Disagreeing with Women, Made Fun and Effective
In "Why I Quit Dating Girls Who Club, Party, or Drink", a reader notes:
“Anyways, I've been having problems with something that should be fairly simple for most people, but I fear that it is far more nuanced than it seems: disagreeing with woman. I remember reading an article about addressing women objections, other one about not saying "no", but I can't seem to find one on "How to disagree with women" or "How to show disapproval".
My point is that, as time goes by and your confidence goes up and you become more comfortable leading women, what happens a fair number of times is that she'll do or say something you do not like. And while a "nice guy" would just suppress that thing in his mind and get over it, I do not. But I must be doing something very wrong, because I'm under the impression that every time that I do this, me and the girl end up arguing, or feeling that our connection is somehow weaker, etc.
So, I ask you, is there a "right" way to say/show you *don't* agree with an attitude she had (or any other thing that comes to mind)?”
The way you'd hear it from most men, disagreeing with women cannot or should not be done, at least not in a way that's anything remotely close to effective at getting your point across or changing her mind.
You've pretty much got to just bite your tongue and let it slide... unless you really want to get your hindquarters handed to you in tatters.
While I used to subscribe to the old advice of "stay unreactive" - basically, sit there like a lump of coal and do nothing and say nothing, no matter how crazed, incorrect, or offensive she becomes - I'm only a (pseudo-)fan of that these days in certain situations.
These days, I'm a big
believer in dealing with disagreeable statements swiftly, the moment
they come up. How you disagree with women depends on the situation,
though - sometimes it's going to entail direct confrontation, but many
times you'll take a far subtler approach.
Either way, if being completely unreactive is out, you're going to need another set of tools to deal with disagreements.
And I've got just the tools you need.
The root cause of natural disagreement, of course, is unequal information.
You may know something she does not; she may know something you do not; both of you may know something the other does not (very often, this latter is the case in any disagreement you have).
If everyone on Earth had perfect information, there would never be any disagreeing ever again.
Even if people had diametrically opposed agendas (you want that loaf of bread for your starving family, and I want that loaf of bread for my starving family), both would still be automatically in complete agreement about which party would receive the greatest benefit from winning the contest, and even who would win the contest and how it would play out. Perfect information.
Yet, not all disagreement is natural disagreement, based on an information disconnect.
Women also test men, and are inveterate pokers and prodders who take great pleasure in trying to provoke a man to see what his reaction will be.
This may seem annoying to men, but it's great fun to women, and highly educational for them, too - it tells them a whole lot about you they wouldn't otherwise know.
How Do You Handle Pressure?
Do you snap under it?
Hide your head in the sand?
Or deal with it in the most effortless way possible?
Women are incredibly well attuned socially. While some men bumble into disagreements with one another, the majority of the time when a woman says or does something disagreeable in earshot or eyeshot of a man who's dating or pursuing her (or whom she is pursuing), she's doing it to provoke a reaction out of him. How does he deal with the pressure of disagreement?
Most men respond to disagreeable statements or behavior from women by doing one of three things:
Ignoring it - they try to bury their heads in the sand and pretend they don't notice. This is too often what social beginners do, thinking they are being "unreactive"... but actually all it does is paint the man as a pushover fearful of confrontation.
Confronting it - they directly confront women with a challenge to verbal jousting, engaging in a back-and-forth to over who is "right" and who is "wrong."
Quitting - this is the guy who storms off in disgust when a woman starts saying or doing something disagreeable, because he wants to argue with her, but knows he'll lose the argument for whatever reason (maybe he's outnumbered; maybe he's not so hot at arguing), so he auto-rejects instead.
Unless you're in a long term relationship, all of these are self-sabotaging efforts. Challenging back and sometimes quitting (breaking up) can be effective when used right in relationships (ignoring, conversely, is still very bad).
But when a woman has no ties or commitments to you, you do not want to be using any of these.
Instead, you want to realize that she's saying or doing the thing she's saying almost certainly to get a rise out of you.
I was in San Francisco a while back riding the BART, talking with a friend about girls. A couple of obviously gay young men got on the train, and grabbed the seat behind us (in a pretty empty train cabin). No doubt they overheard us talking about women as soon as they sat down; we weren't talking very loud, but anyone listening could've heard what we were saying; we certainly weren't whispering.
Well, next thing you know, one of the two men starts talking to the other one about some raw anal sex he had with another man, REALLY LOUD. And he KEEPS GETTING LOUDER. My friend and I tried ignoring him and just continuing our (pretty quiet by comparison) conversation. But I could see the loud talker repeatedly glancing at me out of the side of his eye, and he started turning his head so that he was communicating almost right in our direction... and still talking louder and louder.
