Geek culture has this weird dichotomy. On the one hand, geeks will directly take on a controversial intellectual topic, while, when it comes to emotional conflict, especially if it is in person and not online, geeks are Avoiders. Geeks can argue into the wee hours of the morning about the validity and relevance of string theory and can mercilessly nitpick someone’s grammar online all night long. But, God forbid, they should break the rule never to confront someone directly about a personal injury, particularly someone who is a friend. (The rule is more relaxed around people geeks have no emotional investment in.) And if such a confrontation does happen, it’s usually a one-sided accusation or a back and forth of monologues wherein neither person registers what the other person says or feels. Note: An emotional argument between friends or lovers is not a timed debate where your goal is to win and not be moved in any way by the arguments of the other side.
Know Your Fighting Style
The Avoider. This is the most common geek style in personal relationships. The Avoider withdraws from emotional conflict altogether. It is so uncomfortable for him, he would rather not express how he really feels or hear how the other person really feels if it means disagreement. He rarely, if ever, has conflicts with anyone, especially those close to him. This avoidant tendency works fine if he is in a relationship with another Avoider.
The plus: His intimate relationships are generally smooth sailing.
The minus: The relationships lack real emotional intimacy.
The Yielder (subset of the Avoider). Avoiders can become Yielders when not in partnership with another Avoider. For him, yielding is a way to avoid conflict, which he does by giving in. The Yielder is a strongly emotional person who is affected deeply by the emotions of those around him. He is empathetic and quickly sees the validity of the other person’s argument, and, at the expense of the validity of his own side in the argument, he yields to the other person’s point of view. This puts a stop to the discomfort that he feels about being in conflict and also puts an end to the discomfort of his partner, which the Yielder also feels because he’s such an empath. The Yielder gets along well with the Avoider and the Compromiser (addressed in a later post).
The plus: His partner feels very understood and accepted for who she is.
The minus: The Yielder is never really “known” since he puts his emotions and opinions second to his partner’s.
Up next time: More Fighting Styles