MEET THE BITCH-MAKERS
Don’t get me wrong. I love men.
As a young rock and roll groupie I loved lots of men. But over a lifetime of studying men from every angle, I have noticed a very common behavioural peculiarity.
Men tend to do the opposite of what I want them to do.
If I ask them to be faithful, they cheat on me. If I ask them to pick up wet towels, they leave wet clothes on the floor beside the wet towels. If I ask them to pick up a bottle of Shiraz on the way home from work, they arrive with Chardonnay!
It sounds like nit-picking but over time these small acts of rebellion dressed up as forgetfulness or stupidity begin to drive a woman insane. Literally. It’s the ‘leaving-the-toilet-seat-up-on-purpose’ syndrome.
Now, there is science to back up my claim that many men suffer from the disorder known to behavioural scientists as ‘oppositional defiance disorder’.
It’s commonly diagnosed during childhood but I’ve been witnessing it in the significant men in my life for years. And as a professional dispute resolution practitioner, I’m starting to notice it in the office as well.
Jerry Seinfeld once made the claim that ‘men are really nothing more than extremely advanced dogs’ and jokes aside, science has proven that he’s kind of right. Those small acts of defiance against a wife/partner are the result of early programming.
It’s a form of passive aggression. A sneaky way of ‘paying back’ the controlling mother figure.
In the US, three scientists by the names of Baker, Chartrand and Fitzsimons (the latter two being a married couple) conducted a study which determined that many men subconsciously rebel against any request or demand by the one person they perceive as ‘controlling’ or the replacement for a dominant parent from childhood.
In the study, participants were asked to list the significant people in their life and rate them on a scale from submissive to controlling. When given simple requests, the psychologists flashed name cards that were undetectable to the subjects.
It showed that the men in the study subconsciously resisted and indeed often did the exact opposite of requests by the person they most identified as controlling. In many cases this was the wife, sometimes a female boss.
Although this phenomenon was witnessed occurring in both men and women it was overwhelmingly more common in men.
This is passive aggression under the microscope.
In my dispute resolution sessions with couples, passive aggression underlies almost every problem with communication that is vital to a healthy relationship. Key warning signs are…
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