Saturday, October 01, 2011

The Truth About Testing and Why Being a Nice Guy Will Kill Your Relationship or Marriage

It’s not such a big secret anymore that being a “nice guy” is bad for your relationship, and men are finally waking up to the fact that much of the bratty behavior they see from women is in fact nothing more than a “wuss test.” Here’s why, and a few other things you really ought to know…

During an interesting discussion with a new student, we got on the subject of women testing men’s level of wussitude and why being a nice guy doesn’t work for either of you, and since I’ve not spoken about it for a while, I’d like to share briefly with you the high points of that conversation. Even if you think you already know all of this, read it anyway, because you can never tell when the spark of inspiration or revelation will light you up!

To get you newbies caught up, women often push bad positions in arguments, insist on unreasonable concessions, pout, pitch fits, and engage in a lot of other seemingly absurd behavior with a very logical and targeted purpose, and it’s not to get what they want. You heard me; it’s not to get what they want. It’s to get you to say, “NO.” Why?

It’s one of the elements of that “men are hunters, women are gatherers” thing that anthropologists talk about. I’ll spare you most of the boring details, but suffice it to say that as we evolved (and I’m talking about improving and becoming more sophisticated as humans, not about the age-old debate about evolution vs. creation as an explanation as to how we got here, so save the anti-evolution hate mail and “intelligent design” sermons for somebody who will read it), we developed different skills and physical characteristics that made each gender better suited to handle specific tasks.

Over time, men who had larger lungs, bigger skeletons and musculature, and spatial skills (navigation, being able to mentally gauge proximity to guess the arc of a spear as he threw it, developing tools, etc.) to help provide food and protect themselves and others survived longer and reproduced more. Women who had wider hips (to aid in childbirth), advanced language skills (to cooperate with others in building huts, processing skins and sinew to build weapons, and other tasks that were best conducted in cooperative enterprises), sharper sense of smell (to sense danger approaching the dwelling and identify edible or poisonous plants), etc., also survived longer and reproduced more.

As with everything biological in every species of life, those whose survivability traits were the best-developed reproduced the most – survival of the fittest in its purest form. Some men were better protectors and providers than others. Some women were better at tuning in to a man’s traits and determining how much of a hunter and leader he could be. Through the generations, they became biologically “wired” through this process of natural selection (by locking in those genes that created successful traits) to possess skills that helped in finding a good mate.

While chasing down and killing a rabbit or deer with bare hands or a bear with a spear is no longer required for a woman and child to eat, and indeed, in most parts of the world women routinely provide for themselves quite adequately without the help of a man, these mechanisms are still present and active in the female brain, and they automatically engage to size a man up from time to time – indeed, virtually every time they encounter a man, familiar or not. Much has changed, but one thing hasn’t: the nature of the test…

…which, in a nutshell, is to provoke you in some way to see if you will say “NO” to her when she is being unreasonable. Most of the time it is not at all deliberate, and you would laugh yourself silly as you read transcripts of conversations and e-mails in which women said, “I NEVER test a man. That’s silly!” and then confessed to it as their testing actions were called to their attention, after which many of them said, “Oh my God! He must hate me!”

No, he doesn’t hate you, Ladies. Your testing is a pain in our collective ass, but it doesn’t make us hate you. It makes us think you’re nuts until we understand what it is and why you do it. Then it’s usually somewhere between mildly annoying and wonderfully amusing. So on that note, guys, here it is, in a nutshell:

A woman knows, instinctively, without ever being told, as a result of biological development through the ages, that if a man can’t stand up TO her (when appropriate), he cannot stand up FOR her or WITH her. “When appropriate” is a big deal, too, because when it is inappropriate to stand against her, you must also be able to stand with her, no matter how much ego or crow you might have to swallow, and if she’s in the wrong, you have to be enough of a leader to show her that she’s wrong without humiliating and abusing her so she doesn’t push a bad position any further and get embarrassed or hurt.

Write that down, and recite it mentally every time you start to enter a conversation with a woman until it becomes second nature, because you will eventually need it with every women you ever meet if you talk to her more than a few minutes, maybe even a few seconds. They have to know, and are biologically-driven to find out, whether it’s in a casual or formal situation, public or intimate context, and regardless of the nature or longevity of your relationship.

You WILL be tested, and if you can say “NO” to a woman when appropriate she will feel safe in letting you get to know her better, safe in letting you hold sway over her emotions, safe in letting you negotiate on her behalf or as her adversary (because you’ll say “NO” directly instead of saying “YES” and then trying to trick her or cheat her in some other way). No matter what you may think, there is no possible downside to saying “NO” when it’s appropriate and the logical thing to do.

But when is that? We’ll get to that in a minute, but before we do, let me clue you in on a HUGE difference in the way we communicate: nearly all communication you ever have with a woman, and ALL communication that carries the potential for conflict, will start as a negotiation.

It is EXPECTED that you enter a discussion with either a position or a statement that you require more information. So when saying “NO,” unless you are abusive about it, in a woman’s mind and according to the protocol she will naturally follow, that “NO” is not final; it is merely your opening negotiating position, and she expects a chance to give you input that will persuade you. An inappropriate “NO” will only anger a woman if you deliver the “NO” and deny her the opportunity of negotiation. That’s why they get so ticked off when we act like we’re afraid to say “NO;” it’s just too wussy for words in their world.

