The Whitney Phenomenon

profile box pics pass 2I have seen The Whitney Phenomenon in so many cases. It was even my own story for about a millisecond before I snuffed that foolishness out.

Folks, allow me to plot out the scenario:

Successful woman meets unsuccessful or less successful man. She loves him regardless and he drags her down to his impotent level and destroys her because of his insecurities about being a man that is less successful than his partner…allegedly!

Let’s make this clear. I wasn’t in the bedroom with the aforementioned, but one could see an unmistakeable downward slide in the glamorous singer following her marriage. A definite dulling of that multi-platinum superstar shine as she tried to compensate for her partner by diminishing herself. It would be hard to believe that a little squashed partner ego wasn’t part of her issues as it would be almost inhuman for Houston’s phenomenal success not to impact those around her.

Oprah: “Was he jealous?

Pause…Looooong pause…Even longer pause.

Whitney: ‘He’s not gonna like this …but yes.’


A Star Is Born

In my case my friend/partner even admitted in an unedited outburst that this was what he was doing. He was actively sabotaging my career. ‘Everybody wants YOU right now! What about MEEEE?!!’ were the exact words raged at me one time.

It is the oft repeated story of a ‘A Star Is Born’ where we can see that just sometimes the man actually loves his lady, but he just can’t kick his underlying jealousy enough to act graciously and humbly step back into the shadows as her silent, stoic support, (you know, the role women play most of the time) and instead precipitates her downfall.

It was so strikingly obvious, even captured horribly ‘live’ as it was happening on a reality show that I named this circumstance ‘The Whitney Phenomenon.’

Has The Whitney Phenomenon happened to you, or (cough!) someone you know? You don’t have to be in showbiz to have a partner, male or female, stifle your dreams, freedom and potential from sheer jealousy.

Have you found yourself beaten into a shadow of your former energetic, brilliant self by someone who subtly undermines you at every turn? ‘Oh you’re wearing THAT today?…What’s wrong with it?….Oh, nothing.’

Like I say, I jettison this kind of nonsense behaviour pronto like it was a bomb on a row boat, but what say you?


Is The Whitney Phenomenon real or imaginary? Justified, unjustified?

If you saw this happening to your son, daughter or friend, what could you say to them that would make them listen?

Houston was her own woman and her downfall was ultimately her own doing, but there were many people in the Houston camp and in the ‘biz’ whose jaws swung wide open on hearing that she was marrying Brown in the first place, presumably because of the reputation he had studiously built for himself. The negativity only strengthened her determination to stay with him as seems to always be the case in these relationships.

What magic words could you offer to someone…or even yourself, to get a grip and move on, or is it in fact the brutal truth that actually there are none?

39 thoughts on “The Whitney Phenomenon

  1. I’ve just watched a TV Programme on philosophy about envy and some manifestations of it are exactly this kind. When talking about well-known narratives that exemplify this, they even mentioned how the focus of the “Prodigal son”, because of its title, changed from the envious brother to the younger son and his behavior. It argued how much envy is part of not seeing value in yourself (or aspects of yourself/life) and then comparing yourself/ your life to others. The parable, as the speaker interpreted, was a criticism to the pharisees who lived by the laws (like the older brother) but had no charity/goodwill in their hearts.

    As I see it, the victims of such envy are, in many cases, women, who cannot be more successful than their husbands, or earn more than their partners. We are still brought up to perform supporting roles to a man’s life. I know this goes well beyond the gender relations, but oh boy, it is very common to happen in this way.

    All in all, we are all subjectable to this feeling, and we still sometimes have very little charity/goodwill in our hearts.

    1. Unfortunately gender roles are ingrained so deeply for some that they simply cannot get over the idea of a female being or having more than a man. If I were speaking to my daughter about it I’d tell her that if she met one of these men, run.

  2. Is it real or imaginary? definitely real!! justified? of course!!! from the perspective of the person pulling down the more successful partner, I am sure there are proper justifications…after all…isnt truth a version?
    My advice? I dont think I would say anything….because cliched though it may sound…i have seen incredibly smart people do incredibly stupid things…when in love….so..i may be know-all…but i cant influence-all
    One needs to figure out what’s the right thing to do..on your own…of course…you can ask for advice from people you trust…that’s about it.
    What say you? 🙂

      1. Parce que…je suis un imbécile! -_- Mais… j’ai deja ajouté Instagram apres votre conseil! 😀
        One of my photos got exhibited in an Photography exhibition here in Cal…that’s it…Getty Images approved my membership…but then none of the photos(good ones) got selected…so, I lost heart, and did nothing after that… mentors are saying that my photos have improved a lot…but, i am still stuck…and i have no one but myself to blame…

