Missing Red Flags Promotes Bad Behavior

Hello beautiful people. My name is Athol, talking about marriage, relationships and getting what you want from them.

Yesterday I did a story time about red flags I noticed in a dating relationship of mine. This episode is going to be a little more onto the theory behind it, why they’re so important, why you must pay attention to them, and what you do if you’ve missed them and you’re already deep in a marriage to someone.

This is a super important concept because I keep coming across people who are in marriages that have lasted 10, 20, 30 years, where they keep facing this same endless barrage of problems and Mean Cards. It’s like they’re caught up in this endless Groundhog Day of the same problem recurring and recurring. Often this is because they’ve married into a situation where they’ve inherited preexisting problems before the relationship.

They were shown a giant red flag moment or two and they missed them, and now they are married to this person. Often those red flag moments, they can look back and they just say, “I knew when X happened I was in for a world of trouble. I noticed it and I ignored it.” It’s an issue where say their partner was physically violent, or had an enormous meltdown, or got horribly drunk and started blurting out some god awful statements that are just designed to wound them.

Whatever it was, it was the kind of thing where if you told another person this is what happened, the other person would always be horrified and tell you to get out of the relationship. If you tell someone else and they go, “Oh my god what happened? Why are you married? Why did you advance it?” That’s what I mean by a real big red flag.

There’s a very famous line by Maya Angelou, which is “When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time.”

So you’ve been in a relationship with someone and you have been perceiving them as being this good person, this nice person to be in a relationship. Then suddenly it’s like the veil is lifted and they’re showing just how bad, bad can get. The trouble is, when you stay in that relationship you validate that bad behavior. You tolerate it and then you reward them and promote them by getting married to them. If you have a bad boyfriend or a bad girlfriend and you see they are bad, and they know that you’ve seen the bad, and then you marry them, well they’ve been rewarded for being bad. They now have permission for being bad.

They have permission for playing the big old Mean Card any time they want to because when they did it in the past, you gave them a reward. You encouraged them. You taught them that this was okay.


Why You Ignored the Red Flag

There’s always something about your situation at the time when you saw this red flag and you ignored it and you advanced the relationship. There’s always something about you then, that was weak to them in some way. So it’s not just that they are this horrible mean person. There was something about you that attracted you to them in the first place. Then when they were horribly mean there was something about you that decided that this was acceptable behavior and you promoted them and rewarded them by advancing the relationship further. When I say acceptable, I don’t mean that you were happy with it or you liked it or you weren’t horrified, but you accepted it. You accepted their bad behavior, so their bad behavior became acceptable.

Of course once you’re married, you kind of get locked in a bit. It’s harder for you to extract yourself. You have jobs, careers, houses, kids and then you can easily get mired in a relationship that it’s harder and harder to extract yourself from. Once you are stuck, or at least made it a lot harder for you to get out, then they have greater leeway to play a whole bunch of Mean Cards on you.

So that thing that was wrong about you at the time, is usually some sort of childhood trauma or weakness, whatever, and you’re frightened of something. You’re frightened of being lonely. You’re scared of not being loved. You’re worried about being homeless. You’re worried about being childless. Or you’re just so used to being hurt by those that have said they love you that you’ve started to equate being hurt with being loved, so when you’re in a relationship with someone that hurts you and plays a big old Mean Card, that feels like love. It feels normal. It’s acceptable and you tolerate it so you agree to advance the relationship.

Obviously 20/20 wisdom, perfect hindsight, you could go back in time and change that decision, see the big red flag, not marry them, not advance yourself down that route. That’s obviously a great plan then, and certainly if you are watching these videos and you’re generally younger and you’re seeing your potential spouse just have this horrible red flag moment, then yeah, don’t marry them. Don’t advance the relationship. You don’t want to have to try and dig your way out of this at some point. It’s really good advice. There is always someone better out there for you. There is always the ability to work on yourself so you can then attract that person.


