1. Hubardo
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    Hubardo Contributing Member Contributor

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    How to address hard to describe alpha male behaviors...?

    Discussion in 'The Lounge' started by Hubardo, Dec 24, 2015.

    I'm trying to put my finger on something.

    I live with a few people and one of them is an alpha male. He doesn't physically abuse or yell at people, but there is a hard to describe air about him. It includes non verbal communication. He is intimidating. Everybody notices it. Recently three of us (everybody but he and his girlfriend) talked about this, and are on the same page. He hasn't done anything violent that would constitute eviction from the landlord, but we agree there is just something about him that makes us all feel afraid and on eggshells.

    I find it difficult to pin down precisely what it is, though. The reason it seems important is because the three of us are trying to strategically find a way to address it, but it's hard. If it's simply "your personality is off-putting," that's obviously not going to work. If it's "that behavior the other day made me feel such and such," that could work.... but if it's something as trivial as the way he rearranged the kitchen with an 'angry energy' about him, he'll just act (truthfully) like he was just doing some normal thing. We will seem crazy for bringing it up. I have wondered if each of us tracking specific times when we felt intimidated, confused, or scared and presenting it after a few weeks could be effective. Yes, it's a tremendous amount of work but we live in an affordable place in a great location and moving out would be an even bigger chore for all three of us.

    I have a background in clinical psych so I don't need an education in what is going on in those terms - narcissism, emotional abuse... the terms can apply, sort of, but they don't really help. The term "control freak" also applies. But none off these terms or concepts are really roads to getting what we want.

    Again, hard to put a finger on what's so "off" about the interactions and wondering what others think. If this was a challenge you were facing, how would you approach it? (Other than moving out)
     
    Last edited: Dec 24, 2015
  2. Lifeline
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    Lifeline The Dark - not in Wonderland Supporter Contributor

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    Truthfully I do not know. I would hope that I would muster the courage and try intimating right back. Or maybe just ignore the behaviour. Go my own way and let him go his. We are not joined at the hip and he is an adult. You are sharing the same space but that is all.

    And I have made the discovery that people are right nervous when I really don't care! But you don't pretend in that, it has to be real. :D

    Also.. you do know which specific kind of symptoms you are here describing, do you? I don't think you will get what you want, which would him make a nice guy.
     
    Last edited: Dec 24, 2015
  3. edamame
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    edamame Contributing Member Contributor

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    I don't know. It seems that there is something off about him, but if you can't put your finger on it, it would be hard to confront him for something you may only be perceiving. At this point, it may just be a personality clash. I've had people tell me they feel like they're walking on eggshells because I'm too sensitive, while in my point of view, they are being too insensitive by not thinking before they speak. I suggest relaxing and talking to him more to see if you can get a better gauge on his true personality before resorting to eviction or moving out.
     
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  4. Haze-world
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    Haze-world Senior Member Supporter

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    I agree with edamame. I've come across characters with the manner you have described and it is usually down to growing up in extremely tough environments and or having poor communication skills. You may well be surprised to find he is ok really. You need to give him a chance to be better or worse, in a friendlier environment it would be fairer.
     
  5. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    Can you offer any more details about his behavior? Or, have you ever tried pushing back or setting boundaries with him?

    For example, "Joe, we all use the kitchen. If you'd like to reorganize it, please organize a meeting; don't unilaterally change our shared space."

    If you said something like that, would his subtle assertion of superiority and authority become less subtle?
     
  6. BrianIff
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    BrianIff I'm so piano, a bad punctuator. Contributor

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    My intuition tells me that presenting a record of instances would not be taken well. With hyper-masculine folk like him, they're likely to respect and value openness, if it doesn't come across as a power struggle, but I'd ditch the textbook assertiveness of 'when you...I feel...I need you to...Otherwise....,' at least not as a first resort. Be natural and oblique, but not subtle. He comes in and slams the door, just say 'everything cool?' He sounds like the type to be openly domineering, judgmental, and irritated, so I empathize with the difficulty of drawing attention to things that are trivial in his eyes and what his likely reaction would be, but consistency of your non-angry expression of your reaction seems best.
     
  7. Inks
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    Inks Contributing Member

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    Depends on the situation and actions, clear things to watch for are strong assertive/dismissive tones with rising body posture. This is usually accompanied by immediate denial or an implicit expectation that their desired task, actions, food, or any "want" be treated with agreement.

    "Where should we eat."
    "Let's go to <place>."
    <some reasoned objection is provided>
    <Person rebuffs or dismisses "problem" instead of compromising or entertaining the notion of it.>

    This is assertiveness is not violent, but it suppresses the will of others into a submissive role in the relationship. It stifles expression and puts this distance of inapproachability while also making it awkward. In turn, this distance is not explained to the assertive person who often comes to think they need to do this for the good of others. The inability of the person to read the situation or misinterpret hesitation as a personal rejection will lead to a very poor atmosphere.

    I know one person that does this and its the way they look at people and the awkward pause when ever a request or question is asked. Most of this can be attributed to direct unflinching eye contact from a person bigger then yourself and a little "thff" when a question is directed at them.