      2. Your French is not only good but correct! 🙂

        Now Mr Photograph. (I use ‘MR’ when I’m in telling off mode) I get it! I get that feeling…everyone has had it, but take it from me (and amongst my sins I have worked in the whole graphics/ photography/ usage area…) your pictures are great.
        If they were refused / not chosen it could be down to so many things that I can’t even begin to name them here. Things that have all to do with timing, company issues, curator laziness…all sorts – but very little to do with you. YOU CANNOT LET THAT PUT YOU OFF YOUR GOAL! Sure, lick your wounds for a while, then move on to another agency – didn’t I give you loads?
        Contact other photographers. Ask for advice. Whatever anyone says, you can’t take it personally, just move on until you find the situation that fits Know-All.

        Every industry is like that. Entertainment, photography, publishing…you get noticed when you have connections, otherwise you are usually overlooked until you happen upon just the right scenario. (Just ask JK Rowling next time you meet her!)

        I have seen it with my own eyes how companies ask people to submit or send their work in and then just keep them in large bags to be hauled off to the bin without even glancing at them. They are not always horrific people doing this, sometimes they are just mighty busy, concentrating on earning THEIR crust, as so should you. Think about it. Why should they roll out the red carpet for YOU?! Give me a reason…or even better, give THEM a reason!

        YOU have got to be thicker skinned and look for the angles into your chosen field for yourself. Auntie Ed can’t do it all for you. I have some other suggestions, but I will only give them if / when you send me (when you are ready to get back on the horse) new info about what YOU are doing, some ideas that YOU have come up with and are actively pursuing consistently over the next 12 months, (with CSI evidence! 🙂 ). Then I will know that you are serious.

        And P (bloody) S
        One of your photos got exhibited…that is not just ‘IT’…that is great. That is a fresh line on your bio, which is meant to grow and grow with the more things you manage to pull off.

        I am not PC. I will slap. Don’t make me come and find you…

      3. Haha…thank you for that kick in the posterior! 😀 In Bengali we have this term…”gyan paapi” which roughly translates to “knowingly sinner” as in…someone knows the harmful effects of smoking in great detail and yet continues to do so…
        I couldn’t help but realise that I have acted like one….I am aware what you said…but still decided to mope…but, luckily I have Her Ladyship Ed… 😛
        I will get back to the sites…gosh…i feel like Robert Bruce! 😀
        BTW…you should meet the other students in my french class…they are really good!
        And you should consider starting a TV show with the name.. “Don’t make me come and find you”… LOL 😀
        Thank you 🙂

  3. This was funny, but.. it’s true! It has happened to me more than once! It’s a real thing!

    It’s like a five-year-old whose mom has a baby and kid thinks the world is about to end. Just in grown up form..
    I suggest these types get a grip. Grow up. Create a life you are proud of and comfortable with and you’ll never feel this way.
    It’s that simple.

  4. You know I’ve been aware of this Whitney Phenomenon for a very long time. You don’t even need a partner to experience it-it can be friends and/or family members. So what do I think. Each person that you meet if you are more “successful”-however you think that the “other” person would define it is a risk. When you share you risk and you never know the outcome until you decide to share. So I say-there is no answer. Just build value first in the relationship and then risk if you decide-unless you’re a big, big star and everyone knows you.LOL And as far as saying something to other person, I’m so over that. Everyone’s on their “own” journey and unless they askLOL I see no evil, hear no evil, say no evil. Especially if I want to keep that person in my life. So, I think that at the end of the day-it’s all part of the one’s journey-if you choose it. Here’s to acceptance both of self and of others…

    1. I very much agree with the walking your own path, not everything has be an uninvited intervention, but what if their path was corroding yours with their actions, would you still keep quiet so they can stay in your life?

      1. You know that’s not an easy question and I don’t know if I have an “easy” answer. I’m big on setting boundaries but I also tend to really think through consequences based on whatever action I decide to take. But also, I’m just really big on letting yucky people out of my life-they’re such big drainer so I probably would say something but it would be carefully thought through given that I would have to deal with the consequences whatever they may be. Not an easy situation. Have a great day!!

  5. It’s a thing alright. When you find that you are relieved to not have the relationship anymore, when you astound yourself with what you can achieve once the maggots are removed …. when you finally stop apologising for being bright and useful and helpful- that’s when you know it’s a thing.
    Trying to fit in with who The Dude’s friends wanted me to be nearly broke me.
    Took a horrific experience to open my eyes to what was going on. Interestingly, both The Dude and I had been hoodwinked.

