Clueless? Lying? Loyal? Explaining Why He Disagrees With You

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Summary: What is with him? How can he believe such garbage? It's so bad it's not even wrong. It's worse than wrong! Sometimes I think he's just clueless. He simply can't see the truth. But then other times I get this whiff of the devious and think he can see the truth just fine but refuses to. For selfish reasons. To get what he wants, he's pretending he can't see. It's all a con. He's manipulating me. But then I feel bad for assuming the worst. Maybe he’s neither clueless nor lying. He’s just loyal elsewhere. To keep the people in his world happy he’s forced to believe that stuff. You know how it is. To keep your job, to maintain harmony with your spouse you have to believe certain things. It’s not even a conscious decision. You just fall into falsehoods to keep the peace.  It’s not enough to claim to believe those things, because the people you’re around a lot, they’ll see it on your face. To be consistently and reliably diplomatic and tactful with the folks around him, he believes what he has to. You only believe what you can afford to believe. And sure, maybe the same is true for me. Maybe my social pressures distort my reality too.  For all I know, he’s more realistic than I am.  Who am I to say what’s true. Except for one little fact, which is that what he believes is total bullshit, and like I say, sometimes I think he’s just screwing with me. With a con artist, being empathetic is pathetic.  I should defend the truth against his lies, fight him, get right up in his face. Though of course, not if he’s just clueless.  I mean what are you going to do?  Chew some guy out for not knowing better when it’s simply beyond him to understand?  That’s tacky. Clueless, Lying, Loyal? Most psychological dilemmas are, at core a choice between three mutually exclusive options.  Something feels wrong, and you’ve got three ways to interpret what it is.  Your three interpretations each point to a different response and the responses are at odds with each other. Take a partner’s persistently and distractingly annoying habit of picking his teeth. You have three options: 1. Accommodating it requires that you learn to ignore the problem. You maintain your commitment to the partnership by getting over your annoyance. 2. Fighting it requires that you stay vigilant, paying attention to the annoyance and letting your partner know it bugs you. You maintain your commitment to the partnership by making it meet your standards. 3. Leaving it requires not working to sustain the partnership.  You don’t have to change; your partner doesn’t have to change. You just go your separate ways. These three response options go by different names in different contexts: Fight, flight and fear: In response to a predator, an organism fights for dominance, escapes interaction, or displaying fear demonstrates accommodation. Exit, voice and loyalty: In politics, a frustrated citizen can leave the country, voice his opposition or, out of loyalty accommodate the frustration. Win, lose or draw in games; Innocent, guilty and nolo contendere in law; dominance, subordination and disengagement in game theory--we choose one or another of these forks depending on how we interpret the source of the problem. We also have names for the three core interpretations. For example, when there’s a problem between you and me, I can interpret the problem’s origin as in you, in me or in us. If I decide that the problem originates in you, I’ll fight you. If I decide I’m the problem I’ll accommodate you. If I decide the problem originates in us, and our bad chemistry, I’ll suggest that we go our separate ways. Call it the “Youmeus Point,” the point when a problem arises and you wonder “Is it you, is it me or is it us?” And actually there are two Youmeus points, two interpretation q