This part two in a three-part series. The first post dealt with the origins of Karen.
Bryan is Karen’s helpmate, friend, and allegedly her lover, too. I say allegedly because I think the Karen-Bryan relationship are largely sexless marriages.
Bryan is really nice. And if he isn’t nice, then he is certainly agreeable. He is mild-mannered and does not step on anyone’s toes. He is well-dressed, even if he doesn’t wear anything flashy. He’s not particularly funny, but on the plus side, he does not really try to be. You get the impression that Bryan does possess a personality below the surface, but he spends a great deal of effort censoring himself. He may start a sentence with enthusiasm, on occasion, but then he’ll catch himself having an opinion, and invariably begin to trail off while casting his eyes downward. Whenever he does this, which is regularly, you get the impression that someone has been yelling at him his whole life.
But Bryan is not dumb. In fact, he is usually a fairly bright individual. He is successful in his career. His actual job can occasionally be difficult to understand as it can be some obscure role in finance, a marketing company, or an accounting firm. Yet, it is not strange to find Bryan in more conventionally successful careers as doctors or lawyers. Whatever Bryan does, he seems to be well-paid for it.
The first thing that people tend to ask when they observe a Karen/Bryan couple in the wild is, “Why is he is with her?” By this, they mean that Bryan seems like a decent fellow and that Karen is such a menacing bitch. They find it hard to believe that an okay dude would choose to pair with such a difficult woman.
But this is only a surface level analysis. Because Bryan needs Karen, just as Karen needs Bryan. Oh, it’s not a happy relationship by any metric, but they deserve each other.
Bryan’s origins are also formed early in childhood. He had a strong mother, who wanted to raise a good boy, and a weak father. He was raised to treat women as equals with men and to be sensitive to woman’s needs and feelings. Most significantly, he was taught to pedestalize women. And if any woman was irrationally angry, as his mother often was, it was his job to understand why she was angry and to empathize her. Bryan would never dream of being dominant, especially towards women, who have every right in his mind to exert their independence.
As these guys are typically only of an average level of handsomeness and are not classically masculine in demeanor, they don’t receive much attention from the ladies in their formative years. So, whenever they do receive attention from the opposite sex, they sure make the most of it, which never seems to work out too well.
If you can picture an adult Bryan, he was actually becoming despondent with women right up until he met his Karen. Girls were always being wishy washy, leading him on, or changing their minds all of the time. It was like they were always expecting something out of him, but they could never reasonably tell him what it was! He always tried to be fair and kind to the women he dated, but they always ended up leaving anyway, usually regarding him with indifference and mild pity at the end.
But then he met Karen, and she was different than the other girls. She could tell him exactly what she wanted all of the time. She brought so much meaning to his life because she had so much going on in hers between her career, her hobbies, and of course, her large group of girlfriends. He loved that she was an empowered woman not content to just sit around and have children. Karen wanted it all. Sure, she could be a bit overpowering at times, but that’s just because she was passionate.
You can see by now how Karen and Bryan compliment each other. Karen provides the masculine direction whereas Bryan is the more passive supporter who finds his primary identity has Karen’s man. Neither is happy in this arrangement but neither can see the arrangement for what it really is. They can’t see their predicament because to do so would require they go against their social programming.
What Karen actually wants is a strong man to tell her “No” and to restrain her destructive tendencies, but she will never attract such a man because they are turned off by her bitchiness. Instead, she only attracts Bryans, who will go along with her shenanigans, which is superficially satisfying. But pairing up with a Bryan only creates more of a need for security, which only increases her bad behavior as she is forced to insufficiently fill that masculine role.
This is why Karen is a terror in public. Bryan is there, but he isn’t guarding and restraining his woman. Instead, he goes along with her bad tendencies and actually encourages them. Here is an excellent example.
Bryan is taping this Karen. Notice, as I mentioned yesterday, how terribly insecure she is. Since she does not have a strong man to protect her and feels existentially unsafe, she takes the socially-distancing guidelines hyper-literally. And because she has so much irrational fear in her life, she acts out.
What Bryan really wants is a higher purpose in his life. He is looking for a calling from God to energize him and give his life direction. Without this direction, he settles for the loudest voice in the room, which is Karen. If he had such conviction and direction he would be strong enough to both lead his Karen and restrain her behavior.