    Most likely in this situation - they are not aware of others feelings, but if they do not seem the type to care about others then that route will probably be tough. Making a list of instances will be taken as one way - scheming or conspiring against him. The first response would usually be "If you have a problem, why did you not say anything?" Communication is a two-way street, but I good intuition tells you about compatibility and makes you cautious for good reason.

    Heck, I should like one person at my job, but she is unapproachable because of a completely different personality which I find intimidating. Like the center of a little "clique" - such persons do not deal with outsiders well and take everything so personally.
     
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  8. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    There's little reason for me to make this connection, but if you look up lists of behaviors for OCPD (not the same as OCD) does it match at all? The "angry energy " while making a household change is what makes me think of it.
     
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  9. Hubardo
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    Hubardo Contributing Member Contributor

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    The most glaring thing that happened several months ago is that he "asked" all of us if his girlfriend could move in (they had met a couple months before and were "madly in love"). He "made a case" for her and listed several reasons why we should. One of the reasons was... actually... her ethnicity. "We need more diversity in our house." It was construed, like most things with him, as an argument he must win from the outset. He appeared calm and collected during this time, which he appears to do well when he wants to. But once each of us brought up reasons why we didn't like the idea (very young relationship; discomfort about living with couples in general; never having spent time with her; the way he was with his ex- before her -- domineering, commanding), it became a huge issue. He invalidated each of our points and later on decided, and told me in private while belittling me in many subtle ways ("If you weren't such a sensitive person this wouldn't have been an issue"), that she would "just have to move in" because our reasons were so bad. She moved in and everyone was really offended... actually kind of shocked... like... is he allowed to? Can we do anything? It was confusing. I felt very angry and eventually powerless because I didn't know what to do.

    Alpha dude eventually "apologized" for how he got his gf to move in. I never considered the apology to be genuine. It seemed more like what ya do to regain social capital after you've exhausted it. But I do tend to overanalyze.

    The two women who once lived with us from that period moved out a couple months ago because they found his personality to be too difficult to handle, and once his gf moved in it was very, very awkward. These two women told him they were moving out for another reason (shitty IMO because he went on believing he was a tolerable person). Then, another housemate left -- this guy and his gf being a factor, if not the primary factor. None of these 3 told him directly that his personality or behaviors were the problem. I know because I'm on good, honest terms with them.

    At a house meeting a few days ago the newer housemates were talking about stuff they wanted to do with the house and later when the three of us talked, they realized they felt like he "vetoed" everything. It seemed at first like, oh, he has these reasons why he doesn't want a new chair over there, a dog, a new way to manage an issue with the sink. So they're starting to see the weird pattern I've seen, which is that he has this internal premise of "my way or no way" and finds cunning ways to make sure it goes his way.
     
  10. Hubardo
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    Hubardo Contributing Member Contributor

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    Yeah it fits, but like I said it doesn't really help. Unless a control freak ends up controlling people through illegal means, gets in legal trouble, and is forced into therapy, you can't really get them to change. Which is... my... problem... :/ And again, moving out isn't really practical right now.
     
  11. Haze-world
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    Haze-world Senior Member Supporter

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    This is disturbing. I would move too. Some things aren't worth the hassle.
     
  12. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    I was just responding to the statement that you were "trying to put your finger on" the issue. I took it as a given that even if the issue could be labelled, or even formally diagnosed, that there was no real way to improve the situation. I guess I'm fundamentally less optimistic than you.

    Is there no way whatsoever that you can move?
     
  13. BrianIff
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    BrianIff I'm so piano, a bad punctuator. Contributor

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    What would he do if you just ignored his opinion and got the dog and chair, and just told him unless he has a valid point, it was a majority decision? Or tell him in advance, whatever.
     
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  14. Hubardo
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    Hubardo Contributing Member Contributor

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    Edit to add: Currently we're going by consensus, sort of. We need to discuss how house decisions are made. Consensus minus 1 may work. Or majority. Majority would be 3 versus he and his gf. Consensus minus 1 would probably be us vs. him then him sweettalking his gf into shit. It's ridic.

    It's an interesting idea. The Alliance Of Three (heh) have discussed just moving his organ outside and putting the chair there. In a group text he said moving the organ is on the bottom of his priorities, whereas he has confronted our new housemate about moving her chair several times to the point that she felt somewhat intimidated yesterday. He implied to her that over the holidays he would move the chair into the attic, as if it's his place to do so. The chair is slightly out of place, but not enough that any of us are obsessed with moving it. It's a chair, minding its business. We agreed at the house meeting that the organ, an old antique which looks cool but serves no function, should be replaced with something else. The double standard has come out; we all agree the organ (his) should go. Only he really cares about the chair. He is really close to removing the chair.

    The Alliance Of Three has discussed that we just think having a house meeting about how decisions are made, and what we want for the house, may be the best bet. Addressing safety - feeling free of threats, intimidation etc - could be done. He certainly has that narcissistic pattern of taking anything about him as some severe insult, and they haven't seen it yet. But I'm intellectually interested to see what happens as we take this on.
     
