Options Are Limited When Dealing With Domestic Violence

Question on Violence, Deep Emotion and Rational Talk.

Tyler:  An earlier commenter touched on this, but I want to expand it into a real question: how does a man deal with a woman using the Violence strategy? Outside Force (aka cops) isn’t as easily used by a man as by a woman:

1. As you say, female violence is more frequent/less intense, thus less likely to leave evidence. A solution to this would be in-home surveillance, but that also is a bit drastic (and perhaps costly).

2. In absence of incontrovertible evidence, it becomes he said/she said, allowing the woman to turn the Outside Force against the man, such as with a false accusation. This presumes a bias in law enforcement toward believing the female account, and I do believe such a bias exists.

Much respect for your work.

Athol: In the case of very minor incidents of violence, you have to see that as a testing the waters event. I’m talking about that first thing where they cross the line into the “that was a bit much” category. That you have to immediately call out as being unacceptable and whatever it was they wanted from that incident, you ensure they don’t get it.

So… Jennifer slaps me on the forearm in response to me saying something teasing to her… that’s not a problem. (I actually kind of enjoy it when she does that.)

But… Jennifer slaps me on the face, saying “Go get the #$%^ing groceries from the car!”… well that’s crossing the line. That I’d very firmly verbally bump back on, and the groceries would rot inside her car before I’d do anything about them. The message being a very clear “The Violence Strategy will not get you what you want” statement.

And for the record, no, there’s no hitting at the Kay Place. We do have periodic drama like every couple does, but we’re both major introverts so… huh… I guess we do self-imposed Time Outs in a double withdrawal strategy. Anyway, I digress…

Unfortunately though, most people don’t do that for the first incident of crossing the line, so it continues. In the case of continuing violence, the options are rather limited, unpleasant and somewhat depressing.

If someone is prepared to be violent in a relationship, they will continue to be violent in the relationship because it is a winning strategy to get what they want from you. Yes it’s wrong, but it does work, so they use it. It’s like the bullies as school shaking you down for your lunch money. They will keep hitting you, and you will keep handing over your lunch money until something breaks the cycle. The bully however will not one day have an epiphany that making you their personal piñata is wrong, because no one gives up a winning strategy.

So you have to accept that once someone starts being willing to use Violence against you, it will continue until something breaks the cycle.

There are four possible outcomes…

(1) You do nothing, she keeps smacking you when you’re insolent. You learn to be whatever she decides is “good” and figure out ways to apologize for things that are her fault, lose all sense of a personal identity, clean up the messes she makes and generally turn yourself into a human shield if she ever looks sideways at the children.

(2) You respond with greater Violence and hit her back harder than she hits you. Well… this might work briefly, but honestly the more predictable outcome is simply an escalation of both of you playing the Violence strategy toward the full colonoscopy of emergency services and interventions. There’s not really a winner here.

(3) You quit the relationship. Actually this may not be a bad option. If there are no kids involved and no particular reason to stay, you really may as well bail on someone who displays this level of poor judgment. I’m betting she’s not exactly a peach in the other areas of her life either.

(4) You get Outside Force involved. This is the only possible route if you want to try and address the situation and also keep the relationship intact. The trick here is that you have to make this as defensively clear that you are not the abuser as you can. Video or audio of her acting violent and/or verbally aggressive, while you are clearly not doing anything other than defensively trying to block and dodge may be helpful. If you are injured and she isn’t, head to the Emergency Room and say what happened, which will then trigger a police visit to follow up on your defensive injuries. Most likely though, the best way forward is simply making a police report by calling the non-emergency number for your local police department. I have seen a number of times that simply making a police report goes a long way to stopping violence happening.

In addition, you can also make calls to Domestic Abuse Helpline for Men and Women and the National Domestic Violence Hotline.

My feeling is that that if you’re a man worried about being automatically framed as the abuser when you are the one being abused, you’re probably going to have to end up in some contact with the authorities at some point whether you like it or not. So you’re probably better off making an early approach to reporting, using the system of reporting that is in place and for lack of a better term… playing the role of the victim.

What is unhelpful is hedging your bets because of your fear you’ll get painted as the abuser, and letting things escalate further and further. That’s when you have the situations where things get completely out of hand, you’re forced to physically defend yourself more than blocking and dodging and when the police arrive on scene they find a confusing and complicated situation to make decisions about. That’s when defaulting to the idea that the larger male was the aggressor comes into play and statistically speaking, once the incidents are at the level requiring police invention, that’s a good bet for them to make.

