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Larry Tate Syndrome: The new diagnosis for Power-Trippers

Do you regularly interact with someone who likes to hold some type of authority over you, and no matter what kind gestures you offer, the sense of authority still looms?

Maybe it’s a friend who does seemingly nice things for you only to come back and say, “After all I’ve done for you!” when you can’t completely rearrange your schedule to accommodate them.

Maybe it’s a relative who gave you some money in college so you could buy groceries for the week.

Or maybe it’s a boss who threatens to fire you at least once a week. Just like Larry Tate on Bewitched.

Oh, Larry Tate, the cocktail-sipping, gray-haired, moustached boss at the ad agency where Darrin Stevens worked. Larry always wanted miracles from Darrin, no matter how unreasonable the client was. Every week, they’d be approached by a new prospective client, Darrin would get apprehensive, and Larry would lay down the law and say “If you don’t get this client, you’re FIRED!”

Every single show. Quite formulaic.

I just completed watching the entire series on DVD, and as every show aired I thought, “Why does Darrin still work for Larry? I’d quit if my boss threatened to fire me every week.”

But then, on the series finale, when Endora places a truth spell on everyone, Larry begins his empty threat, pauses, and tells Darrin that he wouldn’t be able to make it without Darrin. That he’d never fire him at all.

I’m not quite sure why these control issues exist. There are many behavioral disorders that fit the bill on this one: Anxiety, Bipolar Disorder, Borderline Personality disorder… or it’s just someone who likes pulling rank.

But when you feel these Larry Tate-isms directed at you, the immediate response is to challenge their threats or get into an even bigger argument than happened in the first place.

I’ve decided that when these things happen to me, I’m just going to quietly tiptoe away, let the Tates of the world work, and do what I’ve been asked while still maintaining my integrity.

It’s easy to say you’re just going to abandon someone if the person is a friend or acquaintance, but sometimes it just isn’t possible. Maybe you are connected by having a child together. Maybe it’s a relative who you really do enjoy spending tie with and helping. And maybe, no matter how much of a jerk that boss is, it would be ridiculous to quit because then you’d have to fight the 8 million people out there looking for jobs.

So, my best advice – step back, evaluate the situation, make all attempts to respond with rationalization rather than emotion, and understand that in most cases, it’s not you, it’s them, and they are dealing with situations in the only way they know how. Therapy is good, reading books, watching films or television is good for drawing parallels to your life, and then of course the main thing: Stay calm. And do your job.

I’m not a licensed therapist, but something tells me there are a lot of Larry Tates and a lot more Darrins wondering how in the world to peacefully coexist with them.

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