Dear Steve,

While I suspect that your mellow demeanor means you don’t experience this particular problem, please consider my plea. My much loved, serious boyfriend and I both tend to be bossy, particularly with each other. We haven’t yet negotiated a comfortable solution for this. Either he’s bossy and I’m submissive and then I hate it later, or I’m bossy and he gives in and then he hates it later. What’s a bossy couple to do – or is this just the way it goes?


Bossy in Santa Fe


Since most bossy people regard their bossiness as a sign of strength and integrity, I will assume that you want to make your relationship work while remaining bossy. You should know, however, that all the healthy people reading this are going to be thinking the same thing, “STOP BEING BOSSY”. But what do they know. Besides, you and your boyfriend probably think the mellow people are wimps.

First, let’s talk about the psychology of bossiness. Bossy people are usually a little agitated to begin with. They always seem to have a pebble in their shoes. They see the world as a place that is unfair, or badly managed, or disappointing. They usually view other people as lazy, not as smart, or just plain bothersome. For these reasons, bossy people actually think they are making the world better when they are being bossy. Their bossiness brings truth and justice to an otherwise imperfect world.

You write that whenever one of you gives in, that person invariably “hates it” later. This suggests that neither of you gives in because you’re actually wrong, but only because you want to pacify the other person. You should find it troubling that neither of you ever gives in simply because you’re wrong. Anyone who clings so tenaciously to “being right” all the time has to be a little insecure (or a lot insecure). I suggest the two of you have a conversation that starts something like this…

“Would you agree that everyone is wrong sometime,” (unless your boyfriend is pathological, he’ll have to agree with this statement)“then, if everyone is wrong sometime, how come neither of us is ever wrong?”

Seriously, you guys need to start practicing being wrong. I’m wrong all the time and it’s incredibly liberating. It must be very stressful for each of you to be right all the time. Relax and step into the sunshine of wrongness. Say it loud – I’m wrong and I’m proud!

Let’s face it, if you guys are as bossy as you say, there is some fundamental unhappiness going on. Happy people aren’t bossy (they’re just annoying). You should look into reasons why you are so bossy. As you know, most personality problems (yes, bossiness is a problem), have their causes in childhood. Unfortunately, more than anyone else, bossy people hate talking about thier childhoods. The mere suggestion that a bossy person’s opinions are based on anything other than truth and reason really pisses them off (and they probably think psycholoogy is a load of crap anyway).

So try this – you get to be bossy on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays; he gets to be bossy on Tuesdays, Thusdays and Saturdays. On Sundays, you can both let God boss you around. But that’ll never work, because bossy people can’t put their bossiness away for an hour, let alone a whole day.

Perhaps you should consider the teahings of the great Taoist philosopher, Lao Tse –

“If you would have a thing weakened,
You must first strengthen it….
If you would take from a thing,
You must first give to it.
This is called discernment:
The submissive and weak will always overcome the hard and strong.”

I don’t know what it means either. Maybe it means – if you let your boyfriend have his way a lot, soon he will grow weak and forget how to fight, and then you can really kick his ass and get your way all the time. Good luck.


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Filed under Advice, Dating, Love

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