Revisionist History


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Every woman has experienced this story at least once in her life: you’re strolling down memory lane with a man you used to bump uglies with on a regular. You’re reminiscing about the fun times you had, sharing secrets you kept to yourself, waxing poetic about the love you shared, rehashing old arguments. It’s all light and fun and warm and beautiful until you suddenly stumble upon an incident of which you have vastly different memories.

Maybe it’s the time he was 90 minutes late to pick you up from work in the middle of a torrential rainstorm. You laughingly remind him of the mascara that was flowing down your face in rivers, jokingly rib him about the suede stilettos you had to throw out when you get home. You sigh as you remember how the important files you were bringing home to work on dissolved in your bag and the hours you spent re-creating them when you got home. You laugh as you reminisce about the epic argument you got in when he finally showed up. You’re over it now so it’s funny to you until he drops those words that all men drop on women at some point in their lives:

That’s not how I remember it at all.

To hear him tell it, he was 90 seconds late to pick you up and you flew off the handle. The sun was shining and it was 28 degrees (that’s a balmy 82 for my US folk) outside with a gentle breeze. In his version of events, you were barely out the door before he pulled up to the curb and leapt out to open the door for you and that you flew off the handle and blew up at him for no fucking reason.

You’re listening to his version of events with your face all screwed up like “Negro are you serious right now?”. But he is. Because men are nothing if not masters of revisionist history.

Men – superior creatures though they may be – have an uncanny and infuriating ability to rewrite historical events in such a way as to make themselves look a) right b) blameless and c) victimized by a woman’s irrational fury. I don’t know if it’s a measure of self-protection or a loose wire or a testosterone thing or what but all men seem to lack the ability to accurately recall their shitty behaviour. Tell a man a story about the time he fucked your little sister in your bed on your Pratesi sheets while she was wearing your brand new Louboutins and he will tell you that by his recollection what he did was bang a raggedy bitch in a shitty hotel while the two of you were on a break.

I don’t know much about this life but I do know this: men love them some revisionist history and it’s fucking annoying.

I know that this shouldn’t bother me or any of the many women who ask me all the time why men do this. I know that the issue of how someone remembers something that happened in the past is just not that deep. I know that the important thing is that we remember the truth no matter what anyone else has to say. I know all this. But still this shit is just annoying. Because when we unsuspecting women suddenly find ourselves listening to a man’s completely wrong and completely self-congratulatory version of past events we have two choices. We can either shut up and let him think what he thinks because it’s the past and it doesn’t matter or we can point out that he’s operating under the misapprehension that he was not a piece of shit in that situation and remind him of his piece of shitty ways.

The downside of option one is that the man gets to continue living his life thinking his shit doesn’t stink when it reality it’s more frowsy than the Sherbourne bus.  The downside of option two is that pointing out to a man that he’s mis-remembering something that happened a long time ago and really doesn’t matter anymore kind of makes us look psycho.

Women all over the world want to know why men insist on rewriting history and what we can do to stop it and the fact is that – short of conducting your entire relationship via gchat so that you have archives of everything that happens – there’s really no remedy for it. You just have to sigh loudly and either correct him or bitch about it to your girlfriends. Because it’s a sad fact of life that when it comes to past relationship experiences there are three sides to every story: the truth, your version, and the man’s revision.

But what do you guys think? Ladies have you had experiences with men revising their history with you? Did you correct him or just let it rock? Men – why in the name of all that is good and holy do you do this? Speak on it in the comments.

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bag lady. digital nerd. beauty junkie. shoe whore. i'm a sucker for big words and box-fresh kicks. know a little bit about a lot of things and have something to say about everything.

Comments 30

  1. Gemmie says:

    Men – superior creatures though they may be – have an uncanny and infuriating ability to rewrite historical events in such a away as to make themselves look a) right b) blameless and c) victimized by a woman’s irrational fury.

    PREACH!!!!!!!! omg max, you hit the nail on the muhfuggin head that that statement right thurr.. SMH.

    almost every guy ive been in a relationship has rewritten our history. now, i dont have the best memory, but i know when a ninja is makin ish up and embellishing like a muthafucka. i may not remember every detail, but dammit i dont misremember.

    my most recent ex was good for making up reasons on why i was mad, despite what i said. “you’re mad because i was late. but i was only late because i was stuck in traffic, a deer hit the car, AND i had to save an old lady from a burning building.” no boo, im mad because you DIDNT CALL AND TELL ME YOU WERE RUNNING LATE!! if you gon be late, call so im not out here waiting for you like a jackass in the rain. you sittin there texting and tweeting errybody else but the person who is depending on you. FOH.

    dammit. now im mad just thinkin about this! lol

    1. max says:

      Gemmie girl you’re telling the truth right now. Because of course that was a real-life example and of course the thing I was MOST mad about was the fact that he was sitting there yapping on his phone the whole time I’m waiting for him and couldn’t take 0.04 seconds to send me a text saying he’s running late. I’m out there thinking maybe he’s dead and he’s cutting up with his boys on the phone?

      And then you can’t understand why I’m mad?!? Fuck outta here!