    1. Well now that was side step – the fact that this was a GROUP Whitney Phenomenon and you were BOTH hoodwinked if I’m understanding correctly.

      ‘when you finally stop apologising for being bright and useful and helpful’ – Hallo! Nicely put.

  6. I’m very fortunate in that my husband is supportive of me and my dreams. Of course, that was one of the things that attracted me to him – he was self-assured, he didn’t measure himself by other people and their opinions. My success or failure is just that, mine, and while he rejoices with me through the good times and commiserates through the bad, he cares because he cares for me, not because of how it reflects on him.

    I think in all relationships there is compromise and there are times when one partner takes on a supporting role or puts a dream on hold so that the other person can follow theirs. I think if one partner doesn’t allow room for this, then they’re not a good partner and no matter how the other person bends to their will, they will never be satisfied.

    Ultimately I think it’s just the wilted lettuce leaf on top of the compost heap and there’s a lot more ugly, rotting, garbage lurking underneath.

      1. That reminds me of the advice my dad shared with me when I was about 17 – don’t marry a man thinking that the things you didn’t like when you were going out are going to change, they probably wont no matter how hard you try.

  7. It’s absolutely real. Being a person who has struggled with jealousy, I can say that the feelings, like all feelings, are justifiable. However, the behavior is not. I had to learn to deal with my own issues in order to not ruin my relationship and, fortunately, I have a wonderful husband who has helped me along the way.
    I have also been on the receiving end of this phenomenon, but never in a romantic relationship. Family and former friends have tried to undermine my confidence in order to make themselves feel better and I’ve simply had to walk away.
    It is possible to talk to someone who is doing this, but they will not always respond. Sometimes, we have to reach that breaking point to learn what we are about to lose and what is truly important to us. Some people don’t learn that lesson.

  8. My wife is more successful than me. She always has been. She’s a very capable person who has worked hard and diligently to get to the position she has in life. There’s no way I would undermine her because of my insecurities. Not only would that be a dick thing to do, it would also be a dick thing to do. Sorry, I felt like that needed restating. 😛

    Any insecurities I have are mine and mine alone. It isn’t being a female in our society, but I’m beginning to see that it also isn’t easy for males either. We’re expected to live up to this role of hypermasculinity (I don’t even know if that’s a word) that’s foisted on us since birth. I suspect none of us have ever really been shown what it’s like to be a real man because what do we do? We get aggressive, we beat down women, and we learn not to communicate our true feelings. Because, you know, it’s not “manly” if we’re just… well, human. Being human’s for chumps apparently.

    So, no Whitney Phenomenon here, but not because I’m incapable of it. I get jealous sometimes, but I actively set out to support and applaud my wife no matter how much more successful than I she turns out to be. She bloody deserves my admiration, not that she needs it!

    1. Some might suggest that there within your comment lies your example of a real man? And not only that, a great example of a real man! Sorry I felt like it needed restating. 😉

      I agree also about the idea of both men and women having a hard time pushing through previous definitions of who they are supposed to be. This has caused so much rift today with every action delivered by a human with tits being labelled feminist idiocy by angry males and men’s activities being jumped on by angry females. Sometimes you just gotta be human and put aside all that crap.

  9. I do so sympathize with your post here, nice job. I can’t speak for anyone else but myself but my “Whitney moment” occurred because of unhealthy codependent needs I had that the man I thought I was in love with met to a tee. This allowed me to overlook what an a-hole he was and put up with all sorts of demeaning crap which was not like me at all. Now I’m glad for it because in the aftermath I realized somethings ablut myself I needed to address and feel worlds always from the person I was when I met him.

    Others are not so fortunate as the Whitney story shows. It’s really sad actually.

    1. That is so true. Providing the ending isn’t quite so irretrievable as Whitney’s it does help to experience what a true asswipe is like to live with so that one’s judgement skills are strengthened.

  10. It’s a hard one. it’s the point you want to prove them wrong… that even though deep down you know they are right. When it’s you, you can’t see it until sometimes it’s too late.
    I would tell them to think about everything going on. I would not try to change their mind because that would make it to the point they become stubborn…even if they did not want to stay…they would just to prove a point. in the end it’s their choice and no one can make it for them.

      1. probably so…but when someone makes up their mind there’s not too much that can be done. They have to make the choice themselves unfortunately.

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