I was catching up on reading blogs, when I saw this one: “Are You Dominant or Subordinate in Your Romantic Relationship? Clear-cut dominance in couples increases stability.” Posted on May 13, 2012 by Dario Maestripieri, Ph.D., at Psychology Today’s blog “Games Primates Play” also the name of his book.
He asserts that 95 percent of relationships and all stable relationships involve one clearly dominant partner and one submissive partner. While I agree that most people need to have a pack leader somewhere in their life to help guide and protect them, what Maestripieri is describing is an unhealthy, unbalanced relationship that uses power to manipulate and control.
While most modern relationships are overtly dominant and submissive as this post notes, it does not have to be that way. Emotionally balanced relationships are possible, as I discuss in “Pack Leader Psychology.” I draw parallels between animal and human social systems to help people understand their relationships — specifically that UNHEALTHY relationships are usually between a Dominator and a Submissive. I explain how people with low self-worth are fearful of social rejection and criticism, so they partner up with someone that can be manipulated into not criticizing. A Dominator intimidates physically or emotionally so that the Submissive learns to back down. The Submissive manipulates through “pleasing” and accommodating, so that the Dominator does not criticize. They both feel safe, but the relationship is inherently unhealthy.
What do you think? Do all relationships HAVE to be between a Dominator and a Submissive? Or are these unhealthy behavior patterns?