Tag Archives: psychology

How Girls Learn Emotional Reciprocity (and Why Boys Don’t)

From that same Metafilter discussion:

“Adolescent female friendships are LEGENDARILY difficult and drama-prone. And they are! Being an adolescent girl and navigating the emotional landscape of female friendship is hella hard! It’s not just media hype to sell Mean Girls narratives! But I think the narrative the media wants to attach to it is “girls are so over-emotional and mean to each other” when actually I think the deeper narrative here is, “Girls make intense emotional demands on their friendships in ways that boys don’t, and girls have hyperdramatic adolescent friendship landscapes because they are learning to engage in reciprocal emotional relationships without an adult to mediate them. Adolescent girl friend drama is children learning to manage reciprocal emotional relationships like adults. Boys friendships are not, culturally, allowed to be so intense, dramatic, or emotionally-involving, so I think boys do not get the opportunity to learn and practice adult interpersonal relationships in the same way, and boys friendships simply do not place the same emotional demands on them. Girls MUST learn to function with emotional reciprocity in their friendships or get shut out of them; emotionality is so proscribed in male friendships that they simply never face that demand.

“So you have a lot of girls arriving in their late teens and early 20s with a decade of watching adult women manage other people’s emotions and considering it a skill to emulate, and then a decade of struggling through the whirlpools of adolescent female friendships and learning to do the work themselves. They’ve served their apprenticeships. They face demands of reciprocity from other women they’re friends with, and they’re accustomed to the idea that relationships involve giving as well as taking.

“Some boys, however, arrive in their late teens and early 20s without having ever had a peer make emotional demands on them, and without having ever had to function in a peer relationship where they have to both give and take. Their closest emotional relationships are with parents, and parent-to-child is give-give-give so the child is take-take-take. I think a lot of these young men, it has literally never occurred to them that someone they are emotionally close to would make any emotional demands on them, because that has literally never happened, because their early childhood years were full of nothing but women, and their adolescent years featured culturally-limited friendships that were emotionally superficial. So some of these guys? Yeah, they finish college and start dating seriously and they’re perfectly nice guys who have literally no idea how to function as emotional adults because they’re only just now starting to practice. They have the emotional literacy of 11-year-old girls. And, yeah, basically someone’s going to end up having to raise them from 11-year-old-ness in interpersonal relationships to adulthood, because it’s not really a task you can accomplish in the absence of other people with whom to be interpersonally related. …

“And Because Patriarchy we’re going to act like that’s just how 23-year-old men act and all roll our eyes instead of recognizing that, no, they’re actually behaving like 11-year-old girls, but it’s pretty embarrassing for them because it’s one thing when you’re 11 but when you’re 23 you really ought to know better. And at 11 you’re just making everyone around you miserable but at 23 you have the full power to ruin lives with your bullshit.

Full discussion in context.

Dating an Emotional Charlatan

From a Metafilter discussion about modern dating and emotional labor:

“A few years ago, one of my friends began dating an accomplished lawyer who made good money. He was charming and generous. He 100% seemed like he had his shit together and could keep up with her. He cooked for her occasionally and his home was clean and comfortable.

“When they moved in together, his mother emailed her a list of links to Brooks Brothers and his measurements. He had never bought work clothes for himself. During the year they lived together, she had to put him on an allowance because he ran out of money most months. He wanted takeout every night and would pout if she offered to cook instead. His idea of helping out around the house was to unload the dishwasher once a week and demand enthusiastic praise for it. At the end of that year he put extreme pressure on her to re-sign their lease. She ended up paying hundreds of dollars to break the lease two months later, when she broke up with him “out of nowhere.”

“I assure you, the men who are good at fooling women into believing they are competent adults and quality partners are good at fooling you into believing the same. This kind of emotional charlatan isn’t someone a few unlucky women meet in their 20s–these men are everywhere, across professions and classes. I’m definitely skeptical of your confidence in determining which men are good partners from the outside. If women–who have a much larger stake in not dating man-size toddlers–are so often wrong, how do you know that your assessments of other men are correct?”

Full discussion.

Chinese Seniors and Life After Deng Xiaoping

From a Reddit thread about collect psychology of older Chinese people:

“Imagine you were born in 1955, so now you’re 59 years old. Your youth was quite possibly affected by the GLF famine, where you either witnessed or at least heard about people fighting almost literally like animals for survival, often having to compete with their neighbors and “do whatever it takes” to ensure food for their family. These experiences will never really leave you, and their effects will linger with you subconsciously.

You also grew up hearing lots of stories about the wars with Japan and the civil war from your parents, and your education was full of hardline leftist theory. Around the age of high school or university, the WHGM hits and you either become a Guard, a potential target, or try to just hide until the madness is over. The educational system itself melts down for nearly a decade when you were essentially going through your transition to adulthood. Meanwhile, your country essentially commits cultural suicide, leaving a massive hole in your values system, heritage, and sense of identity that still hasn’t even been fully realized.