    Last edited: Dec 25, 2015
  15. BrianIff
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    BrianIff I'm so piano, a bad punctuator. Contributor

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    And he owns a fucking organ? Too strange to be fiction. Yeah, that sounds best since his nature won't change anytime soon. Unfortunately, it might come down to 'only one person speak at a time' rules at the meeting, but also mention to the two others that they shouldn't talk to him one on one about things about the whole house until meeting in case he wants to garner assent for himself leading up to it.
     
  16. Hubardo
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    Hubardo Contributing Member Contributor

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  17. 123456789
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    123456789 Contributing Member Contributor

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    The actions you described don't make him masculine, just an asshole. I know girls too who act the same way.

    I think what you really want to know is how to be an alpha male yourself and take care of the situation. You shouldn't just be talking behind his back to your other room mates or to us, and you certaintly shouldn't be sweating about it and internalizing it. Next time he tries to control the situation, put your foot down and say "no." It's your house too. You also pay. Do you think he's better than you somehow? Why are you trying to analyze his behavior? Who cares? If you don't want his girlfriend there, tell him "no."
     
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  18. Kingtype
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    Kingtype Always writing or thinking things XD Staff Role Play Moderator Contributor

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    I'm sorry if I'm out of line as I don't know the full situation nor do I live with you all but this doesn't seem like any sort of alpha male behavior or well maybe it is but don't we just usually call that bullying or being a jerk?

    Call it what ya like but it just seems to me that this guy needs to meet someone who will stand up to him. All through life there are people like the guy you're describing and they either walk all over you or they learn eventually that you're not one to be intimated. Of course I don't have a degree or anything but just speaking from personal experince .....everytime I ever stood up to someone who was trying to be intimidating or something they backed down and either stormed away or calmed down and had a civil conversation.

    Of course I could be totally misreading the situation but the guy doesn't sound very nice (sounds somewhat like a bully or at least very very assertive and self minded) and I was raised to not let other guys push me around....which was hard to learn (still learning it :p somewhat) as I'm pretty meek by nature normally but sometimes if the situation calls for it I think ya gotta stand your ground and be hard nosed back.

    But beats me really.

    I say do whatever you think is best I suppose, I'm certainly no expert.
     
    Last edited: Dec 25, 2015
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  19. Sack-a-Doo!
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    Sack-a-Doo! Contributing Member Contributor

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    What you're seeing/feeling is called, in some psychology circles, dominance.

    Imagine an x-y graph...
    The x-direction has, at the left end: dominant,
    at the right end: easy-going.

    The y-direction is labelled:
    top: informal
    bottom: formal

    Every person falls somewhere on the graph.

    As far as your roommate is concerned, he's obviously at the far left end of the dominant/easy-going line. I will hazard a guess that's he's somewhat closer to the bottom than the top as far as formal/informal goes. That adds up to: dominant/formal, what's commonly called Controlling Style or Controller, depending on who you talk to about it.

    Controlling style description:
    - likes to be in charge,
    - harsh, but fair,
    - makes statements (as oppose to asking questions),
    - always seems sure of himself.

    From your description, there do seem to be anger issues in there which will colour his behaviour and make him seem more difficult to get along with.

    It's also important to remember that if he thinks of you as family, he'll defend you to the death if necessary. Usually, it isn't though, because of his forceful personality.

    If you want him to do something, find a way so he will think it's his idea. And never (never, never) let on that it was yours.
     
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  20. Hubardo
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    Hubardo Contributing Member Contributor

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    Does it make any difference that he has lived in the house for about 5 years and we're all newer renters? I've been there about 2 years, his gf less than 1 year, the 2 new people less than 2 months each. Does his longevity there give him more entitlement anyone's opinion?
     
  21. Lewdog
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    Lewdog Come ova here and give me kisses! Supporter Contributor

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    The best thing to do, is to go down to the kitchen and whip out your donger, and piss all over everything. That's how masculine people mark their territory. Now if that doesn't get his attention, nothing will.

     
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  22. 123456789
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    123456789 Contributing Member Contributor

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    This isn't an aristocracy. Do you pay as much as he does?
     
  23. BrianIff
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    BrianIff I'm so piano, a bad punctuator. Contributor

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    I've thought about anatomical possibilities before, but whadahfuq??

    I think a person would deserve a little consideration based on the length of his stay, seeing as he's probably more set in his ways than especially the other two, who have little expectation of normal. But you yourself have been there for a long time and his behavior has sorta blown any sympathy I would've had, so it's only a minuscule feather in his hat as I see it.
     
  24. Lewdog
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    Lewdog Come ova here and give me kisses! Supporter Contributor

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    Well this could also be looked at as a war...or a hostage situation. One of the first things to be taken care of in those types of situations is the power or utilities. So refuse to pay your fair share of the utilities until he starts treating people with more respect. If he doesn't change then move on to psychological warfare and start blasting Justin Bieber music 24/7. I don't think it will go any farther than that.
     
  25. BrianIff
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    BrianIff I'm so piano, a bad punctuator. Contributor

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    That could backfire though ;)



    End of dialogue at end is "Arrest them for not paying their electricity bill?"
     
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