So yeah. Options are limited and none of them are any fun to choose.

But once someone can hit you and get away with it, they don’t stop hitting you.

Athol Kay on the Art of Charm Podcast

Check out me on The Art of Charm podcast #239 with Jordan Harbinger.

 

http://www.dreamstime.com/stock-images-beautiful-young-caucasian-woman-portrait-image30556944What you’ll learn….

Why Alpha and Beta are different traits.

Why Beta doesn’t count unless you’re Alpha.

Why the Three Love Systems are important.

Why I worry about a great relationship dropping down into just a good relationship, rather than terribly relationship moving up to being just a bad relationship.

Why you have to stop whining.

Why you have to know the difference between a Fitness Test and a Loyalty Test.

Why you have to take “I love you, but I’m not in love with you” really, really seriously.

Why you have to lead in your relationship and how to do it so she doesn’t think you’re being a jerk about it.

 

Was a fun show to do. Let me know what you think about it!

Violence, Deep Emotion and Rational Talk

Okay, let’s start out by sounding completely ignorant.

Violence is an amazing tool to get people to do what you want. It’s quick, easy to do and super effective. In a straight up violence vs. violence lizard brain match up, whoever is the best at it, gets to be in charge of the relationship. Men tend to be bigger, stronger, faster and thus significantly more effective at violence than women are, so that’s a major reason why on a biological level men are in charge of their relationships and women tend to be the followers.

Or put more plainly, I’m a foot taller than Jennifer and outweigh her by 40%. In an ass kicking competition I win easily. I don’t even have to act outwardly aggressive in the slightest, and there’s still going to be part of Jennifer’s lizard brain quietly ticking over in the background aware of the fact that I’m significantly more physically powerful than her.

Of course men these days get a crap ton of education explaining why smacking women around is plain wrong, and that education and social shaming often results in a huge reluctance to ever use violence as a problem solving tool. We’re at a point now where many men are so adverse to using violence, that some women have a sense of impunity if they are violent with their men. Overall the situation seems about even now between men and women, men doing it less frequently but typically with greater damage, women doing it more frequently with less damage.

But the basic rule still stands. If someone is prepared to use violence in their relationship, they are in charge of the relationship. You can attempt to use Rational Talk to them all you like trying to get them to change, but it’s completely ineffective because they can just thump you if you keep talking to them about something they don’t want to hear.

The only way to trump Violence is to use Outside Force, i.e. greater capacity for violence to force the issue. The police, courts and prisons being “outside force”, all backed up by the capacity to Taser you, slap you in physical restraints and drag you into a jail cell kicking and screaming and lock the door behind you.

So…

Violence beats Rational Talk. Outside Force beats Violence.

Now let’s get to emotional drama and tears.

Men are more physically powerful than women and for a huge period of our time on the planet, “outside force” pretty much amounted to another thug or at less something vastly less organized than modern law and order. Thus women have had to adapt and learn other coping skills to advance their interested.

Hello Emotional Psychodrama and Confusion.

Just like the violent people, highly emotionally sensitive people are quite cooperative and delightful when you’re giving them what they want. But if they aren’t getting what they want and especially if they are losing a debate with you, that’s when the entire frame of the debate changes into a maelstrom of emotion, accusations, gunnysacking, DARVO and all-purpose accusations of your inappropriate behavior and abuse.

Women are far more verbally adept and have a stronger ability to channel their emotions into an argument, so most men have terrible trouble in dealing with highly emotional women. Added to that, the modern male faced with a smaller, insulting, toxic person not doing what they want, typically loses about 79.3% of his brain capacity to the task of overriding normal lizard brain functioning and NOT slapping her. Which to the woman looks like he’s having a small stroke and is generally spun as an example of exactly what she’s been complaining about, i.e. his complete inability to have an emotional connection and pay attention to her.

There’s also the thing where excessive emotion can hint at, or directly imply future debates will become violent. This is what smashing or throwing things is all about. It starts with door slamming, then breaking things, then throwing things against a wall, then throwing things near you, then throwing stuff at you, or hitting you. It’s a gradual escalation of threatened violence to get you to comply with what they want.

