Friday 18 October 2019

Men's refusal to ask for directions is simply lost on me

'What is it about men and directions?'
'What is it about men and directions?'
Sinead Moriarty

Sinead Moriarty

Over a lifetime, an average man will travel an extra 900 miles lost rather than ask for directions. I'm not surprised.

I don't ever recall my father asking for directions. No matter how lost we were, no matter how many hours we had driven in the wrong direction, hell would freeze over before he would ask anyone for directions.

He is not alone, men do not like asking for directions … ever. As a woman I don't understand it. If I'm lost, the first thing I'll do is pull over and ask a local person for directions. It seems like the most logical and obvious thing to do. I have tried explaining this to my husband, who doesn't seem to share my view.

What is it about men and directions? Why so touchy? Why so pig-headed? If you went to a restaurant you'd ask the chef for his advice on what to order. Why then would you not ask someone who lives in a place you have never been, how to get there?

The strangest part of all is that men are usually very good about giving directions. My husband will spend 20 minutes patiently giving a tourist directions, making sure they understand exactly how to get to their destination. So why doesn't it work the opposite way?

Last year, Easytrip, an Irish company that helps Irish motorists by making their journeys as simple as possible, carried out a survey on male and female drivers. It found that 89pc of women said they would pull over and seek help if they got lost, compared to just 48pc of men, who were happy to plough on, and on, and on …

In the American magazine 'Psychology Today', psychologist Mark Goulston explains that for a man, asking for directions is a sign of failure.

"To admit I'm lost is to feel both anxious and incompetent," he says.

"To ask other men, who I project might be feeling as judgmental towards me as I feel towards myself, is to invite ridicule and humiliation."

It seems a little dramatic to feel so unmanly and weak about asking for simple directions.

A study carried out by researchers from Duke and Pittsburgh Universities, along with the University of San Diego, surveyed students from a high-flying business school.

They found that more than a 25pc of men wait at least half an hour before asking for directions, with 12pc refusing to ask at all.

And 40pc of the men who would consider asking a stranger for directions said they wouldn't trust or follow the directions anyway. Seriously? It is because of this bull-headedness that the average man will travel those extra 900 miles. Surely it's time for men to 'face the fear and do it anyway'.

And if they do take the plunge and ask for directions, it's a good idea to trust those directions and not ignore them.

As someone with a disastrous sense of direction, I probably spend more time asking for directions than I do driving. If I didn't ask I would never reach my destination, so I find it very hard to understand why men are so reluctant to do it.

Thank God for technology. The day I got satellite navigation for my car my life was transformed. I consider Sat Nav to be the best invention since the epidural. It has improved my life and the lives of millions of women and men as we now no longer get lost.

Think of the arguments that Sat Nav has prevented. Think of the wasted time driving around in circles it has cut out. Think of the calm and happy atmosphere in cars across the world as families reach their destinations without an 80-mile wrong turn.

The only danger now is for tourists travelling in Ireland, who have found that Sat Nav doesn't always figure out all of our back roads. Tourists are discovering that when they ask a local for directions, it can lead to an 'interesting' outcome.

An American family driving in Kerry asked a local man on a bike for directions. After asking them where they were from; how long they were staying in Ireland; how long their flight was; had they ever met his brother who emigrated to the US back in the '70s … he finally sent them on their way.

The local man insisted that the Google maps directions they had were sending them on a long route and he knew a good "shortcut using back roads". The poor family proceeded to get completely lost and eventually had to call the Kerry Mountain Rescue Team.

Personally, I think I'll stick to Sat Nav and asking women for directions.

Irish Independent

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