What did he want to have happen? My guess is, he didn't have a specific goal in mind, but he probably thought that one of these might happen:
We'd just pretend to ignore him but privately be disgusted, and this would be really hilarious to him
We'd confront him and ask him to knock it off, and he'd get into some kind of debate about free speech or tell us we were homophobic and not respecting his rights
Or maybe that we'd even turn out to be gay/bi ourselves and would respond to his "announcement" of his homosexuality with one of our own... and then we could all do whatever four gay men do together in San Francisco
Women, while not usually as blatant about it as this, do the exact same thing.
They say and do things just to get a rise out of men, often with a handful of different possible expectations about what those men might do.
This is FUN for them. It's creating some drama and excitement, and provoking someone in a relatively safe way. The worst thing that can happen is that they end up in some kind of heated argument... which will still be fun anyway.
There's often some element of sexual attraction involved - it's why she's so interested in your reaction (though not always; some women really just like provoking people who seem more easily provoked).
Mostly though, it's just an experiment for her - she wants to know how you handle her pressure.
Based on Your Reaction...
Want to know someone's true colors?
Just make her mad.
Women seem to be hardcoded biologically to provoke reactions out of men as an assessment tool. Which makes sense, when you understand that women are in the far more vulnerable position relationship-wise, and it's very easy for a calm men to lie about his attractive qualities, personality, social status, and more.
However, make that man angry, made, or annoyed, and he'll show you his stripes. His real stripes (not the ones he wants you to think are his real stripes).
That's because most people are unable to both be highly emotional and maintain a logically-driven illusory persona. If he gets upset, she sees who he really is.
Most women aren't consciously thinking this, of course. They're just thinking, "Let's see what happens when I poke him with this stick!" in a kind of sly-but-playful, impish sort of way.
Your reaction to her prodding tells her a great deal about you.
In a low commitment situation (where both of you are not committed to each other in a serious relationship):
If you ignore her being disagreeable, she'll view you as a weak, intimidated nice guy
If you confront her about being disagreeable, she'll get excited, but view you as an adversary to be conquered. Your likelihood of turning her into a lover drops pretty close to zero, whether you win (she slinks away in defeat) or you lose (she triumphs over yet another clueless, un-adept man)
If you quit and walk away in disgust, she'll just think you're an over-reactive ninny
In a higher commitment situation (where both of you are in a more serious - i.e., non-casual - relationship):
If you ignore her being disagreeable, she'll view you as a weak, intimidated nice guy, or as no longer caring enough about her to want to help her feel better again
If you confront her about being disagreeable, she'll get excited, and again, view you as an adversary to be conquered. Yet, here, you will then either lose, and be thought weak and subservient, or win, and she'll be conquered, but will hang around and admire your strength and power and view it a turn on
If you quit on the relationship after confronting her and failing to reach a resolution, this can be viewed as powerful move - you're unwilling to put up with baseless abuse / drama - or, if it's done hastily / emotionally, it can be viewed as emotional instability and unreliability on your part - you're someone who will switch on a dime if your emotions are bruised
Obviously, we have a basic template now for dealing with disagreements in relatively serious relationships: confront first and bring things to a head, and quit if no resolution can be found and she's entirely unreasonable.
Drama-management and effectively dealing with fights in relationships we've discussed in-depth already in these articles on the site:
- Women and Drama
- Fighting in a Relationship: Causes and Cures
Conditioning in Your Romantic Relationships
... and if you're looking for handling disagreements in your romantic relationships, look no further than those three articles.
But clearly from what we've discussed above, if you haven't slept with a girl yet... or it's just a casual, low-commitment relationship... the standard avenues most men use for disagreeing with women don't cut it.
So what do you do?
An interesting study here on disagreement, power, and face-saving in "Power, severity, and context in disagreement":
“This paper examines the act of disagreement as realized in university settings and the choice of linguistic markers used to soften or strengthen disagreement. It is based on a corpus of natural data containing over 450 turns in which disagreement was expressed in university courses and academic talks. Brown and Levinson's (1987) factors of power and rating can be used to understand some of the ways in which disagreement was expressed in the natural data, but these factors cannot be treated as formulaic variables, nor are they sufficient to account for all means for expressing disagreement. Relative power of interlocutors was relevant in that the professors observed here used more markers of positive politeness when disagreeing with students than did peers disagreeing with each other or students disagreeing with professors. Severity of disagreement (Brown and Levinson's rating of imposition) could have two opposite results: in one, politeness was increased to lessen face threat to the addressee; in the other, face threat to the speaker outweighed considerations of the addressee's face, leading to aggravated disagreement. Face maintenance concerns, however, do not account for how disagreement was used to serve pedagogical aims, specifically when disagreement was used as part of the elicitation sequence.”
