Look, I get it. As a man who helps women achieve happier romantic outcomes with guys, I know it sometimes seems like men are from another planet.
You don’t know why guys do the things they do. They don’t make sense.
But men were born on the same planet as everyone else.
Men also want to feel loved. They want to feel special. They want to belong.
But the lessons they learned growing up taught them that they have to go about getting those good things in a different way.
Knowing how men go about getting what they want—even if it’s not how you would do it—can help you understand some of a guy’s strange behaviors.
Why does he make a joke right when you’re trying to share something emotional? Why does he have to win at everything? Why does he buy new gadgets when his old ones work just fine?
Because he’s pursuing 3 male values…
Values you have to understand if you want to understand men.
What It Means to Be a Man
When was the last time someone put pressure on you to “be a woman”?
For many women, even the idea sounds ludicrous.
Women are women. They don’t need to prove it!
But many young men experience a great deal of pressure to “be a man.”
They’re taught strict rules about what being a man means. If they fail to live up to this standard, they’re mocked or excluded.
On the other side of manhood is everything they want: strength, freedom, self-determination, respect, admiration.
So being a man can feel like life or death to him.
Nothing matters more than proving himself worthy of the name.
But sometimes his need to be a man can interfere with your relationship.
It can feel as if his male ego is more important than loving you.
Before you write him off as insensitive, see if you can spot these 3 male values at work.
His Values as a Man
Chances are, he was taught growing up that these 3 things mattered more than anything:
He was taught that being a man means competing for status and never losing his independence.
He was taught that failing to compete, achieve status, or maintain his independence would compromise his manhood.
No wonder these values are so important to him.
But sometimes they make it difficult for you.
Here’s how these values can come into conflict with your relationship (and what to do about it)…
Ever noticed how some guys have to turn everything into a competition?
He can’t just play a game with you. He has to beat you.
It’s so irritating, when all you wanted was to have a nice time together. He doesn’t seem to realize that his win means you lose.
Another way he competes is through banter and wordplay.
You try to talk to him about something, and, instead of empathizing, he makes a joke. He can’t seem to help himself. He shoots off one-liners in lieu of having an actual conversation.
The best way to defuse this habit is through humor. Tease him about his competitive instincts and gently redirect him towards what you need.
Why does he have to have a faster car or the newest phone when his old car and phone are good enough?
It’s the same reason too many men seek younger girlfriends as arm candy.
It’s because of status.
Men are very much aware of where they rank among other men. There’s a social hierarchy, and they want to be moving up it.
Conspicuous consumption is a way for him to claim higher status. If he has the best of something, that puts him above men who don’t.
You might notice that he gets stressed when he feels like his status is in jeopardy.
A man who loses status at work because, say, a younger team member got promoted, might attempt to boost his status in other ways, like buying an expensive piece of technology or spending hours at the gym.
Instead of shaming him for his behavior, try to get him to talk about what’s going on underneath. What is he worried about? What does he need to feel strong again?
There’s a reason men love action movies. They see themselves as the protagonist, saving the world singlehandedly.
Every man believes himself capable of answering the call to adventure and walking away from his life without a backwards glance.
It’s the archetype of the “lone wolf.” Being a man means not needing anyone else. It means having complete control over your destiny.
But—as you and I know—that’s at odds with what is required in love.
Love means being needed and needing someone else. Love requires compromise and a shared destiny.
Men who associate independence with manhood can struggle in relationships. They feel like they have to keep pulling away to reaffirm the fact that they don’t need anyone.
If this is something your man struggles with, recognize that he’s not pulling away because he doesn’t want to be with you. He’s pulling away because he feels like he has to.
If this is something you can live with, let him go. Use that time to nourish yourself. Notice whether he seems recharged when he returns.
You may just be with a man who needs regular breaks from togetherness to be a good partner.
Life would be so much easier if men and women were always on the same page. But it’s our differences that create sparks. Learn to love what makes you different instead of judging it, and love will be much smoother sailing!