Don’t Be Annoying: When To Give Your Man Advice and When To Step Back

November 4, 2011  |  

"Woman giving man massage"

Since most women are nurturers by nature, we have to really make a conscious effort to remain equals with the men we date and not fall into fix-it mode the second we walk into their messy apartment or we see that there isn’t one fruit or vegetable in their kitchen. Yes, you should care about his wellbeing and take an interest in the things that are important to him, but sometimes women go overboard. We make men feel like they are doing everything wrong. There is a fine line between caring and condescending. Learn how to walk it:

"Couple arguing over finances"

His work

Absolutely ask him how an interview went, or a big presentation, or if he got a promotion he was up for. If these things go poorly, this is not the time for you to step in and say “well maybe if you had done x, y and z differently…” It’s his career. It’s his line of business. Unless you’re an expert in the same field of work, a few encouraging words should suffice. If you really feel you have advice that could help him, wait a while until the sting of him not getting the promotion or bombing the interview has passed.

"Dog dressed up in costume"

His dog

A man’s dog can be a great thing to bond over, but it can also make you distant. Be good to the dog. Pet the dog, cuddle with it, love it. Honestly, even if you’re not a dog lover, pretend to be. Dog lovers are suspicious of non-dog lovers. If something seems wrong with the dog, bring it up. But keep in mind that men treat dogs differently than women do for the most part. This isn’t his baby, it’s his buddy. He doesn’t hold it up in the air and talk to it in a baby voice. He probably doesn’t dress it up. And he probably doesn’t call it things like “snuggle muffin.” Don’t do that either. You can do that to your own dog. But a guy doesn’t like to see his dog being subjected to that kind of treatment.

"Woman baking"

His family

Your main priority should be your guy. If he mentioned that a parent is going to have a surgery, or that a family member has passed away, absolutely ask him how they are doing. But don’t start buying his mom every cookbook written by her favorite celebrity chefs or start baking his dad’s favorite cookies every week and bringing them over. A guy needs to invite you into his family. And if you become too preoccupied with his family, he’ll feel that you invited yourself and that you are rushing things.

"Group of guy friends drinking"

His friends

Same rules apply here. Ask about the big things, but you don’t need to know if his friend is still fighting with his girlfriend, or if his other friend’s chlamydia cleared up yet. You might be trying to show that you care but, the difference between men and women is that, men, even just between one another, don’t talk about those kinds of things that much. They probably don’t want to gossip with their girlfriend about it.

"Man eating pizza"

His diet

If it’s bad, deal with it later when you’ve been together for a while. Even if that does mean you have to watch his belly grow. There is nothing that makes a man feel more that you have stepped into the mother role than when you start yanking Twinkies out of his hand or when you interject while he’s ordering at a restaurant.

 "Black man typing"

His personal project

His current job may just be his day job. It may just be how he makes money but on his own time, he is making plans to start his own company, or he is writing a novel, or trying to invent something. A man’s identity is greatly tied to what he does. So, definitely check in on how his own project is going. But don’t start bringing home every book on how to start your own company, or every flyer for classes on novel writing. He A) could take this as pressure or B) might start to resent his project because it was supposed to be all his—where he got his alone time, and you’ve intruded on it.

"Black man watching TV"

How he spends his free time

He works hard all week. If he wants to watch TV on the couch—if that is what he looks forward to—let him do it! Of course, he should make a point of doing fun things with you but, when it comes to his free time that he spends alone, don’t pick at him about how he spends it. It doesn’t affect you.

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  • L-Boogie

    Good advice!

  • Jimmy Swaggered

    Mr. jaustin,

    In regards to a man’s dog: “This isn’t his baby, it’s his buddy”.

    Well done sir. Truer words were never spoken.

  • JustAshley

    I like this article. Since we are naturally nurturers, we can’t help but notice that black men do get the wrong end of the stick- so to speak -and that may be why some of us unconsciously coddle them. When you see someone you care about hurting, you immediately want to relive their pain, but often times the pain is necessary for their growth. You could be totally right in your advice, but sometimes you just have to step back and let him learn his own way. 
    *
    On the other hand- if he NEVER takes your advice and he CONTINUOUSLY finds himself in situations you’ve warned him about – its time to leave his dizzy behind right where you found him. He foolish and he doesn’t respect you. 

  • JustSaying

    I agree but I don’t. There is a difference between giving constructive criticism or suggestions vs. simply putting down someone. I have been in a relationship for a long time and if he doesn’t get a job interview or if he is eating more but complaining that his gym membership is a waste. You damn right I’m going to say something. Doesn’t mean I am looking at him in a negative stance or anything. It is no different (at least to me) when he says, “Babe… you shouldn’t be eating that if you are trying to lose 15 pounds.” Sometimes people need to be regulated and often its your partner that should have that ability to do so. If not; who is going to regulate you? Please don’t say your friends because that is a whole different topic that always results ina problem, putting more trust in your friends then you do your relationship.

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  • AnnaRenee

    I can’t speak for white women,  but for sisters, I wonder if our relationships with our men are exacerbated by the fact that society works tirelessly to put down the black man. Everywhere we watch or read, as it pertains to black men, it’s extremely negative media.  How do we not become negatively conditioned against our black men?  How do we not subconsciously treat him like a BOY, the way society teaches us to view him?  How do we know if we have been conditioned in this way against our men?

  • MSKNOWITALL

    Okay ladies we all do all this and what do we get in return?  MN can you please post an article on men and their ineffective communication skills.  Provide tips for them on active listening and how to actively acknowledge their wife or girlfriend’s needs. Both sides need to put in the work for the relationship to be succesful.  

    • Double_dizze

      This is a site geared towards women.  Why would they post an article for men?  Sometimes just taking a little advice without someone else having to get theirs is a good thing.