achtman described, and given him another opportunity to get it right. Many women are just like Achtman and make excuses for their male counterparts, fail to pipe up when they get upset and even find reasons for male shortcomings.
[list-o] These topics are all spotlighted in the New York Times Best selling book, He’s Just Not That Into You: The No-Excuse Truth to Understanding Guys, by co-authors, Greg Behrendt and Liz Tuccillo. The book tackles issues of women excusing men when it is entirely unnecessary and wrong to do. The authors serve the brutally honest truth to the “excusers” in all of us and point out the error of our dating disasters. With excuses such as, “Maybe he doesn’t want to ruin the friendship,” or “Maybe he wants to take it slow,” under inspection, the offers some reassurance that men are just “losers” sometimes, but the book also leaves many women feeling like they are doing something wrong in relationships.
According to Dr. Barb Walkington, a social worker and counselor at the MSU counseling center, there are many reasons. “After researching the problem a little further, there are really a lot of reasons that girls need to come up with reasons to explain their beau’s behavior.”
The first issue that women face is the way they are socialized in society. Girls are accustomed to being on the receiving end of relationships, and can be the more submissive of the two partners. Instead of putting her foot down or swearing off their inconsiderate counterparts, she may make up excuses to avoid feelings of rejection. Feelings of rejection are common catalysts, for girls to generate excuses that take the place of responsibility from men. “When there is an explanation for the boy’s behavior, there are less damaging consequences to the girls sense of attractiveness and/or desirability,” Walkington said. Unfortunately, women are socially held responsible for the success and failures of the relationships. As a result of this “duty,” females are thought to be more supportive and go to more extreme measures to make the relationships work. The cultural notions of a woman’s intuition, nurturing and the ideology of being a caretaker pressure women to explain their partner’s behavior and rationalize it. She wants
As Walkington hinted, another common reason that ladies excuse men of their disrespectful behavior has to do with self-esteem. Self-suggested explanations provide women with the comfort to maintain a safe level of confidence in themselves and their role in their relationship.
When it comes to the male end of the relationship, Dr. Walkington also said that the behavior of men is also a result of socialization. “As men, they are taught to not take any responsibility in interpersonal relationships.” For example, they don’t take responsibility for not calling a girl, or feel they have to apologize for everything that causes a problem in a relationship. This may shed some light as to why a guilty conscience does not elicit an apology from guys before their fiery female demands one. It might be valuable for women to consider this, but not offer it as reasoning for being undervalued by men.
Pete Cumming, an engineering sophomore, said he wouldn’t necessarily call a girl when he said he would. “I mean, if I wasn’t really interested in them or just honestly didn’t remember, I wouldn’t.” However, he did say that he would have some remorse for her feelings. “I would feel bad, but then in a way [I would] feel like, ‘who am I to feel bad for them?’ They’re probably better off since I don’t have any interest in them,” Cumming said. “I don’t want to lead them on.”
Dr. Dennis P. Martell, Health Education Coordinator at Olin Health Center, has another approach to explain the whirlwind of relationship cover-ups. He said that in the males’ defense, this is not a problem that only women face. “[The need to make up excuses] does not just happen to women, men can, and do, feel this way,” Martell said. “No one teaches us how to communicate and/or be in a relationship. If we do not get it from our families, we just have to learn by trial and error…We tend to make a lot of mistakes when we get into them [relationships] and many women, as well as many men, believe they need them or they are not whole.”
Dr. Martell also delved into the supposed masculine fear of commitment and the way that this insecurity affects both girls and boys. “This type of cover up behavior (excuses) stems from the fact that many men do no want to commit to relationships, especially at your age, and thus the old rule applies, which states, ‘The person who is least committed to a relationship has all the power.’,” Martell said. “This is true, and since men seem to be less committed in most relationships, they have the power…and many times, [women] make excuses for them and allow them to do things just to hold on to them.”
Some of the hard to handle truths that the book points out are pretty obvious, but often difficult to accept for women. For example, the authors address the issue of men not returning calls and virtually disappearing from the face of the Earth. One hundred percent of men polled on the topic confessed that when, “…they had ‘disappeared’ on a woman (they) said that they were completely aware of what a horrible thing they were doing, and no woman calling them up and talking to them would have changed that.” Similarly, all of the men that were surveyed about not calling said that, “…They’ve never been too busy to call a woman they were really into. As one man said, ‘A man has got to have his priorities.’” While women that read the Behrendt and Tuallo’s book may feel enlightened (and even hurt) by these responses, it is important to realize where these notions are coming from.
The prime author is a man. While he offers a male perspective, one would think that a man telling an audience of women why what they are doing is wrong by making these excuses is a little demeaning. Yet, the book has been a success and Dr. Walkington explains this to be caused by a socially influenced phenomenon. She describes the situation as being, “internalized sexism.” Basically this means that in a male dominated society women are seen as inferior and as a consequence of these gender obligations, often women are more likely to listen to and confide in what a man says, as opposed to another woman.
Another psychologically influenced societal tension involved is one of “horizontal oppression.” Dr. Walkington describes this to be the idea that women compete with women for the spots that they do hold in society. Women are striving to keep their own places in society, so when another woman makes advancements or sets the “standards bar” a little higher, this affects all women, eventually forcing them to make similar advancements. This is a common in horizontal levels of not just gender but class, race and age groups.
So what’s the problem with this entire art of making up excuses? Whether female or male, not being truthful with yourself or your partner is never a good idea. As Dr. Martell points out, there are numerous consequences of this ever-present excusing pattern. “The consequences can be anything from general unhappiness with the relationship and your self-esteem, to life-long depression,” Martell said “Honest communication of self and with self, is the most important skill to learn.”
Relationships involve two people. “Give and take” means exactly that, and women should be undoubtedly satisfied with those aspects of a relationship. No one, including Behrendt or Tuccillo, has the right to make a woman feel like the victim of inconsiderate men and their irresponsibility; women should demand respect or dismiss a current underachiever, as should men that make excuses for women. Stay honest and you are not doing anything wrong. As Greg Behrendt advises in a moment of clarity, “Don’t waste the pretty.”

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