It seemed so promising in the beginning. They were both passionate about politics. They both felt it was important to engage in activism, to join the public debate. They wanted to be of service to their country.
Granted, her education level was higher. He dropped out of college, she went to Law School. But they were both widely read and interested in what was happening, and an increasing number of women are now more educated than their men anyway. Lurking under the surface though was another imbalance, one that was about to have devastating effect – a mismatch in relational intelligence.
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It started when Rush began feeling comfortable, expansive, like he was king of the hill and master of all he surveyed. He forgot caution, tact, manners, and indulged some of his negative motivations.
“Sandra, you want the government to subsidize your sex life? So my taxes have to pay for your sex? That makes you a prostitute, doesn’t it?”
He immediately knew he had made a big mistake. The telltale signs of severe emotional flooding were all over her face. Instead of backing up and calming things down though, his ego took control and pressed to the attack as the best defense.
“I mean, if I’m going to pay for your sex, at least I should have a film to watch.”
Unfortunately, they both worked in the same office. It wasn’t more than a few minutes before the entire place was buzzing. The news went out on Facebook and Twitter. Her father, Barack, called to console her. The other guys in the office let him know he was a lower form of life than vermin. He realized that it was a major SNAFU, and no one was on his side.
He tried a half-hearted attempt at repairing the damage, still thinking of his own dignity and ignoring her needs. “Hey, it was just a joke! Okay, so I went a little too far. C’mon, give me a break!” In other words, she should realize she was just too sensitive and was wrong for feeling insulted.
Sandra let him know just how insufficient this pseudo-apology was.
Next he tried the classic ploy of deflecting blame and attention. “Okay, I’m sorry! I was acting like those other jerks around the office who diss their women. I guess they influenced me.”
He gets fired. She moves on. End of relationship.
Okay, so Rush Limbaugh and Sandra Fluke didn’t know each other, and weren’t in a romantic relationship. But the same thing happens when one of the partners not only lacks skills, but also the motivation to value the relationship over their own ego.
Let’s see what a more skilled scenario with positive motivations would be like...
Rush: “Sandra, you want the government to subsidize your sex life? So my taxes have to pay for your sex? That makes you a prostitute, doesn’t it?”
Sandra flushes red with anger.
Rush: “Uh, oh. I can see that really insulted you. I’m sorry. I didn’t mean that.”
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Sandra: “You sanctimonious, self-centered, rude, arrogant, $%$%#$^#$^!!!!”
Rush: “I can see you’re really upset and I don’t blame you. Can we just take a quick, five-minute break, and then I promise I’ll come back and listen to you?”