Sex & Relationships

Why B-tchy Women and A-hole Men (Initially) Finish First

It has to do with emotional neediness.

Photo Credit: MJTH

One of the most unfair truths in life is that the world will often root for a reformed a-hole more than someone who has been nice all along

Why is that?  In the case of the reformed a-hole it’s because when you suddenly no longer have to fear and hate such people, the high is as powerful as pure grade heroine.

Also getting love and caring from a nice person doesn’t feel very special since they give it to everyone.  But getting love and caring from a dyed-in-the-wool b-itch or a-hole… that’s a real prize (especially since love and caring from such a person doesn’t exist).

But in addition to how special love and caring from such awful people can feel what else causes them to be treated better?

One of the things that b-tches and a-holes possess or more accurately don’t have is the neediness and whininess that emotionally needy people demonstrate.  And rightly or wrongly, emotional neediness is the kiss of death in both personal and professional life.

Why is it that emotional neediness so offends and even more so than the demanding behavior of b-tches and a-holes?

One reason is that you know where you stand with b-tches and a-holes and you know where their anger is.  I once heard someone say at a self-help meeting that you don’t really know someone until you’ve seen how angry they are capable of getting at its worst.  Until you see that, they are always holding back something.  In some way there is a relief to be able to see it so transparently in b-tches and a-holes, whereas with nice people the hurt has to reach a very high level before they will show their anger.

Perhaps the more powerful reason it offends is that you often have what is referred to as a transference reaction to whiny and emotionally needy people.  That reaction unconsciously conjures up the memory of an invasive, passive aggressive, guilt tripping parent who may have driven you crazy growing up and the kind of personality you always said you would steer clear of as an adult.

How offensive emotional neediness can be may explain why many financially independent, but emotionally needy people are treated so much worse than very financially dependent (and we're talking, "couldn't put two nickels together" dependent), but non emotionally needy and demanding b-tches and a-holes.

Now it gets a little more complicated as you grow up.  For as the title of this blog entry implied, often the b-tches and a-holes do better initially, but if you have a brain in your head you will do everything you can to get away from them after you realize that they’re just not that into you as much as they’re into dominating and controlling you.

A wonderful example of this played out in the finale in the hit sitcom Mad About You starring Helen Hunt and Paul Reiser.  In that long running show Helen Hunt’s character was always the b-tchy one to Paul Reiser’s ever consoling, ever calming and ever reassuring character.  She was always the one to suggest breaking up and the one threatening divorce.  He was always talking her out of it.  In the finale, the show focuses on the couple 22 years later when their daughter had grown up and when they had finally become divorced.

Interestingly, Helen Hunt’s character shared with her friends, “Can you believe it? After all those years of my threatening divorce, he divorced me.”  On the other hand Paul Reiser’s character shared with his friends essentially that after years of focusing on her being disappointed in him (a.k.a. a negative b-tch), he didn’t realize how disappointed he had become in her for being so critical, negative, unforgiving and unloving.  And in the end it corroded his loving feelings from the inside out.

What’s the takeaway?

Nice guys may finish last early on, but if they persevere, they will attract people that value them for their kindness and so in the end, they often get the chance to finish first.

Too bad it takes one or two marriages to get it straight.

Mark Goulston is a Los Angeles-based psychiatrist and the author of "Just Listen: Discover the Secret to Getting Through to Absolutely Anyone." He is the co-founder of Heartfelt Leadership. Contact: [email protected]

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