Women’s Version of the Covert Contract.
Length: 2,600 words
Reading Time: Possibly the most important 9 minutes of your marriage!
Introduction to the Covert Contract
Most readers are familiar with the covert contract, an idea that Robert A. Glover made famous in his book, No More Mr. Nice Guy. A covert contract is an unspoken agreement you have within your head between you and somebody else. It’s what you expect someone to do — based on what you’re doing for them or based on what you expect from a relationship — without actually telling them about it. You hope they’ll just know.
In other words, the covert contract is a subconscious and therefore unspoken expectation that is heavy laden with legalism and devoid of agency.
Covert contracts usually take the form of something like “Boyfriends/husbands should behave like A, so that is how I should behave”, and “My girlfriend/wife should behave like X, because that is how girlfriends/wives should behave”. Although thinking this way is important in terms of knowing how things are supposed to be and for imposing frame, it becomes a problem when one implicitly assumes that if one behaves in the specified manner, then everything will automatically work out smoothly and exactly the way one expects.
In practice, the covert contract usually takes the form of “If I do X for them, then they’ll do Y for me”. Some common examples include:
- “If I buy her flowers/hold the door/etc. then she’ll appreciate me/open her heart to me/etc.”
- “If I’m nice to her, she’ll go out with me.”
- “If I agree with them, they’ll like me.”
- “If I work long and hard, my manager will promote me.”
This is colloquially referred to as “nice guy” behavior. But there’s nothing nice about it. It is a vanity of the mind that reflects a magical sense of entitlement from an egocentric perspective. Again, this happens on the subconscious level, and most people are not aware of any covert contracts that they hold. Becoming aware of a covert contract tends to loosen its hold over a person, and once aware, speaking of it becomes a confession.
If you aren’t familiar with Glover’s covert contract, I recommend you to listen to Angel Donovan’s interview with Robert Glover at Dating Skills Review (2014-07-13).
The Female Version of the Covert Contract
The covert contract was originally presented by R.A. Glover from the male perspective. But believe it or not, women have their own version of the covert contract!
Like the male version, the female version of the covert contract is a vanity of the mind that reflects a magical sense of entitlement from a subconscious egocentric perspective. Same as the male version, it also expects implicit rewards for certain behaviors, and this is assumed and goes unspoken.
However, the female version of the covert contract is different from the men’s version in that good behavior is regarded as something above and beyond the norm, and so it demands special recognition and an immediate reward that is specific to her particular expectations. If the expected reward is not immediately granted, then the woman becomes indignant and feels justified in assuming the role of a judge and dishing out some sort of revenge. “I’ll teach him a lesson!” If a woman chooses not to inflict a punishment for any reason, then she’ll view her own inaction as a reason to bolster her own sense of egotistical pride and moral superiority. “I am too good to him.” or “I deserve someone better.”
It gets worse. The female version of the covert contract also assumes automatic immunity for bad behavior. It doesn’t maintain a good will in seeking after positive outcomes, as the man’s version would entail, but instead, it rides on the herd mentality in a race to the bottom. In this case, the female version goes something like this.
“If so and so does X, then I can do X too.” (where X is a destructive behavior)
Often times, this is made personal, as in…
“If so and so does X to me, then I can do X to them.” (where X is a destructive behavior)
So a statement like,
“If so and so hurts me, then I can hurt them back.”
is totally justified from the perspective of the female covert contract.
In summary, the female covert contract appears in two expressions: Indignation (if she does nothing at all) and Retaliation (if she does). For some women, depending on their personality, this may not be obvious, and may be expressed in a passive-aggressive form (which is usually worse because it cannot be dealt with directly).
Interestingly, there is no positive reciprocal action, only negative. That is, women will seldom think,
“If he is nice to me, then I’ll be nice to him.”
“If he sees me exclusively, then I’ll only see him exclusively.”
This is the point at which the transactional nature of the male version of the covert contract breaks down, unless he is an ubermensch Alpha, in which case the interaction is seen by the female as one of affirmation, and not one of transaction. The female may respond positively to such a man, but this is because of Tingles, and is not related to the female covert contract (until she gets dumped).
Case Study 1 – Femmy’s Description of the Female Covert Contract
Reading this list of 50 Female Evasion and Control Tactics (2021-10-22) made Femmy see how men and women think differently. From a woman’s (Femmy’s) perspective, these are not tactics of conscious control over the man. That list “just happens automatically” depending on the nature of the “attacks” and on her ability to handle the suffering that originates from external sources.
Femmy wrote [paraphrased],
I always saw myself as a receiver.
And fighting off what gave me pain…
Fighting things that “happened to me.”
