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Men of Reddit, when someone close to us ask us “How are you?” why do most of us reply with an “I’m good” or similar even if inside we’re broke af?

To break the first lance, here is my “why”:

I want to be a pilar, not a load. Even if I’m %%%%ed inside I don’t want to be a load for others, even knowing that I wouldn’t be I would feel like a load and I just don’t want to.

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[Repost] Sorry, I forgot about a part on the tittle and I couldn’t edit it so I reposted it again. My apologies.

Edit: Well, this realed up a bit. For the record, I’m refering as someone genuinely asking how someone is, not being a part of an standard greeting.

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33 Comments

  1. There’s a great episode of Bojack Horseman that has a great quote about this exact topic. i’ll paste it here

    *”So I stopped at a Jack in the Box on the way here, and the girl behind the counter said, “Hiya! Are you having an awesome day?” Not, “How are you doing today?” No. “Are you having an awesome day?” Which is pretty shitty because it puts the onus on me to disagree with her, like if I’m not having an “awesome day,” suddenly I’m the negative one. Usually when people ask how I’m doing, the real answer is I’m doing shitty, but I can’t say I’m doing shitty, because I don’t even have a good reason to be doing shitty. So if I say, “I’m doing shitty,” then they say, “Why? What’s wrong?” And I have to be like, “I don’t know, all of it?” So instead, when people ask me how I’m doing, I usually say, “I am doing so great.” But when this girl at the Jack in the Box asked me if I was having an awesome day, I thought, well, today I’m actually allowed to feel shitty, today I have a good reason, so I said to her, “Well, my mom died.” And she immediately burst into tears. So now *I* have to comfort *her*, which is annoying, and meanwhile, there’s a line of people forming behind me, who are all giving me these real judgy looks because I made the Jack in the Box girl cry. And she’s bawling, and she’s saying, “I’m sorry, I’m so sorry,” and I’m like, “It’s fine, it’s fine. I mean, it’s not fine, but, you know, it’s… fine. And I would like to order a Double Jack Meal, and I’ve kinda got somewhere to be, so maybe less with the crying and more with the frying, huh?” And the girl apologizes, again, and she offers me a free churro with my meal. And as I’m leaving, I think, “I just got a free churro because my mom died.” No one ever tells you when your mom dies, you get a free churro.”*

  2. It kinda depends, because if you mean the generic “Hey, how’s it going? Good, you? Good.” greeting that everyone does, then no one answers truthfully because the point isn’t to answer truthfully. It’s just a thing we say as a greeting that confirms “We’re all on the same team because we know the same script.”

    If you mean a friend, say, pulling you aside and saying, “Hey, man, you seem kinda out of it, are you ok?” then they are actually asking and you should answer honestly.

  3. Because we know they asked that question as a curtesy. They expect you to say good and if you ssay otherwise they’ll get uncomfortable because they didn’t ask the question to actually know how you are.

  4. – “How are You”

    – “What’s Up”

    Or other versions of a hello is seen mostly as small talk and thus the actual question is glossed over and seen mostly as a “hi”

    _Also, many people don’t wanna delve into their feelings and talk about all the shit that is really wrong. Whether that’s a fear of looking a certain way, or just not wanting to go down that path_

    And certainly, there are just people who are “good” most of the time, like me. Even if I’m upset or angry I know I’ll eventually get over it and can hold mutliple emotions simultaneously, so I just say “I’m good” 🙏

  5. I don’t feel like it’s a good thing to start unpacking my shit onto others unless they specifically state that they want me to emotionally open up the flood gates and/or if it’s an appropriate time and place to do so.

  6. I don’t reply with “I’m good”, I usually reply with something along the lines of “Oh y’know…”.

    The reason I don’t go into it is quite simply because I know people don’t want to hear about it. I’ve never been close with my siblings and for some reason that’s unknown to me, my parents have continuously distance themselves from me over the past 10-12 years. We’re still nice and friendly towards each other but it has turned into a coworker-like relationship. I can feel they don’t actually want to know about my problems in depths. Also, I’ve never had many friends and the ones I have, I feel like they don’t care that much either.

    The only person who genuinely and deeply cares about me is my wife and so I do share my problems with her.

    It’s not that I don’t want to be a burden… more like I don’t want to feel like an idiot. For example I’ve had situations where my mom asked me “how are you?” and I went into my life situation but after a few moments she started saying things likes “I’m sorry, I hope it gets better” or “oh well” and other stuff that people say when they want to cut off the conversation. When I continued talking anyway, she basically just changed the topic to something cheerful and completely unrelated. This happened several times and every single time I felt like a complete fucking idiot afterwards.

  7. Also. Us men don’t really like to talk about our problems unless we feel that talking about them will lead to a solution. That “if you need to talk, I’m here” doesn’t work for most men.

