Back in the day I was hanging out with a male friend of mine. I warned him flat out that I was PMSing and might be a little irritated or short with him, so I apologize in advance. This ensued:
“Can’t you control it?”
“No, because it’s a flood of chemicals that completely throws me off my game, changes my personality.”
“Well I’m sure other women have learned to control it, why can’t you?”
(Ladies, you will please admire my restraint at not castrating him. Thank you.)
However, now several years removed from the event, I realize that while some men are just insensitive jerks (as are some women, let’s be fair), some legitimately don’t understand why hormones can be a problem. So for the sake of education and understanding, I offer this comparison.
I wake you up at 4am, insult you personally (you’re fat, ugly, and stupid), push you around a bit, then force-feed you a pot and a half of coffee, all before 5am. Then I tell you to go about your day normally. You’re just entering the caffeine crash around noon when I force-feed you another pot while reminding you you’re a failure. This is a rough equivalent of PMS.
Granted, some would be able to handle it better than others, but none would be able to really go through the day like nothing happened. The caffeine would make you crazy, unstable, unable to concentrate, but still lucid enough to recognize that you aren’t yourself and cruelly unable to do anything about it. You’d be sleep-deprived, irritated, and probably have a really short fuse. It’s a very bad day.
Could you get used to it and learn to cope? Sure, but you only get the chance once a month. Hardly enough time to acclimatize. And besides, once you finally get used to being grouchy you discover you’re suddenly mopey instead. You’re always behind the curve. It’s a losing battle.
So gents, I understand that it’s annoying to deal with a lady friend* doped up on her own chemicals. But believe us, we hate it even more than you do. We don’t like to be like this. We are not really in control of ourselves. So when we warn you ahead of time, it’s because we care. We want you to understand that it’s nothing against you. Just try to bear with us, it doesn’t last long. If it’s really a problem and starts to damage your relationship, bring it up when hormones are not in play. (i.e. If she’s PMSing and you tell her to “stop being a f*cking bitch,” it’s not going to end well for either of you.) Figure out what’s best for both of you in that situation, etc. Be reasonable adults about it. You know the drill.
*Of course, this applies to women who you find reasonable (and pleasant) on a regular basis. If the woman in question drives you nuts to begin with, godspeed. I don’t know what to tell you.