So here’s another rule.

Deep Emotion beats Rational Talk.

Think about that for a minute because it’s a core complaint many men have. “Why does she become so irrational when we talk about the relationship. Why can’t she just talk about something normally?”

The answer is simple, because as long as the Rational Talk gets her what she wants, she uses Rational Talk. But when it doesn’t, that’s when she goes to Deep Emotion to win the argument.

In those cases, Deep Emotional just looks irrational, in fact it’s an incredibly rational strategy that totally, totally works. In fact it would be irrational of her not to be so irrational. Two wrongs make her right.

Men just aren’t typically as good as women are at the Deep Emotion strategy, so they typically don’t try it out much. In fact, if you see two men having a serious disagreement, it tends to stay in the Rational Talk phase for an extended period of time and if it all goes to a bad place, it tends to skip Deep Emotion and head directly to Violence. Incidentally this is why when a cheated on husband seeks out the other man for a “discussion”, the other man is typically scared witless and backs off quickly. Cheated on husbands tend not to spend much time on the Rational Talk or Deep Emotion phases… it just skips to Violence and the husband typically is significantly better motivated to fight.

This is also why when you have a serious woman vs. woman disagreement, it can descend into a mutually assured destruction approach of emotional nuke after emotional nuke as each attempts to carry the day with the Deep Emotion strategy.

If it’s two drag queens having a serious disagreement, it goes to the Deep Emotion strategy pretty quickly, until someone pulls a wig off and then it gets Violent.

So lets recap…

(1) Outside Force beats Violence.

(2) Violence beats Rational Talk. Violence also beats Deep Emotion.

(3) Deep Emotion beats Rational Talk.

(4) Rational Talk is a winning strategy for getting what you want, when neither party is going to use Deep Emotion, Violence or Outside Force. Ultimately it’s often seen as a form of weakness in that you’re displaying how effective the Violence and/or Deep Emotion strategies are with you because you can’t use them yourself.

So the too long didn’t read…

Rational Talk is completely useless in getting what you want from people prepared to use Violence or Deep Emotion.

So…

What the heck can you do about all that is the question.

The first thing you do when someone starts using the Violence or Deep Emotion strategies, is you stop trying to use Rational Talk with them. You stop because you already know it’s a losing strategy against them. The more you try and use Rational Talk, the more Violence or Deep Emotion is effective against you. So you just stop using it.

Both Violence and Deep Emotion are based on creating a sense of fear, trying to get you to give up your personal power in the relationship, so your partner gets what they want from you. So the second thing you do is start using actions that aren’t based on a position of being fearful. You use Fearless Actions.

In the case of Violence, your Fearless Action is to make a direct appeal to Outside Force. Very frequently escalation toward the use of greater Violence stops, the minute someone starts making a police report. I’ve seen very large, threatening, powerfully built, psych patients routinely become instantly co-operative the minute the police arrived. (Those that didn’t of course… well nurses don’t carry Tasers… so good thing we called the police.)

In short, you prove by your actions, that you will make the use of Violence a losing strategy by calling in Outside Force. Which is why my psych patients usually became more generally co-operative after that first police visit.

If they use Deep Emotion though, your Fearless Action is to also make it a losing strategy, by refusing to have a Display of Low Value in response, and not acting the way their emotional state is demanding you respond. If you’re facing a teenage daughter having an screaming meltdown about wanting a horse for example, you don’t act frightened that you’ll be deeply hurt by the loss of her love, should you fail to produce a horse for her. You simply say, “No pony.” and move on with your day. The key is not play into their emotional state, quitting the conversation completely if you must, and pointedly fail to give them what they want. You make the Deep Emotion approach a losing strategy.

If you can make Violence and Deep Emotion losing strategies, people will stop using them against you. This will force them into trying the only remaining strategy available to them…

…Rational Talk.

 

 

The MAP Coaching Chocolate Chip Cookie Guarantee

http://www.dreamstime.com/royalty-free-stock-image-cookies-image28388706Week Two Coaching Call…

Athol: “Oh yeah, watch for the plate of cookies coming this week.”

Client: “The what?”

Athol: “Cookies. Your wife is going to bake you cookies this week. Just watch for them.”

Client: “Ahh… okay.”

