Sunday, January 22, 2017

Why Women Put Up with Dirt Bags

I've seen it, you've seen it, we've all seen it. You have a friend or family member who is with a guy that is so much of a complete waste of oxygen that you keep asking,

Why in the hell does she put up with that guy?

As I was taking a shower this morning (source of many of my greatest insights) ,  I remembered a couple of decades ago when I was teaching a course on History of Psychology, discussing a guy named Alfred Adler who was most famous for coining the term "inferiority complex".

In a nutshell, while his buddy, Sigmund Freud, thought everything was about sex, Adler thought it was all about inferiority. Basically, we come into this world helpless, surrounded by big people more powerful than us and it's in our nature to try to overcome this inferiority.

Adler's theory about people wanting to feel powerful explains a lot of women (and some men) who stick with spouses, friends, significant others who are just plain awful.

Let me give two examples:

Jane is a clerk at 7-11. She graduated high school, got a minimum wage job and has her own small apartment. She's kind of average - which in the U.S. means 10 or 15 pounds over a healthy weight. She's a nice person. She's not setting the world on fire but most of her friends would describe Jane as "okay". 

No one would describe her boyfriend, Bob, that way. The only thing standing between Bob and sleeping behind the dumpster is Jane. In fact, "dumpster fire" might be a good way to describe Bob. He's drunk most of the time, doesn't bathe, has never had a job in his life and his nickname for Jane is "Fat Bitch". Why in the hell does she stay with him?

Jane may tell you that she loves him and no one else understands him. I suspect it is more like this - Bob enables Jane to feel superior and powerful. She has a job (he doesn't). She has friends (he doesn't). She has a decent personality (he doesn't). She's not an alcoholic (he is). Also, he doesn't cause feelings of anxiety about leaving her for a better person - where is he going to go? Even if she is working at a minimum wage job for a jerk of a boss, she can feel like she is a savior in her personal life. Even if Bob doesn't acknowledge it, she knows.

The funny thing is, I have seen many Jane-and-Bob couples and if he happens to sober up and get a job, more often than not, she dumps him!

Let's take a second example:

Janet is a star. She has an MD from an Ivy League university and is on staff at a good hospital. Her goal is to get board certified in cardiology and work at one of the top hospitals in the world. She hits the gym nearly every day, spends a good amount on her hair, nails, make up and clothes so she looks good but not so good that you'd imagine that's all she thinks about. Her friends would tell you that Janet has it going on - but that boyfriend of hers - eyes roll.

Robert manages a shoe store and is a class A jerk. He is always putting Janet down, telling her that she doesn't understand "the real world". He dresses like a million bucks using the credit card on their joint account. He talks down to her constantly about her lack of knowledge of the stock market, economy, etc. - although he dropped out of business school and has zero expertise in stocks other than dropping a bundle of her money. All of Janet's friends and family loathe Robert and have no compunction telling  her so.

So ... what the hell?

From Janet's point of view, Robert needs her. The only thing keeping him from being a social pariah is her.  He'd never go to events sponsored by the American Medical Association if it wasn't for her. She's a good physician but there are better physicians the hospital could hire, but there is no way on earth Robert could find a better girlfriend than her. To her friends, Janet is a star but at the hospital she is just one of several really amazing doctors. Robert, on the other hand, would be nothing without her. By the way, if she admitted that he was a condescending, mediocre creep, what would that say about her for dating him for six years?

So, there you have it, from me and Alfred Adler, why women date douche bags.

My day job is making video games.

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Anonymous said...

Please,more articles like this,Dr Annmaria.

According to this theory,what do YOU do to feel powerful Dr.Annmaria?

Anonymous said...

Women date douchebags because douchebags also assert dominance. If Adler is correct then they could also date nice men who are downtrodden in life or have fallen on hard times, but do they? Of course not. If a genuinely nice man who is struggling financially and socially were to approach such a woman what do you think her reaction would be? Honestly. She'd reject him, brand him a creep and want nothing to do with him if he's lucky. If he's unlucky then she'll friend zone him.

Anonymous said...

This actually explains so much! But the fact that women and people in general can have such an inferiority complex that they want to keep losers like these around is staggering.

Billy Verde said...

About Jane and Bob... I don't think being with a loser makes anyone feel superior. The truth is that there is a fine line between being loser and winner much of time. And just like examining a snowflake, the closer you get to a person the more likely you are to notice their finer nuances that make them different than other people and thus allows you to judge them (or not judge them at all) in a different light.

For example, maybe Bob was abused as a child and only Jane knows about it. Or only Jane cares about it. Maybe if Bob hadn't been abused he'd be a rocket scientist right now and Jane believes in him.

Now Bob using the nickname of "Fat Bitch" is sort of crossing the line between dirt bag and abusive IMO.

There is an interesting video on youtube that explains that why people continue to watch videos from youtubers who they know are established clickbaiters. Basically the video argues that the human brain is wired so that when something is usually disappointing, that on the few occasions when it DOES feel better and work out in a good way, that the sense of pay off or euphoria becomes even greater.

So when you normally click on a clickbait video and are disappointed 4x in a row, that 5th video is going to feel so much sweeter and more satisfying.

Same with a disappointing jerk like Bob. When he actually does something sweet 1/5 of the time, Jane just goes overboard on the euphoria.

Dr. AnnMaria said...

What do I do to feel powerful? Honestly, I write software and it makes me happy. This is part of why I never went into coaching as much as other world champions - I love my work more than judo, and I believe it can help lots of people, too.

Anonymous said...

Ha! Iam so sending this to my sister. I laughed and learned after reading this. I laughed at ("dumpster fire" might be a good way to describe Bob)which IMO is an accurate way to describe men like Bob. In fact, just Bye Bob. Bob belongs in the dumpster with his empty beer bottles. I personally sign my paycheck over to my significant other, because it works better that way. I pay the mortgage, the two car payments, the cell phones, gas and electric, and the cable and some other monthly bills and I'm proud of that because I'm a woman. Now I know that sounds like everything, and it nearly is. However, EVERYTHING else, from toilet paper, to clothes and food is paid through my non dumpster Bob. Everything. Every dinner I eat, every time I get my nails done, Haircut, VACATIONS, the list goes on and on, is courtesy of non dumpster Bob. I pay the big bills and he pays everything else. He isn't saving me, and I'm not saving him. We kinda save each other. To sum it up in one word? EQUAL.
Now, I have learned and hope my sister learns, from your PERFECT example of Robert, what inferiority complex is. Your description is so precise it's scary. I completely understand it. My sister is about to marry a "Robert" who you describe flawlessly, as a major piece of shit, as is dumpster Bob. I PRAY that she comprehends what you are saying, how obvious the dirt bags are and to find simply someone who is your equal not a fucking charity case.
Great blog. Sending link now.

td said...

Unrelated to the main post but on the topic of Fish Lake, etc. you might want to add your games to these listings on "Gaming the Past: Historical Simulation Games in the Classroom".

Unknown said...

You knocked this one right out of the park!

Ardebaren said...

I have no idea why but when I read this I constantly kept thinking about Janet from Rocky Horror... DAMMIT JANET!