But it does make things easier if you try to say “NO” only when appropriate, because it shows that you are reading her, which in turn means that you are paying attention to her, a big compliment in the women’s rulebook. The easiest way to draw the line between an appropriate and inappropriate “NO” is to ask one simple question, “Has she earned a ‘yes’?”

If your wife says she wants new furniture for a room, and has contributed to the smooth and secure operation of the household, whether through a job or “domestic efforts,” been loyal and trustworthy, given you love and respect, etc., then she’s earned a “yes,” as long as what she’s asking for is within or can be worked into your budget, obviously. If she’s laid around on her lazy or drunken butt while you and the kids have done everything and complained because you didn’t do it fast enough, abused herself and you, and exhibited a general lack of respect for herself and everyone around her, no, she hasn’t.

Indeed, she’s earned a trip out the door to divorce court, just as you would if you did the same thing. It’s really that plain and simple – ruthless, as one forum member called it, but necessary just the same. (It’s at http://forum.makingherhappy.com, and you should visit, because even though there are under 300 registered members there, the posts are REALLY interesting and helpful.)

Or, put another way, if you think she deserves it and want to agree because of that, she’s earned a “yes,” but if you’re thinking about giving in to earn some favor from her that really isn’t a favor, but something a wife should be doing, you’re about to get busted for being a wuss, and getting the furniture without gaining whatever favor you were after is just the beginning of your punishment, so don’t go there. You can reward good behavior and punish the bad behavior, and you can exhibit good behavior by acting like a man of self-respect, but you cannot “buy off” a woman, at least not any woman worth having. That is in essence saying to her that you think she’s a prostitute, and they don’t take kindly to such things, sometimes even when they are.

As I said to this new reader today, I have searched extensively to find any rational downside to a man having genuine self-esteem and engaging in attractive behavior like being strong for his wife or girlfriend, and I have failed utterly to identify even an iota’s worth of a good reason to do anything less. If a woman says she wants something, even if you think it’s the right thing to do, invite her to make her case, thereby opening the negotiation that she expects and WANTS to engage in. Yes, you read that right.

Women naturally engage in negotiation to communicate nearly everything, and if she’s testing, you’ve made the right move, and if she’s not, she’ll be happy to build the emotion of making her case instead of just having you give in. The same thing if you think you should say “no” – yes, really! If you think it’s a bad idea, say so, and immediately invite her to make her case so that she doesn’t feel shut down and retaliate. It would sound something like:

Her: “Honey, what do you think about our living room furniture?” (Implied statement: “Honey, I want new living room furniture, and it’s time to negotiate.”)

You: “I like it fine, why?” (The “why” is needed for her to continue; if you don’t say it, she will most likely take it that you shut down the discussion!)

Her: “Well I think it needs to be replaced.” (Or in the long version, “Don’t you think it looks old and worn out (or the color is wrong, or it’s uncomfortable, etc.)?” meaning “I want to change it.” Some women will continually ask questions to repeat the statement they are trying to make until you make it back to them, signifying understanding and interest.)

You: “Well, like I said, I don’t see any problem with it, but you live her too, so tell me what makes you want to replace it.”

From there, she’ll either give you good reasons to do so, like pointing out that it’s stained, uncomfortable worn, or she’s so bored with it she doesn’t feel comfortable in the room anymore (yes, that can be a very legitimate reason, as you would know if you knew everything you need to know about women, depending on whether she is truly bored with the furniture and the room condition or if she is generally bored and wanting “retail therapy” on the magnitude of a furniture purchase), or she’ll stammer around talking about where you can buy it on sale, or giving you the old “you’d just buy it for me without asking questions if you loved me,” routine if she doesn’t have a good reason and is either testing you or showing her true colors as a gold-digger (and maybe it’s time to test her a bit, too!)

The bottom line is that if she has a good reason, she’ll enjoy talking about it and enjoy the intimacy and challenge of the negotiation. And if she doesn’t, her behavior will make it quite obvious.

Living with a woman is easy if you are fairly well-matched in terms of values, tastes and interests and you understand what you need to know about women, which is how they are both like us and different from us, and how to communicate well enough to recognize negotiations, questions that are statements, etc. Now, you have a decision to make…

Are you going to spend a lifetime trying to learn on your own and reach the end of your life lonely and still not knowing?

Or worse, assume that I’m full of crap and you don’t need to learn anything?

Or are you one of us guys who see a problem, seek out a viable solution, preferably one that has already worked for somebody else in similar circumstances, and fix it?

If you’re that first guy, I commend your can-do attitude, but isn’t reinventing the wheel a gross waste of time? Not to mention a HUGE risk of having life – family life – as you know it, come to a sudden halt if you don’t figure it out, or don’t figure it out fast enough?

If you’re that second guy, why are you reading my newsletter? If you’re looking for validation of your past actions instead of a solution to your self-inflicted problems, you’re looking in the wrong place. I help people fix problems, not feel good about having created them.

If you’re that third guy, let me hook you up with what you need, and yes, it has already been tested and proven by thousands of couples. Go to http://www.makingherhappy.com and download your copy of "THE Man’s Guide to Great Relationships and Marriage." Read it. Study it. Learn from it the answer to that oldest of man’s questions: “What makes a woman tick?” and that next oldest: “What do women REALLY want?” Then go sweep your woman off her feet…I dare you! (And for those of you in the southern United States, “I double-dog dare you!”)

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

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