Week Three Coaching Call…

Client: “HOW DID YOU KNOW ABOUT THE COOKIES?”

Athol: “I’ve been doing this a while now. You always get cookies in week three.”

Client: “I don’t know how you knew she would do that.”

Athol: “Chocolate chip right?”

Client: “You’re starting to freak me out. How do you know this stuff?”

Athol: “My confidence is large.”

So….gentlemen, here’s the deal.

If you sign up for 12-Week MAP Coaching, you’re going to get a plate of cookies by the end of the third week of coaching…

…and it’s going to be made by your wife.

In addition, I’m so confident of this, that I’m going to back it with a guarantee.

JEN 22 LRIf your wife doesn’t make them for you, my wife will.

 So drop Jennifer a line and put in your order for cookies.

Plus the coaching will change your life yada yada yada.

(Offer good within the Continental US and people signing up until 3/31/14.)

(Sorry ladies, my confidence is indeed large, but I’m not about to bet your husband is going to bake you cookies.)

 

Dread Game vs. Reality Game

 @Isthereastar:   So something I have been wondering about is whether there is a form of dread that women can use on men when they are in tough spot in their relationship (AKA lazy bear husbands/long term boyfriends) Clearly dread works on women, but can it go the other way?

Athol: Well lets define Dread Game first.

Dread Game: To purposely set out to create an appearance that you would or could cheat on and/or dump your partner, unless they comply with your demands. You underline the replaceability of your partner. Some examples of this are creating dating profiles, going out without your partner to bars and clubs, sending flowers to yourself “from an admirer”, purposely seeking to pull Indicators of Interest from the opposite sex in front of your partner and so on. Basically anything you purposely do to make your partner feel a sinking sensation in the pit of their stomach that the relationship is heading to a very bad place, very soon, unless they comply with your demands.

So to answer your question… women using dread on men is about as equally effective and ineffective as it is when men use it on women.

It’s unquestionably an attention getter. It creates a huge impulse for your partner to behave the way you want them to. However, it’s a very risky move. What it does is sacrifice a lot of Relationship Comfort (Beta), in order to create an impression of you having a much Higher Value (Alpha) than they do. Which is fine if you were running a standard Nice Guy / Nice Girl, low Alpha and high Beta frame. Dread Game can create a quick correction of that. However, if your partner ever figures out your Dread Game moves are simply designed to purposely panic them / are in any way deceptively created / you don’t have the guts to follow through on them anyway, then you lose all the Alpha credit the Dread Game created and you’ve also lost a great deal of Relationship Comfort for nothing.

In other words, Dread Game can be effective and it can also blow up in your face leaving you with a disgusted partner who thinks you’re playing games with them.

Ultimately my biggest concern with Dread Game is that it’s a shortcut and I suspect at some point, you’re going to have that catch up with you somehow. This is especially true for a marriage situation. It’s much easier to snow a short-term girlfriend or boyfriend, than the husband or wife you’ve had for 15+ years.

It’s also very easily a negative approach in that it can gain a “well fuck you for ignoring me” element and it’s a very short pathway to getting off on the infliction of pain on your partner. Purposely inflicting Dread on a partner is a stock-in-trade move of Borderline Personality Disorder, or Narcissistic Personality Disorder spouses for example. Dread Game and Emotional Abuse are at times simply a matter of perspective.

The question then, is what to do when you need to gain your partner’s attention.

The approach that I’m seeing as most effective is slightly slower to work, but less risky. It’s called Reality.

There’s a fairly big overlap in what Dread and Reality look like, but with some subtle differences. The most important of which is the change in frame from consciously doing something to try and evoke a positive change in them, to that of making a positive change in yourself, thus creating natural consequences your partner will have no option but to be affected by.

This is the difference between going out and seeking to pull attention from the opposite sex in front of your partner (Dread), and simply having the opposite sex respond to you in front front of your partner because you’ve improved your Sex Rank (Reality).

The Reality is you’re just hotter now.

The Reality is the opposite sex responds to you better.

The Reality is you’re hotter than your partner.

The Reality is they aren’t holding up their end of the relationship.

The really good news with playing this as Reality Game, is that when Reality is discovered by your partner, it only becomes more effective rather than backfiring on you. You’ve not been doing anything wrong, you’ve kept the moral high ground, you’ve been self-improving but not been trying to destroy the relationship.

