Does Your Boyfriend Argue About Everything? He Could Be A Habitual Contrarian
Talking is so easy, right? You just have to use your mouth to say words that can make meaningful sentences. Actually, most of our conversations with our closest people range from being totally useless to deep, philosophical. We really can never tell when we will make that switch! However, being good in conversations or at least pleasant to talk to, is not very common. The number of people that don’t know how to not interrupt while someone is talking is high. In fact, that is something I find very annoying and ill-mannered. I guess most people would. I don’t know if this is worse or equally bad but how do you feel about being in a conversation with someone who is a habitual contrarian?
A habitual contrarian is a person who likes to debate on things, often to feel a sense of superiority by proving they know better or they can reduce your stance to being incorrect. They may be all up for going against the general norms – social, political, economical or whatever. These are the people that often offer alternative theories and have serious conversations in a café. Sure, sometimes, these people are right and help you see a situation from a different angle.
However, I am afraid, a habitual contrarian does it even if it is not required. It doesn’t matter what you say, they have to contradict you compulsively. And to do that, they can come up with theories that don’t even make sense. Or statements that are demotivating.
It’s bad enough if you have to talk to a person like that but it’s worse if you’re dating them. Then you constantly feel like you are explaining, justifying, and debating with them. And all those things are anxiety-evoking actions, thus making communication with them highly taxing. In the end, you are left feeling undermined, belittled, and misunderstood. TBH, nobody wants these feelings emerging from a romantic relationship.
Habitual contrarians object to everything you say
Dr Nicola Davies, CEO, Health Psychology Consultancy wrote in her blog, “Chronic argument seekers use an outmoded style of relating that might have worked for them in the past; realising they use an immature defence mechanism to protect themselves can make you more understanding and tolerant when in their company.” She says these people “will find fault with you or a situation just to engage you in seemingly pointless verbal sparring matches.”
They will never see your point
“It’s almost impossible to get them to consider your views – in their mind, they are always right,” writes Dr. Davies. In fact, it doesn’t matter if they don’t make sense. They will find a way to argue with you, without having any data to support their arguments. “H doesn’t know how to cook a lot of things so I taught him how to prepare a steak. He disagrees about the pan to use, what temperature, how much oil… I’m a qualified chef and find it immensely condescending that he somehow knows better than me. It then falls in me to do all the cooking because he refuses to learn to do it properly,” a woman wrote on Reddit.
“His parents are the only people he seems to listen to. I find this incredibly frustrating but I don’t think he realises how insulting it is that nothing I say counts unless it’s parroted by someone else,” she further added. He can be a contrarian, he can be a mansplainer – we wouldn’t know. But either way, perennially being in a debate is exactly like watching Arnab Goswami on Republic TV. We can’t have so much anxiety in life.
A habitual contrarian can be a narcissist with self-esteem issues.
“The reason contrarians do this is to build up their own self-esteem as they believe that people hold their own intelligence in very high regard, and being able to tell someone they are wrong is a leg up on them, and they feel dominant,” a user wrote on Reddit. It could be self-esteem issues as it is the case with most people who belittle others.
“Habitual ‘argument stokers’ can drive you crazy, especially when you live or work with them; it’s hard to have a conflict-free conversation with them, even about trivial matters,” writes Dr. Davies. “Many, if not most, of them have strong narcissistic tendencies; in other words, they are very self-absorbed. When they come across people whose views differ from their own, they feel threatened, and go on the defensive,” she further adds. This need to be better than others and proving yourself to be of higher intellect is killing all their conversations. And honestly, I would rather be quiet than speaking to someone who is constantly making me explain myself.
How do you deal with them?
The easiest way out is always breaking up and walking away. But if they still have the scope and aren’t bad otherwise, you can find ways to work around this annoying personality trait. Dr. Davies advises, “Try not to ask their opinion on anything – “I need this done in two hours” or “I need you to fetch the kids from school today” are better than “Do you think you can do this in two hours?” or ‘Do you think you can pick up the kids today?’” Just close the portal that unleashes their opinions on you.
It is impossible to win arguments with them so you might as well save yourself the trouble. “People who constantly argue seek control and power over others. You cannot reason with them, so it’s best to withdraw from an argument than try to prove them wrong,” Dr. Davies wrote.
However, Dr. Davies also says that this need not be got rid of. It is an “ingrained defence mechanism” and maybe, with time it can be unlearned. Discouraging or removing yourself from arguing with them will be a good start.