Thursday, May 19, 2005

Does this make me look fat? Part II.

Previously, how to answer the dreaded question "Does this make me look fat?" was discussed. Today we continue with a broader discussion of the question. Why do people ask these sorts of questions, knowing full well that any answer is the wrong answer?

First, this is not just a girl thing. Guys ask these same sorts of questions as well. I find myself asking my sweetie, "Hey sweetie, what do you think of this thing I did"? The last thing I really want is for her to tell me what she thinks. Just as the last thing she really wants to hear from me is if she is fat.

What both we really want is assurance. For some reason the asker has a feeling of self-doubt and needs to be assured. Consider the situation where a woman is going to a 10 year high school reunion. There will be people there she has not seen in a lot of years and she wants to make a good impression. She is worried about how she looks, what her classmates will think of her and she wants to look her best. This situation can cause even the most confident person to question themselves.

Situations arise from every now and again where we step outside our comfort zone. The further outside the zone we get, the less sure we are of ourselves. The comfort zone is where we feel in control, where life is ordered, and where we have experience dealing with it. Outside the comfort zone life is not in our control. Fear and insecurity live outside the comfort zone. People who stray far outside their comfort zone need assuring that they will still be ok.

But, people never say "I need assuring". Sure your sweetie will say nice things about you, but there is the question of how genuine the feelings are. Are these nice things true or just what I wanted to hear? Instead, we go fishing for assurances. We ask a question like "Does this make me look fat?" That way we feel more certain of the sincerity of the answer.

That also explains why neither "yes" nor "no" works very well as an answer. Neither answer provides the assurance the asker is needing. When your sweetie asks you a seemingly impossible question, check the context in which the question is being asked. Has your sweetheart left their comfort zone and done something new or different? Is your sweetheart planning on leaving their comfort zone and needs to know they are up to the change? If so, answer the question in such as way as to give assurance. Your sweetie will really appreciate it.
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