I had a revelation yesterday, which is something I have with far less frequency as I get older. Through both fortune and misfortune, I’ve been witness to some pretty incredible events, spectacles, and situations. I’ve been part of, and tangential to, many relationships over the past 35 years, give or take a few here and there. I’ve gone through dry romantic periods like most normal people, for various lengths of time, lasting for hours in my more voracious years to nearly two years amid my more temperate. Only the most desperate, self-absorbed and wretched soul needs to be dating someone upon ending a relationship. No one in their right mind or part of any credible professional association recommends it.
But one thing has held true through all the many mostly wonderful relationships I’ve had with ladies (even though I was typically the one who ended the relationships, or they truly did “fizzle out,” I’m happy and grateful to say I’m still fond friends and on good ground with 99.9% of every one of them). I’ve been associated with thousands and thousands of people over the decades, both male and female, who’ve been close friends of mine in some depth and studied and been “involved” in their relationships as well. I’m from a tiny state in the South where everyone knows each other and, at times, it felt like everyone had dated each other at some point. Plenty of old girlfriends ended up marrying, and are still married many, many years later, to my good friends. That’s an awesome thing to be able to state, and I’m remorseful for how poorly I’ve kept in touch. Although having to move several states away for the past ten years on someone else’s behalf played a big part in that damage.
In any case, each time I or a friend or my love interest decided to part ways, it was always in order to move to greener pastures. Whatever made those pastures greener, which usually was pretty evident. For women, men’s social value is typically the most important. That value is determined by a host of factors and people, but all items that would be agreed upon as an (even somewhat) socially redeemable characteristic. The very same characteristics I always put forth when courting a lady, because that’s usually what they seek, whether that’s stated or implied or even wanted to be kept secret. Money, power, fame, physical traits of virility, which of course are more base but valid, success, earning power, countenance, upbringing, family stability, intelligence, security (both physical and otherwise), the promise of bearing healthy children within a functional family environment, and so on. “Mr. Right,” in other words.
Yet it never occurred to me in all these years that there might exist a person who would seek specifically to trade down. Someone who didn’t want intelligence, earning power, chivalry, security, manners or refinement, or any of the virtues listed above. Someone who was inferior intellectually, financially, and irresponsible. Someone who a three-year-old child calls out for being gross because of a disgusting blowing-the-nose-in-the-towel habit. A toddler!
This might seem like a stunning desire. What would cause a person to behave such a way? The answer: someone who doesn’t want to have to answer to anyone. No expectations of them of any sort, and wants simply a brainless, spineless pet to sit in the corner. Someone who only wants their mate to bring the feeling of superiority to the table, and nothing else. Except maybe free childcare and what low level of housekeeping are desired, if any. Someone who asks no questions and is fine being kept both as a type of live-in gigolo and kept in the dark about any of his mate’s despicable past. How long would it take to find such a person with such low standards? Apparently a couple of months.
I never imagined such people existed, but live nearly 50 years, and similar creatures just may ooze and jiggle across your path too.
As part of an interview process, I recently took a predictive index behavioral assessment evaluation. I appreciated the people looking at me taking the time to evaluate me in more depth than just my resume and a phone call. Most people are familiar with the Myers-Briggs test, which precipitated from Carl Jung’s work and slots you into four categories, eg: ENTJ. I love these types of assessments and have always been fascinated by human psychology. I considered majoring in psychology for a while in college and took enough classes in it to nearly do it. And I read a lot of books that dissect the mind and tinker around to see what make us tick and causes us to behave the way we do and make the decisions we do. As a marketer, I’m passionate about consumer behavior, aka human behavior, which bumps up against sociology as well. It’s fascinating to study people as individuals and how we act collectively in certain situations, in certain cultures. It usually leaves more unanswered questions than answered ones, but it’s fun and fulfilling to know how we’re wired and engineered. I also find it helps interact with others more easily, which is also why I suppose I was asked to take the test. They wanted to know who they were dealing with.
Most of these types of tests ask you the same questions over and over in different ways. And you sort of know what they’re getting at. In other words, you can easily manipulate them. But that’s not advised. Unless you truly just don’t care about your results and the purpose for which you’re taking it. Answering them honestly and thoughtfully will yield some interesting insight as to who you are and how you work, and people being people, everyone loves to know about themselves.
This Predictive Index test is different, however. I did a bit of research on the company and history of the test and how it’s built, because it’s only a 2-page test, with a list of adjectives. All you have to do is indicate how you think others view you and how you view yourself, or how accurate the words are to that end. Many of the words are synonyms, and being an English major, I also found this test to be even more interesting for the choice of adjectives used and their subtleties. The test has been in use since 1955, which is a LONG time ago, for the psychological field, so one would expect accurate results, right? Here’s how they developed the form:
Adjectives for our form were field tested with results from more than 136,000 people and went through content review, psychometric review, and fairness review. The assessment was then given to a global norm group of more than 10,000 people. Norm tables and scoring models were updated and verified before finalizing the form and sending it through a multilevel translation process and regional review.
I found my results to be surprisingly accurate, inasmuch as I know myself and consider how others describe me.
I later took a DISC assessment, which is a 24 question “test” in which you arrange a series of adjectives in order of how you feel they define you, from most to least. The adjective sets that you must arrange sometimes have nothing to do with one another, which makes you choose a hierarchy of traits. As with the Predictive Index, you can tell the words were carefully chosen, and what the exercise is aiming at. But I take them seriously, since trying to game the thing is pretty poor form and will end up only hurting me and the company.
Not surprisingly, it reflects the results the Predictive Index found. I’m results-oriented, care a lot about quality and details, have high standards, can communicate well, am careful and deliberate, and don’t have much patience, which I’ve always struggled with. The funny thing is, I consider myself patient. Our perception of ourselves and how others view us being different isn’t news to me, though. That’s the case with nearly everyone, I’d imagine. It’s like hearing your voice for the first time compared to what you think you sound like.