Monday, June 05, 2006

How Women Test Men, Part 1

Most of us know that women test men, and those who have followed me for awhile know that they test us in ways that we don’t even see, which can make a man who hasn’t yet read “How to Be Attractive to the Woman You Love” downright paranoid. This is a multi-part discussion which explores communications and testing through extremely common issues, at least on the North American Continent (I know have readers on every continent except Antarctica), the “good towels” or “show towels” today, and "the toilet seat: up or down, and who’s responsibility is it to manipulate it?" tomorrow, and who knows what may come after that?

There are instructions at the bottom of every newsletter pointing to the archive of all newsletters I’ve published since hooking up with AWeber as my broadcaster, yet many people don’t seem to be availing themselves of this wonderful resource. I always get a lot of letters on "testing," but I continue to get questions on the issue of “the show towels” and “the toilet seat” from the newer members. The following letter, from Jake R. still really sums up about all the letters, so we'll go with his for today's Q&A. If you’ve seen this one before, keep reading, because there is new information included. Meet Jake:

Hi David! Man, I bought your e-book, and after getting through the first section I know the relationship is definitely one I should stay in, and I'm in the second section now and a bit "challenged" by all the stuff on how women test us. My wife is a bit of a brat, and while I love her to death, she's constantly giving me grief about all the girly stuff, like hanging towels just so on the towel rack and putting the toilet seat down for her. How can I tell what part of this is a legitimate issue and what part is just her being a brat and what part is a test? Any help would be appreciated. --Jake R.

Well, Jake, congratulations on being an achiever and buying the book, and deciding to make things better in your life. It's action, not wishful thinking, that gets results, and you're now headed in the right direction.

Your question isn't so difficult as it may seem right now, and you'll probably discover the answer as you read further, especially in the communications section, but the toilet seat issue is a classic and one that needs to be addressed, so we'll dig into the whole shebang right here, right now.

First, the communications issue. Pay attention to whether she's asking or whining when she brings up these kinds of issues. Every woman's communication style contains idiosyncrasies that can tip you off (think poker) as to what she's up to, but you have to pay attention and look for consistencies to learn what those "signals" are that you've been missing.

For instance, how does she treat you after you comply or don't comply, compared with how she presented the issue? If she whined and you did what she wanted, and then she treated you like a doormat, she was testing, and you wussed out, where if she treated you well, it was a legitimate issue and she appreciates it. The main thing is to pay close attention to her and learn her habits and how she communicates, realizing that she's saying a lot more with body language and hints at any given moment than with words, and it will quickly come.

The other thing is dealing with the issue of whether her expectation is realistic and valid, or not -- does the issue really matter to anyone, or is it potentially immature (bratty) behavior or a test? The towels and toilet seat are pretty easy issues to analyze and address, so let's dig in.

First, the towels. Does she hang "show towels," or are there just regular towels hanging? We'll discuss the distinction in a bit, and it's important. Whatever is in there, she wants them hung "just so" on the rack, and if they are indeed "show towels," she doesn't want anybody using them. How does her attitude toward the towels compare to her attitude toward the rest of the house? If she's an immaculate housekeeper, and you see that she keeps things neat herself, then by all means, recognize that this is a "nesting" issue, that she's proud of a well-kept house and uncomfortable in a poorly kept one, and make the little extra effort to hang the towels straight.

If you're making the effort and she's not satisfied, when it comes up again, the question, "How exactly do you think the towels look best?" and have her show you the details -- which direction the seams and folds are to be turned, where the little tag is, which way the pattern runs, whatever is important to her. DO NOT ask, "How do you want me to do this?" That's approval-seeking, and you don't want to go there. See the difference? You're looking for instruction, not permission or command orders.

Now, this is really important: As you will see in the attraction section of "How to Be Attractive to the Woman You Love," you must pull this off in a way that allows you to define and exercise the authority in the situation. Once she has shown you what she wants, take a towel from the rack, straighten it out, refold it and hang it as she just described, and say, "Now that I understand what you're doing, I think that it does look better than what I've been doing. I'll do it that way in the future." It's the framing that makes the difference; instead of giving in and complying with her rules, you come across as having viewed her suggestion, and then decided that it was best and that you would do it that way because it was best, not just because she got upset with you about it.

Now, if the rest of the house is a mess and she's asking for perfection in the towel hanging, you've probably got either a test or a brat on your hands. The counter move is the same for both brats and testing (they're frequently, but not always, the same problem): put on the naughty boy smile, and say something like, "Is this the first step in a total makeover, or are we just redecorating the bathroom?" Something to pick at her just a bit, and in a good-natured way to let her know that you've noticed the incongruence, then listen and keep busting on her a bit until her demeanor changes, then switch gears and say, "Look, I like a nice-looking house as much as you. If you're going to make the effort to keep them this way, then I can, too, but when I find towels on the floor or the counter-top, what do you think should motivate me to hang them up?" You've agreed to comply, but still from a position of authority, requiring that she make the same effort.

A variation on this is when there are kids in the house, which tends to complicate everything to some degree. In the case of kids, use the same approach, but also include the kids in the condition: "Look, I like a nice-looking house as much as you. If YOU AND THE KIDS make the effort to keep them this way, then I can, too, but when I find towels on the floor or the counter-top, what do you think should motivate me to hang them up? There's no use in you and I doing things to keep the house neat if the kids are going to come behind us and trash it, so I'll call them in here and we'll show them what we've agreed on and then WE'LL ALL agree to keep things looking better." Again, you've made a decision and acted from a position of authority without coming off like a pig or a tyrant. This builds both respect and attraction, two things you just can't have enough of.

Warning: If you establish that the show towels are indeed a significant issue, DON’T USE THE SHOW TOWELS, NO MATTER WHAT! I didn’t fully understand just how important this really is until recently. It’s obvious that it’s a territorial, thing, a nesting thing, etc., but what’s not obvious is the reason she’s so up-tight about them: THEY ARE EASY TO RUIN AND CAN BE REALLY HARD TO FIND!

Most of the time, these towels are made of cotton, and in case you don’t know much about fabric, organic fibers are generally lousy at holding dye. Consequently, after only a washing or two, they can be faded and look like something other than the bright, pretty decorations that she put them in there to be. Since decorative towels are often the (or one of the) focal points in bathroom decoration for women, they often take extra pains to try to find just the right ones, and when you (or the kids, so back her up on this if you’re a parent) deface them with motor oil, blood, ink, or something else that didn’t come off your hands in the sink, you’ve just blown what may have been a month-long expedition for her to try to find just the right thing.

To bring this up to date, Jake wrote back recently, and he’s on top of things (including his wife, to hear him tell it, as his is one of many great success stories I get from buyers of “How to Be Attractive to the Woman You Love”). I'm going to save the toilet seat for tomorrow. Stay tuned, because it's going to be enlightening and amusing in the extreme, as evidenced by the flood of e-mails I’ve had when I’ve run this lesson in the past!

But, there’s something you can do right now, without waiting for tomorrow’s newsletter or any other. Everything I talk about in these newsletters and much, much more is covered in “How to Be Attractive to the Woman You Love,” and you can get your copy and start making your partner and yourself happy, secure, and full of life. Don’t put if off; procrastination is for losers, as is a crappy attitude that would have you sitting around reading a newsletter picking up crumbs day after day instead of spending less than the cost of a good meal for two to have it all in your hands right now. Go to and get it done now, because life’s to short to take it a few crumbs at a time!

In the meantime, live well, be well, and have a wonderful day!
David Cunningham

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