Dr. Rob’s Simple Advice on How to Listen to Your Girlfriend so That You Don’t Get Dumped

Dear Dr. Rob,
My name is ___________ and I’m a 21 year-old college student. I’ve had a girlfriend for about two years. I’m basically a nice guy and treat her well and our relationship is pretty strong. But when she has a problem, whether it be work, school or family, and I try to solve it for her she says I’m not listening. Is it me? I know I can’t send you a transcript of our conversation to dissect but is there any advice you have for young men out there on how to listen to their girlfriends?


I always have advice. It’s rarely very good but that’s never stopped me from giving it. In this case however I some information that might save our protagonist from getting dumped for not listening. That will leave ladies with only emotional immaturity, infidelity, lack of finances, ugliness, hyper-focus on computer games and sports and beer and friends, lack of ambition and poor personal hygiene as their sole reasons for ending what was once a fulfilling relationship.

When a person has a problem the old adage is that men want the problem solved while women want to be listened to and understood. Although overly stereotypical, conventional thought predicts that men will go into problem-solving mode while women will become empathic because that is what that person would want for him/herself. Rarely is that enough for either however; the reality is that we all tend to want both: to feel validated and understood while being given practical advice for getting through a problem.

If you’re a guy, here’s your job: validate first then help solve the problem. You can remember this two-part formula through my simple mnemonic device: Robert Allen Dobrenski’s Listen (Or) Validate Then Address Problem Strategy (RAD-LOV-TAPS). Mnemonics are a great way to take complex ideas and make them simple.

Let’s highlight the RAD-LOV-TAPS by a simple example. Men, let’s say your wife or girlfriend or mistress comes to you and is very distressed about her boss. Let’s say the boss is being abusive, yelling, asking her to do tasks beyond the scope of her job description and is generally making her feel like shit. Immediately you may begin to consider options: quit, suck it up and deal because the pay is good, complain to Human Resources, shoot the boss in the thigh with an elephant gun, whatever. More often than not you will lose points, however, because you skipping over the validation / listening / empathic voice part and jumping right to the solution. Big mistake.

Watch how it plays out using the RAD-LOV-TAPS:

Part 1: Validation

Woman: I hate my job. My boss is mean, she yells and makes me feel horrible about myself. I don’t know what to do.

You: That’s a horrible thing for her to do to you. Why don’t you tell me more about it and we’ll see if we can come up with something to help you.

Woman: Well, I try to be on time, look professional, be courteous to her and her colleagues, and get all the tasks done for her when she wants them. It just never seems to be enough. She can always find some subtle flaw in what I do and make me feel miserable about it.

You: (Honey, Babe, Sexy or whatever term you use that generally leads to sexual intercourse), you don’t deserve that. You work hard and do your best. You should be getting more respect from her.

Woman: You think so?

You: Yes, absolutely. Do you want to hear about what I think you should do or would you like to talk more about what you’re feeling?

Woman: No tell me what you would do.

Part 2: Problem-Solving

You: I think you need to assert yourself and tell her what you will and will not put up with. You need to command respect from her because she is not going to give it to you out the kindness of her heart. Of course it may backfire and you could get fired but at this rate you’ll end up quitting soon anyway, and I think you’re self-esteem will be buoyed by standing up to her.

Woman: Thank you, sweetie. And I think you’re right. I really appreciate that you listened to me. How about I get you a beer and cook you dinner and then I’ll call up my runway model friend and we’ll all have sex together and then she and I will leave and you can have your buddies come over and watch the game. I’ll stop by every hour to see if you need me to go on a beer run or want me to pick up a pizza. How does that sound?

You: Only if that’s what you want.

Woman: It is, Wonderstud. It is.

See how easy listening can be? Just remember RAD-LOVE-TAPS and name your first four kids after me because you’re about to become a much happier man.

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28 Responses to “Dr. Rob’s Simple Advice on How to Listen to Your Girlfriend so That You Don’t Get Dumped”

  1. Newshoes says:

    “That will leave ladies with only emotional immaturity, infidelity, lack of finances, ugliness, hyper-focus on computer games and sports and beer and friends, lack of ambition and poor personal hygiene as their sole reasons for ending what was once a fulfilling relationship.”
    For a minute I thought you had forgotten our hard-wired sex-drive……
    Got me when I got to the end.

  2. kate says:

    i think i might be turning into a guy. lately i’ve been trying to solve problems rather than listen empathically when my friends complain. i also send my neighbors out on beer runs and fall asleep immediately after sex. on the flip side i still seem to be getting my period and the penis i’ve been praying for since i was 3 has yet to sprout. (that’s 29 years of unanswered prayers, god. way to be there for me in my time if need!)

  3. Mike says:

    ROFLMAO! True, but very funny.

  4. Ryan Holiday says:

    Have you read Cohen’s “The Essential Difference”? I’m reading it right now, it goes along with this.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Wonderstud! LMAO!!!!!

