I’m going to share a rather big secret.
It’s one of those secrets men aren’t going to tell you.
It’s TOO personal.
It gets at the core of what makes us vulnerable.
This secret also gets at the reason why so many men abandon otherwise good relationships.
It triggers men deep down in their heart and in their gut.
They may not even be able to express it…
But every guy knows this truth in his bones.
Are you ready for it?
It’s deceptively simple:
Guys don’t want to be the bad guy.
Or put another way:
NO guy wants to be the “bad guy.”
Why Guys Feel Bad
It’s such an easy pattern to slip into.
You’re the person who does most of the work in relationships. You think about his needs all the time. You sacrifice to put him first.
But what does he do?
He’s selfish. He’s thoughtless. He doesn’t try.
Conclusion? You’re the good person in the relationship, and he’s the bad one.
This tendency is universal. Everyone tends to see themselves as a good person just trying to do their best.
Most of us also have a tendency to judge others. We see questionable behavior, and we attribute it to a flawed moral character.
This tendency even has a name: fundamental attribution error.
It’s described as “the tendency to believe that what people DO reflects who they ARE.”
When your guy makes a mistake, it’s because he was being thoughtless, or he’s immature, or he doesn’t care about you.
When YOU make a mistake, it’s because you forgot, or you had 1001 other things on your mind, or you didn’t know this was important.
So we all have a tendency to make the other person the bad guy. Why is that a problem?
It’s Not His Ego
Some people assume that men hate being the bad guy because of their “big egos.”
They say that men can’t cope with criticism because they have to be right all the time.
There’s a different way of looking at this that’s much more helpful.
Many men have what’s called “performance-based esteem.”
They get their sense of self-worth by how well they perform.
Whereas self-esteem should be intrinsic—you should always feel worthy, regardless of what you do or don’t do—many men need to excel and achieve in order to feel good about themselves.
They’ve been primed to avoid failure. They believe that to fail is to be a failure.
One area where success matters is in their relationships.
They don’t want to fail with the woman they like (or love).
They want to feel like they’re performing well for her. They’re making her happy. They’re being a good boyfriend or partner.
So when a woman brings up an issue, painting him as the bad guy, he concludes that she’s saying he’s a failure.
He decides that nothing he does makes her happy, so the relationship must be over.
How Do You Make Him Understand??
Of course that’s not what you’re saying! Making him feel bad was never your intention.
But you DO need him to look at his behavior and see how it’s affecting you.
Here are 3 important reminders:
1. Be aware of the tendency to make him the bad guy.
Even when you’re aware of this tendency, you can find yourself slipping up.
When you’re with a group of girlfriends and everyone is complaining about their partner, you might find yourself saying that your guy is clueless, too.
If he really is a bad person, then you’ll want to think about whether this relationship is serving you.
But if he’s a good person who occasionally does things that are clueless or thoughtless, make sure that’s reflected in your words.
2. Focus on behavior, not character.
That doesn’t mean you don’t have the right to complain about what your partner did. Of course you do!
You just need to focus on what he’s doing and not generalize about who he is.
Steal a tip from parenting guides: stay focused on the behavior instead of jumping to conclusions about what that behavior means about him.
3. Ask for what you want.
If your guy is doing something you don’t like, then what you really want is for him to do it the way YOU like.
So why not ask for what you want?
You might say, “You know what would really help me? I’d love it if you could do this. It would mean the world to me.”
It’s easier to do what you’ve been asked than remind yourself not to do what you’ve been asked not to do. If I ask you to stop biting your nails, that’s harder to guarantee you’ll succeed. Committing to a weekly date night is easier to follow through on.
Men care more about their performance in relationships than you might realize.
By being careful with your language, you can help him see that he’s a good partner to you and he can be even better.
After all, you don’t want to be the bad guy, either.
You’re both just fallible human beings fumbling towards a more perfect love.