What to do 20 Years Later

But if you’re already in that situation, you’re 20 years in going oh my god, when I was 25 I should have never married this person and now I’m 45. What do I do? The first thing you need to do is you can really start working on yourself to try and address the issues that got you into this relationship in the first place. So if there are things about you that you haven’t learned, you haven’t been introspective, you haven’t thought about self-help or self-growth or therapy or counseling or whatever it is to work on your own inner demons that locked you into this situation, now is the time. There is no better time than now.

It’s good for two reasons, one being unless you have that internal strength, unless you have that sense of self-worth, you are never really going to be able to hold frame with your spouse who has their own set of inner demons and is dysfunctional. You’re never going to have the strength to truly stand up to them to really have a chance at leveraging your relationship to the point where they start seeking out help.

Secondly, if you’re still weak, you’re never going to be able to drive the relationship to some sort of ultimatum, because the same factors that locked you into the marriage in the first place still exist, so when push comes to shove and you try and draw some line in the sand, you will probably fold again.

So you always have to start working on yourself, do the self-growth thing, work on yourself, build your attractiveness. Build your confidence. That really is the only hope at you being able to change your relationship to hopefully gain your partner’s attention, hopefully be able to set a way forward, a momentum forward to both of you becoming healthier.

Even if your partner doesn’t decide to do that when you’ve done your best effort, usually the only way out of the relationship to some sort of better, happier, healthier life is to be strong, determined and self-caring. Where you actually have the strength of will to be able to do that. Otherwise you’ll tend to be drawn back into your partner’s orbit and every time you make a bid to leave and fold and go back, they feel more rewarded, more entitled, more confident, more secure in the ability that they can treat you badly and it is acceptable.

So sort of bleak stuff, but the truth is there is always enough time to work towards being a better person, a healthier person, getting yourself to a better place, a healthier life and a life where you feel truly validated and loved and accepted and wanted. I’m just not saying it’s an easy road. It may be an incredibly hard road but it’s still achievable. It’s still something you can do. You can still regain your personal power and get yourself to a better place.

So that’s the video for the day. If you like the video, please do the whole like, share, comment and most importantly subscribe thing, and I will talk to you tomorrow.

How the Internet Screws Up Marriage Advice

(Lightly edited from the transcript… most of the jokes are captions by the Nice Card Mean Card peeps in the video though.)

Hello beautiful people, my name is Athol. I do daily videos talking about relationships and the world in which we have our relationships.

In this episode I want to talk about one of the ways the internet itself can screw up marriage advice. Because if you’ve ever noticed, there is an awful lot of marriage advice on the internet. There’s books and forums and Reddits and all kinds of things, but they tend to be at war with each other. There’s a lot of demonizing of everybody else’s advice and there’s really discreet cohorts that exist out there. So I’m going to talk about that in this episode.

And of course I’m going to use my Nice Card Mean Card little people, because they just explain everything so well.

Nice NiceAlrighty, so let’s take the first cohort. This is the one where people are generally perceived that both men and women are Nice by default. In this group you get a lot of the Christian marriage bloggers. You get a lot of Christian forums where everything is nice and sweet and they’re tossing Bible verses backwards and forwards and everything is beautiful and lovely and praiseworthy. You also get a lot of pro-social based relationship researchers and marriage therapists and marriage counselors and that sort of stuff where they’re basically trying to take this view that both men and women are Nice by default. (Edit: Or at least should be Nice by divine or therapeutic fiat.)

Nice MeanThe second group looks at women as basically Nice but men as basically somewhat questionable, Mean to evil. In these groups you get women who’ve written books about relationships where they’ve talked about their jerk boyfriends and how to stand up for yourself and how to not be taken advantage of by men in relationships. You get feminist viewpoint stuff, and while they may not necessarily think that any one man is necessarily evil, there is an evil society. There is a patriarchy that is oppressing women. Also you get the blogs and advice sites from people like divorce lawyers who are trying to bring to an end some really toxic, hostile relationships where obviously the guy is just evil and the woman is being genuinely abused, whether that is emotional, physical, sexual, whatever. Definitely being screwed over. You get places where people are going who have been sexual assault victims and they have support groups for them.

