A new generation of men exist these days: quite different to their parents and grand parents and yet unique in their own way. They are still as protective of their women folk as ever and the main route to their hearts is still through their stomachs. They are still the hunter-gatherers in that they provide for their families, but still forget to put the toilet seat down or avoid getting the bathroom floor wet after a bath.
Yet, our new men have some new traits. I have come to discover that men (by that I mean my man) have a unique way of seeking attention. There is a name for it and in the UK it is known as ‘Man Flu’. It is a unique form of aliment that new men get and I bet many women reading this have noticed this new condition.
‘Man Flu’ is a condition shared by all males wherein a common illness (usually a mild cold) is presented by the man as life-threatening. This is also known as ‘Fishing for Sympathy’ or ‘Chronic Exaggeration’. When the patient is your boyfriend or husband, he will exhibit the standard symptoms (such as an overwhelming desire for compassion) while simultaneously rejecting any and all efforts you make to placate him.
Sound familiar? Let’s look at some examples:
My other half ate some dodgy food at a party a while ago and had an upset stomach. Within hours he was curled up in a ball under covers on the bed. I have seen my kids go through bouts of upset tummies without blinking an eye. Naturally, I found my hubby clutching his stomach and panting as if he was about to have a seizure. When I didn’t pay enough attention to his condition, he jumped up and ran to the bathroom and threw up his food for good measure.
Really? I wasn’t convinced but I love him and I had to show some compassion so I asked if he thought we should go to the hospital. With closed eyes, he whispered yes. That was when I knew what to do. I promptly gave him some of the same medicine I use to treat the kids’ tummy bugs and I went for a nap. Later on that evening I found him in front of the TV watching football with a piece of my freshly fried chicken in one hand and a bottle of Malta Guinness in the other.
My friend had to assist her hubby to put his socks on when he sprained his back last month. He claimed he couldn’t bend in any direction. She couldn’t understand why he also had to hobble round the house as there was actually nothing wrong with his legs. However, his back was strong enough for him to sit in front of his computer for hours and sit on the couch to watch TV. The ‘poor’ man couldn’t bend to wear his trousers and asked his wife to help him. While she was doing this, her hubby suddenly had a bright idea! Surely there was something else she could help him with *wink wink*? She said she refused him. He then became very grumpy after her rebuff and his back was miraculously healed the following morning!
Some men have argued that women should not complain about man flu because it was only natural for someone to want some extra attention and cuddles when they felt a bit under the weather. Women should not take advantage of these moments of weakness to criticize men but to recognise it as a cry for attention. That might be so, but what about women?
Women go through all sorts of health issues, the most common being the one that afflicts us every month with varying degrees of pain, discomfort, mood swings and an insatiable urge to eat sweet food and/or chocolate. We don’t complain. Actually, I do a bit, but generally women just get on with things.
40 weeks after a night of unbridled passion, we find we have an uncontrollable urge to go to the loo after carrying a total of 5-8 pounds of extra weight. We bravely drive ourselves to the hospital and deliver baby number four/five or even six. We go back home after a few days like nothing happened, and continue looking after everyone and new baby while we silently wait for our bodies to recover.
We don’t get extra attention or time to relax; we sometimes don’t even get any extra cuddles. But if the man has a cold! Heaven help us!!! He will milk his snuffles so much that it becomes ridiculous. He will demand all the attention, cuddles and sympathy and claim that he is on his last legs.
Men have also counter- argued that women also have unrealistic expectations of them. In the olden days, women didn’t expect men to experience any weakness, either physical or emotional. It also meant that historically, men tended to be withdrawn and insensitive. Now we have a new generation of men who women expect to be sensitive and caring and attuned to their partner’s every need. With sensitivity, it seems, comes men’s ability to create ‘man-flu.
Whatever the reason for men developing man-flu, it is here to stay and every woman has to find a way to be able to discern fake ailments from real ones. On top of all the responsibilities a woman has, caring for a man who is pretending to be unwell for attention should not be one of them. If a man wants extra from his missus he should just ask for it. If he has been good he will get the attention and cuddles and more.
PS: Even young boys are learning fast. My son showed me, according to him, a ‘rather painful’ rugby injury 5 days after the incident, just so I could have sympathy for him after he failed an art test.
Writer – Abi Adeboyejo lives in Birmingham, UK, with her two children and her fabulous man, who by the way, prefers that his wife writes down her thoughts than listening to her musings on everything.
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