What you’ve been doing is pouring a more positive energy into yourself. So if you’re heading toward an ultimatum, it’s only because the Reality of the situation is that you’re moving toward where your partner is forced to either join you in a more positive energy place, or be increasingly determined to try and drag you back into a negative one. A standard Reality Game Phase Four statement is something akin to…

“The reality is that if you don’t allow us to have a win-win relationship, I can’t sustain a win-lose one. So the reality is I’m going to have to find what I need to get for me.”

Or perhaps put more bluntly, something like…

“If you keep drinking, I can’t stay.”

“Go to the doctor, or I’m going to a lawyer.”

“How much longer do you realistically think I’m going to stay and put up with this?”

So eventually, Reality becomes more effective and safer as a strategy than trying to use Dread. There’s just one catch though…

Reality Game can’t be faked. It has to be real, because that’s what Reality means.

The Leadership Moment Quota

Captain and First OfficerSomething I’m seeing a whole lot of these days is what I’m calling the Leadership Moment Quota. Which means, the wife needs to experience some minimum weekly amount of moments of leadership from her husband, for her to act right feel happy about the relationship.

If she gets these Leadership Moments, everything goes pretty smoothly. She likes her husband. She’s agreeable. Sweet. Doting. Charming. Horizontal.

If she doesn’t get enough Leadership Moments… she has to create them by Fitness Testing her husband to try and force them out of him. This annoys her somewhat even if you pass the Fitness Test and really annoys her if you don’t.

So, what’s a Leadership Moment?

It’s any time you (1) create a default choice for something to do, (2) make a decision for her, or (3) ask her to do something for you. Let’s walk through them.

Create a default choice for something to do.

“Let’s get Chinese food and watch Battlestar Galactica on Netflix.”

“Let’s go to the beach on Saturday.”

“I’ll come grocery shopping with you, but we should hit Panera for lunch first.”

“I’ll get the wine, you get the lingerie.”

This works because rather than being some hardass command from above, it creates a default course of action. If she wants to suggest something else to do, she can, but it’s going to require a lot more mental effort coming up with something else to do and justifying why it’s better than your idea. Most times, she’ll just take the path of least resistance and say, “okay”. Which nets you a +1 for a leadership moment. She doesn’t care what happens, she just wants you to create some basic direction she can go along with.

Make a decision for her.

Jennifer: “The red or the blue?”

Athol: “Blue.”

Jennifer: “Peach or cherry?”

Athol: “Well I’ve had your cherry… so peach.”

Jennifer: “We can have leftover chicken and make soup, or I could go get fish and do it on the grill.”

Athol: “Do the fish. Whatever looks good at the store is fine.”

That all seem stupidly easy, because honestly it kind of is stupidly easy. Unfortunately most husbands just see these questions as pointless and annoying. We don’t care if it’s red or blue, we don’t care if it’s peach or cherry, we don’t care if it’s soup or fish. She probably doesn’t care either, that’s why she’s asking. All she’s looking for is for you to make a pointless, trivial, token decision because it makes her feel attracted to you when you make decisions like a boss. Just pick one.

Ask her to do something for you.

This is one mildly harder than the others, but still fairly simple. You just ask her to do something for you.

“Hey can you roast a chicken for dinner? We haven’t had that for a while.”

“I need new shirts, can you shop and find me a couple please. Something like the purple one I have, and anything else that you like is fine.”

“In case we lose power, can you please check on batteries, food and water. I’ll do the propane tank refilling.”

“Can you take this to the post office please.”

As long as the task is easy enough to do, and there’s no reason not to do it, she’ll very likely just go do it and enjoy it as you creating a Leadership Moment. The key is that these are reasonable requests in a reasonable tone of voice. You’re just asking her to do them because you can use her assistance… which frames her as your assistant… which makes her see you as the leader.  Thus generating more attraction to you.

The point is that these are all dominance moves, but they are essentially an understated dominance. There’s no threat behind them or harsh tones. It’s simply setting a direction, asking for what you want, asking for her assistance. You’re just assuming her submissive instinct is going to kick in and she’s going to enjoy the direction. Because after all, female submission doesn’t need to be forced, simply evoked.