Regardless of whatever decision I made, I never saw it as ‘my fault’ because I could not control the source of pain and suffering.
I wasn’t taught to make decisions growing up. I was taught to submit and accept everything. But I couldn’t. I always blamed the cause.
This is why women always paint themselves as “innocent bystanders”. She is never the actor, always the “acted upon”. Never the decider; always the hapless duped drone, allegedly swindled and tricked (into having sex, for example).
Women never see anything as “their fault”. Women are scarcely aware of the cause and effect – that what “just happens” to them causes them to respond and make decisions. They are not aware that the decisions they make are self-protective measures based on avoiding or controlling pain and suffering. They can’t seem to comprehend that they are held responsible for those decisions and responses, regardless of what “just happens” to them.
It’s difficult for women to figure this out. Femmy even said women are blind to it.
From a woman’s blinded point of view, it’s taken for granted that they see themselves as receivers – of protection, of material provision, and of life. Women are raised to think this way all of their lives since childhood, and it is reinforced by cultural norms and narratives, and supported by the natural male propensity to protect women.
And whenever the reality of living in a fallen world shows through, our fairest princesses transform into bloody battle axes and go stridently on the warpath, thereby making our fallen world a little more fallen.
Faith and Self-Awareness Subverts the Female Covert Contract
The Manosphere has long observed that women lack moral agency. According to what we’ve learned from Femmy, it would be more specific to say that women lack the self-awareness necessary to exercise agency, more specifically, the awareness of how they can be an active agent in the cause-effect dynamic.
It wasn’t until recently, when you guys, others, and guys like Kevin Samuels, that I looked back to what ‘happened to me’ has caused me to create decisions. And that I had to take responsibility for creating those decisions, regardless of what ‘happened to me’.
When that point came to my understanding, it was a new idea.
So I see now that I made decisions based on avoiding pain and suffering, and the cause of the pain was the ‘reason’ why I made those decisions.
But it’s blind and automatic, until someone points it out.
“Blind and automatic” — This lack of self-awareness and agency is what is often touted by women as a lack of self-esteem. In fact, anytime we hear of women justifying their bad decisions because of “not enough self-esteem”, we can safely assume that they mean they are languishing in a crisis of disbelief,* and lack the self-awareness needed to respond appropriately. A critical attitude and a lack of good will amplifies this behavior.
From Femmy’s testimony, it is obvious that men, fathers, and husbands need to make the women in their charge aware of this instinctive reaction common to women so that they will have a greater self-awareness and therefore will possess the ability to exercise agency.
* A crisis of disbelief is when a person denies, or refuses to recognize basic reality, usually because it is foreign to their fundamental belief paradigm, or because acceptance and belief would bring pain, suffering, and/or require one to assume unwanted responsibilities and to take action. Chateau Heartiste’s catchphrase, “Where pretty lies perish”, captures the redemption from this phenomenon.
Men’s Covert Contract Reinforces Women’s Covert Contract
Deti gave us a succinct summary of how men’s protective instinct, which is often expressed through the male version of the covert contract, actually supports and reinforces women’s covert contract.
- [Women’s covert contract] is a result of men’s instinctive and knee jerk protection of women. Men reflexively think and act to protect women and shield them from adverse consequences — even those adverse consequences women bring on themselves. As I was reading [Femmy’s] response, I had to consciously combat my instinct to do the remote/internet version of patting you on the head and going “There there Femmy, it’s going to be OK, no one blames you, it’s not your fault”. I had to fight my instinct to excuse, explain, and otherwise not hold you accountable for your decisions.
- The “it just happened” thing women do is an attempt to invoke male protection, even from total strangers. Women instinctively know to damsel it up specifically to exploit this universal male trait. I really think this is hardwired in women specifically to keep more women alive. The alternative is that men would allow natural consequences to befall women — either impose the same punishment on women that would be imposed on men (death, kicked out of the tribe) or natural consequences (illness, isolation, incapacitation, death).
- Women do this to men they’re dating or men they’re sexually involved with, specifically to get their “payment” in the form of protection and provision. Women believe they’re entitled to “get something” from men in return for the sex they have with those men. In part, women expect “payment” in the form of protection, including relief from the natural consequences of their actions and excusal from responsibility. “I have sex with you, so you’re supposed to protect me from everything, including my own negligence and recklessness.”
- Men who hold women accountable for women’s own decisions are derided as mean spirited, cruel, and heartless — even when that holding accountable is nothing more than allowing natural consequences to occur. This is widespread and pervasive — even other men will deride and denigrate imposition of adverse consequences on women.
