Stop Spoiling That Man, Turn Your Needy Guy into an Equal, Loving Partner by John B. Arden
Every fulfilling and satisfying relationship requires a bit of give and take. However, if you are responsible for all of the giving and he is enjoying all of the taking, you’re guilty of spoiling your man. Spoiling is not the same as nurturing or loving. Instead, it places his needs above your needs. The spoiled man is happy to let you make all of the decisions, do all of the work and bear the responsibility for maintaining all aspects of your relationship. This unhealthy imbalance will eventually leave you feeling unsettled, unsatisfied and unloved. If your mate has taken up permanent residence on the couch in front of the TV with a snack and a beer (that you gave him), getAbstract suggests that it’s time you read this book. Here, you’ll learn how to recognize the ways in which he manipulates and controls you. You’ll also find strategies to launch an “unspoiling” campaign. Although some of the maneuvers recommended by husband and wife authors John B. Arden and Victoria Arden seem a bit devious, they might just be what your spouse needs to be a mature man, not a pouting prince.
- A balanced relationship requires the give and take of love and attention.
- A healthy relationship has “Compassion, Openness, Depth and Equality.”
- “Red flags” are the warning signs that your man expects you to spoil him.
- If you don’t do something about it, your spoiled man will make you feel “TRAPped: Tension, Resentment, Anger and Powerlessness.”
- One tactic a man will use to make you spoil him is to play the role of a victim.
- Spoiled men want you to be responsible for their moods.
- His oversensitivity and volatile reactions cause you to “walk on eggshells.”
- Another strategy men use to manipulate is exaggerating or feigning illness or injury.
- Most spoiled men fall into these categories: “Passive Pete, Slippery Sam, Magnificent Mike and Traditional Tom.”
- Don’t play by the spoiled man’s rules. Remain neutral and make him accountable.
Stop Spoiling That Man Book Summary
It Takes Two to Spoil
What is a spoiled man? A spoiled man is the man who demands more than your fair share of attention and participation without giving the same in return. He uses a variety of tactics to control and manipulate you. However, your role as the spoiler is not entirely his fault. For one or more reasons, you are vulnerable to this kind of manipulation. Perhaps your mother spoiled your father. You might have been subjected to abuse of some kind. Alternatively, maybe you feel that even an unequal relationship is better than no relationship.
“The main principle here is that he acts spoiled when he demands more from you than is healthy for you to give.”
To stop spoiling your man, prioritize taking care of yourself. If you are willing to make your needs subservient to the needs of your man, he’ll exploit your selflessness. Of course, there are times in every relationship when one partner is needier than the other is. At these times, it is appropriate to give without expecting anything in return. Yet, a healthy, balanced relationship requires the mutual give and take of love and attention.
A healthy relationship consists of:
- “Compassion” – This, comprised of “empathy, generosity, patience, warmth and passion,” can be synonymous with love.
- “Openness” – An honest relationship is transparent. The basics of openness are “communication, honesty, receptivity and flexibility.”
- “Depth” – You achieve depth by having common interests, partaking in activities together, developing an emotional rapport, sharing values and being committed to your relationship.
- “Equality” – An equal partnership stands on “mutual respect, balance, reciprocity and shared rights.”
Waving “Red Flags”
A man who demands to be spoiled gives many clues about his intentions. The earlier you spot these “red flags,” the sooner you can plan your strategy to counter his demands. For example, early in her relationship with Peter, Pam caught him in a white lie regarding the reason why he broke a date with her. At their next date, Pam cooked Peter a delicious dinner. Afterwards he made himself comfortable on the couch, expecting her to do the clean up. Pam confronted him on both accounts to help establish equality and honesty right from the start. The longer you ignore red flags such as these, the harder it will be to change your spoiled man’s behavior.
“The question is: Are you going to spoil him? It takes two to spoil: he can’t be spoiled unless someone spoils him.”
