Dear Pamela and Todd,
I thought this might be a good place to turn to for advice since it pertains to a woman who happens to be divorced.
I met a really attractive and intelligent woman at a holiday party. She was her early 30's, a couple of years older than me. We had been talking for a while and things seemed to be going well. We had even made tentative plans to go for a drink.
Things changed quickly when I gave her, what I thought was a compliment on her classic curves. I commented that she had a "really nice, hourglass figure". She became obviously offended. I tried to clarify my comments but she rolled her eyes and shook her head. She told me I was being "inappropriate" and that she was "very disappointed" and then WHAP! she slapped my face and walked off.
My confusion has lasted longer than the stinging in my cheek. Why was she so upset? I'm wondering; do divorced women have a heightened sensitivity to men being womanizers? Do you have any thoughts? Should I email her an apology note?
Women are a complicated system of levers and pulleys and a mystery to most of us men. Your open handed hitter is no different. One woman might take that comment as a compliment (as intended) and be flattered, the next woman might slap you.
I would suggest no apology note if you really did just say, "You have a really nice hourglass figure" and not, "you've got a great ass and nice tits"...those are two very different sentences, though they often sound the same in my head. I say count your blessings that you got out with just a slap and hour of your time. If she was "very disappointed" with your comment you can imagine how she would feel when you actually made a mistake, like saying, "I like your tits."
I have no idea if divorced women have a heightened sensitivity to men being womanizers, but I'm sure they don't like generalizations. Or, in this case, guys at holiday parties that like hourglass figures. Luckily, you probably don't like eye-rolling and head-shaking. So call it a wash and move on.
It is apparent that you, albeit unintentionally, activated some old feelings with your comment. The only way for us to know for certain why this particular woman reacted the way she did is to ask her.
It would be a stretch to make the generalization that divorced women have a heightened sensitivity to men being womanizers. We can be sure that she did, as we all do, interpret the situation through her own perspective largely based on her past experiences. She may have been reacting to the circumstance of her divorce, how she was treated in her childhood or even how she has witnessed other women being treated.
Regarding apologizing, that depends on the circumstances. For instance, if you would like to see this woman again or if you feel remorse or guilt from your behavior and it is keeping you up at night. If either is the case then you may want to apologize for unintentionally offending her and ask specifically what she found unpleasant so you can try not to repeat the same mistake.
Thanks for writing in with your question. I would like to applaud you for examining your behavior and having the willingness to explore how to avoid such events in the future.
All the best to you,
Pamela Georgette, LMFT/ATR
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