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May divorce be with you

My building has very thin walls and I hear a lot of what’s going on between the couple next door. The man constantly makes disparaging remarks – calling his wife ‘ugly’ and ‘stupid’ and saying she would cheat on him but no other man would want her. What makes a man talk to his wife like that?

—Horrified

Among the advice oddly absent from these lists of “ways to keep your marriage alive” is “if you can’t say something nice, shout it to your wife.”

However, evolutionary psychologist Todd Shackelford finds that cruel belittling is actually a “mate retention” tactic – of some men: very low scores in the What Women Want department. Women appreciate men who are kind, intelligent, emotionally intelligent, generous, and hardworking (“high mate value” men). These men have the emotional and financial assets to take the road to mate retention: show the woman she loves, seduce her with trips and gifts, listen to her, make her laugh, and always get her back.

In contrast, a typical low mate value male is lazy, selfish, boring, and unattractive, and has a low-paying, dead-end job. He lacks the psychology and resources to “provide benefits” (make his wife feel too happy and loved to abandon her). Thus, he is prone to resorting to “expensive mate-retaining behaviors” — verbal abuse or violence or both — with the subconscious aim of making her too emotionally broken to leave.

When abuse is verbal, evolutionary psychologist Aaron Goetz finds it manifests in four ways: cutting remarks about a woman’s appearance, intelligence, and value as a partner and person, and accusations ( often unfounded) that she cheats. The message – because men have evolved to value beauty, intelligence, kindness and faithfulness in their companions: “No other man would want you.”

There is a hint of light in the darkness. Relationship researcher Jason Whiting reports that most women in abusive relationships end up leaving — often because they reach “a breaking point when the fear and pain” become “overwhelming.” Ideally, she will join this fraternity – as soon as possible. Unfortunately, right now, all you can probably do – without risking putting yourself in danger – is hope for a better future for her: “Hang on to your dreams, honey! and dissolve it in lye in a motel tub.”

The Flirt Locker

I am a female in my twenties. I’m sick of guys who try to take my kindness as something more, turning it into an opening to further their own agenda. I’m angry that I have to act cold and guarded to stop men hitting on me (so I don’t have to pick on them and tell them how rude they are). Being clear about my boundaries gets me calling the “B-word,” but it keeps them from coming my way until I have to put my foot down.

—Disgusted

“I smell you,” said the gazelle. In a perfect world, lions would carefully inquire about a gazelle’s boundaries and politely circumvent them rather than “roughly pressing their own agenda”: chasing it and turning it into a brunch special.

Here, in the less than perfect world, people, like lions, “press their own agenda”, which is why medieval castles were surrounded by moats instead of welcome mats. As annoying as it may be to gently but firmly inform a man that his interest is unwanted, men don’t try – as you say – to “interpret a woman” being nice as something more “; they are psychologically inclined to do so.

Research by evolutionary psychologist Martie Haselton suggests that we evolved to make protective errors in judgment – underperceiving or overperceiving threats or opportunities, whichever error would be “least costly” to our mating interests and of survival. For Joe Loincloth, the possible downside of excessive interest—a woman mocking him in front of his cave brothers—would have been far less costly than missing an opportunity to go behind a bush with her and perhaps pass on. his genes to future generations.

Since anger doesn’t change anything except your blood pressure, you might consider rethinking. If a guy isn’t doing anything rude or criminal (grabbing your boobs or saying he’s going to do you in the elevator), why not respond like you would to anything you don’t want: with a version of “No, thank you”?

Treating a guy with kindness and dignity – being politely firm – costs you nothing and pays you a lot: keep the interaction from getting ugly. You can also take a historical view: consider possible unwanted remarks: “You’re really pretty. Do you want a coffee?” – have shaped your entire existence. “I think, therefore I am,” is a lovely sentiment, but the reality is more like, “My dad had enough game to put my mom to bed.”

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