The Secret Need That Drives Men

Some of my clients tell me that they already know how to deal with men.

“You’ve got to train a man like you train a dog,” they say.

“Ignore his bad behavior and reward his good behavior.”

It’s a common belief, but such a missed opportunity for connection.

Treating a partner like a pet won’t bring your hearts closer.

Once you understand the real reason that men respond better to praise than to criticism…

It might just break your heart.

The Drive to Perform

Men are driven by the need to perform.

Surviving the rough-and-tumble world of men requires outperforming their peers.

If a man can’t bring in the most sales, he tries to have the sharpest wit or the biggest muscles or the most attractive girlfriend.

He’s always looking for ways to win.

Why is winning so important to men?

Because winning makes men feel valuable and worthy…like we finally found a way to measure up. It’s the social conditioning we receive from a very young age. You have to earn your manhood.

Many men feel that their worth depends on being a winner, not a loser.

What looks like a man’s “fragile ego” is (in most cases) the weight of what he’s been taught about being a man. He has to perform. It’s all or nothing. He doesn’t get to make mistakes.

Then he brings this need to perform into his relationships…

Why He’s Sensitive to Criticism

You’ve probably noticed that a LOT of men check out of a relationship once things get hard.

It seems like he’s not committed or not willing to do the work.

But when seen in light of a man’s need to perform, this behavior suggests something different…

Men love the early days of a relationship when it seems like they can do no wrong.

His new partner looks at him with stars in her eyes. She’s delighted just to be in his company.

He feels like he’s winning every time he sees her. Everything he does makes her smile.

As they settle into the relationship, that unconditional positive regard begins to fade.

They disagree. He does things that annoy her. She wants more from him.

He starts to feel like he’s losing in the relationship.

Nothing he does is right. Nothing he does is good enough for her.

When a man feels as if he’s failing in his relationship—because his partner is unhappy—he won’t use that as motivation to turn things around.

Instead, he’ll withdraw emotionally.

He’ll blame her for being unreasonable. He’ll spin the situation so that losing her will be no great loss.

He acts like he doesn’t care, because protecting himself is his first priority.

Why He Chooses to Protect Himself

When you have an intrinsic sense of self-worth, acknowledging your mistakes doesn’t make you feel awful about yourself. You know you’re only human. It’s okay.

But when you have an extrinsic sense of self-worth—one that rises and falls based on how you perform—you’re in trouble when you let your partner down. You failed to make them happy.

That means YOU are a failure.

And failure is the one thing every man has been taught to avoid.

It would be so much easier if every man had an intrinsic sense of self-worth that didn’t depend on winning all the time.

But the guy you love is the guy you love.

So what can you do?

Help Him Perform

There’s work to be done on your relationship.

He needs to step up to the plate and do his part.

How do you get him on board without triggering his fear of failing you?

Simple: you help him perform.

Men want to perform for the women they love.

They just don’t always know how to do that.

That’s where he needs you.

If something isn’t working in your relationship, avoid criticizing or confronting…

And issue an invitation instead.

For example, he leaves dirty plates and mugs on the coffee table. You’re tired of picking them up.

You could say, “You never put your dirty dishes away! I’m not your maid.”

Or you could say, “Hey, I’m feeling really overwhelmed. Would you help me get the dishes sorted out so that I can crash on the sofa with you and enjoy some cuddle time?”

With the first approach, you’re telling him what you don’t want and what you don’t like.

With the second approach, you’re telling him what you do want and what you like.

You’re showing him how to perform for you.

And that encourages him to step up.

So show him how to win with you.

When a man gets opportunities to succeed over and over again, he keeps coming back for more.

Not because he’s like a dog you’ve trained up to be obedient.

But because his sense of self-worth is wrapped up in his performance…

And you’re the only woman who’s helped him become the hero of her heart.

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