Psychological Projection: a theory in psychology in which humans defend themselves against unpleasant impulses by denying the existence of those impulses in themselves, while attributing them to others.
Only, psychological projection isn’t a theory. It’s a genuine phenomenon. In terms of relationships and relationship conflict, it’s both a tactic and an art women have perfected.
Masters of the projection art, I give women credit. I’m actually fascinated by their projection skill, and grin in admiration watching them perform.
Of course, I try not to grin when women are projecting on me, because they are usually very emotional and angry and serious. Feeling they aren’t being taken seriously, grinning only makes them angrier.
Nevertheless, I realize the performance is part of the accusation game women play. Emotional and irrational, women criticize and accuse and provoke, saying whatever comes to mind without thought or hesitation. Cruel, cutting, inaccurate—it doesn’t make any difference to them. Accusing, and in the throes of emotional projection, women deal straight off the top of the deck.
Most men, poor souls, get lost in the melee. Confused and incredulous, men are like, Why, this is totally outrageous! They become angry at the unfairness, and set to setting the record straight and to clearing their name.
The difference with me is, I don’t accept the accusations.
In other words, I don’t get caught up in the projection game. Which is to say, the accusations against me are likely attributable to the issuer, and are a projection of the issuer’s own guilt in whatever regard.
It’s a pretty reliable assumption and approach, actually.
For example, I’m not a rude person. Direct? Sometimes, yes. Rude? No. Regardless of how many times I am accused of being rude. Regardless of the vigorous and relentless effort to convince me I am rude. I don’t accept the premise, the accusation, the guilt, or the projection. I defy it all.
Because I am not a rude person.
As it usually happens, a woman has said rude things to and about me, to provoke me. It also happens that a woman is rudely yelling at me that I am rude when, normally, yelling is considered rude by that same woman. It also happens that, in process of yelling at me that I am rude, a woman is actually herself saying rude things to and about me.
In other words, while this particular woman is demonstrating actual, manifest rudeness in every possible way herself. She, in classic psychological projection, is projecting her penchant for rudeness onto me: I am rude. While she is not rude, and hasn’t the capacity for rudeness, both of which she is clearly demonstrating to be false.
That’s psychological projection.
My approach to this tactic is simple. Accused of being rude, I know I am not a rude person by nature. As a general rule, I know I am not comfortable being rude to people. In fact, I prefer people to be comfortable and at ease around me. I am an encourager by nature, and understanding. I prefer to work things out amiably, and to get along rather than bicker.
Therefore, characterizing me as a rude person is not only inaccurate, but ludicrous. Thus, nobody is going to convince me of being something I definitely know I am not. I reject the accusation out-of-hand and exit the conversation.
The accusation does not apply to me. So why argue a false premise?
Doing so is a waste of time—my time. Thereto, arguing only gives my accuser legitimacy.
Anger is another issue of which women commonly accuse men—men are always angry, and are thus verbally, physically, and emotionally abusive.
Say my wife is angry at me for one reason or another. I’m not angry; she’s angry. The proper and constructive course would be to, one, assume my innocence. Two, to calmly explain the problem. So as to, three, try to peacefully resolve the matter.
Only, that idealistic approach is never what takes place.
My wife is angry. She’s hurling accusations, yelling, projecting her anger onto me. Although I’m the accused being unfairly condemned, I’m not angry initially. The verbal assault continuing, however, and my justifying rebuttals continuously dismissed, I become angry. I start hurling accusations, yelling, and condemning, too.
At which point my wife says, “See? You’re angry. Talk to me when you can be rational and calm.”
“Rational and calm?!” I say fuming. “You were the one with the problem—not me! You were the one angry and accusatory and yelling—not me! I was calm!”
“I can’t talk to you when you’re angry,” she says, with sudden and remarkable composure. “And you’re always angry,” she adds, walking away and in control.
And this is successful psychological projection: become angry, project your anger, start the fight, make the other party angry, deny your angry impulses, deny responsibility for the fight, accuse the other party of having the impulses, and make them responsible for the fight.
Projection is an art. And like I said, women are masters.
And here’s the kicker: in the end, after this altercation has raged for hours or days, men are not only expected to apologize for being rude and angry—for being made rude and angry, no less. They are expected to share culpability for the altercation, too.
Men hear, “I think we both should apologize for being rude and angry, and for the awful things we both said.”
To which men dumbly say: “Okay dear. I’m sorry. Let’s not fight anymore.”
