We all have those little habits that drive other people crazy.
Whether it’s chewing too loudly or tapping our foot continuously, those little imperfections can be difficult to deal with.
The trouble comes in when those little tics are only a symptom of larger issues.
So do we correct those little imperfections when we see them in our friends, or let them slide?
This was the issue facing Reddittor and Original Poster (OP) tastywiings when she came to the “Am I the A**hole” (AITA) subReddit for some outside opinions.
“WIBTA (Would I Be The A**hole) telling a friend that his mansplaining is why he can’t make relationships last?”
OP began with the background.
“My wife and I have a good friend who we invite over every weekend to watch movies.”
“Let’s call him Tom.”
“My wife worked with Tom and he’s remained a good friend ever since.”
“They’re not super tight or close, but close enough friends that we enjoy having him over to watch FB most weekends.”
“Tom is a really nice guy but he is, by nature, a perpetual pessimist.”
“He never really has anything good to say about anything in his life, and he’s really just a Debbie Downer. He’s not always like this, but it’s a big staple of his personality I’d say.”
“That doesn’t bother us at all, but what does is his incessant need to.. mansplain EVERYTHING.”
“Both my wife and I are ladies so that’s why I say mansplain.”
“You could be telling him about your job and he would go ahead and start explaining how your industry works.”
“We know he doesn’t do this with malicious intent, but it still is incredibly annoying. It’s also very frustrating, as a woman, having someone constantly explain things to you without solicitation.”
“It makes you feel stupid and it can feel degrading, even if that’s not the intention.”
They explained the problem.
“So here’s where we are with the dilemma.”
“Tom has terrible problems with dating. He’s in his mid-30s and is really struggling with maintaining any sort of relationships.”
“Not for a lack of trying though. He goes on a lot of tinder dates.”
“Rarely gets second dates. It’s something he complains about fairly often.”
“Last night we had him over and it was, yet again, a long night of him mansplaining random shit for a majority of the evening.”
“We really think that the mansplaining thing is what is ultimately hurting him with landing/sustaining relationships, but we are torn as to if we should say something to him.”
OP was left to wonder if broaching the subject was worth the possible harm.
“We of course want him to succeed and find love, but we don’t want to hurt his feelings by calling out a behavior that could be integral to who he is as a person.”
“Would we be AHs if we said that his mansplaining is in no way helping him?”
Having laid out the situation, OP turned to Reddit for some outside thoughts.
Redditors weighed in by declaring:
- NTA – Not The A**hole
- YTA – You’re The A**hole
- NAH – No A**holes Here
- ESH – Everyone Sucks Here
Redditors decided: NTA
Some gave constructive criticism.
“Don’t be as blunt as your title here, say it like the end of your second paragraph.”
“Next time he complains about not getting second dates be like ‘we’ve noticed you often explain things to us without solicitation and it feels degrading. if you do that on dates too, maybe that’s the issue’.”
” ‘We know you well enough to know you’re not doing it with malicious intent, but your dates don’t’.”
“Maybe he doesn’t realize he’s doing it because no one calls him out for it.” ~ abfa00
“I would also consider”
“A) how receptive is he to feedback/ constructive criticism in general?”
“And b) how concerned are you with preserving the friendship.”
“NTA no matter what, but for example, if he has a history of getting defensive/ offended at any negative feedback AND you would be very upset to lose him as a friend, then it’s probably not worth it to bring up.”
“Whereas if you trust him to take it well, and/or in the worst-case scenario where he never wants to speak to you again then you wouldn’t really mind, then that’s a point in favor of saying something.” ~ sarita_sy07
Others were confused by the friendship.
“- Not really sure why you’re friends with this person?”
“I’d mirror the advice to say it gently if for some reason you want to continue this friendship, but add that if you’re looking to maybe spend less time with Tom, it could help to be blunt.”~ Maytrickx
There was also encouragement to be direct with Tom.
“Jesus, the amount of acrobatics here to figure out how to gently communicate this guy’s rudeness without hurting his precious fee-fees.”
“Just tell him that you have feedback on his dating issues – if he wants to hear it.”
“But he has to be ready to listen to criticism and otherwise you are sick of hearing him complain.”
“Then be very clear. Don’t dance around the subject.”
“Tell him he mansplains, because that’s what he’s doing.”
“Tell him to look it up in the web or link him to the original “men explain things to me” essay.”
“Then tell him you are going to give him a signal in real-time every time he does it – maybe raise your hand in a ‘stop’ position – so he can hear himself and become aware.”
“But PLEASE stop babying him. Women need to treat men like they are strong and capable.”
“Strong enough to hear the truth. Capable of growing up and taking responsibility to treat women as equals.” ~ sezit
A few encouraged OP to not go through with it.
“You wouldn’t be TA but I still wouldn’t do it.”
“Unless to ask you for serious advice on what he could change to change his dating inciting your input is none of your business.”
“Between ‘Why do women hate me’ and ‘I’m really struggling with dating and can’t seem to see what the problem is, could you give me feedback’ something like the second is the only reason to start this conversation.”
“If you start this conversation without his invitation one of two things will likely happen:”
“1. You’ll discover Tom doesn’t think he is the problem at all, he’s one of those misogynistic guys who think the problem is always the women or “
“2. He’s going to be hurt/embarrassed/angry/ashamed that you thought he was so broken and desperate you butted in where no hero was asked for and it will damage your relationship.”
“Most people don’t appreciate unasked for feedback.”
“If you honestly want to help instead of sitting him down and talking to him about it, I’d just start redirecting his mansplaining.”
“So just sitting there and letting him do it.”
“Start interrupting, start changing the topic, start telling him ‘thanks I know all about this’.”
“Hopefully he’ll get the core and his behaviour will change.” ~ LimitlessMegan
While some called for gentle guidance.
“I’ve never met a mansplainer who was especially open to criticism.”
“OP is worried about keeping the friendship and helping the friend. I think hard truth can help, but if they are worried about his reaction, then tiptoe with the best of them.”
“Also, hard truth only helps if they are receptive.”
“Soft truth is… well, less true. But, if they want to see if he is open to self-reflection, start soft. The odds of defensive reactions go waaaayyyyy down, and you can work your way up”
“ETA: I agree.”
“This sounds like a guy I would not be friends with.”
“I might even go with hard truth if it were up to me, just because he sounds annoying. But I stand by my weak truth version, unless OP believes he is genuinely receptive to criticism” ~ PuffinTown
A few responses were much more direct.
“Man here: he can grow up and get over it, or he can be miserable the rest of his life. Those are his options.” ~ armbarchris
OP did return with some final updates.
“Edit: I can confirm that this is in fact mansplaining.”
“I have been in multiple group settings, around other men, with Tom and he does not display this same behavior.”
“Edit #2: If we do end up having this discussion with him, we will absolutely refrain from using the term ‘mansplain’.”
“I assure you our intentions are good, as we only want him to be happy.. which is why we are debating this so much.”
“I only used ‘mansplain’ in this instance because, well, I’m not sure how else to interpret the behavior.”
We all have those little habits that drive other people crazy.
Of course, not all of these little tics are equal.
Chewing loudly is certainly not the same as being condescending to everyone you speak with.
Remember to be patient with all the various people in your life, none of us are perfect.
But never be afraid to let your friends know when they’re doing something that bothers you, they may not even realize they’re doing it.