Tuesday, December 18, 2012

City Relationships: A Deflection Gone Wrong

The relationship started in the conventional way—a favorable recommendation by a mutual friend, a series of lengthy telephone conversations, an enjoyable first date, and four months of assimilation into each other’s lives.

Then, says attorney Richard Blankenship, relations with his now ex-girlfriend Tiffani Milstead-Kwock began to sour.

“It started after our first fight, although I should have seen this shit coming,” said Mr. Blankenship. “She was fucking paranoid from the day I met her, but fuck me, right?”

Their issues, according to myriad experts in the relationship field, stem from the increasingly widespread practice among young New York women of accusing their dating partners of suffering from serious psychological disorders—especially during arguments where the male partner did nothing wrong. This, Mr. Blankenship says, was Ms. Milstead-Kwock’s first line of defense in any disagreement.

“Oh, man. It was never just a straight-up fight with that fucking idiot. When I complained, I was ‘perseverating.’ When I got mad, it was because of my ‘baggage,’ which meant I had to ‘talk to someone.’ That’s not the first time a girl pulled this shit with me, either. Everybody’s a fucking armchair therapist around here, right? What the fuck?”

It’s been well-documented that young Manhattan women far exceed national averages in terms of active psychological ailments, yet in recent years, it seems as though they’ve adopted something of a table-turning strategy in dealing with their male counterparts, utilizing a form of “mirroring” in which the unstable woman attempts to convince her male partner that he suffers from a similar—or even more acute—condition.

One popular variation of this is known as the “apology gambit,” where despite being completely at fault in a given situation, a young woman will attempt to elicit, from her partner, an inappropriately timed request for forgiveness. According to researchers, the young woman, if unsuccessful, will eventually escalate this move into a full-blown diagnosis of mental illness in her partner, with accusations ranging from dissociative identity disorder (DID) to the Cotard delusion.

“Goddamn,” said East Village couples counseling specialist and author Stephen Thorenstamm. “These girls are so fucking annoying when they come in here. I can’t take this shit. They’ve all obviously been fucked over a thousand times by dating assholes who’ve treated them like shit, so they turn around and try to tell everyone else they’re insane in order to rationalize their inability to get along with anyone when they can’t get exactly what they want when they want it.”

In the case of Ms. Milstead-Kwock, such impromptu psychological evaluations likely result from a condition Dr. Narjender Singh, a clinical researcher, calls “entitlement syndrome”—an unfortunate mode of behavior that’s typically augmented by a host of female “enabler” friends who perpetually convince the subject that she’s done nothing wrong, and that her partner is at fault strictly because of his gender.

“What we’re seeing,” said Dr. Singh, “is that unhappy young women tend to gravitate toward one another, congregating in pretentious ‘wine bars’ and the like, and comparing notes on what’s going wrong in their lives. When one young woman is in a relationship and most of her friends aren’t, it’s a recipe for disaster, even with the hot ones. They all have shit you have to deal with, it seems.”

For Mr. Blankenship, it’s a gender equity issue, albeit one with an unpleasant twist.

“She does something annoying, I call her out on it, she tells me I’m bipolar and need medication, and if I tell her what’s on my mind at that point, I’m the asshole because she’s a woman. How’s that fair? I’m a lawyer, bro. I don’t have time for this shit.”

Editor's Note: If you think this is aimed at you, don't worry. It's not.