Cognitive Psychologist Scott Barry Kaufman, Ph.D., wrote a fascinating article about dysfunctional couples last year. Kaufman knows a thing or two about the subject – he is Adjunct Assistant Professor of Psychology at New York University, and he writes the blog “Beautiful Minds” for Psychology Today.
Both Kaufman and I are both fans of Curb Your Enthusiasm, which he uses to make a point about compatible relationships.
Larry David is the perfect example of a “blirter,” which means “Brief Loquacious and Interpersonal Responsiveness Test”. High-scoring “blirters” express themselves easily in social situations, have little difficulty responding to others, and do so quickly. Low-scoring blirters are more reflective, cautious when expressing themselves emotionally, and are afraid of saying the wrong thing.
High blirters agree with questions such as “I always say what’s on my mind“, and “If I have something to say, I don’t hesitate to say it.”
Yes, you’re in the presence of one hardcore blirter.
Anyway, those scoring high on the Blirt Scale report higher levels of assertiveness, extraversion, self-esteem, self-liking, self-competence, and report lower levels of rumination, shyness, fear of negative evaluation, neuroticism, and negative emotions compared to lower blirt scorers. Thus, Larry David might actually have higher self-esteem than one would expect! It’s probably less that he’s neurotic and more that he just doesn’t care what people think.
How does this affect you?
Well, blirtatiousness also has strong implications for romantic relationships. According to Kaufman:
“While two blirtatious partners can make for a good match, couples in which the woman is more blirtatious than the man (“precarious couples”) are less intimate and satisfied than any other couple pairing. Interestingly, this doesn’t work the other way around: precarious couples are much more likely to experience relationship dissatisfaction than couples in which blirtatious husbands are paired with verbally inhibited wives.”
Essentially, blirtatious (read: smart, strong, successful) women tend to be critical – since they’re more likely to blurt out their true feelings – which can cause a less blirtatious man to withdraw. These couples are less successful at communicating and managing stress.
So, why in the world do these ill-suited couples partner up?
Blirtatious women are willing to make the first move, and are usually the initiator of relationships. This may start out well, but eventually the quiet male starts to resent the partner’s blirtatiousness, and the blirtatious women gets frustrated with the quiet man.
You can read the full article here: here, but before you do, please let me know if you have seen this phenomenon in action.