It is a gorgeous unseasonably cool morning here in Charlottesville, Virginia and the tree covered mountain outside my bedroom window is bathed in the golden hue of summer sunshine. As is the habit with my revelations, I awoke this morning with a thought burbling in my head that quickly turned into an “aha” as I sipped my first glass of water for the day (part of an Ayurveda routine/dinacharya).
This particular catharsis has to do with the subject of indecisiveness and the disfunction it brings to a relationship.
I wrote about this in a previous “Men to Avoid” series blog titled: Men to Avoid: The Wafflers. I apologize for limiting this concept to men. This problem is far from gender specific.
Here is what I realized this morning and wish to add to the Wafflers conversation:
Reasons Wafflers might waffle (def: have a habit of lacking commitment to a decision thus “waffling” on a subject) include:
- an inability to connect with their own feelings and needs
- a desire to please everyone
- a desire to avoid conflict
These are all signs of low self-esteem most often associated with some sort of abuse which includes mental, emotional and/or physical.
Someone who has buried their feelings and constantly puts the needs of others before themselves is doomed to be unhappy. This is the definition of dysfunctional behavior coupled with narcism.
In order to accomplish satisfaction in a relationship (and this counts for any relationship) it is important for all parties to be able to clearly express their preferences for action in a situation then if those preferences differ, to be able to problem solve a compromise and then follow through with the agreed action. If circumstances alter and a different plan is needed then all parties must be alerted and a new plan agreed upon and executed. Follow through is an act of respect for oneself, the other parties involved and for the sanctity of the agreement.
The waffler often changes the plan without notifying the other parties, failing to follow through with the agreed course of action, waiting until a critical mass is reached forcing someone else to take definitive action. By refusing to follow through with decisions this type of person frees themselves from accountability for their actions which gives them a self-percieved carte blanche to complain and blame.
I often hear men complain about what bitches their wives are claiming that these women must always have their way (this statement usually comes just before or after the infamous, “my wife just doesn’t understand me” phrase which is usually followed by an invitation for a sexual tryst). Inevitably these men are wafflers which is the reason they are hitting on other women when they are married. They claim to be miserable yet they refuse to make a move either to do the work necessary to improve their marriages or to end them and move on.
So here is my morning’s revelation:
A waffler via the action of indecisiveness forces the other person in the relationship to take action aka. putting them (the other person) in the role of “bitch” or “asshole”.
Wafflers are always and never getting what they want. If one is going back and forth on a course of action, then the resulting action is at one moment what they wanted and what they didn’t want. This makes it impossible to satisfy them.
This is what it is like to be with a Waffler:
A couple, Pat and Chris, are walking in the park on a hot day. Chris suggests stopping at a food truck for an ice cream.
Pat: ” Yeah, ice cream would be good today.”
They walk a few more steps then Pat mentions a diet and desire to avoid such fattening food. After a few more steps Pat say that the diet has been going well and ice cream would be OK. The couple approaches the food truck were there is a long line of anticipatory patrons and Pat says something about not really wanting ice cream and needing to leave the park soon. Chris asks if there is time enough to wait in line.
Pat: “Yes, of course, I really do want some ice cream after all.”
They get in line.
Chris: “What flavor are you thinking about today?”
Pat: “I am not sure there is anything I want but you get something.”
They stand in line for ten minutes almost to the front of the line.
Pat: “I need to get going”
Chris reinforces a desire to have some ice cream particularly since they have waited so long and a favorite flavor is available but if it is urgent they can leave now.
Pat: “No we can wait we are almost to the front. My appointment is not that urgent.”
They get to the front of the line. And both order ice cream. And begin to walk towards the park exit. Pat begins to walk quickly.
Pat eats half the ice cream then tosses it into the trash.
Pat: “Hurry up, Chris. I was supposed to pick up my 98 year old deaf and blind grandmother from the airport 20 minutes ago. She is flying in from Perth, Australia today and has been on a 26 hour flight! I can’t believe you made me stop and get ice-cream. Now I have ruined my diet and will have diarrhea from consuming a milk product.”
Chris: “Gee, Pat, I am sorry. I failed to understand the importance of the situation.”
Pat: “It’s OK. It was a fun time. That ice cream was really good and totally worth being late for Grammy and the diarrhea.”
Later Pat explains the tardiness to Grammy: “Chis was a controlling ass today and HAD to have ice cream even though I said I needed to be here for you.”
Insanity right? Pat waffles instead of expressing real preferences. Either action on Chris’ part regarding the purchase of ice cream would have been dissatisfactory.
It is important to remember that we are solely responsible for our own comfort, welfare and happiness. It is other people’s responsibility to take care of their own comfort, welfare and happiness. People can work together to achieve mutual satisfaction but ultimately one is beholden to oneself. When I really need something I can express myself clearly and listen to someone else’s needs. If that makes me a bitch then so be it. Someone else might call that behavior good communication. In many situations there can be found a happy compromise but sometimes a mutually satisfying compromise is impossible. Whichever the case clear, respectful, consistent communication is paramount for functional relationships.