Then it’s just…over. Deng takes over, and all of a sudden basically pulls a total 180 degree turn from the whole hardline leftist thing. You just go straight from wearing red scarves in your teenage years to becoming a super-competitive business tycoon (or lackey) in what will soon become the fastest-growing economy ever, anywhere, at any time. All the Marxist stuff basically gets gently bumped out of the picture as GGKF evolves, and suddenly you go from being trained to avoid foreign spies and celebrate the proletariat to buying Japanese TVs and working for HSBC, or at a factory making Happy Meal toys for obese American children.

Now you’re flooded with foreign images of wealth you’d never imagined, and money seems to be pouring in. In two decades you go from being excited about your first Panasonic radio to cynically comparing the benefits of an Audi vs. a BMW. In your youth, the government provided the fangzi and nobody needed a che, but now you’re expected to have both to get a serious date.

So how could you, when it’s now your turn to lead society, not create a confusing mishmash? Your life has been a confusing mishmash, and the only constant thing you’ve been able to rely on is having enough resources and guanxi to pull yourself through whatever comes.
Ideology? What does that mean anymore? Cultural identity? Didn’t you spend a decade getting rid of that? As a kid you learned that sometimes you had to be a little ruthless to survive, and the hyper-competitive 80s and 90s rewarded that ruthlessness with piles of cash and the status symbols that came with it.

True, you still have an empty hole in the center of your being, but since you don’t have anything to fill it with you just throw consumption and hedonism (under the guise of “Western culture”) into it, hoping that eventually it’ll be filled up, or that at least it’ll distract you until you no longer care.

Anyway, that’s my best stab at it.”

Full thread http://www.reddit.com/r/China/comments/21b5pk/native_chinaman_rant_over_chinese_mindfckedness/cgbibvd

Image is Deng Xiopeng featured as Time magazine’s Person of the Year in 1979 http://content.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,916563,00.html

Why Being an Adult Is Hard

More musings on being all grown up:

“It’s hard to explain, but for me it’s that the sense of being part of some story where you are the protagonist kind of fizzles out unceremoniously and leaves you drifting for the rest of forever.

As a kid, you’re on a path, there’s a plan laid out for you, and whether you intentionally break from the plan or follow it to the letter, there’s this linear progression of growth, and an ultimate goal to strive for. You have allies, you have enemies, you have trials that you pass or fail, you have moments of catharsis, etc. You feel like part of a beautiful narrative, like the heroes in movies and books and tv shows and stories. You feel like there’s a right and a wrong way to go, and some ultimate fate waiting for you at the end that will sum up what all of it meant.

When you get to be an adult, that illusion crumbles away as you realize that you don’t have a narrative, there is no path or plan, things aren’t always linear, and you’re nobody’s hero. There are no allies, because friends can be both good and bad for you simultaneously. There are no enemies, because frankly no one cares enough to wage a personal war for long. You don’t have a destiny. You make choices that are more a product of random chance than you want to admit, and sometimes the consequences make sense, sometimes they don’t. You may flounder around in a bunch of different directions for many years, ultimately not making any progress, and having nothing of import to show for it. You’re not a good person or an evil person – you’re just an ant wandering around looking for crumbs. No, worse than an ant, because an ant has a purpose in life, to serve its queen and colony. You can choose to align yourself with a purpose, but it may never fulfill you or reward you. And nobody will be waiting with a shiny gold medal for you if you stick to it.

Life as an adult seems less and less like an exciting adventure story and more and more like a delerious, confusing fog of random developments and passing phases that raise more questions than they answer.

I haven’t always felt this way about adulthood, and I probably won’t always feel exactly this way. It’s not as if everything’s hopeless, or that I’ll never try to find a direction for my life. It’s just that the realization of how small your impact actually is, and that you are not destined for anything great, and how subject you are to forces bigger than yourself – that’s a tough pill to swallow.

I just want to add as a final note that no, I’m not suggesting life is totally devoid of meaning or that we should just throw in the towel – just describing a difficult transition. I think when childhood dies, when our dreams die, we go through the stages of grief like with any other loss. I think it’s therapeutic to acknowledge it, and then start rebuilding. Adulthood is different than I thought it would be, and has been hard for me, but I’m not tapping out yet, and neither should you.”

Full thread http://www.reddit.com/r/AskReddit/comments/1z2s2c/what_is_the_most_shitty_thing_about_becoming_an/cfpzwdc

Image is from one of my favorite childhood games, Hungry Hungry Hippo, linked on http://searchnewsstories.com/how-do-you-know-your-baby-is-hungry/

Personal Integrity as Mental Illness

A thread about the Russian TV anchor quitting in the midst of reporting on the crisis in Ukraine comments on personal integrity:

“Our society has an implicit tendancy to view human beings as tabulae rasae with no inner life or essence, therefore social planners attempt to design society in a way that tightly controls and manipulates people “for their own good”. This is not seen as a violation of human freedom and dignity, because freedom and dignity are not recognised by the behaviourist philosophy that animates all social institutions.