Mean Nice The third group is where women are basically seen as the Mean ones and men as the good ones. So you have Nice guy recovery books where obviously the guy has to stand up for himself more, but somehow magically the woman in the picture, whether it’s his wife, girlfriend or his mother, is the true source of the problem. You get books about married game for guys, where they need to be more alpha, take a leadership role and stand up for themselves and push back on the evil woman testing them. There’s also the cheating wife revenge porn story trade around forums that you get too, where the evil woman is caught and all the guys in the group get to laugh and say ha ha ha she got caught. I’ll also throw into this group the MGTOW movement, MGTOW: Men Going Their Own Way, where they’re basically saying the guys are good but the women are evil and it’s such a bad situation there’s no point even trying to have a relationship with them. So they just withdraw and not participate, because in their minds a man trying to have a relationship with a woman is like trying to ride a tandem bicycle with a crocodile.

Mean MeanThe fourth group is where they see both men and women being negatively motivated, basically Mean, and it’s a kind of a free for all everybody out for themselves type approach. Often they can be quite depressive about Western Civilization, believing it is all fading away so you might as well just enjoy the decline. The advice is pretty much everything sucks, everything is evil, so you might as well go dark side yourself and just get the most you can, have the most fun, drink the most drinks, party hard as it’s all over eventually anyway. They approach relationships the same way a corporate raider approaches a distressed business. It’s just like, we’re going in to get what we can. We’ll take everything we can from it and then we’ll get out and leave it collapsing behind us.


Enter SEO as a Double Edged Sword

Alrighty, so let’s invent a guy with a problem who’s now going to the internet where these four groups exist. So let’s say his name is Paul and his wife has cheated on him. He goes to Google, types in “my wife is cheating on me, what do I do?” and then Paul gets millions of results about cheating wives and how horrible women are and all this sort of stuff. Then he sifts through a couple of dozen websites and just keeps finding again and again this community of men who have also had their wives cheat on them. This is because they’ve searched on the internet as well and everybody’s starting to find each other.

What slowly happens over time is that community of blogs and forums and Reddit and whatever starts becoming an echo chamber for the original problem. Because of SEO, and people searching for this problem, more and more people keep coming into these groups and reinforcing the group’s idea of what the problem is. Slowly after time it becomes an echo chamber. Everybody they know has the same problem. Everybody they know has a cheating wife. Everybody they know had been married to some awful woman, therefore all women are cheats, all women are horrible and everything sucks. The men are the good guys and women are the bad guys, and it reinforces that groups perceptions.


Google Alerts!

So let’s take Paul’s example just one step further. He had the cheating wife, he searched on the internet, he found a group of like-minded guys. He’s part of the group. He feels part of the community and he wants to contribute. He decides to contribute by generating content, because everything on the internet needs content to survive. So what does he do? Well he ends up creating a bunch of Google alerts searching for “cheating wives”, “women doing mean things somewhere in the world”, “horrible women”, “bad things that women do”. Every day his email box fills with dozens of examples of women somewhere in the world doing something that is crappy. Then he takes a handful of those, publishes it to his blog, does a YouTube video about it and he starts pumping out this content, thus reinforcing the echo chamber. But again he’s only looking for the things that are bad and that are basically reinforcing the belief of man good, woman bad.


Same Problem all Four Groups of Advice Givers

This is happening everywhere. This is the same thing that happens like if you’re a feminist researcher. You have your Google alerts to find things of what men do wrong somewhere in the world. The problem is that this echo chamber thing is happening in all four groups all the time. None of these groups like talking to each other to any degree, because they are all listening to the echo chamber of their own group. They’re hearing constantly reinforcing messages in their own group. They don’t talk to the others and everybody is slowly demonizing everybody else. And once you demonize another group, there’s no point having a conversation, because who listens to demons?


