Why Nagging Women and Silent Men Drive Each Other Crazy

Why Nagging Women and Silent Men Drive Each Other Crazy

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.

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  1. 31

    [email protected], one should not feel that one has settled in a relationship in the first place. Just get out of it and save time, energy (both physical and emotional). So isn’t it better for both parties to be with the right person and be their best self all the time?

  2. 32

    I don’t think being a blirter or quiet are really a bad thing.  I myself am more on the quiet side.  I don’t really like to talk on and on with nothing to say; I also don’t like people to ramble on and on to me either.

    If you don’t have anything worth to say, don’t talk to me.

    But, thats just me… Everyone has their own opinion.

  3. 33

    I am a non-blirter, and I find the trait of blirtatiousness exhausting.

    It could be to do with being an introvert and being sensitive, hearing a continuous stream of opinions and talkativeness takes a lot out of me. It’s not that I hold it against them, but I can only absorb so much before I have to check out.

    I get along vastly better with people who choose their words more carefully. This goes for relationships too. I could never be with someone who engaged me in constant debate, or where there was a constant exchange of opinions and information about everything. I suppose I just prefer to spend time being reflective, and so I can fully understand how a relationship between a blirter and a non-blirter might not work out.

    I don’t think it’s necessarily an alpha thing either. I think you can be strong and successful, a “leader” type, and have opinions but still be selective about expressing them.

  4. 34

    [email protected] 3.
    I guess a blirter can be a positive one or a negative one. A blirter just doesn’t sensor their mind (at least that’s how I interpret it). If someone has a positive mind or a curious mind, then being a blirter may not be destructive.
    I just think being a blirter isn’t necessarily bad since I think there are probably different types of blirters and therefore he needs to focus on what type of blirter is the more destructive type.

  5. 35

    yes,i have seen it in action and I somehow find it tasteless to see a couple where the woman is the doer and the man is shy and quiet.Why? It doesnt feel right!It feels like they probably have it even worse at home and I also think that the man in the end becomes something he should not be.Probably sick. Not because the role should be the opposite according to tradition but because a woman is always more mezmerisi g when she is more relaxed and a man suits better to be initiator.It is simply more beautiful that way!That is why a very attractive very sympati. man can fit an ordinary woman but a strong personality of females should have a even stronger man.I just dont know exactly why:) 

  6. 36

    @ Karl:

    I think you’re missing my “bigger picture point” here.  My point is that there are women who aren’t going to go for the “outspoken vs nice” EVEN IF the “nice vs outspoken” are not available.

    I’ve often gone for weeks or months without a date, just for that very reason.  I do not like outspoken vs. nice.  It is to me, not necessarily WHAT you say vs. HOW you say it.  A point can be made, kindly, and directly at the same time.  What it requires is the presence of mind to be able to step back, breathe, and think.  Those are the kinds of men I have infinitely more respect for.  The kinds that just shoot from the hip constantly, are loud, etc. don’t work for me. 

    My point is that being outspoken rather than nice, is not always going to work. 

    @ Runnergirl,

    Yes indeed, I’ve been around a few of those types.  As a matter of fact, I was reading the latest “Baggage Reclaim UK” blog posting and the article mentioned folks like that one fellow you were mentioning.  The author calls them “Choppers” meaning they are out to bring you down with their words. 

    Overall, I’d much prefer a man who keeps his own counsel, thinks before he speaks, and doesn’t pride himself on just saying everything and anything that comes to mind.  I don’t think it’s an attractive quality at all, for either men or women.

  7. 37
    beth hawkin

    Evan, what happens if the situation is the opposite.The man is the nagger and the woman is the silent, non-confrontational type.

  8. 38

    I have experienced the frustration that comes from a silent partner, however later learned it was because he was hiding his own lack of integrity and knew it would be revealed if he began opening up.  I am occasionally blirtatious, but have never experienced the negative effects spoken of in the article.  Very interesting!

  9. 39

    ” I don’t think people have to slap you in the face with their opinion to avoid being seen as “hiding” things from you.”

    And there it is.  

    Not everything has to be either/or, black/white, completely binary.

    Especially not in relationships.