Men say this instead of what they should say, which is, “If you hadn’t been emotional and angry. If you hadn’t been attacking and accusing me falsely. Then none of this would have happened in the first place. This conflict is the result of your actions, which makes it your fault, not mine. So stick sorry up your projecting ass!”
Of course, most men are wiser than me in this regard. They hold their tongues so as to get on with a more peaceful life, which is a mistake.
Why is it a mistake?
Because the projecting BS continues. That’s why.
I operate in emotional reverse. Trying to solve a problem, I am usually calm, reserved, and emotionless in the initial stages of an altercation. There’s a problem; it needs to be understood. I’m calmly weeding the argument, trying to understand the crisis, while attempting to diffuse the immediate anger.
I know my mission in life isn’t to wrong people or to treat them poorly. So I don’t approach accusations and altercations with a guilty conscious. I see them as misunderstandings that need to be cleared up, which is what I attempt to do.
If you keep pressing me, however. If you are irrational and thereby unwilling to acknowledge base inaccuracies in your argument against me. Then I get pissed-off. Once pissed off, it doesn’t make a whole lot of difference to me what happens or whose feelings get hurt.
And not only will I rudely get in your ass. I’m indifferent to charges of verbal and emotional abuse. And reeling me back in from my pissed-off state is virtually impossible, too.
And as for this 50/50 apology rule? As for getting me to apologize for a conflict I did not incite?
Why, there’s a phrase for such an attempt: an effort in futility.
If any apologies are going to be made, they’ll be made to me. That’s how that deal is going to work, or there won’t be any deal.
Why is it important that appropriate apologies be made?
Because the projecting BS continues. That’s why.
We hear all of this therapist-speak about managing relational conflict effectively and progressively and curatively. As couples we are supposed to assume innocence; we’re supposed to calmly make our concerns known; and we’re supposed to approach disputes in in a spirit of gentle inquiry and ready, impending absolution.
Well, when these fundamental ideas were communicated by therapists in session, women must have been in the ladies room:
Woman, upon her return: “Okay. I’m back. What did I miss?”
Counselor: “Oh, nothing that will concern you—just some rules specifically for him. Let’s move on…”
What is really taking place in these altercations is the denial of responsibility. In fact, relationship conflict is most often one big denial of responsibility, which is nothing new. Denying responsibility is as old as Adam and Eve.
That’s right—it’s that longstanding.
God told the first couple to enjoy the entire garden, but to leave one tree alone. Forewarned and thusly aware, Eve was seduced to eat of the one, lone, forbidden tree. After which, she seduced Adam. Then, God came-a-calling.
In modern parlance, the conversation went something like this:
God: “Adam, where are you?”
“I’m hiding, because I’m naked and afraid.”
“Naked? Who told you that you were naked?”
“Uh, that woman you gave me, she tricked me into eating the apple.”
“Woman, is this true? Did you trick Adam?”
“Well, um, like—it was the serpent; it seduced me.”
Genesis 3:8-13. Go ahead, read it.
As I said, denying responsibility is as old as Adam and Eve.
And incidentally, this is the first recorded incident of psychological projection—guilt projection, to be precise.
Women also project their insecurities. It is to say, while women are themselves fiercely insecure, they attribute their thoughts and feelings of insecurity to their men.
For example, concerning men’s love and their commitment to a relationship, women are insecure. The problem isn’t women’s own thoughts and feelings enabling those insecurities. The problem is men causing those thoughts, feelings, and insecurities.
Hence, women accuse men of not loving enough, of not being committed enough, and thus continually demand romance and affection as reassurance of both.
Women having just returned from a passionate two weeks in Cancun? Having just enjoyed a cozy dinner the previous evening? Why, that’s yesterday’s proof of love, affection, and securing commitment.
Today is a new day! Women need fresh assurances!
And women project guilt for their insecurities, too. They accuse men of noticing attractive women, for example. Yet, taking notice of attractive men, women do the same thing.
It is to say, women have the natural impulse to notice attractive men—an impulse they indeed follow. Yet, they deny the existence of that impulse in themselves, while making men feel guilty for not only having the impulse, but following it.
See how it works?
It suffices to say that, whatever the accusation from women, men can be sure of, one, a double standard. And two, that women are making men responsible, when men aren’t responsible.
Again, it’s a pretty reliable assumption and approach.
