You are here

O/T: Man-brain brain farts?

Rags's picture

Guidance requested.

Some background.

I have shared for many years that I am married to a stunning woman.  She is tall (5'11"), very beautiful, and shapely.  To cut to the chase.... BOOBS!!!!!  On a side note... I am historically not a boob guy.   Tall, yep. But my default "type" is not usually boob forward.  That said... she has a rack.  Not massive, but definately large. 36 DDDD or 36 G as I understand the whole chick boob size thing.  And yes, I just went and looked in her bra drawer.  That was fun.  She is very proportionate in shape.  For reference, my XW was the same height but an A cup if she was even that.  My first fiance was tall (5'9"-ish) and also an A cup if she was even that.  I do not pick dates of only the tall variety. I have dated tiny petitie women, shortish curvy women, the Amazon pricesses, and everywhere in between.

But I digress with the distracting boob and "type" topic.

Since not long after she started at her current firm there have been some instances of some men who go silent during stand up conversations when she walks by.  They seem to engage with everyone else in her department but say next to nothing to my DW.  Side eye up and downs, overt up and down glances, etc.. She will say hello and make eye contact and not get any response.  As soon as she gets past, whispered comments ensue.  THe same stuff happens fairly often in meetings, etc.....  She is a partner track manager and very sought out for challenging clients, hightly complex analysis situation, talent development, etc...  

Last week as she was walking by two men (A staffer and a partner) the staffer whispered towards her under his breath "Boom, boom, boom.".  The partner took no notice of it or ignored it.   The boom, boom, boom guy has creeped her out a few times in the past.  She has been processing and recycling the incident repeatedly to get comfortable that she did not misinterperet the event.

I have told her several times to trust her perception and to not undermine herself by over anylizing.  She did speak with her boss about it keeping the names to herself to not force a mandatory reporting situation onto her boss.

This AM I was doing some reading which included an article that included information on an instinctual brain capability that we have to know when we are being stared at.  I gave it to DW to read.  My intent was to be supportive and to highlight that she needed to trust herself and not undermine and torture herself with the adnauseum repeated detail disection of the sitaution, her behaviors, etc....  She read it, keyed on how it supported her instincts on the sequence of events leading up to the boom, boom, boom incident. Then she started down a repeat of the situation in even more detail than we had previously  and repeatedly discussed. 

At a lull in her commenting I interjected that she has a tendency to second guess herself at an increasingly intense level when processing upsetting things related to the actions of others.

What did she do to cause it?  What if she had done XYZ instead of LMNOP? etc.. that  that often progresses into... Why me?  

When I pointed out her starting to go into an undermining herself cycle I made a major error.  She proceeded to get very quiet and poised then told me "You want me to talk then you shut me down!"  Not my intention by any means but I certainly agree that I do in fact do that.   I reset, started pulling teeth to get her to continue with her train of thought, and an hour + later we have discussed through both her increasingly detailed dive into the boom, boom, boom event and my regrets regarding "cutting her off".

Historically if I engage in the conversation and we have a discourse, it can drive the "You don't listen." point.  If I listen intently but do not say anything, I get "You are not saying anything and you are ignoring me."

Man-brain brain farts cause problems.  Even when being supportive, or at least when I think I am being supportive, the man-brain brain fart law of unintended consequences seems to show up for payment.

What is the balance I need to be aware of?    

My intent is not to upset her. My intent is to particpate supprtively in her personal coping process.  

What is the balance?  What is the right way engage in these situation?


Dash 1

At this point, the question she is processing through is to make a formal HR complaint, or not.  Boom, boom, boom guy is recently married to someone else who works at the firm.   DW is now torturing herself on the what if related to that.  She is torturing herself about the what if making a complaint jeopardizes her standing and the opinion of her coworkers and the partners.

I have told her that only she can make the decisiont to make an HR complaint.  I have also advised her to be direct when these things occur and immediately say something to the individual when it happens. "That is not appropriate nor appreciated. If it happens again we will be having a talk with the partners and HR."  