That’s why our society is constructed in such a way that there is no incentive to deviate from your assigned role, because your role is considered to be something that is purely imposed on you externally so that you may fulfill the obligations of your social contract. Therefore, actions stemming from ones own sense of integrity are dismissed and marginalised, and ones personal actions are always interpreted through the reductionist lens of self-interest and the degree of your adherence to arbitrary social and legal rules. Acts of personal integrity that objectively seem to go against your immediate social interests are seen as suspicious veiled acts of self-interest at best, and signs of mental illness at worst.”

Full thread http://www.reddit.com/r/videos/comments/1zo1q2/russia_today_anchor_quits_on_air/

Image is of Russian TV newscaster Liz Wahl as she quits her job http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/russia-today-anchor-liz-wahl-686372

Short Circuiting Anger

A redditor talks about how they try to stay calm and not get angry:

“When I feel a strong emotional reaction, I take a few seconds to analyze it. This is the hardest part. When I’m angry, I want to rage, and slowing that roll down used to be damn near impossible. These are the questions I ask myself:

  1. Is this going to really matter in the near future? No rationalizations, no bullshit: will it actually matter?
  2. Did the offensive action/situation come about in malice? That is, is someone trying to harm me?
  3. Will expressing anger fix the situation beyond calming me? Will the people around me and in my life be helped by my rage reaction?

If the answer to these questions is no, I take the time to calm myself down. I remind myself that I am not a toddler, and therefore not the servant of my emotional state.

From that point, I distance myself from the negative emotion. I’ve posted a few times about this, but when I feel really upset, I partition my personality into the part that is upset, and the rational crisis management side. ”

Full thread http://www.reddit.com/r/AskWomen/comments/1zfkxl/how_do_you_deal_with_your_temper/cft9hml

Photo is from Angry Birds

Domestic Abuse Survivor Tells a Future Victim What Happens Next

A survivor of domestic abuse explains what happens next:

“He doesn’t think you can make your own decisions. He doesn’t want you to be able to, either.

he would rather pay me the same amount to not work and stay home/stay with him.

He would rather sacrifice money to have you as personal property in his control.

I’d be relying in him to give me my “allowance”. What if he decides he’s not happy with me, I just end up out of pocket?

It takes away all of your financial independence.

1) This is his intent, and your danger. Abusers aren’t just fucked from day one, or even year one. They show their true colors once they have you financially and emotionally stranded.

He is saying he wants your time to the point of paying for it.  Not only are you now his whore, but there’s another level… Do you hang out with friends without him? Is it a problem if you do? Does it make him feel like he isn’t important, or that it’s taking too much time away from him? This may not have popped up yet, but once he is the sole breadwinner I can garun-fucking-tee that you won’t be seeing friends or family without him, and only when he’s okay with it.

2) you are neither smart, or an equal in his eyes. Look back at arguments. I don’t doubt that he compares himself to you… He already did that with finances.

3) I bet you really feel like he loves you. I bet he’s really good at making you feel that way… Just a little less so recently. Come to think of it, I bet a lot less recently. It’s not that he’s making you feel worse, he’s just worrying about your needs less. All those romantic things you love him for are from quite a while ago.

4) you’re going to stand strong, and he’s going to try to make it up to you romantically if he’s a good abuser, but something like this doesn’t rear it’s head in a normal relationship in the first place. He is going to be sweet as pie for a few days, or maybe even weeks if he works hard, until he’s annoyed that you still aren’t doing what he wants.

Am I crazy for being pissed off about this?

No, but it’s crazy scary that this is something you’re asking. It should be obvious, especially when you’re saving up for a house with him that he can’t even wait to financially isolate you in order to expedite getting a house faster.

Leave. This is fundamental, and he will not change, only hide it until you’re in his control. His intent is clear even if you don’t want to believe it. I’m sorry, and I try to rarely advocate leaving, because this sub is where you go to seek solutions, not to be told to throw in the towel. The difference here is that at this point the cheetah has shown it’s spots, and anything he does now is trying to hide them. He is waaay too sneaky about what he’s doing.

A normal person who respects you might offer you the choice to be a stay at home spouse or mom if you want it… But he’s trying to pay you to do it, getting mad that you’re trying to support yourself like he’s pointed out that you don’t do as much as he does, and is telling you that he won’t even allow you to do certain things for independence, even if it means financing a future together. You can’t win.

You are going to be controlled and abused by him. Remember, abusers must lure you in first with seemingly beautiful acts of love and kindness. Nobody thinks they’ll let themselves get into a relationship like that, but you’re going down that path right now. You need to get out. By the time it’s bad you won’t have friends, family, or money to turn to in order to escape.

Even if you don’t leave, build a financial safety net that he doesn’t know about or control. Sadly, many will not heed advice to get out when the signs are in plain red lights spelled out for you. Denial is a powerful thing. At least make a safety net for yourself so you aren’t powerless when the time comes.”

Full thread http://www.reddit.com/r/relationships/comments/1ywh5l/me_23_f_with_my_partner_23_m_3_years_he_wants_to/cfojpdt

Graphic from http://www.domesticpeace.com/