I just witnessed this and wanted to share. The people involved thought they were acting reasonably, by the way.
She told her husband that she wanted him to be a real man, to man up, to be a confident man, as she was actively tearing him down. Then she told him she was sick of being in charge, while she took charge yet again. I tried to get her to release the reins and she refused, refusing also to see her role in our particular dynamic. She portrayed herself as a victimized woman, never in power, as she powerfully defended her victim position. It would have been funny…
“I want you to be in charge, to take charge. Here’s exactly how I want you to do it,” she said.
Believe it or not, it was dealing with a romantic relationship and the guy was a little gun shy. Each time he went in for a kiss, he was rebuffed, then he was told he didn’t flirt enough, wasn’t physical in the right way and quite frankly was not manly. She took 0% of the responsibility for her role in this dance and it was my job to help her see that she had a part to play. While I normally love my job, this was not something I was looking forward to doing.
I gently pointed out the difference between her words and actions and she went ballistic and left the office.
We later talked about mixed signals. She clearly (I made sure I was not just guessing on this) had a pre determined way she wanted him to come in for the kiss. She wanted him to read her mind, she said, and just come in the way she wanted, when she wanted, for as long as she wanted and not have to talk about it at all. He had to figure it out if he was to win her back. (She was the one who had the affair, by the way.)
When he withdrew, seeing absolutely no hope for saving this, she was livid that he did not fight for the relationship. I saw that one coming from a mile away. She then went off on him.
After this session, I asked a number of people the following questions: “Whose job is it to initiate a kiss? How do you know when the partner wants to be kissed or is open to it?”
Before I reveal what they said, what are your views on this?