Why do men insult their intimate partners? This is the title of a recent paper published in the Journal of Personal Differences. I love that there is work being done like this and that there are blogs like Freakonomics (yes, after the book) , which tell me about it.
The research found that some men who insulted their partners did so as a part of larger strategy in mate retention. I.e. as way to keep them, they insulted them. Hmm, yes, well that seems fairly strange....or does it?
It would be interesting to further look at the research and see how and when such behaviour crosses the line into abuse. Degradation and attacking self-confidence is classic abusive behaviour. But they are tactics that we all pick up casually throughout our lives, some of us just take it too far.
Also I would love to see how men learn that insulting behaviour works for mate-retention. For instance, the boy who pulls your pigtails at school because he really likes you...Does it start that young? And how do women learn to respond to it? You go home and tell your mom that so and so is teasing us and she tells you that it's really because he has a crush on you. Don't you remember feeling like your mom was full of it because it didn't make any sense that someone would be mean to you if they liked you?