Straight Up Advice: The First Fight

Nile Williams and Margaret Noah

Straight men just don’t get it. How is it possible that some of the brightest, most attractive men in the world all congregate on one college campus and still not one of you know how to interact with women? Every week we hear stories of hook-ups gone bad, dates gone sour and general male stupidity in regards to the fairer sex. Face it, straight men of Colgate: you need help. We understand that female behavior seems complex and often unpredictable, and that it’s not necessarily your fault when miscommunications occur. However, from the mistakes of your peers, you can learn general rules to follow in the Colgate “dating” scene. Take some advice from a woman and a gay man; we can help.

Imagine you and your girl are hanging out, watching TV. Suddenly she starts a fight about seemingly nothing… maybe you’re wearing the wrong shirt. Well, it’s not about the shirt (unless it’s a Hawaiian shirt, in which case it’s entirely about the shirt). Assuming you dress as most Colgate men do, the shirt is irrelevant. Really, the fight is a pretext for her to address an issue that needs total honesty and getting you upset about something ridiculous will cause you to be unprepared for the true problem at hand and therefore more candid about it. It may seem crazy, but by talking about that ugly shirt, she can actually deal with the fact that you got drunk and grabbed her roommate’s ass the other night. If a fight seems insane, you’re probably not on the same page. So, when she whines about your silly shirt, the band she doesn’t like or the fact that your futon is uncomfortable, don’t assume she is being childish. There is always another level, and if you’re patient and respectful, she will get to it soon enough.

Of course, you’re not in the clear when she does. Now you actually have to handle a mature argument, and let’s face it, some of you can’t. Fear not, we can help. Step one: Nod periodically and look her in the eye. Cowering and avoiding eye contact makes you look weak and pathetic, and it sends the message that you don’t care. Step two: Don’t talk over her. This does not mean you have to agree with whatever she says nor does it mean that you can’t defend yourself. Just make sure she finishes each point before you start talking. Step three: Even if you don’t think you did anything wrong, you may have to accept that you still unintentionally hurt her feelings. For this, you should apologize and offer to make it up to her (and no, make-up sex does not count).

Now, let’s assume you mess up one of these rules because, well, you probably will. She might storm out. This is where straight men get confused, because when you storm out, it’s because you want the conflict to end. Oftentimes, when women leave the room they still want the conversation to continue, they just need to regroup. Many men make the fatal mistake of giving up, letting her go and wondering what they did wrong. Meanwhile the woman stands right outside the door, waiting for him to follow. When he doesn’t come after her, she assumes he doesn’t care and the fight turns into a permanent break-up. It is your responsibility to go after her at ONCE. Then she will usually finish the conversation and the make-up sex can begin (back in your room, of course).

Fighting with women is complicated because they seem to speak a different language. Still, with a little help from us, you Colgate men can do it.