She changed his flat tire. He never called her again. Is this a case of a fragile male ego?
[Man and woman go on date; woman changes their flat tire]
“I figured if I can, why not do?” Ukpo said by phone of the date she first wrote about on the blog (Link): Madame Noire. “I don’t subscribe to this idea that because I’m a woman, I have to play this damsel in distress thing.”
It’s at this point in the story that Andrew Smiler, communications director at the Society for the Psychological Study of Men and Masculinity and the expert I called to discuss the fragility of the male ego, began chuckling.
He knew where the tale was headed — and why. Like me, he’s heard countless stories like Ukpo’s, where confident, well-intentioned women are trying to help, but a dating disaster ensues.
For clarity, I asked him, “What exactly is so funny?”
Smiler laughs again and explains: “We give people some really messed-up messages about gender roles. Even in the early 21st century, we have this supposedly egalitarian culture, and guys are taught that they should never show weakness or ignorance or inability to do a task. And in various ways they should ‘wear the pants’ in the relationship.”
This is probably what Ukpo’s date thought. She volunteered to change his tire so they wouldn’t have to wait. He didn’t believe she could, so he stood over her holding the light while she squatted and did what he thought was the impossible. He barely spoke to her the entire ride to her home, and she hasn’t heard from him since he dropped her off.
…When she asked her male friends what she did wrong, if anything, the answer was unanimous: She emasculated him.
In other words, the male ego — which Smiler defines as a shorthand for determining “whether or not a guy thinks he measures up or is masculine or macho enough — strikes again. Its pesky existence is the bane of a dating woman’s existence and the culprit of countless dating and relationship disasters.
Managing it is like walking through a minefield. One misstep, and BOOM! there went your potential for a relationship. The fear of encountering the male ego’s wrath results in the muting of opinionated women, helplessness in otherwise take-charge types and second-guessing among the otherwise confident.
Given that the ego issue is all in a guy’s head, it sounds like a problem that he should have to work out with himself, but unfortunately that duty often falls to the women in his life.
Andrea Syrtash, relationship expert and author of “He’s Just Not Your Type (And That’s a Good Thing),” says guys with fragile egos haven’t been properly socialized to manage themselves. “Men are conditioned to be strong, to not show vulnerability because it’s a sign of weakness, and not encouraged to share what they’re feeling or be communicative,” Syrtash explains. “The ‘fragile male ego‘ comes from being misunderstood.”
When encountering such an ego, she suggests that women in the early stages of a dating run for the hills to avoid it. But for those who have more time invested, she recommends countering it by building confidence.
….She advises guys to take a moment to check in with themselves. “If you’re feeling insecure, ask yourself, ‘Is she trying to belittle me? Is she disrespecting me? Or am I just a little embarrassed that I didn’t know how to do that?’ ” Syrtash says.
…Smiler, who is also the author of “Dating and Sex: A Guide for the 21st Century Teen Boy,” even suggests that men take it a step further and be honest about their shortcomings by flatly admitting to their partner that they feel embarrassed or insecure. This opens an opportunity for their partner to provide emotional support and build the relationship.
(Link): Love-Sick Teenager Who Won’t Take No For an Answer is Finally Shut Down by his Ex-Girlfriend’s FATHER in an Epic Text Exchange – Men of All Ages Need To Learn to Handle Rejection and to Respect Other People’s Boundaries in Dating
(Link): Testosterone-Deficient Gamma Male Whines About the ‘Friend Zone’ (post from The Other McCain) – AKA, Ugly, Fat, Weird, Awkward, or Poor Nice Guys Who Unrealistically Expect to Attract Rich, Pretty, Thin, Socially Normal Women