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I learned early on while shopping for ex-wives and ex-girlfriends that it was unnecessary and counterproductive for a man to have feelings. Most arguments come from differences of opinion about family, finances, religion etc., but there are a few universal trends that we subconsciously adopt. Men are not the “feeling” beings, allegedly; we are the “logical” ones. Women, on the other hand, are the “feelings” advocates and understand their emotions (and other people’s) better than men can.

As much as taking the Man side and the Woman side does nothing to strengthen the union, it’s easy to play designated roles as long as you understand what the pros and cons are. When you have conflicts or differences of opinion, here are some Boyfriend Rules of the Game to observe. There are also fouls you cannot commit if you want fair play.

1. It’s Not About Who Wins – Remember in the second grade when Christopher Sims stole your pencil and snickered about it? Then you kicked him in the shin hard under your shared table and you both got in trouble? Your second-grade steward understands emotions in that scenario that you are too immature to grasp. First off, Christopher Sims always had that “trouble at home” look, so he should get a pass on certain behaviors that cause him to be a dick at a young age. Second, it doesn’t matter who started it or who ended it.

Here’s Why: When your relationship has a win-loss column for who’s won or lost arguments, things are looking down. Plus, accepting the fact that women are 73% more likely to be right will lead you onto an easy road to compromise. It also neutralizes age-old, cliched argument phrases like “You always think you’re right” or “I know you want the last word, but let me speak”. Entering the disagreement with an eye toward the middle ground (a tie) makes you the superior debater. Except…

The Foul: Condescension. You risk sounding like a grade-A braggart if you assume you’re always on the high ground in your fights. Peering down your nose at your mate will only excite her anger and raise the stakes more than you want to deal with.

2. Why Bring Up the Past? – If you’re the Reggie Resentment of your duo, you might have trouble with this one but hear me out. No argument happening in the present tense will be served by points from an argument in the past tense. For instance, you think (in your feeble, feeble male mind) that you should be able to point out double-standards, inconsistencies and contradictions in the argument.

“Yea, I used to date her and we do talk, but don’t come at me sideways. You’ve got plenty of male friends.”

“How can you yell at me about getting drunk in front of your co-workers when you go out and get trashed with all of your friends?”

Here’s how: women have an amazing memory modification activity. It allows them to remember details from days that you never thought would come up again and to forget times when those details would hurt their argument. It’s better to leave ex-boyfriends (or girlfriends, depending on the kind of girl you like), long-gone drunken nights and past conflicts out of it. Your lady will no doubt also leave the past alone if you’re willing to do it, too. Otherwise, be prepared to account for every time you used the last ink in her favorite pen, forgot to replace the toothpaste, failed to recall the restaurant where you first shared vodka-based drinks, were too aggressive in your advances, were unaware of her advances, put the wrong ink cartridge in the printer…and so on. It’s a losing battle, and remember: it’s not about winning, anyway!

The Foul: Holding her accountable for any past grievance. She’s MORE than willing to overlook everything stupid about you, including the things she knows you can change but don’t. You should do the same.

3. Do Not Have Feelings – Somewhere between “I Love Lucy” and “Married With Children” we transitioned from the quirky emotional silly wife waiting on the staid husband to the domineering wife taming her hapless mate for the sake of the marriage. Neither of these models teaches us absolutes about relationship tendencies, but they DO show us what men are. Men are not programmed to have “feelings.” Of course, we feel emotions, have hormones, and demonstrate biases, but if that becomes our compass…trouble. Traditional women don’t like suckers and sensitive chumps. Non-traditional women claim to like sensitive men when, on the inside, they want confident, steady partners. Solution? Forget the feelings…forget being jealous, forget being right, forget “feeling” anything for a while and try to feel what she’s saying. Making it about Your Feelings vs. Her Feelings is another battle you cannot win.

The Foul: Being rigid. Putting your feelings aside doesn’t mean you should turn into the super-logical, all-important commentator on the rationale of the discussion. This amounts to more condescension…and more yelling.

Remember these three rules and you’ll be making up with your ex-girlfriend, wife and mistress in no time!

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