10 Reasons It’s “Endocrine Maybe” Instead of Batshit Crazy

http://www.dreamstime.com/royalty-free-stock-photo-love-hate-image29322025For a long time I’ve been saying that all can do for Batshit Crazy, is either medicate it, or run.

Except by “medicate it”, I meant psych meds. I’ll blame my psych / behavioral nursing background for that. Crazy = pills for crazy. Seems simple enough, doesn’t it?

But…

I’m starting to see more and more supposedly Batshit Crazy people suddenly stop being so crazy after getting on the correct set of endocrine meds. It’s really been apparent in watching all the stories of men with low testosterone on the forum who are Cranky Shit Weasels (TM) determined to avoid sex and intimacy, slowly but surely turning into normal guys once they get on testosterone therapy. Which is to say pleasantly dickish.

I’m seeing some of the same changes in personality and mood with women too. Frankly it’s getting to the point when someone presents as simply having something as simple as depression, I’m starting to think endocrine rather than psych as a starting point. Same thing with wildly inappropriate anger or disinterest in sex and other activities.

In general what triggers a “you should go to the doctor and get checked out” thought, is typically a collection of symptoms into what I call Endocrine Maybe. Here’s a list of some you might have…

(1) Lack of sexual interest and/or ability to enjoy it. That covers everything from acting like a captive Panda in the face of the zoo keepers showing you bootlegged Panda porn, to erectile dysfunction or inability to orgasm.

(2) You’re incredibly moody. Your husband stacked the dishwasher incorrectly and you’re acting like a wrestler being called out for cowardice. Stuff like that. Everyone around you walks on eggshells.

(3) You’re exhausted beyond all reason, except you are now specializing in not really doing very much.  You’re tired and unmotivated. You’re starting to see paper plates as a solution to doing the dishes.

(4) You’re forgetful and can’t think straight. You miss important things you have to do and your brain is fuzzy. You probably feel stupid because you keep losing things and can’t figure stuff out. Being moody is a great cover for not knowing what you should do when you just screwed up something by forgetting the obvious. Plus you’re too tired to think straight anyway.

(5) Your weight is keeping pace with inflation. You exercise and eat right, but you’re slowly blowing up like Veruca Salt. Or on the other hand, your weight is mysteriously going down even though you’re eating like Fat Bastard.

(6) If your menstrual cycle was made into an infographic, the graphic designer may as well be a three year old with a red crayon who was told to draw dinosaurs fighting. Goodness knows what’s happening down there. You period is random and confusing. Or maybe it’s just gone completely.

(7) You have your own weather. Everyone else is nice and warm, you’re too cold. Or vice a versa. If the kids are messing with the thermostat again, there’s a 17% chance you’ll drown them in the bathtub.

(8) You’re starting to drink, do drugs, or some other kind of self-medication to keep yourself mentally stabilized.

(9) Everything sucks. It just does. You experience First World Problems as genuinely depressing and frustrating.

(10) Someone printed this blog post off, handed it to you, then dove for safety.

So…

If you have some sort of reasonable collection of those symptoms, maybe it’s time to go visit your doctor, and this is the important part… Tell. Them. Everything.

Seriously now. Don’t hold back on anything that’s wrong with you. Don’t be afraid to ask for an endocrine referral to a specialist if your labs come back with numbers all over the place like a Lotto drawing.

Bonus reason that it might be endocrine…. you’re enraged at the suggestion you should go to the doctor to be checked out.

The good news is that if it is in fact an endocrine disorder, then it’s usually pretty fixable with medication. You can make really quite significant progress on a personal and relationship level once it’s treated. The counter-point to that though, is if it’s endocrine related and you don’t get it treated… well… enjoy the slow gradual worsening of the Batshit Crazy.

And as an aside, Rebecca Watson is the go-to of the MAP Coaches for endocrine stuff, most particularly low testosterone men. You can also check out her blog Secret Life of a Low T Wife.

 

Valentine’s Day and the Gift of an Alpha Experience

@Dewy:  Here’s my dilemma: Earlier today, my girlfriend announced by text that since I am not there on Valentine’s Day this year we should celebrate it this early, this weekend. And she’s expecting a present. Apparently her therapist suggested that we need to be more romantic, and as we don’t normally do much for Valentine’s, we should make a big thing of it this year.

