Stop Living for the Approval of Women

by A Manly Guest Contributor on July 18, 2010 · 88 comments

in Dating, Marriage, Relationships & Family

Editor’s note: This is a guest post from Wayne M. Levine, M.A.

No one wants to admit they’re not funny. Have you ever met a man who willingly confesses to it? Now, you know he’s not terribly funny, and everyone else can clearly see that he’s not funny. But he still cracks his bad jokes as you all groan. In the end, though, there’s usually little harm done as a result of his state of denial.

Now, how many men will admit to needing the approval of women? Have you met many? As men get older, and they’ve suffered long enough, they’ll start to admit it and work toward change. But what about your buddies? Have you seen them shackled by this need for approval? What about you? Have you had the courage to honestly take stock and see where your need for approval is preventing you from being the man you want to be? Ready to stop denying and start growing up?

First, let’s define approval as it relates to our relationships with women. Approval is her permission for you to take an action. Approval is her acknowledgment that she won’t take you to task for your choice…maybe. Approval is giving away your power to do as you see fit. In other words, needing the approval of women makes you a pleaser.

Stick around for a moment and you’ll learn how curing yourself of this tendency to please will actually allow you to be happier in your own skin, be more respectful, be more respected, be a better partner, more compassionate, more present, a better example to your kids, and be more of the man she actually wants you to be.

Where Did It Start?

Where does this need for the approval of women come from? As with most of our emotional, psychological, and relationship challenges, the seeds were planted a long time ago in a galaxy, seemingly far, far away…your childhood.

In your home, with your parent(s), you learned more than you might have realized. You learned what a man is and how one behaves. You learned what a woman is. You learned what a marriage or relationship between the two looks like. It looks just like mom and dad, or mom and boyfriend, or dad with girlfriends, or either…alone, unhappy.

You learned how to treat women. You learned how to get what you feel you needed. You learned how to cause chaos, how to avoid crisis, how to calm the waters, how to medicate your pain. In a nutshell, you learned how to be the man you are today primarily from what you saw in those early days.

What, precisely, did you see and you learn? How did your father, or lack of dad, mold you? What did you learn about how a man behaves with a woman? If you’re a man who currently seeks the approval of women, you probably learned it from dad. Either he demonstrated the same behaviors, or he was just the opposite (neglectful, abusive, etc.) In this case, perhaps you learned how to behave differently with your mom so that she wouldn’t take her anger and unhappiness out on the other man in the house, you. You learned how to survive, to avoid pain. It was a good thing. You coped. But now you’re stuck in that behavior while your circumstances have probably changed considerably.

Now you’re a man. You fear confrontation. It’s intolerable for her to be upset with you. You’ll go to almost any length—and you have—to please her, to make your discomfort disappear…for the moment. Sound familiar?

The ugly truth.

What exactly is it that you do to protect yourself from her displeasure? You send up trial balloons to see if you can get a tentative approval by tentatively suggesting a tentative idea you had. You edit yourself and avoid saying or doing what you know will provoke her. You spend an inordinate amount of time and energy concerned about how she feels and how she’ll react. You’ve been rationalizing, compromising, second-guessing, playing it safe, and avoiding confrontation. As a result, you’ve slowly forgotten what really matters to you, what you were once passionate about, how you truly feel about issues, yourself, and others. Meanwhile, if you’re a dad, you’re passing this all onto the next generation—your legacy.

Now, let’s take a step back in time. When you first met her, none of this was seemingly a problem. You were “in love.” It was easy to dismiss little issues. After all, you’re a master of denial. And, you were, hopefully getting laid all the time. Life was good.

But then things began to change, or was it her? You found yourself less happy, more irritable, frustrated. You agreed to see your buddies less often back in the day. Why? To please her. But now your buddies are calling you “whipped.” They’ve lost respect for you, while you’ve lost respect for yourself. In addition you’re probably a bit lonely, angry, and now blaming her.

What to do next.

