Dear Women-- My Thoughts and Feelings on How to Be Better at Listening

Mr. Mullet

Why Do Men Suck at Listening?

And for the ladies of Christmas past, I’m sorry. by Clarisse Meyer on Unsplash

“What can we do to grow this year? Like, I feel like I’m stuck.”


“I think the weed gummy just kicked in,” I said giggling.

“Oh. But what did you say?” Erica asked.

“I wonder if we are just so used to believing what we believe about ourselves. Like what if I was a Trump supporter and I thought the election was rigged, how would I be acting?

“What does that have to do with growth?”

“Well, what if we used our friendship to get honest critical feedback on what we don't’ see about each other. What if I have blind spots, like a Trump supporter or radical liberal, and never stop to question or challenge who I am?”

“Like how?” Erica asked. “What the hell are you talking about?”

I whizzed down a drink and listened to the music playing on her TV and paused to think about what I want. I want to improve my weaknesses. I want to learn about my blind spots. But how?

I need honesty. Raw, unfettered feedback on things I don’t see about myself.

“Well,” I waited, “If I asked you what I was on a scale from one to 10 on the adjective or word relative to me — let’s take self-absorbed — what would you rank me, ten being the most self-absorbed bastard there is.”

Erica paused, slid her pink, opaque, horn-rimmed glasses up her button nose, and said, “Well, does self-absorbed mean you’re very focused on yourself, but not in a malicious or superficial way?”


“Eight,” she responded quickly. “Definitely an eight.”

“What, really?” I said, laughing loudly. “That’s funny. Do you think I’m just in my own head, or not present with people? Like what makes me an eight on the self-absorbed scale?”

“Actually, quite the contrary, you are very present with people, and when you are by yourself, you are in your own world, or with strangers, you are there, but not anywhere else, you are just in it — which means it’s hard to communicate with you when you aren’t in it with you at times — not always.”

“Well, I never thought I was self-absorbed like that — maybe that’s why I’m continually late, or bad at texting people back… because I get caught up with the sights, sounds, and things I’m focused on in the present. I’m mental, basically. In my head, or out of it completely.”

“Maybe,” she said, giggling. “Or maybe you’re just self-absorbed.”

“Damn gurrrl, okay, I get it.”

“What about me?” she asked back.

“I’d say, seven. You just get caught on your phone, absorbed by social media or weird shit at times. Like you just check out of conversations at times.”


“Yeah, seriously. I mean, it’s not on purpose. We all do it. I do it too.”

“Yeah, that’s true. You do.”

“Well, that’s great feedback. See, wow, I never really thought about the people on the other side of that equation that aren’t self-absorbed or present with me.”

“Am I a bad texter? I mean, I know the answer to this, but want to know my number.”

“Yes, you are like a nine on texting. It’s like a love-hate relationship on the text. I love how funny our messages are, but I usually have no idea what the fuck is happening over there or have any clue as to what your texts mean.”

I slide her leg off the ottoman. “Back off bitch,” I giggle. “You don’t know me.”

The edible gummy is rolling us into fits of laughter now and this conversation is mind-blowing.

Like wait, I am self-absorbed and a bad texter!

Holy shit!

How does that make you feel, Walter?

What can I do to be less self-absorbed? Do I even want to be?

It’s true, I can be a hard man to communicate with — I can get anxious and fall away from the world and get lost in my own head. But I’m also very present with people or try to be. I try to really check-in and connect with people through eye contact and questions.

It’s undeniable that anxiety has always been there, humming along inside me since I was a little tyke. And I don’t want to be on medication for it. I just want to live my best life, without medication. I want to find what my soul wants. What true love is. What trust truly is. I want someone to understand me and know I have great intentions, even if my anxiety holds me back at times.

But this self-absorbed was all news to me. I wanted to know more. Maybe this was holding me back from romantic love and true partnership.

“E, do you think I’m defensive. On a scale from one to ten, what am, ten being the most defensive?”


“I’d say you are at like an eight.”

“Really?” she gasped, laughing.

“Yeah, you get defensive when I try to help you. Like when I asked about the cashmere in the dryer and asked if you had taken it out or had it on low heat, and you got all puffy with me. I mean, I was just trying to help —  GUUURRRLFRIEND.”

Erica laughed, “Well, it’s weird. I knew you were trying to help. Nothing malicious and yet, I just react defensively. I always do. I think it’s because I’ve always been trying to prove people or men, wrong. It’s something competitive. But it doesn’t make sense.”

“Do you think it’s about proving your self-worth to me?”

Erica paused.

“I don’t know. I don’t think so. It’s intrinsic —  like I want to prove to you and myself that I’m self-reliant. Capable. Smart. Fucking awesome. But you know that already, so why am I so fucking defensive?”

“Good question.”

We both chuckled and stared into the TV. The five milligrams of a THC gummy edible were making this conversation memorable. We were both pondering our lives. Our love attempts in 2020. Our failed attempts in 2020.

“What is it you are putting energy into this year that you think will be different than last year?”

“Law school.”



“My startup, I guess. I don’t know, this start to 2021 has been super slow for me. I have a ton of planning and computer work, but don’t really want to do it — what about listening?”



“Walt, you are one of the worst listeners, ever. You come over the top of people. You don’t let them finish.”

“Holy shit, I never knew.”

“You are one of the best question-askers and one of the worst listeners, which is odd, I know. Teddy, he’s a bad listener, but he at least gives you the chance to speak, even if he never hears a word you say. You, well, you just don’t let me speak at times.”

“Wow,” I said, dumbfounded. “This is friggin crazy. I never knew this, thank you! I want to be a better listener in 2021. I want to at least get down to a five out of ten.”

Erica laughed. “Well, you better start now you toxic masculine bastard.”

I push her leg off the ottoman again.

“Bitch, please. You and your Ivy League degree can go to hell.”

But there is something gentle about this conversation. What game is this? The adjective game, I’m going to call it. I had heard of it played in groups before but never one on one.

“Do you think a lot of men struggle with this?”

“Yes. My boyfriend is worse than you in all these categories.”

“Well, there’s hope after all.”

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Mr. Mullet tells us European how pro sports, love to life lessons, wild travel experiences, and awakening the dreams of those stuck in the American Matrix are connected. Most importantly, Mr. Mullet lives his life like a mullet.

Chicago, IL

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