  6. T.J. says:

    FTA:
    Woman: Thank you, sweetie. And I think you’re right. I really appreciate that you listened to me. How about I get you a beer and cook you dinner and then I’ll call up my runway model friend and we’ll all have sex together and then she and I will leave and you can have your buddies come over and watch the game. I’ll stop by every hour to see if you need me to go on a beer run or want me to pick up a pizza. How does that sound?
    Weird, my imaginary Asian girlfriend says that to me all the time.

  7. Charles says:

    Loved it.
    Great article Dr. Rob. I find that I know these things but fail to use them when I get in real combat. I’ve tried just appearing as though I’m listening and acting as a post for girls to talk at. It has actually worked better than I expected. I now think women don’t care what anyone says as long as they can talk and believe they are being listened to.

  8. JohnnyB says:

    This is so dead on. Took me till I was 28 or so to figure it out.

  9. Another great post Dr. Rob!
    My 2 cents: “Women want to be heard AND understood. Often times we as men are the “problem solvers” and we get caught up in the solution, and we completely miss the reasons why women tell us things, it isn’t because they can’t solve the problem, it is because they want to be heard, and they want to be understood….”
    From:
    What Every Man Should Know

  10. Jen says:

    Wow, this is hilarious!
    I usually find it’s IMPOSSIBLE to get my boyfriend to listen to me. Usually, when he won’t listen, what he wants won’t go in his favor and I say “You should have listened to me!”
    Recently as well, I had problems with my boss and it ended with him telling me to just quit.
    I did, but not because of his “great” solution.
    (he’s sitting behind me telling me he listens to me)
    Great article Dr. Rob!

  11. Amber says:

    maybe I’m the only woman in the world that doesn’t agree with 99% of this advice. I still adore you, but you are way off!

  12. Jason says:

    Hah, my dad is still trying to learn this lesson, he’s in his 50s, and has been married for over 25 years now.

  13. Charlie Murphy says:

    “…and name your first four kids after me”.
    I love your writing for the way normal, sensical advice transforms into surreal narcissistic fantasy, often in the same sentence or at the same time.

  14. Wayland says:

    I like the way you think.

  15. Lyndon says:

    But there is already a great resource for women to feel listened to and validated. Other women! No matter how much I try I’m never going to be as empathetic as another women, so why try to compete?
    Even guys want to feel listen to and validated, but we figure out really early that other males are selfish, unfeeling pricks, so we go find a girl to talk to. Why, can’t girls do this??
    “Honey, I’m just off to my girlfriends to talk about my feelings and fell supported about my issues. I’ll be home later for wild sex”
    “Great, grab a case of beer on your way home”
    And I wonder why I’m still single…

  16. Alainne says:

    Great as always, Rob! I also liked the article you linked to (“command respect”), and especially this line: “a woman may be initially attracted to a man who caters to her every whim and rarely stands up for himself, but ultimately she protests: ‘I want a man with a spine, someone I can’t walk all over!’” So true.

  17. Dav says:

    I can’t believe this dude is 21 and not remember the Chris Rock special “bigger and blacker”. He basically says the same thing as Dr. Rob here but he ads its crucial to nod and say “told you that bitch was crazy” when she’s talking about a woman at work who’s “out to get her”.

  18. Robin B says:

    great story, Dr. Rob! Your stories just keep getting better!

  19. “I love your writing for the way normal, sensical advice transforms into surreal narcissistic fantasy, often in the same sentence or at the same time.”
    This is common in the field….I’m guilty of doing it, maybe not verbalizing it, but definitely thinking it.

  20. bob says:

    This is not necessarily true, and slightly sexist.

  21. Wow…that is so true..well, except for the model part. In this case my girlfriend brought back some tranny friend that stole my dishwashing soap (who the hell steals dishwashing soap?!?), and when he-she tried to get it on with me I actually ran out of my own house, jumped in the car and sped off to stay with my other girlfriend.

  22. 10 says:

    You: Yes, absolutely. Do you want to hear about what I think you should do or would you like to talk more about what you’re feeling?
    I literally laughed out loud when I read that. Listen, I love my girlfriend, and am empathetic before I get into problem solving, but I can’t imagine ever uttering that particular sentence without getting the douche chills then having to light myself on fire

  23. Samr says:

    As an addendum to the above: I have found in my experience that it is possible to give the pretense of listening to the female, and still retain the gist of the message, by simply listening only to the beginning and very end of the rant (that is, “conversation”). Kind of like speed-reading, but listening.

  24. Anton Smith says:

    lol I can’t stop thinking about it your post! It’s just so much like my life!

  25. [...] Dr. Rob’s Simple Advice on how to Listen to Your Girlfriend so That You Don’t Get Dumped [...]

  26. [...] you wrote this post for men I thought for sure we’d see a follow-up for the female readers, something to help us in our [...]

  27. Christopher says:

    Sound relationship advice, sautéed in well-meaning but inappropriate sexism.

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