Men think differently than women. Any problem must have a solution, and men are genetically programmed to find it. Sometimes men can be flippant, and toss off suggestions to women about how to fix something. Unfortunately, men do not realize that women just may want to say something and be heard, or they want men to just appreciate and empathize with their situation.

While I was in college, around the PACB Party time, I met a girl in the dorm lounge. It was very early in the morning, around 3A.M.. I was watching a very crappy movie on HBO when this tall, thin girl with messy long blonde hair sat down next to me on the couch. There was nobody else in the lounge, and there were five easy chairs and another sofa available. At first I felt awkward, but after a minute or two I noticed she was slightly intoxicated and had been crying very recently.

I let her sit there quietly, and I relaxed back into the couch. That seemed to break the tension, for she also relaxed. She turned towards me and introduced herself as Lisa. I told her my name, and I asked her what was making her unhappy. She placed a hand over her eyes and started to tell me about her evening. She was at a party with her boyfriend, and they were both drinking. While she was dancing, he left the room with her roommate. She found them in the quad, and the roommate was giving him a blowjob. Lisa screamed at them both and left.

I thought about what to do. She was very upset, and I was trying to figure some solution to her problem. I came up with possible solutions to make her feel better, which only made her feel worse. She was looking for a sympathetic ear, I was looking at "fixing" her problem. She became upset at me for my suggestions, and started crying more. I could see I was not doing anything to help, so I did what I should have done in the first place. I shut the fuck up and listened.

She poured out her problems from that semester. She was not doing well in school, her folks were getting divorced now that she was out of the house, she was doing too much pot, and now her boyfriend of three years was getting laid by her roommate. It was too much, and I let her talk as much as she wanted. I put my arm around her and let her cry on my shirt until the sleeve was soaked.

We ended up sleeping together the next weekend. It was a sad situation. I figured it was revenge-sex, but I didn't care at the time. It was awkward; she was not there because it was something she really wanted to do. It was more clinical than sexual. I was possibly thinking that getting revenge on her boyfriend would make her feel better, but it didn't. I was also looking at having an attractive blonde spend the night in my bed, so I fear that that was the argument that won that evening.

After that night, she broke up with her boyfriend. We saw each other occasionally on campus, and we'd smile and nod our heads. She ended up quitting school at the end of the semester. I feel like I was a contributing factor to her decision. Men may want to fix things, but sometimes it's just not possible to fix what may not be broken. Women are not things that need to be "fixed". Everyone can come up with easy solutions, but unless you're completely involved in the situation you can never be the "fix".

This experience taught me that listening can be more powerful than fixing.

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