DW is now in her map her path through the office to avoid pinch points, the department where these things usually happen, and only go to the break room when no one is in there stage.  Historically she internalizes, avoids addressing these things assertively, and goes down a stress, health, and anxiety cycle before she goes all professional and assertive on the person in question.

At past jobs she has always been applauded when she plants her flag and goes after the problem.  Her leaders and her peers tend to thank her for addressing the problem behaviors from the problem person.  Invariably, the problem person leaves.

In her 25+ year professional career this has happened about 3 times.  The first time was a woman coworker who apparently considered my DW a threat and as competition.  The second time was not work related but with my BIL2's bovine bride. Now we are dealing with Mr. Boom, boom, boom.

Is there anything y'all see that I can change to tune out adding to her being upset or is this just part of the solution cycle progression?  Or......?

Scratch one-s head

Thanks in advance.

Update:  I must not have screwed up too badly because now I am getting lots of smiles, hugs, and obvious appreciation.  Never mind... I guess.  I don't know.



Winterglow's picture

Firstly, let her deal with it.  She didn't suddenly aquire this body and she's been dealing with morons like this her whole life  (FWIW I was a slender 5'7 with 36E boobs at15...) , I know what I'm talking about.  She just wants to vent. At best, she spins on her heel and asks what they said as if she hadn't heard.

Ask her if she just wants to vent or if she needs a hand.

Rags's picture

Ask instead of talk and solve.  I always forget that part. I blame the man-brain.

I appreciate the guidance.

Winterglow's picture

YW. From what I've read about your spouse, she is more than equipped to deal with these knuckle-draggers. When they go silent when she passes, it just means that their brains have stalled and need someone to kick-start them. 

la_dulce_vida's picture

Yes - Listen. And the best way to listen (google Gottman and imago) is to listen with the intent to restate what she said for clarity. "So, what I heard you say is [blah blah blah]. Did I get that right?" That is a way of VALIDATING her experience. You can also say things like, "This is a difficult matter to naviagate in your field. I imagine it's very stressful."

You may have many great ideas for how she should handle it, but, at the end of the day, you think like a man and you would handle it the way a man would handle it. She knows better how to handle it like a woman.

Inject a little levity - "Who should I beat up?" LOL

Add some support, "You have my support and I believe you'll decide the best way to handle this. I'm on your side."

Listen. Validate. Restate the issue for clarity. Inject humor, if possible. Believe in her and let her know you've got her back whatever she decides.

Perfect recipe for being a good partner.

Crspyew's picture

she needs to vent.  And sadly most of us have dealt with a few boom boom boom types during our career.  Best thing is to call it out in the moment, "could you repeat that?  I couldn't have heard you correctly."  This isn't the first time he's been an ass so management is likely aware, unfortunately.

notsurehowtodeal's picture

I would ask her what she really needs from you by asking if she wants to be helped, heard or hugged? Then respond in the appropriate manner.

As to "Mr. Boom, Boom" - the next time he says something under his breath - she should turn around, look him square in the eye, and ask him to repeat himself.

round2's picture

Hi Rags - I rarely post but read here on a daily basis. My step situation has calmed down significantly but I still love the community found here. On to why I am lovely bride is being subjected to a hostile work environment. Making comments about someone's physicality is sexual harassment. As someone has said, if he is bold enought to do it to her, then he has engaged in this gross behavior before. 

If she is having to reroute her walk through the office and not go into the breakroom to avoid this person, he has materially changed her ability to function comfortably at work. It is HR and management's responsibility to address his conduct and shut it down. 

I am an HR exec and this crap behavior makes me crazy and employees being too scared to come forward makes me question what I do every day. Good luck and please tell her she is justified in how she feels and he is the jerk, not her. 

