Love Letters

Is his mansplaining a reason to break up?

Plus, a woman secretly pines for one of her best friends. Should she confront the situation?

Have a question for Meredith? Submit here.

Q. Meredith, I met a guy online and we exchanged really long messages before we met up. We have been dating for three months and are moving in the direction of a relationship. But something has started to get on my nerves, and I don’t know how to handle it. Otherwise, everything is fine.

He does that thing called “mansplaining,” or “notorious explaining.” He is a knowledgeable guy who has a very scientific way of thinking. The problem is that he analyzes everything and feels the need to explain every single detail.

He also sometimes explains things only women experience, and that is kind of infuriating. While I’m on my period and want ice cream, I don’t need him to give me a scientific explanation. Am I too picky or sensitive? Should I just look for someone who is not so serious about every single thing?

 — Mansplained


A. Start by knowing the difference between mansplaining and analysis. If he wants to process something out loud, maybe with your help, that doesn’t have to be mansplaining. Sometimes it’s just examination.

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Mansplaining happens when he gives you an unsolicited lesson. The period moment is a great example. Why would he assume you don’t understand your own body? (I know I just Meresplained mansplaining to you. I’m sorry.)

It does sound as if you might be incompatible. If you’re this annoyed now — and the rest of the relationship is just “fine” — you should think about why you’re trying to make this work.

 — Meredith

Readers Respond

I’m kind of the guy in the letter. I don’t know how I amassed so much useless trivia. If someone responds to it positively, I kind of geek out and keep talking about it. If someone is like, “meh,” I drop it. MCDIMMERSON

My boyfriend does this too, overanalyzes everything and talks for hours and hours. The difference is, I like it! COUGYTHEARTIST


You’ll never hold on to a husband if you don’t learn how to tune out while nodding your head and pretending to listen. It’s a basic and necessary part of a successful long-term relationship. SLIM-DOES-BOSTON

Q. Dear Meredith, I am in love with one of my best friends but have hidden my feelings for a long time. Staying “just friends” meant I often got more of him than the many women who have come in and out of his life over the past decade.

Now we are on an idyllic vacation for a few weeks, often sharing a hotel room. Lots of long, wonderful talks. When he describes his perfect woman — intelligent, loves family, pursuing an artistic passion — he is describing me.

The one time we did cross the line (on a different trip), he was devastated, and his main comment was “I don’t want to lose you.” I spent the day away. When I got back, he came to the door in his underwear and enveloped me in the tightest hug, saying how sorry he was. And how much he loved me.

How do I deal with this? I love him so much.


— Just A Friend

A. You need to tell him how you feel. I know you’re scared to lose him, but it’s already a mess. This unrequited longing has you writing a letter to an advice column while you’re on vacation. If I had an advice time machine, by the way, I would go back to the early 2000s and tell myself this: When you pretend to be your unrequited love’s best friend, you do not get more than the “many women who come in and out of his life.” They get to date the guy or move on, and you don’t. It’s better to ask for what you want.

— Meredith


“When he describes his perfect woman — intelligent, loves family, pursuing an artistic passion — he is describing me.” Or one of the other 856 million people this applies to. ED-ROONEY

If he really did greet to you at the door in his tighty whities, hug you, and tell you he loves you, and you still aren’t a couple, he is playing with your emotions. GEMINI58

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