Lost you there? Here's what this study found in layman's terms:
More powerful people (professors, in this case) take a more polite approach when disagreeing with less powerful people (students, here), in order to avoid threatening those students with losing face / status (which the more powerful person can easily do)
Equally powerful people (students-to-students) and less powerful people (students-to-professors) take a less polite approach when disagreeing with more powerful people because there is less risk of them causing the more powerful person to lose face and perhaps more to gain if they're able to
When powerful people are specifically looking to educate, these rules go out the window, because the interest is in eliciting certain reactions in order to show the addressee(s) something, rather than merely proving an immediate point
That is to say, when your boss or teacher or another authority
disagrees you, he's more likely to be polite in order to avoid you
losing face, which backs you into a corner. Lower status people tend to
be much more defensive about their social status, and more easily
"cornered"; it's also quite easy for a high status person to
accidentally strip away status from a lower status person by simply not
being careful enough. He thinks not
only, "How can I make sure he understands the point?" but also, "How
can I communicate this in a way that doesn't humiliate him or
discourage future contributions and participation?"
This is actually quite related to what we discussed in the article on emotional contagion, about powerful people being more emotionally attuned to and respectful of subordinates than the other way around.
Conversely, when you disagree with a boss or a teacher or a coworker or a classmate, you're less likely to consider ways to help him save face, instead just making your argument focusing entirely on the argument. You don't think, "How can I make sure he doesn't lose status?" you just think, "How can I make sure I make my point?"
The sole exception for the powerful person being when he is making an expository point as part of a greater argument. There, he's not so worried about offending, because in the end he will tie everything up in an explanation such that the lower power listener says, "Oh, I get it! That all makes sense! Silly me for being offended a moment ago, he was just showing me something cool."
What's this have to do with you and girls? Plenty. Women are paying attention to how you disagree to find out which one of these boxes you fall into in relation to them: high power authority figure, or low power peer or subordinate.
Disagreement and Status/Power Equality
I've seen a lot of men start out meeting new women who quickly fall prey to getting into logical debates, arguments, and disagreements with women. Even when you tell them this is highly destructive to their efforts to get girls on dates and in bed, they often keep doing it anyway. This is almost exclusively reserved for younger men, too; I don't recall ever having seen a man over 25 or 26 do this.
So why do so many newer, younger men fall into the trap of vehemently disagreeing with women they were (supposedly) trying to take as lovers? Simple: because they view those women as peers or authorities.
They seem them as equal to, or more powerful than, themselves.
Meanwhile, older men have learned not to view women this way - they view women, rather, as silly and cute.
Not in a demeaning way, but rather in an "I appreciate the way that women are, I find it adorable, and I view women as graceful creatures in need of nurturing and playfulness and protection."
Younger men are often more in the habit of viewing women as their competitors, whom they must best in a battle of wills. That might be good for their egos - maybe they get a boost from "winning", a la the winner effect - but it certainly isn't good for their dating and sex lives.
The first order of business in disagreeing with women successfully is in not viewing them as "the competition" or as adversaries in need of besting. That's not what they are. And that's not why they're poking and prodding you with disagreeable actions and behavior, either.
They're not doing it to "beat" you, or to "teach you a lesson", which is why men do these things.
They're doing it to see how you react. It's how they find out if you're a high status man who will deal with them politely and somewhat delicately, or a low status man who either vehemently disagrees, or submits.
Why's this different in relationships? Because status naturally converges in relationships. Even if you're the president or the prime minister, your wife - while she hopefully still loves you and admires you - is far less in awe of you than a member of the general population. That's just how it goes. And if you try treating her like you're much higher and mightier than her in a relationship, it'll come across quite fake.
However, when she doesn't know you from Jack, and you don't know her from Jill, if you treat her like she's an equal or better of yours, prepare to get written off. She doesn't want to meet a man who's already her equal. She wants to meet a man who's her better, and become his equal.
Playfully Disagreeing with Women
We know that you must treat a woman you've just met as lower status and power than you are if you want her to view you as a mate and not as a platonic friend zone candidate.
We also know that the three usual means of disagreement men tend towards - ignoring, confronting, and quitting - don't work so hot here.
What's the solution?
The solution is this: playful disagreement.
That is, you disagree... but in a way that communicates you don't really take the thing all that seriously, and you think she's just joking and playing around too.
Here's an example:
Girl: I think women should run the government. We'd never have wars or poor people if they did.
You: [slowly give her an "uh-huh yeah right" facial expression]
Girl: What? You DON'T think women should run the government???
You: [maintain your "uh-huh yeah right" facial expression]
Girl: Well, *I* think women should run the government.