  2. keisha brown says:

    1 – that pic. I WANT that to hand out to 1/2 my exes. -.-
    2 – you dont REALLY want me to recap the whole story I just told you right? lol.

    But look, I get forgetting stuff. With the life I lead, half the time, I can’t remember what I did the week before. It happens. But it seems to be on more than a regular basis, men forget the stuff THEY did. Which of course, when the relationships ends, men like to say: oh my ex was full of drama and crazy. Negro, you more than likely MADE her that way!!

    Woosah. Letting that b*tch breathe….

    Women have to also take responsibility and bring up their beefs AS THEY HAPPEN. I will admit, that I rarely do this. Not because I want to store up angry juice, but moreso, I want to think about what really has me mad and if the battle is worth it. I am one to choose my words VERY carefully. I dont like speaking out of anger, cuz you can’t take that back.

    Either way, can we stop trying to re-write history and just communicate better?
    Please and Thanks

  3. cannibal_ox says:

    As men we can sometimes be TOO LOGICAL when remembering things and our good intentions (we left the house early just to pick you up) can color the actual events (we still got into traffic and you still got drenched)

    Then there’s always option 2:
    Asking you why you chose to stand in the rain instead of seeking shelter/staying in your office.

    I recall having lunch with my then gf and her mom, and we had one of those “that’s not how I remember it” moments.
    It started to get a little ugly and accusatory when her mom turns to her and says, “I’m more inclined to believe him, because as a woman your emotions are tied to your memories of events”
    Her point was she could probably remember how she *felt* more than the actual details…and further that it would mean that she’d crowd out most of her good memories and keep the bad ones.

    Probably not true for all women, but I think it was useful information.

    1. Malik says:

      “she could probably remember how she *felt* more than the actual details”

      EXACTLY. Depending on her mood and how she was feeling towards me at the moment, I’ve had the same exact story told to me 15 different ways.

    2. max says:

      “Asking you why you chose to stand in the rain instead of seeking shelter/staying in your office.”

      Soooooo not the point.

  4. $liCc@s$lim3 says:

    I don’t remember that at all Max, you’re trippin….. lol

  5. Lady Ngo says:

    I think its just human nature of not wanting to be the bad guy. Women do it too. Sometimes you are just talking out the side of your neck and you know good and darn well what really happened and sometimes…perception is reality. To you it happened this way but in my mind it happened that way

  6. Yeah, this revisionist history (which I also call selective amnesia) seems to be a part of their makeup. I REALLY think that it is. I’ve experienced this not only in relationships, but with guys who were JUST friends and also male co-workers and former bosses. It is very curious…and frustrating.

  7. Sam Sharpe says:

    “Men – superior creatures though they may be – have an uncanny and infuriating ability to rewrite historical events in such a way as to make themselves look a) right b) blameless and c) victimized by a woman’s irrational fury.”

    Max, I don’t want to cause a riot up in here so I’ll censor myself and keep my comments relatively brieft:

    This whole post is an example of female irrational fury.

    1. max says:

      That’s your version of censoring yourself?!?

      1. Sam Sharpe says:

        Lol. Yes, I could have said a lot more. But really, I think this is a case of drawing a distinction along gender lines that doesn’t really exist…we all, men and women, faced situations where one person remembered or didn’t remember things in a dramatically different way…..

        ….but what do I know, I’m just a man right?

    2. Adonis says:

      Sam… That response was fantastic…

      But I will side with Max today…

      Men can be real jerks with rewriting history

      I have to tell people sometimes in my Colin Cowherd voice “You’re going Spielberg on me, you’re making stuff up”

      Idk if I have done this… I may have… But I am a B+ at recalling facts

  8. Slim Jackson says:

    To simplify, men are logical and rational creatures while…well, you know the other side of where I’m going with this. I think a couple of the examples are extreme, but perhaps this was done intentionally. The bigger issue here is the communication component. Sometimes men and women make the mistake of trivializing something that the other thinks is important or a big deal. If she’s crying over spilled milk, I may just be like up, it’s just milk. She may be crying because the milk was in a now shattered glass that Aunt Edna gave her 10 years ago when she turned 16 in Zimbabwe.

    And as much as I say it’s okay for men to show emotion, I gotta say it really needs to be worth it on the “do I feel like dealing with this” meter. And when a chick goes into emo or intense debate mode, it’s just too easy for us to shut down and watch you go off while we say it’s not a big deal. There was a study done on this.

    Good post.

  9. KhemetLove says:

    Will you look at this shit? All the men swear its us. Our emotions influence how we remember things true, but the sheer FACTS of what happened? No matter how emotional a woman is I think she’s going to remember calling up a Negro. And then when that Negro says Nuh uh she made no such call, we just made that up in the thick of it?
    My master of revisionist, Mr. Flaky has an ego. I’m convinced his ego is too fucking big to see himself as the bad guy. When my boyfriend remembers something different I’m more inclined to believe him because I know he’s down for me, and I trust him. Mr. Flaky on the other hand is just out for himself.
    If men are going to call women emotional on this subject I’m going to call men egotistical.