The Takeaway

So what’s the takeaway to all of this? Well I think the takeaway is that all four of these groups are at least partially right some of the time. There’s some valuable thoughts and insights in all of these groups, but they’re not necessarily right all the time 24/7 and sometimes they can be badly wrong. I think the truth is starting to accept that both men and women can be either Nice or Mean and you have to judge each situation on its merits rather than just going to some sort of default assumption about the other. And also, not everyone is 100% Nice or 100% Mean, and just because they’ve been 10% Mean doesn’t mean we write them off as 100% Mean.

So summing up, absolutely go to the internet. Ask for advice. Look for advice. But just be aware that there are some echo chambers out there. And at the end of the day, all I’m saying is be mindful.

Alrighty so that’s the show. Thank you so much for watching. I truly do appreciate it.
If you’re new here please consider subscribing, and I will catch you tomorrow.

THE One About the SAHM Trap

Hi there. My name is Athol, here to entertain and explain.

In this episode I’m going to talk about why single income marriages can be especially problematic when they’re starting to break down.

What I want you to do for the purpose of argument is imagine that each person in the relationship can either be basically nice or basically mean. Like they only have two choices of card to play through the entire relationship, a Nice Card or a Mean Card. Which get us this sort of four possible outcome: Mean and Nice, Nice and Mean, both Mean or Both nice.

Nice Mean Image

Now I want you to imagine that both people in the relationship earn about the same amount of money, which gets us these four possible outcomes:


Nice NiceBoth are nice so they kind of have a happy marriage and a great income together, a nice lifestyle.





Mean MeanThey are both Mean and the kind of have a high conflict relationship and eventually the relationship breaks down and fails.




Nice MeanOr she’s Nice, he’s Mean and of course he’s a total jerk that tries to sleep with her sister and his best feature is flatulence.




Mean NiceOr she’s Mean, he’s Nice and she likes having fistfights at DUI stops.





So in those four possible outcomes everybody has the opportunity to file for divorce if they want to. They have the actual ability to leave the relationship. I’m not saying if that is a good or a bad idea, I’m just saying they have the capability if they want to. They can cut the relationship down the middle, take half their stuff, and be on their merry way. And if they are Nice people, then they have the opportunity to remarry with someone else who is also Nice. And if they have half their stuff and the second Nice person has half their stuff, well then together they kind of have a complete whole amount of stuff. It’s not quite a loss, it’s not quite a win, but it’s at least a reasonable outcome in terms of getting out of a really crappy marriage situation.

What I want you to do now is imagine those exact same scenarios but only one of them is earning an income. For the sake of brevity let’s just imagine that the guy is the primary breadwinner and the wife is the stay-at-home mom. And yes, I know it can be the other way round but let’s just keep this to a reasonable length video. We don’t have to be here all day covering every single possible outcome.


Nice NiceAlrighty, so he earns the money, she doesn’t. So we have the two, the double Nice outcome. And they still are happily married, everything is working fine. He works some longer hours, she does great at home, everybody is happy. It works out great for them.




Mean MeanAnd now we have the two Mean people. Just as before, it’s a really high conflict relationship. Eventually the relationship fails and it turns into an absolute feeding frenzy with divorce lawyers as everything just turns into a complete disaster. Both of them act very aggressively in the divorce.



Nice Mean

So now we get to the scenario where she’s Nice, he’s Mean, so he’s tried to sleep with her sister. He’s a complete jerk. He doesn’t help at all and she is very likely trapped in the relationship, because in order for her to be able to divorce him, she’s going to need some kind of income. She’s going to need to support herself. She may get some amount of alimony and even if she gets full custody and she gets all the child support, that may not be enough to keep her in the same sort of standard of living.

