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Emotional Blackmail Double Standards

The mainsplain comment reminded me of an issue I've had on and off with my partner. He's allowed to call me out and make me feel bad but if I do it to him, better prepare for the fight.

As an (long, always long) example, two situations happened on the cruise we just got back from. The first day we were on board, we all got on an elevator. I pressed the button to go to floor 10, where our rooms were. Other people got on and we got all mixed up. We stopped before floor 10, but since I was close to the front of the elevator I got off to let other people out. As I'm waiting for my turn to get back on, boyfriend says 'Lauren, this isn't our floor!' as if my brain had just fallen out of my head and I needed his guidance to function. I replied 'I know, I'm not a child'. I will admit that I was a bit snappy. But I'm also an adult woman. He should have trusted me to know the basics of what I was doing at that moment. I've been space cadety before and have made silly mistakes, but him treating that type of brainfart behaviour as my default setting really got to me. Even so, even if I did get off on the wrong floor, I know how to call another elevator.


So he got all quiet and sullen and wouldn't talk to me. I tried to say something off-topic to him and he told me he wasn't in the mood to talk because I cheesed him off. He said it made him mad that I reprimanded him so publicly. I apologized for being snappy, but stood my ground – I explained that him treating me as someone who fucks up so often that reminding her to do the right thing was a necessity was really obnoxious, especially when I was doing exactly the right thing (moving so some old people could get off the elevator). He grumbled, I grumbled, he upset me, I cried publicly as we stood on top deck as the ship departed. We agreed to disagree, but I think he took away that he doesn't get to make me feel bad when he's the one that screws up. We joked about me crying about how beautiful the departure was and moved along.

Two days later, we're on a beach in Mexico. Boyfriend is notoriously not very careful. Couldn't look two seconds in the future to save his life. You know how if you wanted to put something down near a drink, you'd check to see where the drink was first? Not this guy. So he knocks over someone's beer, and I say 'be careful'. He shoots be a dirty look and says 'don't. I can see how this came off as naggy, or at the very least piling on and unproductive. But not something that required him to actively make me feel bad. Shortly after that, we pack up camp and start to leave the beach. I'm quiet and short with him, making it clear I'm upset. He tried to say something about how I made him mad, and I just said 'no'. He and I got on our shuttle bus back to the port and I stayed quiet. He tried to explain how he was justified with being rude to me because of what I had said. And I told him no, he's not allowed to be mad at me for having a reaction. I explained it to him as such:

Dog A bites Dog B. Dog B bites Dog A back, Dog A understands they deserve it. Dog A bites Dog B so Dog B bites Dog A back, but Dog A thinks they didn't deserve it.

When I'm hurt, I deserve it and I should take my lumps. When he's hurt, I still deserve it and need to take my lumps. I'm actively a feminist in my brain – I know when I'm being told to minimize my feelings because they aren't as important as another person keeping their emotional equilibrium. This doesn't happen as often as it used to, thankfully. We also have excellent communication skills with each other after many years and many situations together. We know that we need to talk through issues soon after they happen, but that we both need cooling off periods.

I just remembered a thing from when we first started dating. I'd tickle him and he'd whine when he'd had enough. He'd tickle me, I'd whine when I'd had enough and then he'd play offended because I rejected his tickles. Like I should keep letting him tickle me, even though I don't like it, so that he doesn't have to hear me say no. Bulllllshit. He's a decent feminist – maybe genderist is a better word to use here – but we're all a fool to our privilege. And when I call it out, I feel like he's telling me 'no, I'm not minimizing your feelings because they shouldn't be here anyway'.


I'm sure I'm not the only one who has this happen to them. I've recognized it in other threads you guys have written. But damn is it exhausting. Thanks for reading my blabbles.

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