  10. 40

    Being assertive doesn’t mean you’re right…

  11. 41

    *chuckles* Ohgawrsh, this happened to me! I am a blirter (but also reflective, :P). I don’t think what is wrong is being blirtatious but being unable to say what you feel or think in a way that would connect to the other person. When I look back on my past relationship, I realize that a lot  of things I said could have been delivered in a more compassionate and “sane” manner instead of attacking and just dumping all of my thoughts and emotions on the poor guy. I’m still very outspoken but my interpersonal relationships have improved ever since I learned how to say what I mean without the unnecessary drama. 🙂

  12. 42

    Oh, yeah.  This one really hit home.

    I’m definitely a moderate blirter and, judging by what I read in the comments on this blog, I’m not alone!  😉

    One of my last bfs told me I talked too much.  He was very critical, but not a high blirter.  I thought about it, acknowledged that I did talk moderately, but that is who I am.  I reflected more and recognized that I have always had more positive friendships and relationships with other blirters.  They’re fun and exciting and, hey, if you’re impatient, you can squeeze so much more communication in with them!

    At some point I noticed that blirting seems to be more accepted and even encouraged in some cultures.  I’ve found that the majority of friends I’ve had in my life tend to come from blirter backgrounds; the relationships that have fared the worst were with guys who were from low-blirter cultures. 

    I have worked very hard at not verbalizing my critical thoughts as much as I used to.  It only dawned on me about seven years ago that words can have a profound and lasting effect on others.  I tend to not be very hurt by words said during a fight, but now I know that other people are not this way and I definitely feel regret about things I’ve said in the past.  This provides strong motivation to help me bite my tongue when I want to just “put it all out there” for someone.  😉

    @Zann —  

    Wow.  It sounds like we’re from the same family!  Your description was both painful and hilarious.  I encourage you to write an article about that if you haven’t already.

    @Karl R —

    Thank you for doing the homework for us!  😉  It encouraged me because I’m a blirter, but not very critical nowadays.  Thanks for the morale boost!

  13. 43

    I don’t know, rather than the article suggesting that blirtacious women should only seek blirtacious men, what I take from this is that being critical is harmful to a relationship.  Several years ago I read that women who suppress their opinion in the relationship even though they are hurt or want to say something, are more likely to die of a heart attack than women who communicate in a healthy way with their husbands.  This was especially true for women whose husbands were treating them with contempt.  So while an outgoing husband may pair well with an easy-going wife, that’s probably b/c he treats her well and listens when she has something to say. And she genuinely likes him and doesn’t secretly wish he would change.

    If a blirtacious woman keeps finding that the men she likes end up being jerks, and the men who like her are spineless wimps, maybe she needs to look at herself.  I am not blirtacious but I have ADHD so I would often say what was in my mind unfiltered, interrupt people by accident and talk too much.  This was not good.  I do not say, oh well, I have ADHD so that’s just the way I am.  No, I work on this trait always.  I look at my relationships and evalute how I’m doing as a friend, daughter, girlfriend, sister, etc.  If a blirtacious woman worked on respectful, assertive communication while still valuing her outgoing personality, she would probably really like the results.

    It may not seem fair that a man can get away with being an opinionated jerk more than a woman can, but them’s the breaks.

  14. 44

    I’m dating a blirter and…I. HATE. HER. Ok, so that’s a little strong, but after the most recent nagging spree she went on I realized we’re done. It makes me wonder though if all women nag and if there are any women that can be truly content with their men?

  15. 45

    I can totally agree with this. I, a “blirtatious” woman, was dating a shy/quiet man who seldom expressed himself out of fear/insecurity, for almost 2 years. Initially, it went well because I felt I was able to express myself freely and without judgment on his part. However, as time went by, he began to resent me and avoided conversing with me about everything out of fear I may say something too blunt or “mean.” I began to resent him also because he never initiated anything, and would always rely on me to make decisions and speak for the both of us. It drove me crazy!

    I can say without a doubt, being a blirtatious woman, that I find myself being much more compatible and happy with equally blunt and expressive men.

  16. 46

    Nice post and helped me a lot.

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