Notice that point 3 contains specific expectations of the female covert contract (provision and protection in return for sex, which is a transactional arrangement).
Here, we see that both men and women need to be aware of these subliminal expectations, and draw appropriate boundaries of responsibility, even when this might draw criticism and contempt from others.
Case Study 2 – Mrs. Apostle’s Redemption from the Female Covert Contract
Red Pill Apostle said he had to deal with this same behavior in his wife.
There was a conversation months ago with Mrs. Apostle that I remember well and was a moment of foundational understanding for her as my wife. We were discussing agency regarding a divorced woman we know and she was on a jag about how the husband had behaved poorly so the wife did too. When I brought up whether the wife had agency or not, the implications that the wife either had control of herself and her choices or was unable to choose for herself and was under the husband’s directive did not sit well with Mrs. Apostle. I flipped the idea then to every time she justifies her actions with “yes, but you …” statements, she’s admitting she doesn’t have control over herself, much like a child, and the lightbulb came on.
This is pure gold!
Fast forward a few months and I have not heard that justification since. She has told me that when I behave or communicate in a certain manner it makes it harder for her, which is a legitimate statement. I can then work on my approach and delivery to make her compliance easier, which I see as part of living in knowledge of my wife as the weaker sex (1 Peter 3:7).
From RPA’s testimony, we know that when men, fathers, and husbands take the effort to make the women in their charge aware of their lack/denial of agency, then they can be redeemed from the curse of poor self-awareness which results in a crisis of disbelief (which is commonly passed off as “poor self-esteem”), and can then exercise agency. This will also help women develop a greater sense of security.
Not every nasty thing women say or do is out of malice or spite. Some things are. But it would help both men and women to realize that such behaviors are a woman’s reflexive response to painful circumstances in her environment — the sudden realization that humans are far from perfect.
In general, women suffer from poor self-awareness from living in a sheltered condition all their lives. This is reinforced by Chivalry, the male protective instinct, social norms, and various female defense mechanisms such as feigning innocence/ignorance. So whenever a situation arises that causes them pain and requires them to exercise agency, they are not able able to cope with the offense in a constructive way, so the knee-jerk response is to lash out in anger and revenge.
A compounding reason why they are not able to cope is because they are caught in a debilitating crisis of disbelief. “How dare you!” or “How could this happen to me?” Taken together, this lack of self-awareness, the crisis of disbelief, the lack of agency, and the poor decisions made in response are commonly cited as “poor self-esteem” by many modern women whenever they have to face the music. But it would be more accurate to say that this is a result, not of poor self-esteem, but of an overinflated self-esteem which presumably exonerates them from the consequences of their choices and manifests as a lack of agency. Ultimately, it can all be summed up as emotional immaturity.
When women become aware that they do not need to respond according to the defensive covert contract of negative reciprocation, and that they would be better off if they didn’t, then they become aware that they can make other sorts of decisions, harder though it may be. As a result, women can have the potential to take greater responsibility for their lives and be liberated from the female version of the covert contract, thereby bettering their own lives, and the lives of everyone around them.
The Gestalt Frame
In closing, I want to point out that when women take responsibility for their lives and exercise agency, then this can have a positive impact on men’s behaviors by the power of God that can be accessed through our obedience. This is why Ephesians 5:22-24 states that women should be obedient to their husbands in all things. When women are obedient to the Word, it allows men to escape the defensive dynamics of the tit-for-tat interaction. Once this oppressive psychological distraction is lifted, men are then able to face the limits of their power and authority in the relationship, and come to terms with their own shortcomings and weaknesses. Men are thus able to gain that self-awareness which allows them to exercise their own agency. This is the mechanics behind 1 Peter 3:1-6, which stipulates that husbands may be won over by the behavior of their wives. In Christian terminology, this means a reciprocal repentance and renewal.
I should make this a Σ Frame Axiom:
When men take the effort to make their wives aware of how her Covert Contract obviates her exercise of agency and reduces her to the moral equivalent of a child, then a multitude of blessings will become manifest. So men should point this out to her in every marital conflict.
It also works the other way too.
When women take the effort to protect their husbands from the negative effects of her Covert Contract, then a multitude of blessings will become manifest. So women should prioritize maintaining a good will in every marital conflict.
We could even say this is one powerful way that husbands can love their wives, and wives can respect their husbands. (Ephesians 5:33)
- Σ Frame: Developing Attitudes That Help You Cope (2015-11-05)
- Σ Frame: What is a woman’s desire for her husband according to Genesis 3:16? (2020-10-23)
- Σ Frame: Commonalities of Successful Marriages (2021-04-14)