In my recent post NAWALT and You, one of the things I advised men to do in filtering out unworthy women was:
"Display a low tolerance for unattractive behaviors. Reward only desirable behaviors.”
This led Hooking Up Smart commenter Dream Puppy to share an example from her own married life, one where she lobbed a massive shit test at her husband:
I’ll give an embarrassing anecdote from my stupid youth. When my husband and I were around the one month mark, we got in a stupid fight in our apartment. I cried, yelled, stormed out, and slammed the door. Hard.
And I waited for him to do what every single other person had ever done when I threw a fit like that. Come running after me- look for me- call me to see if I was all right…
so I waited.
Finally after two hours. i got tired of walking around the park in a huff and went back home. He was on the computer.
I told him, “Um, didn’t you see me crying! You’re supposed to run after me! The guy is supposed to do that!!”
He said, “That is stupid. I am not running after you. Look what you did to the door. If the landlord notices, you are paying for it. Don’t be reckless again.”
Dream Puppy got exactly what she wanted in that exchange, which was to know that her husband could stand up to her emotions. She felt comforted, even relieved when he thwarted her attempt at control. She went on to say this about shit tests:
I have a little theory on shit tests. Women want power, as that is access to resources, but women also need protection. Protection from other men, predators, etc.
The shit test basically asks. Can you stand up to me? If the man fails, he is communicating to the woman that since he cannot even stand up to her, it is probably the case he will not be up to the task of protecting her and her children. This is probably why some women have such a visceral reaction to very beta men. They are communicating- “Sorry, cannot protect you or your children. I am WEAK.”
Our instincts would be to not mate with those men and avoid them at all costs.
I agree that shit tests are essentially a form of testing for fitness, or strength. Roissy describes shit tests as a woman's means of "weighing your stones." Shit tests come in many variations, from a woman's asking you to hold her purse at the mall, to storming out during a fight, or even an ultimatum about the relationship.
I distinctly remember the first time I ever shit-tested a guy. I was in the eighth grade and he was a freshman at the high school. I had just moved into his neighborhood. He was a big guy, a very promising football player, and cute. He liked me, and was extremely attentive and sweet.
One day he talked about his father's funeral the year before. As he described the feelings that had come over him as he approached the open casket, he broke down and began to sob. His huge, masculine body shuddered as he poured out his heart and his grief. I felt a surge of empathy, but also alarmed. I had never been in this role, and felt unprepared to cope. I also felt repelled as the tears streamed down his cheeks and fell from his cleft chin.
What I did next will undoubtedly strike you as heartless and indicative of the true nature of women, which of course it is. I share this admission because of its potential to reveal a glimpse of the female psyche, and because I do not believe that my response was in any way unusual or unpredictable.
A couple of days later, we hung out and he was back to his cheerful self, but now truly emotionally tethered to me. He gazed at me adoringly and told me how lucky he was to have found such a nice girl. He asked me for my photo, so that my face could be the last thing he saw before he went to sleep each night.
Here is what I said.
"I'll give you a photo, but only if you do something first. You have to earn it. My favorite song is Band of Gold by Freda Payne. Tonight when you get into bed, turn on your radio. Promise me you won't go to sleep until you've heard it."
The next day after school he came over and excitedly reported that he had stayed awake until 3 a.m., but that they had finally played the song. He'd been exhausted all day, but had done exactly as I asked.
I gave him the photo, and dumped him three days later.
At 14, I didn't know enough to recognize and understand what I was feeling, other than the fact that I had completely lost attraction for him. He had leaned on me, hard, long before our relationship could sustain emotional intimacy of that kind, and he had signaled weakness. In my own mind, the cruel test I set up was really about giving him another chance. The only way he could have held onto me at that point was to call me out for being a manipulative bitch.
I'm not proud of this story. It's a story I've shared with my kids as an example of shameful behavior from my own childhood. But it demonstrates in very stark terms what a shit test is, and how important it is for men to refuse to play.
We're wired that way. If you fail a crucial shit test, you won't get a second chance. If a demand strikes you as unreasonable or gratuitous, trust your instincts. We'll like you better for it.