    1. Malik says:

      No offense, but I envision this written with a lot of yelling, neck rolling, and figure snapping. 😛

  10. max says:

    What a surprise that no men can remember a time when they revised history.

    1. Adonis says:

      Ha! Good Point

  11. kookie says:

    Ok an ex and I recently had this discussion too. After many years of wayside effery he and I are friends. He and I were in agreement that he was generally an asshole to me. He had pointed out that I deserved not one iota of the treatment he doled out during our relationship. Randomly I asked him about the lowest point of our relationship. We had, had an arrangement, arrangement ended because he was moving back to his country. I cried, lost some weight and gained a rebound boyfriend and a new job within a month. I was moderately happy. He started calling saying he missed me. Rebound boyfriend and I break up due to unrelated circumstances. Unhappy with my nowhere job, I wanted a sea change. He said he was moving to England and I should too. I refused, we fought. 3 months later, unhappier with work & life, he broaches the subject again pointing out it had always been my plan to spend 2yrs working and living there (I blame Bridget Jones & Pride & Prejudice -BBC adaption for romanticizing England). I gave in and moved. The lowest point came when i found out, after I moved that, whilst selling me the finer points of England, namely we would be together, he had neglected to mention that he actually had 6 months left and was returning home to….a girlfriend. Rookie c*ck up on my part anyway. Fast forward to now, I asked him why he had even bothered pursuing me, then convincing me to move when he was leaving anyway?

    He says the famous words, “I don’t remember it like that. You flew over to England and surprised me.”. Gobsmacked. Stumped. Bamboozled I am. Me? A grown woman fly from Australia to England (10,103 miles) on my own undertaking, a jaunt if you will to surprise an unsuspecting man? (For someone that was surprised he sure did take it well, he almost seemed overjoyed …). I dont believe you, you need more people. KMT.

    1. max says:

      Oh my God what a MOTHERFUCKER!

      That right there is revisionist history in action.

    2. emti says:

      what in the entire fuck????????

    3. keisha brown says:

      but we’re just illogical or emotional creatures right???
      GTEFOHWTFBS…. -_____-

  12. There’s two sides to every story. Sometimes the man isn’t revising, maybe you just saw the situation differently than he did. I can remember several times when myself and a woman had a different story even though we were both there. Sometimes women get in their feelings and don’t know how separate what happened from how they felt. For example,

    her: But then you said you didn’t care what I had to say.
    me: I didn’t say that, when did I say that?
    her: That’s exactly what you said.
    me: But when, when did I say, I didn’t care what you had to say? I remember this conversation and I said, “I’m asking you to stop talking for a second and listen to me so you can understand what i’m saying.”
    her: Yeah, you said you didn’t care what I had to say.
    me: [This b*tch.]

    1. max says:

      Yes you’re right. Sometimes that happens. Actually let me be real – that happens a lot with women. But it also often happens that a man conveniently mis-remembers what he said or did and refuses to accept the woman’s more accurate assessment of the situation; regardless of what evidence she has to support her version.

  13. MeteorMan says:

    Yeah… My experience is that women remember what they thought and how they felt. Not what actually happened. They then treat what they felt in the past as a bookmark for when really happened worded almost exactly to how they internalized that feeling. Ignoring all fact. I swear… To prove them wrong you need notarized documents and ish and they’ll STILL say you’re wrong b/c of what they kinda remember they felt like though rehashed and dramatized a million times over.

    Then have to nerve to call themselves quoting folks. You can’t be serious, making up stuff up from your feelings.

    1. max says:

      Okay again I will agree that often women remember how they felt more than anything.

      Or it may be more accurate to say that they filter the events through their outrage so that they seem magnified.

      However if that is true, it’s also true that men remember events through the filter of their lack of interest or accountability – it wasn’t that big of a deal to you so no way could your behaviour have been as egregious as I remember it to be.

      So yes, maybe women do it too but that doesn’t mean that men don’t do it. Just as long as we’re clear on that 🙂

      1. keisha brown says:

        So yes, maybe women do it too but that doesn’t mean that men don’t do it. Just as long as we’re clear on that

        Thanks. This no we dont EVER do that is some ABSOLUTE BS.

      2. MeteorMan says:

        I’ll say that men are more likely to downplay the emotional aspect of reality.

        I think we are clear.

  14. La says:

    I think there’s a huge difference between arguing over “I was 15 minutes late” vs. “You were an hour and 15 minutes late and “you asked me to move to England” and “No, I didn’t.”

    Btw, kookie, the fact that you didn’t kill him is astounding.

    It’s one thing if time dulls the specifics of a situation but to completely rewrite an entire event is something else entirely. Let’s not compare apples to assholes.

    There are plenty of women who are irrationally angry about every little thing. But there are also plenty of men staunchly against every appearing like the bad guy… even in their own memories. And even if it means “forgetting” their transgressions.

  15. Nadisrad says:

    ” when it reality it’s more frowsy than the Sherbourne bus”….I laughed so hard something popped!!

    I personally choose to point out the frowsiness.

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