You: Hey, so did you see the new X movie?
Girl: Um... no, not yet.
You: Well, they have this guy who's a poor person in there, and he ends up becoming super powerful and saving the world. So it's a good thing we have poor people.
Girl: Yeah, in movies!
You: For sure. So you seem like a really passionate person... what plans to use your passion in your future life? I'd imagine you probably have some big and ambitious ideas about what you want to do, no?
Here's another example that uses playful questioning to poke fun at her passionate (and cutely idealistic) sentiments:
Girl: Men are total pigs, ugh! I so wish I was a lesbian.
You: [confused / inquisitive tone] Are men pigs?
Girl: YOU don't think men are pigs?
You: Wait... [somewhat playful tone] so tell me about how men are pigs, I'm confused.
Girl: Are you kidding? Men are just so gross. Like, ew!
You: You mean because they like Rolexes and stuff?
Girl: No! Rolexes are fine. I mean because they like farting and talking about sex and slapping girls' asses. Disgusting.
You: Oh, I feel you. Yeah, women grab my ass too. Women are such animals.
Girl: You probably like it.
You: So do you.
Girl: I do not!You: I bet you'd like it if *I* grabbed your ass.
Girl: No way!You: You're sitting there imagining me grabbing your ass right now, aren't you? ... what a sexist pig.
In both of these examples, rather than:
- Bury your head in the sand pretending you didn't hear her (and look weak)
- Confront her head-on and get into some kind of heated debate (and look weak)
- Quit and give up on the conversation (and look weak)
... you engage her in some playful disagreement that draws her into doing one of two things:
Explaining her argument (if you asked her to do so), then eventually moving into a chase frame (which she enabled by bringing sexual accusations into the conversation)
Looks pretty fun and effective, right? Let's talk about how this works so you've got a little less figuring out to do.
Doing This Yourself
How do you playfully disagree with women like this?
The steps you'll need:
Set your natural reaction to "calm." If you're hot-blooded by nature, you won't naturally be calm with women until you see yourself as an authority figure over them, and when on occasion you still manage to meet very high status women, you'll still respond to them in impassioned ways - shooting yourself in the foot. Train yourself to react first with calmness no matter what happens, and only escalate to something impassioned if the situation warrants it.
If it's minor / doesn't bother you, give her a bored look. Just stare at her like she's said the silliest thing in the world until she cracks and the topic moves onto something more interesting.
If it's bigger / needs addressing, ask her for an explanation. Calmly ask her to explain her position, because you don't understand, and maybe she can help you understand. Women are good at poking men with "everybody knows this, you should too" assumed rules, but tend to stumble when you ask them to explain those rules... because they while they often like throwing around rules they've heard from elsewhere to get a rise out of people, they haven't usually thoroughly thought those rules out themselves and decided how/why those rules are legitimate or can be implemented.
Where possible, lead things into teasing her about being a hypocrite (in a FUN way!). Very important that this isn't done in a, "There, you see! You ARE a hypocrite... HA!" spiteful competitive way, but more of a, "Oh really? [teasing sexy voice:] Then how come YOU do the same exact thing?" (imagine your favorite very sexy actor asking her this in a voice tone dripping with sexual teasing) Done right, this is extremely exciting and enjoyable for her.
Finally, change topics. Once the fun has been had, it's time to get off of contentious/teasing/flirty topics, and onto finding deep diving and out more about her. Ask her something interesting about herself. You can use an assumption like what Alex discussed in his recent article to direct the conversation in a new direction - again, focused on her.
... and then you're done. You've successfully handled a disagreeable situation in a way that not only DOESN'T blow up in your face... but actually leads to an increase in attraction, respect, and even some sexual tension.
Talk about making lemons into lemonade.
Women are always going to challenge and test... it's what they do. It's how they find out if you are as attractive as you portray yourself as, or if it's just an act.
Do you reveal yourself as equal or lower in social power to them by treating them like an adversary or a competitor in disagreeable situations?
Or do you prove yourself socially powerful, by dealing with their prodding with social deftness and aptitude, in ways that communicate you are helping them save face, as any man with legitimately greater status than them would do?
There's much you have to teach a woman in how you react to her disagreeable statements or actions.
But what you teach her - at least in a seduction situation - is not "what's right" or "what's wrong." You're not there to change her mind. You're never going to change her mind as a stranger, anyway.
She's like you - she gets her advice from people she knows and trusts, not people she's only just met who got upset that she thinks or does a certain thing.
Instead, what you teach a woman through how you disagree with her is all about you: how powerful you really are, and where you really fall in the social hierarchy.
Make sure you're teaching her the right things, and you can easily become a more attractive, important person in her life.
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