Very often women in this situation are trapped with the husband and they don’t want to be with him. They want to be divorced. They can’t get out and they very often can’t get out until they find some way of earning financial stability. I mean this is one of the reasons why women don’t leave abusive men, because they simply can’t afford to.

Mean NiceOkay so final scenario. It’s the Nice Guy husband with the Mean wife who’s a stay-at-home Mom. I’ve come across this scenario multiple times with coaching, where he desperately wants to leave the relationship but he simply can’t afford to because she’s financially dependent on him. So if it goes to divorce court, he’s probably going to end up paying some amount of alimony. He’s probably going to end up paying a lot of child support and he just can’t afford to be divorced. Also she can know this and make his life even worse when he attempts to leave the relationship.
So what I want you to see is that the one income family, when the relationship is falling apart, can be a real double edged sword. It can advantage whichever of the partners is the stronger one.

Sometimes that is the person who is earning no income because they can bully and push around the one who is earning the income, and sometimes it’s the one who is earning an income that is pushing around and bullying the one that isn’t earning the income. It’s a really topsy turvy crazy situation, but almost always for either one of these outcomes, what you want to do as a starting point, is get the person who is not earning an income to get some kind of job.

If you’re the stay-at-home Mom who’s trapped with some horrible guy and you can’t afford to divorce, one of your first steps is to get a job. And that may mean going back to school. It may mean some additional training. But part of your plan, one of your biggest puzzle pieces is getting a job. Likewise if you’re the guy that’s earning an income and she is a stay-at-home Mom and she’s digging in her heels and you can see the only outcome that’s really possible is divorce, one of the best things you can do in your interest is actually try and encourage her to get a job. Almost invariably when you suggest that though, they blow that stuff up. Oh my goodness do they blow that up. They hate that suggestion because they know the end is coming.

Something else to think about is that when you’re the weaker partner in the relationship, and sometimes that’s the one that has the income and sometimes that’s the one that doesn’t have the income. Almost invariably though, it is the one that is too Nice in the relationship while their partner is playing the Mean Card and getting away with a lot of stuff. If you’re being too Nice, that is horribly unattractive. Your partner does not respect you. Sometimes when you finally draw a line in the sand, when you finally start becoming self-supporting and standing up for yourself, sometimes that really does change their level of attraction for you and it can really improve things.

As a final thought, there is no down side to having a job when your relationship is falling apart. There’s no down side, there’s bad outcome for that.

Anyway I will leave it there. Like, share, subscribe and all that cool internet stuff.

And I will see you tomorrow.


(Transcript lightly edited from the video. The video is worth watching for all the interactions between the Nice and Mean characters.)

Ask Athol Anything: The Nice Guy and the Good Girl are Making the Same Mistakes

(A mostly the same transcript of the video. I do edit for readability and upon occasion, intelligence.)

Hi there, my name is Athol Kay. I play smart guy on the internet, answering your questions about love, sex, happiness and anything. So let’s jump to it.

This this episode I’m going to follow on from the last one, where I talked about why marriage advice really does need to be co-ed. I’m answering today’s question because when I started all the way back in 2010 I was very much writing for just men. But over the years I’ve gained a more co-ed focus. There’s been a number of guys that have been upset that I’ve “betrayed” them and abandoned them and turned away from just a purely male focus. This video is going to answer some of that.

When I first started writing especially for men, I was thinking about guys that were basically being too nice, too kind, too sweet, too caring, too reassuring to everything. They were giving away all their power and letting the person they were in a relationship with run over the top of them and as a result losing their attractiveness and so on.

Thus I was predominantly writing to Nice Guys. There’s that thing where there it does have a male focus, but it’s a male focus on Nice Guys. On the flip side of that, it assumes if you’re being super too nice and being trampled on, the person you’re in the relationship with is somehow some sort of horrible Bitchperson. I mean they are taking you for granted, demanding that you do things, and basically crapping on you.