Aniki-Moderator's picture

Mr Aniki was always a derriere/leg man. Enter Aniki and an hourglass figure. Mr Aniki was like a cartoon wolf with his eyes bulging out. *unknw*

Anyhoo, I have dealt with many Mr Boom Booms. I'm 5'8" with a penchant for 4-5" heels and have been likened to a tiger stalking prey. Perhaps your DW has not yet developed a professional Death Glare to put those Boom Boom boys in their place. 

I understand that you feel you're in a bit of a damned if you do/damned if you don't situation. Men are literal creatures and sometimes need some guidance. Let DW know this. "Honey, I fully support and am always here for you, but sometimes uncertain if you want a response or just need to vent. Please let me know."

Rags's picture

Lol. My guess is that your closet and my bride's look remarkably similar.   DW has a penchant for heels as well.  Though she does tend to go lower for work.  Though not always.  

Oddly, when she is in full glamazon heels mode, those same dweebs slouch and get out of her way.  When she is in flats is when they seem to get stupid.  I suppose 5'10"- 5'11" is apparently safer than 6'1"+.

A tall confident woman in heels and the death stare sent to dipshits is an inspiring thing to see.

My appreciation of beauty is far more engaging, respectful, and smiling rather than the letchy idiocy model.  I'm the guy that holds doors, comments on the shoes or the purse or the jewelry and ask how a day is going.   Because I share life with a fashionista, I know far more about these things than I should.

For sure, I am not her ideal dance partner. At 6'1" I need lifters to be the dance guy when she is in heels.  Even then, I am not quite tall enough. She needs a 6'5"+ ballroom partner for the right dance floor aesthetic.

Aniki-Moderator's picture

I had a craptastic pig of a boss who was 2" taller and I wore heels solely to tower over and look down on him. *dirol*

For some men, heels are a fantasy thing. I can stalk just as well in Harley boots or a pair of Chucks - it's all in the attitude and the ability to exude "I'm wearing bitch heels" even when barefoot. 

IMO, height is what you make of it on the dance floor. Mr Aniki used to be 1" taller than I and is now 1/2" shorter, but his confidence makes a huge difference. The SSs are 6'1" and 6'2" and look up to him.

halo1998's picture

but alas your wonderful wife probably just wanted support.  I too vote for the "what did you say...I didn't quite hear what you sounded like....insert comment. "  I just usually do that very very everyone can hear.

Now...I'm a female working in a very male dominated field...IT.  I've been doing this for almost 25 years now...and let me tell ya..I've been verbally harrassed, stalked, physically harrassed and physically threatened.  Let me paint this picture as well..I'm 4 foot 11 inches tall..maybe 5 foot 2 in heals and weigh abour 125 pounds with a mass of red curly hair .  However, I wear a 34G say that I'm chest forward would be in a understatment, I almost fall over from being top heavy.  I used to get looks, comments etc..however in the last 10 years or so I have developed a resting bi0tch face that could stop Satan himself.  The flip side of this I get told I'm intimidating and that I'm not approachable. yea well..I didn't used to be but I got tired of everyone talking to my chest and not my face.  The would happen even it I wore bagging shirts, etc.  Hard to hide these poor DD inherited this as well...she is 5 foot 2 and wears and 32H bra...the poor thing.  In fact all the women in my family have this affliction...

I would gently encourage your bride to document the incident and make sure HR knows.  This probably isn't the first time sad as that is.

Winterglow's picture

I forgot to mention a technique that I been using forever. Many years ago, I was a  teacher and my students were all adults, almost without exception, who were older than me. The vast majority were male. In order to be sure they knew who was in charge,  I developed an iron handshake while looking them unblinkingly in the eye. Very effective. 

This served me well later on, in a different job entirely. The head of R and D was a demanding bully who crushed hands when he shook them. The shock on his face when he shook mine for the first time and I HURT him was epic. From that day on, we had a sort of game where he'd try to crush my hand and lost every time. Mind you, he never bullied me, never made unreasonable demands of me, and I was one of only two people he addressed by their first name in the company (the other was his secretary).