Thank you, chrisGoad, excellent points. Although I focus on male/female communication I think what’s most problematic is not male/female asymmetry specifically but when compassion and support are asymmetrical in any relationship. Perhaps I should’ve included some context for this article. And just called it “If”.
Here’s the context. When I woke up one Monday morning and found that some dude named Harvey Weinstein had changed our sociopolitical culture overnight I wasn’t expecting all of the trauma that I would spontaneously relive. My partner at the time was a Good Guy. I was stunned by his defensiveness. The few conversations I attempted ended with different iterations of: Well, I would never treat a woman that way so I shouldn’t have to apologize for what other men have done in the past.
A year later I was dating a different Good Guy. And some dude named Brett Kavanaugh, (whom I’d never heard of), brought another wave of change. Current partner was even more unsupportive about past trauma. I was just as stunned and crushed. Aaand still processing trauma I wasn’t expecting to surface.
I didn’t mean to imply that these were required scripts but rather options that men seething with defensiveness could use if they want to support a woman they love if she’s processing painful memories.
For those who do know what to say, authenticity is always better than simulation. We recognize authenticity instinctively and it warms the heart. But for those who don’t have loving words, those who find themselves making their loved one’s past a current personal attack against themselves, maybe simulating compassion is the best way to fake it till you make it?