I was having a conversation with a woman last week and had embarked on one of my typical, now practiced monologues about why all guys are di*$& and all girls are crazy. She didn’t object to my ripping apart the male species, but she did jump on my words about the crazy factor inside all women.
She said, “What makes you think all women are crazy?”
I’ve been asked this question before in similar discussions, so I knew the drill. Normally I would bring up 10 or maybe 35 examples of crazy stuff that girls from my past had said or done, then end with the simultaneously cynical but hopeful conclusion that a man’s mission is just to find the LEAST crazy girl and marry her.
So I started the crazy-example list: sharing too much information on the first date, texting incessantly, getting emotional about blatantly non-emotional things, getting jealous of my time spent with family or friends or anyone that wasn’t her, the deep and deductive interpretation of emails and texts that any law school professor would be proud of, the waiting for the call to come, the games, tons of selfies making kissy faces, mood swings comparable to the Pirates of the Caribbean ride at Six Flags, interesting sex preconditions that revolve around a level of trust only a blind person has for his Seeing Eye dog, a need for constant validation of my feelings for her, and most common of all, an underlying feeling of, Wow, this girl is crazy.
This woman, a wife of 25 years and mother of four beautiful children, listened intently as I laid out the “facts.”
Then she asked me something that made me rethink everything:
“What do you think made them crazy?”
Guys don’t think about this part. The emotionally intelligent among us go bonkers when we see the behavior, but how many of us have ever dug a little deeper and asked why? What is the source?
This lady sage explained: “When a girl and a boy come together, even at a young age, the girl’s investment in and commitment to that relationship is much different than the boy’s—it is often all encompassing. What I mean is that even though any emotionally healthy boyfriend, even starting in high school, will feel a need to invest his time and energy in the relationship and even give over a large part, if not all, of his heart to the girl, she does something even more profound … she invests everything. That relationship becomes the thing in her life. Her body is in, her thoughts are in, her past, her present, and her future are in—her everything has been activated and has very willingly been assigned to the task of committing to this bond. And then … the bond breaks. Maybe they go to different colleges and decide to part ways, or he cheats on her, or they break up over a fight, and the bond breaks. The man is hurt. He goes into recovery mode, speaking to his friends about it, feeling her absence, missing the chemistry and rare connection that he doesn’t share with anyone else. But what happens to the girl? She is broken. She invested her body, her mind, and her soul. The man took all of it happily during the relationship, and now that he’s gone, in a sense he’s still holding onto it. A girl feels this loss in such a way that she knows a part of herself is missing. She knows she made herself vulnerable to a boy for the first time, and even though she may have left with good memories she experienced a loss of something central to herself, something she now lacks. That lack is what becomes what you call crazy.”
“What do you mean?” I asked, eager to become the ninja to the sensei.
“Every time a woman’s heart breaks, she puts up a kind of wall around it. Some girl’s walls will not be as reinforced and thick as others, but nearly all will have them. The wall, guarding what remains from the lack that the man caused in them, looks to the outside world like crazy. This is when you get the jealousy and the texts and the need for constant reciprocation; those actions serve one purpose: to ensure that what that first boy did to her never happens again.”
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Whoa. I honestly thought, before this conversation, that girls were just born default cuckoo for cocoa puffs, and some just showed it way more than others. I thought about what she said as we sat in silence except for the sounds of summertime playing and laughing from her kids.
Then I had a counter-attack question. “What if the girl had never been hurt before? What explains that girl’s amount, big or small, of crazy?”
“The girl inherently knows she must protect herself. Even without the earthquake of a breakup, the girl was born with antennae that are stimulated when the potential for damage is coming, and the only thing to do at that point is to play defense. But really, most girls, whether it’s when they made themselves vulnerable to a boy on the playground or by getting engaged and then suffering a split at 26, have experienced hurt. And that hurt took a piece of them.”
I left her house thanking her for such great insight and thought about it for the rest of the night. She wasn’t really saying to me, Girls aren’t crazy. She was saying, Yeah, you may see signs of defense mechanisms, but you must be sympathetic to it.
I no longer believe the job of a man is to find the least-crazy girl. It is to find a girl who shares his values and goals, where there is a physical attraction, and where both parties are happily aware of the strengths and weaknesses of the other. I no longer look at this lack in a girl and say, You need to not be crazy now, please! I look at it and say, I need to understand that if she has this lack, from whatever experience she may have had, I am here to simply understand, relate, and hopefully one day fill it, making her whole heart again.
Cue the awws!
And please share your thoughts in comments!
– Noah Williams