Men's Health

5 Female Power Plays That Men Should Know About

When women were labeled the "fairer sex," it wasn’t in reference to their behavior. Women are anything but "fair." They are, however, masters in the art of manipulation — but all with good reason.

Women often feel powerless in relationships since men tend to shy away from any request involving the word "talk," which, in turn, leaves a host of unresolved issues and no outlet for dealing with them. Enter Plan B: passive aggression.

The following are tricks — or "power plays" — she uses to assert dominance, to remind you of her importance and to let you know she’s not to be taken for granted. These temper tantrums can be acted out by any female, of any age, at any time.

Read on to learn about her power plays — and how to nip this behavior in the bud.

1. Dressing Sexy

If an otherwise conservative woman is suddenly dressing in red fishnets for a night out with the girls, she’s trying to tell you something. Women don’t turn into harlots overnight, and if she does, this is a good indication that she feels like you’re not giving her enough attention. Dressing like a tart is one of her power plays because it will have other men lusting after her, which is probably what she wishes you were doing. This power play is happening because she’s feeling neglected and ignored, whether the emotions are warranted or not. This behavior is also intended to make you consider the possibility of someone else moving in and stealing your woman.

Stopping this power play: You have two options in dealing with her power play: intervene or ignore. Some women get really turned on by a man who steps in and puts his foot down. If this sounds like your girlfriend, go ahead and intervene by letting her know she’s not going out dressed like that. If, however, you’re dating a modern female (and most of you are), this is strongly discouraged, unless you want to see World War III from the front lines. Your best move is ignoring the tantrum altogether. Act normal, smile and tell her to have fun and enjoy herself. Steal her thunder, and that’ll be the last time she plays dress-up.

2. Witholding Sex/Affection

One of the oldest power plays in the book, this one doesn’t usually start out with the intention of withholding sex or affection out of revenge. Rather, it starts out as pure hurt. Sometimes it manifests as anger, but rest assured that hurt is always the foundation. Unfortunately, a woman tends to assume her man is fully aware of her pain — she also assumes he knows precisely how he caused it, which means he should also know how to fix it. In reality, the poor guy doesn’t have a clue; he just knows she’s pissed off at him. He also knows that every time he tries to kiss or hold her, she responds frigidly.

Stopping this power play: This is one of those situations in which you’re going to have to talk. As ominous as that sounds, it’s a lot easier than you think. All you have to do is ask her what’s wrong. More than likely, there’s been some kind of misunderstanding and all you’ll need to do is (gently) correct her perception. If the issue is larger, you’ll need to have a deeper conversation. Either way, you can pretty much bank on fantastic makeup sex later on.

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3. Flirting With Other Men in Front of You

Women who pull this power play require more attention than they’re currently receiving. Flirting with other men helps her fill a void of some kind. The void may stem from a deeper insecurity, or it may stem from having a boyfriend who just doesn’t pay enough attention to her. But neither situation excuses this kind of tantrum, and acting out in this manner indicates she’s unskilled at communicating her needs. It may also be a sign you’re dating damaged goods.

Stopping this power play: As before, you have two options: intervene or ignore. If she’s the type to get hot when you put her in her place, that could be exactly what she’s after. While those types of exchanges can be highly erotic, realize that allowing her to provoke you with her power plays will likely result in more of the same behavior. If she’s not that kind of girl, your best bet is to ignore it and address it when you get home. And address it you must — there’s no excuse for this kind of tantrum. If she doesn’t straighten up immediately, it’s probably time to get a girlfriend who respects you (and herself).

4. Delaying Response to Your Texts or Calls

If your girlfriend typically responds to your text messages and phone calls within an hour or two, but suddenly goes an entire day without getting back to you, something’s up. She’s either angry (read: hurt) about something, or she’s no longer interested. The latter doesn’t usually happen overnight, so this is probably her way of letting you know she’s unhappy with you.

Stopping this power play: When she pulls this power play, don’t fall into the phone-tag trap — it’ll only exacerbate the situation. If your messages aren’t being returned, stop sending them and wait until you can talk face-to-face. Start by asking what’s upsetting her; don’t even bother addressing the fact she’s been ignoring you, since that’s not the real issue here. Besides, you’d only be reinforcing her behavior by letting her know it bothered you. Once you’ve cleared the air, the power play will end on its own.

5. Marking Her Territory

This kind of behavior is one of the most natural power plays for women to indulge in, whether they realize it or not. If she’s cognizant of her actions, they could be blatant: leaving silk panties on the floor, forgetting her Tampax box in the bathroom, etc. It could also be far less obvious: tidying up your bedroom, cleaning the bathroom, etc. These are details another woman would notice immediately, as few bachelors excel at housekeeping. It’s also something your friends would notice, giving the instant impression she’s more than just a bed buddy.

Stopping this power play: You may not want to counter this power play, but you should think twice before letting her scatter lingerie around your apartment. Allowing her do so will send the message you’re allotting her space in your home, which gives the impression you consider her a girlfriend. If she is, there’s no harm done. If she’s not, you could have a screaming banshee on your hands when she discovers someone else’s panties in your clothes hamper. If you’re dating other women, do not let her mark her territory. Gather her belongings and hand them back as though she’s accidentally left them behind. A normal woman will take the hint.

Keep the Ball in Your Court

All women throw temper tantrums once in a while — some are just better camouflaged. Sometimes she’s hurt, while sometimes she’s just being a brat. No matter the cause, it’s important to stop her manipulating power plays as soon as they surface. The next time she stomps her feet, use these tips to defuse and resolve the situation. Not only will she respect you for it, but she’ll also be less inclined to pull that power play in the future.