Which is to say: This pair is not alike, and not in a good, refreshing way. There’s the silent guy following in the wake of the communicative, active chick, or the silent woman in the presence of a strong, assertive guy.
I find especially the latter kind a little frightening, because it is so easy to go from there to an actually abusive relationship, which I have seen happen and it just isn’t pretty, neither the slow descent nor the sudden fallout, the getting-back-together after things that should never happen in a stable relationship.
They change when their partner isn’t around
Whenever someone is two kind of people, one of them isn’t real, and the whole construct isn’t healthy. I have seen women go from bubbling happiness to stagnant silence, guys suddenly dropping their classy act as soon as their girlfriend leaves, and those kinds of behavioral changes.
Sometimes this is cute, when someone normally hard suddenly gets soft, and a couple who kind of forgets about the outside world in each other’s presence is a cute sight to behold. But even that isn’t particularly healthy when it drags on for more than a couple weeks, and the darker variants never are.
One makes decisions for the other
There is such a world of a difference between a guy saying “we’re going to Jeff’s tonight” or “hey, I thought about going to Jeff’s tonight, you up for it?”.
Bossing each other around is a good sign that something isn’t going right in this relationship, especially as soon as they stir complaining and bitching into the mix.
They tell you about the sex they’re having
I’m not opposed to talking about sex with friends, and the weirder the better. I’m the kind of guy who knows about your girlfriend’s period before you do, because she somehow keeps talking about it almost as if everyone else is creeped out when she so much as mentions it.
I rarely talk sex unless prompted, but it’s a part of our lives and if someone feels they need my input or just an ear to listen then that is a sign of trust for me that I value.
And that is something else entirely to the guy who makes every conversation about his crossfit hobby, or the sex he’s having with his girlfriend, and likely the chick his wife and him got to know on Tinder. You’ll never find out if she’s actually on board with that, because she couldn’t admit it if she wasn’t. And I always find that sad, because all the associated women have that look in their eyes as if they are on a segway group ride realizing this wasn’t how they envisioned their life. By the way, I dare you to show me a single person who rides a segway and smiles, those things are weeeeird.
He never comes along
I happen to be “that guy” for a surprising amount of men, the weird guy they are either secretly or openly suspicious about. It’s not like I don’t get it, I’ve been on some pretty weird pseudo-dates with married women over the years where we walked dark forests early in the morning looking for moss for Christmas decoration, or explored abandoned bunkers.
For a pretty long time, I stayed away from those things, knowing how they would look. But after I realized that husband’s were still getting angry at me for merely existing, and seeing friends disappointed who would have trusted me, I kind of stopped stopping myself.
The thing is: If you are anxious about your wife being alone with another guy, then why is she there alone with me? Why aren’t you there, whether you care about moss and bunkers or not? I would have brought you along, no questions asked, and I would have behaved myself in the same way I do when you aren’t there. So why is this such a common occurrence, the female friend who loves the adventure, and the husband who stays at home brooding?
They split responsibilities and assets
Mind you, this isn’t the kind of “you fill the dishwasher, I get the trash out”, that to me is sharing the responsibility of maintaining your home. But I have had friends who could immediately tell you who owned what, who had paid for the couch I was sitting on, and who had separate rooms that were “theirs”. They owned two cats, and it was rare for one of them to touch or feed the one “belonging” to the other. They took turns cooking, but never cooked together, it was always one at the stove and one on the couch.
It was pretty freaking weird, like a divorce that was predetermined and anticipated, and yet they were kind of surprised when it inevitably happened.
You only hear about their partner
I knew a woman once where I wasn’t quite sure if she actually had a husband, because I honestly never saw him. I mean, I saw the clothes on the couch, the double-set of dishes in the sink, all the regular signs that another human being lived in her house, I just never met him. I was at her place more or less frequently, and our group of friends met often enough for everyone else to bring their partners into it at certain points.
To me, that always seemed odd. Just like it isn’t healthy when someone never goes out alone, it can’t be healthy to never go out together, or be around when the other has guests over.