Humans need beta-testing too, bug-reports and patches. And some of us, like me, need everything explained in detail -stuff I’m doing wrong, stuff that needs changing, stuff that could be better- explained in excruciating detail or I won’t be able to think about it.
There are gaps in each of our experiences, so expecting someone to be able to do something that you need them to do, without asking them, is illogical. They might not be able, because they might never have done it before and they may never have needed anyone to do it before, so it just won’t occur to them.
To take an example from The Man of Feeling, by Henry Mackenzie, “…she fell back lifeless in the chair… It was not until some minutes after, that it occurred to him to ring the bell [for assistance]”. The thought “occurs” to Harley significantly late, because this kind of thing has never happened to him before; he’s probably sitting there with an internal monologue of “Oh my god, she’s fainted, what do I do, help, the prostitute lady has fainted, is she dead, please someone help, oh god, what do I do?”, ya know?
For me it’s emotional-people stuff, people start crying and I’m just there like “oh my god, they’re crying, what do I do, help” and then I go and get a friend and point them in the direction of the crying person.
I made a mistake, long ago, Year 4. Turns out you don’t laugh when someone explains their grandfather, who is suffering from dementia, called them a banana because he couldn’t remember her name. From then on I have been terrified of dealing with emotional people, believing that whatever I say or do, I’ll just make it worse. My one successful fallback is tea and food, throw one of them at a crying person and you’re on to a winner, in my experience.
This, as it has recently turned out, is not a sufficient response when the relationship that you have is a continuing one where you are a main support for the person. “Talking” is apparently a thing that needs to go on longer than a couple of sentences clearly stating a problem, an explanation and an apology. Who knew? (not me) Some people are talky-emotional-people, they need to be listened to, and responded to. In my opinion, these responses are not always genuinely felt or are, in general, meaningless nothings that achieve nothing- there is no practical solution to be generated from them, so why waste the breath on them. It’s not the person, it’s the problem that needs to be solved.
But I’m wrong, this is not always the case. Sometimes all that is needed is an ear and a few sympathetic (ingenuine) phrases. Which freaks me the f’ out, but I’ll try.