Man Explains How Grocery List Teaches Us About 'Performed Incompetence'

Every once in a while, we'll come across a viral story about grocery shopping.

On its own, it may not seem like this topic has a lot of interesting material for us, but these stories tend to follow a similar pattern. Either they involve a clueless husband bringing home nonsensical items or a wife who finds herself taking some serious elaborate steps to prevent this from happening.

But while these stories appear to show just how goofy and hopeless some guys are, it seems that suspicions are starting to mount that there's more going on in the background than that.

And one video finally put words to what folks actually think these husbands are doing.

Last month, a couple's TikTok account known as @adamxmelinda uploaded a video of the most foolproof grocery list ever.

As I discussed at the time, this saw a woman named Melinda craft not only create painstaking diagrams of the items she wanted her husband Adam to buy, but also the required quantities and a map showing where they are.

Melinda stressed that the video was a joke and she doesn't actually have to do this, but another user named @notwildlin nonetheless thought it touched on something real.

And that led him to introduce us to the term "performed incompetence," in which husbands who unironically need a map are exaggerating their own lack of capability as a means of getting their partners to do tasks they don't want to.

As he put it, "Their wife will hopefully be like, 'Oh my gosh, it's just easier for me to do it myself so I'm going to do it myself. You're good.'"

In the man's words, "That performance of incompetence is an investment that husband is making for his future self."

He went on to describe this investment as being two-pronged in the sense that not only does a husband ensure he contributes as little as possible to household tasks, but he also sets a generally low expectation for himself.

As a result, when a husband using this strategy does contribute more than usual, his actions are seen as incredible rather than expected.

If you've seen Everybody Loves Raymond, you may recall that this is something the main character did all the time. Of course, not always as successfully as the men @notwildin is describing.

He also expands this concept of "performed incompetence" and the two-pronged benefits that come from it beyond relationships in the full video available here.

Do you think he's onto something?

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