One way to stay alert for red flags is to tune in to your feelings. You can identify the common emotions you will experience when dealing with a spoiled man by using the mnemonic: “TRAP: Tension, Resentment, Anger and Powerlessness.” These internal, emotional red flags make you “confused and off-balance,” leaving you vulnerable to his manipulations.
The Argument Dilemma
When you dare to complain about your man’s spoiled behavior, he’ll try to use your anger against you. He’ll point out that you’re “out-of-control” and need to learn how to manage your emotions. He’ll complain that you are “bitchy, a nitpicker, a micromanager or never satisfied.” He’ll make you feel guilty to draw attention away from the reason you became angry in the first place.
“The obvious ones openly demand that you spoil them. Less obvious ones manipulate you into spoiling them by playing on your sympathy or sense of duty.”
To resist letting your man pull you into this no-win ping-pong game of bickering, learn how to argue constructively. Remain calm and stay focused on the issue at hand. Use arguments as opportunities to overcome obstacles and grow together as a couple.
Victim or Victimizer?
One of the tactics spoiled men use to gain attention is to play the victim. However, there is a big difference between being a victim and playing a victim. The spoiled man plays the role with such proficiency that if you dare to question him, he’ll make you feel selfish and guilty.
“Whatever type of spoiled man challenges you, change the rules. Don’t respond by falling into his traps.”
To distinguish between the real victim and the actor, consider if your mate is often wearing the cloak of victimhood. Is he always complaining about how he is mistreated? Do you find yourself defending him when it is unnecessary? Are his feelings wounded easily? Playing the underdog keeps him at the center of your universe with your needs on the periphery. Release yourself of the burden of always protecting your mate. Instead of sympathizing, keep your reactions neutral. Show surprise when he points out that he is the injured party in a situation when he clearly is not. Ask questions that reveal he is merely acting the role of victim to keep his needs center stage.
A spoiled man will make you responsible for his moods. Heaven forbid something happens to make him unhappy! He expects you to bend over backward to keep him on an even keel. Beth experienced this emotional blackmail from Steve, her husband of four years. The effort it took to make him happy was exhausting. Not only did she bear the weight of his mood management, she also made all of their plans and carried most of the conversation. Steve would always reserve the right to complain, however. Finally, she had enough.
“…begin your relationship with clearly articulated expectations. If you don’t like a behavior, don’t remain quiet.”
One day, Beth suggested Steve join her for a hike. When he began to complain, she didn’t try to convince him he would have a good time. Instead, she agreed and suggested that he stay home. Steve complained about the traffic, the weather and even the music on the radio. When Steve complained about the hiking trail Beth picked, she decided to continue without him. At first, she felt guilty, but soon enjoyed a complaint-free climb up the mountain. It would take Beth many months and much effort, but she followed these steps to shift the responsibility for Steve’s moods back on Steve.
- Maintain your usual behavior despite his moods.
- Refuse to take responsibility for his moods.
- Simply back off and let his temper backfire on him.
- Go and do something you enjoy – alone. Don’t let him ruin your fun.
“Being in a relationship with you should include all of you, even your symptoms of stress and sadness. If you hide those feelings, you’re spoiling him.”
Your spoiled man’s overwhelming pessimism is a ploy to keep you in the role of unrelenting optimist. While you do all of the work to find the silver lining, he indulges his grumpiness. Don’t play his game! Keep your optimism to yourself and let him find his own sunshine.
“Walking on Eggshells”
“Walking on eggshells” is a tactic a spoiled man uses to keep you in line and on your toes. His oversensitivity works like eggshells scattered all around him. You never know when you’ll step on one and hurt his feelings. The fear of shattering eggshells prohibits you from criticizing or even questioning his behavior. How do you stop avoiding his eggshells? Step right on them and when he acts hurt or indignant, act confused. After all, why is he responding disproportionately to your behavior? When he becomes angry, remain neutral. Your goal is to cause him to doubt himself and his volatile behavior.