At first the exchange started off pretty lighthearted. She dropped hints about silver or chocolate presents. I dropped hints about more intimate “gifts” instead. She fought a bit for the cause of materialism, and I jokingly pointed out how unmaterialistic I am (and made more sex jokes). But she kept on about presents and eventually suggested that I was making her “feel judged for suggesting we try something fun and different”. (I guess I don’t like being told I’m expected to by expensive presents for someone, or else…).

What do I get her? She just texted me to say she is “buying the components of my present now”. I need to do something in response, however minor, but there are two problems. (1) I have virtually no free time in the next 24hrs to get her anything, and (2) I’m annoyed how she is putting me in this situation of demanding something at the last minute.

Is this sort of a fitness test? If so, is it a shit test or a loyalty test?

Athol: Okay, let’s do the Fitness Test vs. Loyalty Test thing first. Fitness Test meaning she’s looking for some sort of Alpha attraction building response, and Loyalty Test meaning she’s looking for some sort of Beta relationship comfort building one.

This one is pretty ugly because it’s actually a Fitness Test AND a Loyalty Test presented in a Double Bind. Meaning you’re damned if you do and damned if you don’t.

If you act like it’s a Fitness Test and somehow bump back on it and don’t get her something, then it will very likely be announced that you’re failing a Loyalty Test and your lack of gift signifies that you don’t care about her. That claim will be backed up by the authority of the therapist having recommended in. No gift = bad.

If you act like it’s a Loyalty Test and just immediately run out to the fancy gift store like a dog chasing a thrown tennis ball… she’ll eat some of the chocolates, then as her blood sugar dips she’ll find a way to express her quiet disappointment you’re so biddable. Probably by complaining all this chocolate is going to make her fat and you’ll sabotaging her. Gift = bad.

So…. what to do…

Well, (I’m armed with a little extra information from another forum thread,) I suspect a part of the reason she’s depressed / in therapy / on SSRI’s is because she’s in the situation where she’s struggling to find ways to hamster herself into staying with a guy that’s currently low Alpha and high Beta.

My suggestion is to give a gift of something that equates to an Alpha / high dopamine / high stimulation experience for the two of you. i.e. Ride rollercoasters somewhere, parachute jumping, date night out somewhere unusually good, ziplining, waterparks, a seriously extreme bouncy castle with no regard for safety.

There is a gift, so it meets the Loyalty Test side of the Double Bind.  But it turns the Fitness Test around on her and turns the acceptance of the gift into a Compliance Test that she has to pass. She has to step up and do the high stimulation experience, otherwise she’s chicken and/or bitchy for not accepting the gift. Double Bind that back at you baby. Which sounds a little manipulative but all you’re really doing is running your MAP in a way that dovetails with Valentine’s Day. Just add an Alpha experience and give her what she actually needs from you, rather than what her therapist thinks she wants.

@Dewy: Has anyone ever told you that you are a genius?! Most of those activities are a bit out of my budget, but I started rock climbing 3 months ago as part of my MAP and she mentioned she would like to try it. Plus it will be a good opportunity to Display High Value with my mean climbing skills…

Athol: So dear reader…

What’s your plan for Valentine’s Day?

 

Quality Time = Shared Tasks

This one is pretty simple, but it’s amazingly effective for working with a spouse that has a Quality Time love language.

99% of the time men assume that their Quality Time loving wife, wants to just sit around together watching TV. Or go on a date and gaze into one another’s eyes. Or something else completely boring as hell to the male psyche.

Her:  “Let’s have a picnic!”

Him:  *fakes having a seizure*

So…

The solution is in fact stunningly simple and easy. Stop trying to spend Quality Time together, and start Sharing Tasks.

There’s plenty of basic everyday tasks that have more than enough space to share the load together. The most obvious one is the whole cooking dinner –> eating dinner –> cleaning up routine. While you’re both in the kitchen together, there’s plenty of time to Suffer Through Vacuous Crap  (1) Talk About Your Day, (2) Help Out Around The House, (3) Spend Quality Time Together, (4) be Cocky and Funny and (5) avoid a charge of sexual harassment through sheer hotness.

Seriously, that’s all it is. Quality Time = Shared Tasks.

Make the kids lunches together in the morning. Split the Saturday morning cleaning together. Go grocery shopping together. Anything works if that’s her love language.

I also guess you have to act like actually sharing the task isn’t some onerous burden of misery that must be suffered through. Act like you like who you’re working with.

