Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Quincy's How-To: Dealing with an emotional/ranty woman

WARNING: Sweeping generalisations ahead!

It can be challenging to see your female friend go into what seems like an uncontrollable rage, and to hear things from that seemingly gentle and sweet mouth which would be more fitting to a traditional sailor or brigand that you might meet on the road while he not-so-charmingly deprives you of your luggage and horse. It can be daunting to hear things said about people you know which you either didn't want to find out or which don't match their character in any way (as far as you're aware, at the very least).

It can be quite alarming to experience. So, here is a short guide on how to deal with the Emotional Woman:

1. Agree with everything she says*. No matter how distasteful or ridiculous, or whether you actually agree with her. Women will say all sorts of things to make themselves feel better, and the things which they're saying are purely abut them, not actually entirely about the object of their rant. This is an important fact to remember, particularly if two people you're friends with have broken up and one of them happens to turn to you to rant about the other.





2a. Offer understanding of how she is feeling.  One thing women respond to very well is you saiying things which are as simple as "Oh, honey..." and "That sucks!"

These key phrases get across the idea that you are listening to her plight, that you do care, and that you are sympathising. To spice things up, try adding the following to your repertoire of agreeing with Crazy Female Sentiments:

Awful, dastardly, dreadful, fucked up, hurt (that must have), joking (you're), lame, no way, preposterous, revolting, sadistic, tacky, unbelieveable, wrong, zonked (you must be)

2b. Do NOT offer any kind of advice or reason or logical explanation. There is a time and place for this. It is NOT while the woman is experiencing a torrent of emotion. It is for later, when she has calmed down. Or when she asks for it directly.

Key phrases to avoid:

You shouldn't be reacting this way.
You should be more rational.
You should think about this calmly.
You shouldn't say things like that.
I think he was right to break up with you when you told him his mother was a fat, narcissistic bitch who is after nothing but a trophy wife for her spoiled little prince of a son.
Actually, that last one might come in a few days after the wailing and crying, but we'll get to that later.

3. When you see the tide of anger receding, THEN offer some optimism. There are signs. She won't be wailing, screaming, or breaking off into fits of crying, and she might actually ask you a question rather than just firing off abuse at the cause of her suffering. Now is the time to start with positivity and reality, even if this contradicts something you agreed with earlier. In fact, it probably will contradict something you said earlier. This is fine, because she will already know that what she was saying earlier was ridiculous and exaggerated.

REMEMBER: She was saying things to make herself feel better. None of it was to be taken literally (though it is to be taken seriously, which is a bit different).



4. Offer to spend time with her and arrange it if you are able. She may need some space, but don't leave her alone for too long if it can be avoided. She does need to regain her independence, but she also needs distraction and for her friends to rally around her. She needs to know that, just because one significant person in her life has been a jerk, this does not reflect on anyone else she has.

5. If you were uncomfortable with anything she said and want to address it, do so at a time when she is calm enough to not feel that you are treading on her feelings.

If "Dave" is your friend and what she said about him bothers you and you can't convince yourself that she didn't mean it, then wait. She will either take it back during that same conversation, or she will when you approach her about it a couple of days later. Be tactful, because she may become a raging mess again, and you'll be back to step 1.


There's just no working with some people.

And we all remember how unpleasant Step 1 was. Don't we.

* This, of course, only holds as long as you are sure she isn't actually going to harm herself or anyone else; if your friend has tendencies toward doing actual harm, then you should disregard this advice and go straight to some sort of professional.


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. The most important advice is don't offer advice.
    It makes us so ANGRY

  3. OH yes! If we want advice, we'll damned well ask for it :-p

    I'm reminded of a quote I like, though I don't remember who said it:

    "Advice is what you ask for when you know the answer, but wish you didn't."

    Usually true :-p

  4. One problem, in my experience, is that women — people in general, for that matter — will also ask for advice even if what they actually want is reassurance. It's hard to tell the difference, especially if they're upset.

  5. Then default to reassurance. It's the safer option :-p