Six of One and Half a Dozen of the Other?

July 16, 2012

in Miscellaneous, Personal



This is a popular little saw, and frequently applied to difficulties in relationships. It can be totally pernicious. Consider how many people you know in the world, or hear about, who are just plain awful. Bullying, violent, dishonest, addicted, inconsiderate, self centered, axe murderers (OK -I’ve been watching too much Scandinavian television..)

These people are out there in the world, and we know they are. And they are often someone’s partner. We like to believe, when partnerships are in trouble, that it’s  ‘six of one and half a dozen of  the other.’ But this is far from inevitably the case, as we might see if we think about those people we cross the road to avoid.

Women are especially gullible and ready to blame themselves for difficulties. They also often take responsibility in a relationship for working hard to make it better, living in hope that this that or the other tactic will suddenly transform some lout into a lover.

Add to  that the fact that when someone is unpleasant it makes us anxious. Unaccustomed as we are to expressing our feelings, especially in an unsafe environment, our squished up anxiety emerges as quite unpleasant behaviour instead of straightforward anger or tears. We may whine, complain, placate, reason, persecute, blame, plead… all of which will have the effect of promoting similarly nasty responses from the other.

The brutal fact is that we are all horrible people at those times. It is always totally pointless getting into ‘who started it’ (except later maybe, in a nurturing relationship, if you both want to discover what problem one of you has which the two of you can sort out).

But the fact that we are horrible in these circumstances should not obscure the fact that some of us are overall more awful than others and should not be in any relationship with a half decent human being. Don’t let your own horribleness in a row or altercation blind you to the total, or far too frequent, horribleness of someone else.  And if someone is consistently or frequently horrible don’t imagine there is a trick which will transform them.

People get killed ignoring how awful their partner is.

And just in case anyone misinterprets any of this: Charles is not horrid or violent, but I have been in relationships with men who were.

Bathroom tile copyright Anne Wareham

Ann Hawkins July 18, 2012 at 12:27 pm

Just talk the guy who has been deprived of seeing his children by a woman who was unfaithful to him and then got custody.
There are usually more than just two people involved in destructive relationships and more than one of them is totally innocent and blameless. There is a whole raft of pitiless women out there taking their spite on on men who have done no wrong and making their children suffer into the bargain.

anne July 18, 2012 at 4:41 pm

Yes, that is a total nightmare situation, – the power we give people! – to lose your children..And awfulness is not gender specific, I do know.

Maddy Phelps July 18, 2012 at 12:25 pm

Having lived with a complete and utter nutjob for three years, this resonates with me. He was a master of manipulation and I turned from a gregarious, intelligent, strong woman into someone fearful of her own shadow who never went out and who blamed herself daily for being so weak. Fortunately, the relationship ended and it took me over a year to put myself back together. But there are positivies to such negatives – I learned so much about human behaviour, about men and women, about relationships. I can now also spot a nutjob at 20 paces. I was fortunate enough to find my now partner who I’m very happy with – interestingly, he had also had experience of a female nutjob who was almost an exact replica of my male version. We both know that had we not had these experiences, it would have clouded our judgement of each other as unless you’ve been through it, you have absolutely no comprehension of how an intelligent, strong person can let themself become a cringing, sad figure. We both think that people like this prey on strong people because otherwise, where’s the challenge? Anyway, that’s just my experience and opinion. Thank you for letting me share!

anne July 18, 2012 at 4:44 pm

Thanks for sharing. Speaking as one who did this twice, with entirely different horrors (one violent, the other psychologically violent) I have to confess to not, perhaps, having learnt enough. At least, not for a long time..And if I lost Charles, it’s solitude for me: think he’s irreplaceable.

Maggie July 17, 2012 at 7:01 pm

Yes -I agree with all you say but my experiences indicate that women can do more than their fair share of beastliness and cruelty, both physical, vocal and mental, when the men are definitely the abused. Seems to increase with age? Maybe hormonal? Such outrageous behaviour is difficult to discuss even in the calm after the storm. I don’t think it’s just my family and friends! xxx

anne July 17, 2012 at 7:12 pm

You must be right – you are right. Just a bit outside my experience. No different whichever sex it is, is it? Still grim.

Paul Steer July 17, 2012 at 10:18 am

‘The fact is we are all horrible people at those times’ This is true, I recognise it in myself and realise it is all about control and trying to ‘change’ the other person which is not possible. It is good to see our faults and do something about them, but it is not good to accept the role of victim. I know when I have been horrible, and Sue just stands up to my horribleness, and then comes the resolution. p.s. I love the picture of the blue tile … Delft ?

anne July 17, 2012 at 10:21 am

So true re role of victim: helps no-one.

Tile is an imitation of Delft I think!

Sarah July 16, 2012 at 7:22 pm

It may be the case that people are so far in to the relationship before they realise something is wrong that it’s difficult to get out of it. Heightened awareness of the issues can only be a good thing.

Sarah July 16, 2012 at 6:41 pm

Very interesting topic Anne. I think the term psychopath sums up a lot of these people, both male and female. If you mention that word though, it has many connotations and people can think the victim is being over-dramatic. Very scary if you’re in that situation.

anne July 16, 2012 at 6:48 pm

There are so many degrees of pyschopathy that you are right, the term may be unhelpful. But do we need guidelines to let people know what is just not right? Sounds silly but people get so acclimatised too..

Sharon July 16, 2012 at 6:03 pm

Thank you for posting this. The big lie, which compounds the original abuse, is well described. And I too am now married to a wonderful, kind, gentle loving man. But I have experienced bad abuse. And I have not been believed, or blamed. So isolating.

anne July 16, 2012 at 6:44 pm

And – this should not be true but I think it is – shaming?

Lynn Keddie July 16, 2012 at 3:55 pm

Good post Anne

anne July 16, 2012 at 3:57 pm

Thanks, Lynn. XXXX

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