The Nice Guy with that Bitchperson relationship was pretty much what my early work was really focusing on. The trouble with that is that it doesn’t really say what the opposite is, which is the Good Girl who is too sweet, who is too kind, too nice, too pleasant, who is in a relationship with the total Dickwad. She’s being trampled on, he’s doing whatever he wants, he’s being a complete jerk and she’s just taking it and she’s miserable and not getting what she wants from her relationship.

When you pull back the camera, that relationship of the Nice Guy with the Bitchperson, and the Good Girl with the total Dickwad, they pretty much play out just the same. The Nice Guy and the Good Girl are making the exact same mistakes. The total Dickwad and the Bitchperson are doing the same crappy shitty things. They are fitness testing. They are being rude. They are knocking the other person over. They’re pushing back on them all the time. They’re getting their way no matter what. They’re throwing tantrums, they’re being emotional. We’ve all seen relationships where there is a Nice Guy with a Bitchperson and a relationship with a Good Girl with the total Dickwad.

So in a very real sense, my natural gravitation to helping people hasn’t been to help men, it’s to help those who have given away all their personal power. I.e. The Nice Guys and the Good Girls, because it’s the same basic audience.

So instead of dividing up the people between men and women, I’m focusing on the people who are playing the Nice Card way too much, as opposed to playing the Mean Card way too much. So if you want a nice handy graphic here we go.


I’m just focusing on men, I’m just focusing on this one little quadrant, the Nice Guys who are playing the Nice Card too much, I’m going to miss all the Good Girls because they are they have much the same problem. They have much the same needs. They have the same sense of giving away all their power.

So to me, that’s my audience. That is the people I’m focusing on. Because I really don’t care about the Dickwads and the Bitchpersons. They’re going to be nasty. They’re going to do whatever the hell they want anyway. But I want to strengthen the Nice Guys and strengthen the Good Girls so that if they’re in a relationship with these people, that they can actually get a little bit stronger and get what they want from it. My audience is not men. Because that includes the Nice Guys and the total Dickwads, and oh my god having dealt with hundreds and thousands of people over the last seven years, there is unfortunately a lot of guys in that sort of Dickwad category who have just crapped all over their wives and girlfriends and have not gotten the results they wanted and are totally confused about it. Sometimes if you are a total Dickwad, the solution is to learn how to be slightly nicer. Just like if you are a total Bitchperson, sometimes the solution is to learn how to be a little nicer.

So that’s why primarily my audience is this as opposed to that. I’m not betraying anyone, I’m not being rude to anyone by focusing on this.

So that’s why I’ve gone from a focus on Married Man Sex Life which started with a really tight focus, to being more open, more mainstream where more people can learn from it, more people can get what they want from it. So that’s why I do what I do. That’s why a couple of times when I had the forum I’ve had to push back and slap down guys that were just happy and excited and celebrating that crappy things were happening to women, because they ain’t all Bitchpersons. Some of them were Good Girls that were getting taken advantage of that needed to learn the same stuff that the Nice Guys needed to learn. You can’t give away all your power to the person you’re in a relationship with, and expect to get the results you want from it. Sometimes you have to stand up for yourself. Sometimes you have to be strong. Sometimes you have to push back. And there is no getting around that.

That’s it for this video. Until next time my name is Athol Kay. If you have a question for me you can ask me at askatholanything@gmail.com. And I will catch you next time. Until then, like, link, subscribe, share, all that cool internet stuff. And wishing you all the love, sex and happiness that you want. Catch you later. Bye.


Edit:  As I read though and edited the transcript for  this, an additional thought hit me as needing to be stated. A true Dickwad or Bitchperson is someone who is going to actively enjoy being unpleasant and demanding. Most spouses of Nice Guys and Good Girls are just slowly driven crazy or unattracted by the Nice Guy and Good Girl routines. If you can fix that problem, often the spouse becomes far more pleasant and fun to live with.