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What Is Weaponized Incompetence?

by | Feb 1, 2022 | MENTAL HEALTH, RELATIONSHIPS, SOCIAL ISSUES

An exasperated woman experiences weaponized incompetence.

Over the past several months, the term weaponized incompetence has been getting a lot of attention. This has come from millions of views TikTok videos, as well as from the media. It’s possible and even likely you’ve heard of it before, but do you know what it means?

 

Weaponized incompetence is a big issue that affects many relationships. Sometimes without either party even realizing it.

 

This guide is going to take a closer look at what weaponized incompetence is. It will also help you to spot telltale signs you may be a victim of weaponized incompetence, or even guilty of utilizing it. Read on for a full rundown of everything you need to know.

 

What Is Weaponized Incompetence?

 

Weaponized incompetence, a term coined by Eve Rodsky, is a concept that’s come into the spotlight following a trend of viral videos on TikTok of creators—mostly women—sharing their stories of how this issue has manifested in their past relationships. Comments sections on these videos have become digital dumping grounds for the frustrated masses.

 

In fact, one TikTok user @Artmuzwolz created a parody song “Incompedance” to illustrate the phenomenon. At the time of this article, the original sound had over 2.7 million views, highlighting the connection viewers have to the concept. But what is weaponized incompetence exactly?

 

Also known as strategic incompetence, weaponized incompetence refers to a situation wherein a person pretends to be bad at doing something in order to get out of doing certain tasks. It can pertain to any task at all but usually manifests itself in home life settings, like care tasks, leading to domestic inequalities.

 

It can be used as a manipulation tactic, although often it’s done on a subconscious level. Sometimes the person in question is not even aware they’re guilty of weaponized incompetence, and forcing their partner to pick up the slack.

 

An example of this phenomenon would be a person pretending it would be too difficult for them to make a sandwich or change a baby’s diaper. This is so that another person in the equation will do it for them instead.

 

How to Address Weaponized Incompetence in Your Relationship

 

Weaponized incompetence can be seen as a form of gaslighting. This is when a person is made to think that their feelings about a given situation are invalid or blown out of proportion.

 

Because of this, it can be difficult for a victim of weaponized incompetence to realize what is being done to them. It’s a passive-aggressive form of communication and interaction that can be difficult to call out.

 

If you do suspect that your partner, friend, or colleague is utilizing weaponized incompetence in your relationship, then the first thing to do will be to address it head-on. Tell them clearly that you don’t feel comfortable performing helping them when they could perform the task correctly themselves.

 

This might be difficult, but the hope is that they will respond with some level of understanding. Sometimes, it can be inadvertent.

 

In a codependent relationship, partners often come to rely on one another too heavily. Your partner may genuinely feel they cannot complete a task, for whatever reason. But if they are receptive to your boundaries and learning how to perform the task themselves, this is a positive sign.

 

Unfortunately, often in toxic relationships, this won’t be the case. If you are met with resistance, it can help to speak to someone impartial about how you’re both feeling.

 

Need Help Navigating?

 

Weaponized incompetence, whether on purpose or not, isn’t something you should tolerate in your relationship. Do you feel as though this is an issue you’re having with your partner?

 

Looking to explore couples therapy? Feel free to schedule a free 30-minute consultation.

Modern Intimacy is a group therapy practice, founded by renowned Psychologist and Sex Therapist, Dr. Kate Balestrieri. This inclusive blog is designed to provide a wealth of information and resources for mental health, relationships, and sexuality. Subscribe today to get the latest information from our expert contributors from all around the world.

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Author Bio

Dr. Kate Balestrieri is a Licensed Psychologist (CA, FL, IL + NY), Certified Sex Therapist, Certified Sex Addiction Therapist, and PACT III trained Couples Therapist. She is the Founder of Modern Intimacy. Follow her on TikTok and IG @drkatebalestrieri and the Modern Intimacy team on IG @themodernintimacy.

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