Psychological projection isn’t a complicated practice by any means. It’s actually quite fundamental. It’s essentially accusation and blame by the guilty, and by those responsible for the upcoming mess.
And relationally speaking, who does most of the accusing and blaming and projecting?
Men aren’t nearly as rehearsed as women in the skill of psychological projection. For being accused, blamed, and projected upon all the time, men don’t get the chance to rehearse. Thereto, they simply don’t have the inclination. Unrehearsed and uninclined, men don’t realize they’re being victimized.
So, here’s one last example to illustrate the victimization, one to which men will surely relate.
A particular woman hasn’t had sex with her man for a week, two, or perhaps a month. In her mind she is fat and hideous—a totally absurd assessment. Or she’s comfortable and secure, and thus lazy and unmotivated.
Whatever the case, there has been no sex.
She has been the one secretly avoiding sex. Yet, she knows sex is important to men, that it is particularly important to her man, and that it is also important to the relationship. Primarily, she knows it’s important to controlling his wandering eye and to keeping him on the porch. So for avoiding sex she’s feeling parts guilt and obligation.
“Have you been avoiding me,” she asks coquettishly, moving in with that unmistakable grin. “It’s been too long, and mama needs some, lovinnn’.”
Suddenly engaged and enthusiastic, he man says, “Of course I haven’t been avoiding you. We can do this deal right now, baby!”
As he moves in, however, she resists. To soften his impending disappointment, she lewdly caresses his thickening package and says gently, “Not right now, baby.” Then, with significant eye-contact, she purrs, “Laterrr…”
It all sounds great, of course. Only, “Laterrr” never comes.
Why does “Laterrr” never come?
Because there is no intent for it to come.
Unbeknownst to him, loverboy has been the target of psychological projection.
Subtly, he was the one accused of evading sex—“Have you been avoiding me?”—when it was actually her. And feeling guilty for her secret neglect, she projected her guilt onto him. Excited by the unusual attention and initiation, loverboy didn’t realize he’d been made responsible for the absence of sex, or that he’d been the victim of psychological projection, either one.
In other words, the lack of sex is loverboy’s fault!
Women know they are avoiding sex, and that they are denying their men sex. Women feel guilty ultimately and, at a point, become concerned about their particular men’s interest in them, love for them, and commitment to them.
Guilty and concerned, women then test the sexual waters to make sure they are still warm—and not because they are interested in sex, necessarily, but because rejection and infidelity are a rather painful alternatives.
With an assurance of “Laterrr,” men are hopeful. As for them, good times are on the agenda, are on the near horizon. Most importantly, men are pacified for a few more days. So by merely initiating, women learn the sexual waters are yet warm, while they alleviate their concern and guilt at the same time. And making men responsible for the dearth of sex, psychological projection is a success.
Data claims that women are the emotional center of relationships. It claims couples are more attuned to the women’s emotional regulation, and that that agreement feeds both spouses’ perceptions of relational quality.
This being incontrovertibly true, one might ask how women manage to encourage relationship men into such subservience and ease of management.
It’s called psychological projection. And like I said, women are masters of the art.
Now. As for women realizing they are projecting, and as for them doing it purposefully—I don’t think that’s the case. I don’t believe most women want to mistreat their men, or to do them ill or wrong, no more than men want to do those things to their women. I think women care about their men, and that they’re genuinely concerned for their men’s well-being. Again, the same as men.
The reason for the phenomenon is simple. Women are emotional—more to the point, sensitive. It means they’re worrisome and defensive, and not to exclude envious and jealous and vindictive—parts of the emotional base, too. Thus, women often think and respond emotionally, which lends itself to irrationality and to reflexive reactions, which lends itself to unfair accusations, criticisms, and to psychological projection.
It’s really no more complicated than that.
And then, having invested themselves in a position, women are stuck for reasons of ego, pride, and for the embarrassment of being emotional and foolish, and for those things, wrong and unfair.
Hence, the unending relational wars, which are nothing more than fight to avoid accepting responsibility.
Psychological projection and the ability to project aren’t exclusive to one gender. Men and women both can engage in the practice. For their emotional tendencies, however, projection is natural to women, who then practice it more readily, if unknowingly.
The problems is, projection becomes a habit that takes a toll on relationships.
It’s a subtle practice, certainly, one that occurs naturally and without premeditation. Yet, knowing what’s happening, and why it’s happening, it’s a practice and habit that seems pretty easy to stop.
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