14. Negative Characteristics - RonaldMah

Ronald Mah, M.A., Ph.D.
Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist,
Consultant/Trainer/Author
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Born that Way, Temperamental Challenges in Relationships and Therapy
Chapter 14: NEGATIVE CHARACTERISTICS
by Ronald Mah





Negative indicators for relationship harmony have also been researched.  Buss (1991) had several findings about male versus female personality types and common kinds of complaints.  Submissive men had a slight tendency to complain about wives being condescending.  Unconscientious males tend to complain that their wives are moody and self-centered.  Emotionally unstable males tend to complain that their wives are inconsiderate and physically self-absorbed.  Low intellectual males tend to complain that their wives are possessive-dependent-jealous, abusive, unfaithful, sexualizing of others, and, especially, physically self-absorbed (page 672-73).  Overall, low intellect and low emotional stability in men are linked the strongest to complaints about their wives.  Less agreeable women tend to complain that their husbands are possessive-dependent-jealous, neglecting-rejecting-unreliable, abusive, unfaithful, inconsiderate, physically self-absorbed, moody, sexually withholding, and abusive of alcohol-emotionally constricted.  Low conscientious and emotionally unstable women tend to complain that their husbands are condescending, possessive-dependent-jealous, abusive, unfaithful, inconsiderate, physically self-absorbed, moody, abusive of alcohol-emotionally constricted, and self-centered (page 675).  Overall, low agreeability and low emotional stability in women were linked the strongest to complaints about husbands.

Wives of high surgency men, also called extraversion, self-confidence, and assertiveness among other names complain that their high surgency partners are condescending.  Aliya complained about Samuel this way.  Samuel was an enthusiastic go-getter at work.  It was what made him successful, as well as part of what Aliya initially found attractive.  Now his assertive confidence seemed demeaning at times to her.  His criticism of how she disciplines Charlie is especially aggravating.  Wives of low conscientious men complain that they are unfaithful.  Wives of low intellect husbands complain that they are neglecting-rejecting-unreliable, abusive, inconsiderate, physically self-absorbed, moody, sexually withholding, and abusive of alcohol-emotionally constricted (page 675).  Certain traits affect both genders in the same manner.  Low agreeability for both genders creates behaviors that upset partners.  High surgency in both genders similarly creates behaviors experienced as condescending.  Low emotional stability activates possessive, dependent, and jealous behaviors that are upsetting.  Low intellect creates upset associated with alcohol abuse and emotional constriction (page 676-77).  Mutual complaints around sex had husbands who reported that their wives were sexually aggressive, had wives who reported their husbands are unfaithful and sexually withholding.  Husbands reporting unfaithful wives, had wives who tended to report husbands as sexually withholding.  Wives who report husbands as possessive-dependent, had husbands reporting wives as neglecting, rejecting, unreliable, inconsiderate, and self-centered.

In general, sexual aggressiveness by wives shows the strongest correlations with the wife's upset about her husband, especially on the dimensions of neglecting, rejecting, abusive, unfaithful, sexually withholding, and abusive of alcohol-emotionally constricted.  In contrast, moodiness of the husband shows the strongest links with the husband's upset about his wife, especially on the dimensions of neglecting-rejecting, unfaithful, inconsiderate, moody, insulting of appearance, and self-centered (Buss, 1991, page 680).  Disagreeability evoked the most upset in spouses, especially men.  "Significant increments occur for condescending, possessive-dependent-jealous, neglecting-rejecting, abusive, moody, sexually aggressive, and self-centered (Buss, 1991, page 678).  When men have both low agreeability and low emotional stability, their wives have a litany of complaints: condescension, abuse, unfaithfulness, inconsiderateness, alcohol abuse, emotional constriction, and self-centeredness.  Men with disagreeable wives have an extensive complaint list as well: being condescending, possessive-dependent-jealous, unfaithful, and self-centered.  An indication of bi-directional influences is suggested by Buss' finding that for both men and women low emotional stability is linked with the partner's upset over possessiveness, dependency, and jealousy.  High surgency females seem to upset partners by being condescending and also by being abusive and physically self-absorbed (page 681-82).  Identification of traits and correlations between positive or negative partner results does not necessarily point to how or why traits may have originally manifested or been influenced developmentally.  In fact, identification may do little more than confirm layperson's and the therapist's intuition about unpleasant and off-putting characteristics in partners.  The therapist can demand partners "Stop it!  Just stop it!" but that is already what they demand of each other.  A simplistic interpretation would be that unhealthy people make poor partners; and that unstable and unpleasant individuals tend to find each other to partner with.  Conversely, guidance for finding a partner would be to select a nice, stable, and healthy individual.  Rather simple, and entirely simplistic.  This guidance however would not explain how seemingly nice, stable, and healthy individuals pick problematic mates, or how two individuals unexpectedly became less than nice, stable, and healthy in a relationship.

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Ronald Mah, M.A., Ph.D.
Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist, MFT32136
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