Sick and Tired
If your mate is injured or ill, he certainly needs extra help and attention. The hypochondriac, however, uses his illness (or fake illness) to cause you to cater to him. Heidi experienced this first hand when her husband, Ben, hurt his back on the job. When he first was injured, Heidi took on most of the household responsibilities as well as a second job. However, Ben made no effort to recuperate. He disregarded the doctor’s advice and refused to get up from the couch using his back pain as an excuse.
“A spoiled man wants his emotional climate to dominate, so when he’s down in the dumps, he wants you to be down, too.”
Spoiled men often ignore the advice of their doctors and even exhibit counterproductive behavior. They ask for attention even if their wives have succumbed to the same illness and refuse to do things themselves. What steps could Heidi take to prevent Ben from using his injury to take advantage of her sympathies?
- “Keep your sympathy appropriate to the reality of his illness or injury.”
- “Grant no special favors that appear to be beyond the reality of his condition.”
- “When he tries to bring the focus back to himself with endless complaints, don’t engage in a conversation with him about it.”
- “Center your focus on the entirety of your relationship.”
The Four Types of Spoiled Men
Spoiled men fall into four main categories: “Passive Pete, Slippery Sam, Magnificent Mike and Traditional Tom.”
“Don’t forget that you have every right to be safe and happy in your relationship.”
Passive Pete is the embodiment of what psychologists call passive-aggressive behavior. He uses his passivity to manipulate you into making all of the decisions and doing the lion’s share of the work. Passive Pete doesn’t overtly demand that you spoil him, but he’ll drain your energy and enthusiasm just the same.
“Your job is to behave toward him as you hope he will behave toward you.”
What can you do to take the “passive” out of Pete? First, identify his modus operandi. Does he often make you feel guilty, impatient or sorry for him? Next, try not to step in and take care of the things he can do for himself. Think of ways to enable him to take action and praise him when he does. Lastly, when he complains about the decisions you make, don’t respond.
“Balance in a relationship can go from side-to-side like a seesaw but you need a central balancing point.”
Slippery Sam uses his charm, wit and charisma to keep you off-balance. He misuses your trust by lying, rewriting history, omitting facts or keeping secrets. If your partner is a Slippery Sam, don’t let him evade the consequences of his actions. Learn how to discern between the product of his silver tongue and the truth. Remain intent on the issues, not the emotions. Your clarity will blow away Slippery Sam’s smokescreen.
“He gets you to do the work in the relationship because he doesn’t want the responsibility.”
Magnificent Mike is very special. So special, in fact, that he is better than you and everyone else! He thinks the sun revolves around him, placing him far above your scrutiny. Magnificent Mike wants your relationship to be unequal; he’s number one and you’re number two. Place your relationship on equal footing by acknowledging, or forcing him to acknowledge, that you are both unique individuals with special talents. Take care of him, but demand that he takes care of you, too. If he doesn’t, withdraw your attention until he does. Lastly, let him know that if he insists on being number one you’ll take it one-step further. He’ll become number zero.
“The spoiled man was probably drawn to you for your positive outlook and your responsible nature. But what do you get in return?”
Traditional Tom might call himself old-fashioned, but he’s really a sexist, spoiled baby using tradition, culture or religion to keep you in a secondary position. If he cites “God’s Will” as an excuse to keep you subservient, remember that there are many ways to interpret a religious text. Point out that you believe in a different interpretation; one that doesn’t subjugate women. Let him know that you desire mutual respect, partnership and equality in a relationship. Draw support from your friends, family and religious organization. Don’t take the bait if he tries to attach a negative label to your behavior, such as “crazy feminist.”
Not every spoiled man will fall neatly into one of the above categories. In fact, he might be a combination of one, two or even three, such as a Passive, Magnificent, Traditional PeteMikeTom. Regardless, he uses various strategies to keep you off-balance and manipulate you into giving more than is fair in a healthy relationship. What makes this particularly repugnant is that it is your love for him that makes you vulnerable to his selfish shenanigans.
About the Author
John B. Arden, Ph.D., is an author, counselor, teacher and director of mental-health training in Northern California. He has more than two decades of experience in counseling couples. Victoria Arden, M.A. is an art educator, mother and mental-health professional.