I mean think of all the emotional and physical affairs that start off because people were working together.

Jennifer: Yes! Exactly! People are busy…don’t stress about scheduling Quality Time, just find it where the opportunities already exist.  My favorite is the occasional grocery shopping trip together, which sometimes includes a stop at Panera for a bagel and coffee before we shop.  Task completed + hanging out together = Happy Jen.

Athol: Oh yeah. There’s another type of Quality Time error I see. That’s the one where she seeks you out to offer her assistance, but you’re so amazingly awesome at the task you tell her you don’t need her help. Which naturally she internalizes into you not needing… her.

 

 

Displays of High Value Need to be Tangible Displays (Behold the Wall of Smart)

I keep coming across this thing where genuinely high value people… don’t display their value tangibly. By tangible I mean that in the movie version of your life, the director could just do a 20-30 second pan across your stuff  in the opening credits and we’d have a pretty good head start on your character development. Look at all the awesome stuff about this guy, the opening credits stop… aaaaaaaand… then the reveal shot of our story’s hero. Boom! We already like this guy, don’t we? Yes we do.

Instead…

…I see a lot of Nice Guy faux humility where supposedly material stuff doesn’t matter. I get there’s some obvious concerns about not appearing to be bragging or displaying a bunch of faked high value. That sort of thing is always found out eventually. But I’m talking about guys who take their hard earned value and then bury it so no one can see it. So in the movie version of their life, that 20-30 second pan shot covers a bunch of non-descript crap. Then cue up the narration about how the wife is great, loyal, pleasant and has a horribly low libido.

See how that works?

Look, if you don’t actually display your genuine high value, she’s not going to react to it the same way as she would if it was displayed effectively. You don’t make the opposite sex get horny for you via logic. You have to offer tangible displays of high value. Here’s what I mean…

You have $20,000 cash in your checking account. Logically that’s more than $2000 in cash, but take a roll of twenty $100 bills out of your pocket and it’s far more tangible and real. The cash will have a greater pull on the emotions of everyone around you. The cash is far more tangible.

You have a college degree. That’s nice. But where is the actual degree itself? I mean it’s all nice written on a resume, but why isn’t it framed on the wall somewhere so everyone can see it? Why aren’t you displaying your degree?

You own your own business and can easily afford a nice suit, but instead you dress semi-casual. You’re telegraphing that business isn’t going that great by the clothes you wear. Everyone responds better or worse based on your clothes. Put on a suit and suddenly everyone thinks you’re doing fabulous.

You’ve worked out hard in the gym and your body is finally in the best shape it’s been in for the longest time. But you still wear baggy clothes that hide your body. Where’s the clothing upgrade?

In terms of myself…

One of the things I worked out about a year ago is that Jennifer is attracted to smart guys. Money is nice, hard body is nice, power is nice, dangerous is unwanted and smart is really important to her. So I’ve somewhat unwittingly been Displaying High Value the entire time I’ve been writing MMSL It’s a giant display of smart guy as I’ve written three books and endless blog posts and the forum and coaching yada yada yada.

But unless she’s actually looking at the books, or reading the blog or forum, it’s not really in her face enough to be truly tangible. Which is why I slapped together one of those Ikea cube bookshelves and artistically arranged my books as a pride of place display. It’s got my books, a few other framed things and enough other books to make it look like a functional bookcase, which it is. It’s now very tangible. I call it my “Wall of Smart”.

So in the movie version of my life, when the camera pans over the Wall of Smart, you’d know I was an author several times over, what I wrote about and read, you’d know I was married to Jennifer and get the sense that I was a kind of a deep thinking person. Even better, I’ve placed the Wall of Smart behind my desk, so that on coaching calls on Skype or Google Hangouts, my clients get to see me sitting in front of it. Thus Displaying High Value to them as well.

More importantly, it covered up the horrible 1970′s wood paneling I had been sitting in front of previously.

But even more importantly than that, I just feel so good looking at it and knowing it’s there. I’m displaying higher value and it makes me feel higher value. Which then makes everyone else react to me better because feelings are infectious. I feel better about me, so you feel better about me.

So enough of me. What about you?

In the movie version of your life, what would be in your 20-30 second opening pan shot? What would it tell us about you?

What’s your version of the Wall of Smart?