  8. It’s easier to keep it inside than pander to others and pretend they have good advice on my problems

    I don’t care about using other people for help; I just don’t think most have the help I need

  9. My go to answer is “Reviews are mixed.” or a solid “Meh. You??” Sometimes a “Today sux. How about you?” All said in a polite and inquiring tone. It breaks up the monotony of “Fine, you?” while giving the person something to laugh at and/or agree with. If they want to know more they will ask, if they don’t, they won’t.

  10. Cause said person couldn’t help me even if I told them, and it’s nothing that gets better by ranting about it, so sharing does nothing for me and my problem, it only changes the light they see me in.

  11. Everytime I talk about it, it’s always a “but everyone has problems. Everyone deals with shit.” Thanks, fuckface, I didn’t know that before and thats the answer I wanted.

  12. Because most people are just asking to be civil and I don’t want to drag them down into my shit.

    If someone *is* asking because they genuinely care, I’ll give them a more genuine answer like “good days and bad” or “hanging in there.”

  13. Most people don’t actually care how you are doing. It’s just a way to please the social contract to start a conversation like that since, socially, it’s rude to just start talking about the thing you want to talk about.

    I’d prefer they don’t ask if they don’t actually care or want to know. At least then they are being authentic and I can respect that.

    In fact you can have some fun with this if you just start rattling off all the crap in your life to some random stranger bagging your groceries. Watch their face as it turns from general disinterest to regret they asked. I wouldn’t suggest it though if you are a regular customer.

  14. That’s a real UK/US/english culture reaction.

    In a lot of other cultures, you do more than say fine. So if someone asks you how you are doing, and your dog died, you respond back that you are sad because your dog got run over by a transport truck.

    What’s weird with it, is that it’s said rather nonplussed in a lot of cultures. So it acknowledges you are going through something, but not to make a big deal about itm Which when the english here it, and aren’t used to such a candid remark get reallllllly overblown with emotional reactions, or cringe avoid overall.

    It really makes me sad that western english culture either express emotions like an overgrown toddler or appear like all is fine. There are bumps in life, saying it out loud won’t curse you for the rest of it.

  15. Because if I tell you how I’m really feeling, either no one will care or they’ll get very uncomfortable and leave. Better to just not saddle everyone else with my problems and just deal with them on my own.

  16. My go to answer is “I can’t complain enough”. It’s great because I neither had to lie if I actually felt bad, nor explain myself because people mostly just chuckle and don’t ask further questions.

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    As to the why….eh, there are multiple angles to this. Other commenters have already said this, the question is more akin to a greeting than an actual question, so it’s actually not socially acceptable to say anything other than “I’m good”.
    Personally, I also hate having to explain my problems to people and then getting well meaning but useless advice (that is often the same and also condescending because the other person is acting like I wouldn’t have thought of the basic approach they are suggesting). I dwell on my troubles enough as it is, no need for someone else to remind me of them.

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    Lastly, I feel like there is a big societal pressure on men to be strong and confident. If you admit your troubles, many people take it as “oh, this guy’s weak, I’m not going to take him seriously anymore”.

    Funnily enough, contrary to the stereotypes, I’ve personally experienced this primarily with women. They don’t say it out loud, of course, but you can feel a certain kind of condescension in how they treat you after you’ve shown what might be interpreted as “weakness”. It’s like you’re no longer a man in their book. Might be just my personal bias that’s making me feel this way, though, who knows.

  17. This will be buried but here’s my two cents: responding honestly and being manly (in a traditional sense) aren’t mutually exclusive.

    Maintaining an air of stoicism, being taciturn, soft speaking and carrying your big stick, being unaffected by the world crumbling around you, etc. has nothing to do with being happy, jolly, or ‘good’ all the time. Think Clint Eastwood isn’t a rainbow of a man.
    You can tell people youre having an awful day and always turn down help; hell, turn around and do something to make their day better even. You can say you’ve been affected by X problem and proceed to never show it. Having no complexity to your character is boring and makes it seem like you don’t have any insight, or haven’t taken any modern problems seriously. Being a person of action has ALWAYS been manly. Who thinks Nelson Mandela, MLK, or Ghandi was a bitch? They talked openly about the pain and sadness they felt from personal and world experience.

    The other issue with hiding your own trials/how they damage you is youre distancing yourself as a sympathetic ear. Youre undercutting your ability to help people. Be superman and a shoulder to cry on, not a stone. I’m not really a ‘man’s man’ nor do i fetishize the ‘old days of manliness’ but isnt running away from your problems being something of a scaredycat? Just own up to your damage and take care of people anyways.

  18. I’m sorta the same as you. Unless I’m dealing with something physically, my problems are mine to deal with and I don’t usually discuss them.

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    However to jump off your point as being a pillar; I prefer to be an island with desirable exports. I can run support but I do not generally seek support myself. I send you pineapples. And you send me money. They show up reliably, if issues arise contacting me about it is easy, and I offer no issues in reply.

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    But also “how are you” is a canned salutation. So, I offer my own cans in response.

  19. The phrase “How are you?” in a lot of cases is a colloquial greeting. I keep it light with my responses unless it’s a situation where I’m actually having a deep discussion with a friend.

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