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Another dating classic

“Every complaint you raise about me, I suddenly also have about you to an equal or even greater degree — though of course I can’t remember any specific examples.”


February 18, 2009 - Posted by | the science of dating


  1. There are other variations on that one. The first clause can even go – making complaints without examples is the primary substance of the vintage dating argument.

    My personal favorite complaint was that I always make my fiancée feel like she has to defend every point she makes every time she says anything, which I figure I am probably guilty of but not so extensively. If what she said was actually the case there would be several examples, many of them probably within the last week, for her to draw on. She came up with one from the last six months that made her feel that way, but I was making myself even guiltier just by asking her to back up the complaint with examples! The more innocent you are, the guiltier you are!

    Comment by Colin | February 18, 2009

  2. I should be clear that this series of posts is not inspired by any relationship I am currently involved in — rather, they stem from a series of conversations I’ve had with a friend about her relationship, which she cannot blog about because the relevant person reads her blog.

    Comment by Adam Kotsko | February 18, 2009

  3. I should pop in a little disclaimer as well: she was having a really bad day and I am kind of an ass most of the time, so there you go.

    Comment by Colin | February 18, 2009

  4. It would be really passive-aggressive to keep track of specific examples: what kind of malicious, small-minded creep does that? Really, by not being able to recall any actual occasions on which the complained-about behavior was manifested, the person uttering the sentence in the post is just revealing his or her goodness of heart and basic superiority to the other party.

    Comment by ben | February 18, 2009

  5. If it’s a significant pattern, surely at least the most recent instance should be relatively fresh in one’s memory.

    Comment by Adam Kotsko | February 18, 2009

  6. That thing you feel good about being so good at? Every time you demonstrate how good you are at it, it makes me feel bad. Why do you care more about showing off how good you are at that thing, which everybody knows you are good at anyway, than you do about whether or not you make me feel bad?

    Comment by Dominic | February 18, 2009

  7. In any case, you’re not as good at it as you think you are. In fact, I’m embarrassed for you. That’s the real reason I feel bad: because everybody can see you showing off about that thing you think you’re so good at, that they’re too polite to tell you you’re not really as good at as you think you are. Frankly, you were boring people. I know they looked appreciative, but that’s because they were being polite. I’ve seen you do this hundreds of times before, and I promise you, they were as bored of seeing you do that thing as I am.

    Comment by Dominic | February 18, 2009

  8. Fine! Go and spend time with those people who are so impressed with you and your boring showing off, you obviously love them so much. Why would you want to spend time with me anyway – I’m obviously just cramping your style!

    Comment by Dominic | February 18, 2009

  9. As Dominic illustrates, it’s not even necessary for another person to be present for one to experience relationship difficulties.

    Comment by Adam Kotsko | February 18, 2009

  10. In general, when in a relationship it’s advisable to keep all conversations to a minimum. Communications destroy relationships. More sex, less talking.

    Comment by abb1 | February 18, 2009

  11. I find drink and violent sex covers over most of these intricate ‘social nicety’ type problems. That way you never get a chance to work out whether either/any of you are neurotic, psychotic, passive-aggressive or anything. It’s brilliant.

    Comment by infinite thought | February 18, 2009

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