Now what are you supposed to do? How do you change course after all these years? You’ve thought about these things many times. But you can’t, for the life of you, imagine how anything you do could lead to a better relationship with her. After all, you know her and you know how she is. Things won’t change. Not true. When YOU change, it all changes. Will she still want to be around when you’ve made the change? Too soon to tell. But really, if you want to be happy, confident, proud, successful, if you want to be a great man, father and husband, do you really have a choice but to change?

Let me suggest a few action items. There’s a level of awareness you need to achieve, while you take steps to change your behavior. Although the process can feel overwhelming, all I can tell you is that many men have succeeded in becoming better men starting at the same spot you find yourself in today.

Take risks.

Pleasers are not known for their risk-taking. For some, a risk might include jumping out of an airplane. Skydiving may seem like a cakewalk to a pleaser compared to, let’s say, letting your wife know exactly how you’d like to handle the discipline the next time your son is disrespectful. Or, making reservations for a restaurant you’d really like to go to and then taking care of your woman without worrying whether she’ll approve of your choice.

Create a new context.

Ever been in the presence of an extremely confident man? You know almost immediately when he’s entered the room. Everyone does. The energy he’s putting out is palpable, and it’s affecting those around him. People respond subconsciously to that energy.

As a pleaser, you emit your own kind energy. Again, those around you respond to it. That’s why you often don’t have a voice—you’re too busy accommodating those who have pegged you as someone who will satisfy their needs. That’s why it’s critical for you to begin to consciously choose a new path.

Your context is where you’re coming from as you enter the room, begin a discussion, plan an event, or go out on a date. Imagine yourself wearing a sandwich board with your context written on it for the world to see. Because that’s how obvious it is, already, to everyone who meets you. This is your mantra, this is your attitude, this is the man you want to be in that very moment.

Let’s say your woman asked you to pick up something from the store for dinner. Try as you might, you couldn’t find the exact item. So, you bought something close. Your current context as you arrive home might sound like this: I hope she doesn’t give me a hard time. A better context would be: Dinner is going to be great and I love you. Hear the difference? This attitude will change the way you walk into the house, the way you give her the alternative item, the way you’ll respond to her criticism, the way you’ll continue to be the man you want to be for the entire night. Rather than having your tail between your legs, you’ll have let it go. Instead of worrying about not pleasing her, you’re available to be the dad you want to be with the kids, or simply present with her in a more confident, attractive way.

Even if she’s unable to let go of her disappointment, it is vital for you to maintain your context. Ultimately, your new attitude has the potential to change how she responds to you. Depending on the state of your relationship, this could take some time. But for many, the change could take place quite quickly. There are a lot of women out there who are desperately waiting for their men to show up as men. You may be surprised to find that you’re with one of these wonderful, patient women right now.

Don’t do this alone.

To successfully make changes in your behavior, you’ll want the support of other men. Whether it’s a buddy, men’s group or counselor, support is essential. That support includes being held accountable to your commitments. You’ll want to have specific goals, and you’ll want to have your ass kicked when it’s difficult and you want to quit. And you’ll enjoy receiving a pat on the back when you’ve hit a homerun.

In becoming this new man, you’re asking a lot of yourself, and of those closest to you. It’s not an easy process. Prepare by having your support network in place. That’s how you’ll set yourself up for success, rather than failure.

The bigger picture.

We’ve been discussing your need for the approval of women. But this issue goes beyond women. You care too much about how everyone thinks about you, maybe even strangers. You’re a pleaser in all areas of your life. You may disagree. But take the time to examine how you really show up at work, with your extended family, or with your friends. Are you really making your own choices? Or have you adapted for so long, you’ve forgotten what being you would even look like?

Once you become more masculine in your relationship with women—and lose the need for their approval—you’ll begin to see how this new man has a place in all areas of your life. And it’s not about pissing off people. You don’t have to be inconsiderate to be the man you want to be, to stop being a pleaser, though some people around you may feel you’re being a jerk. That’s to be expected. You’re changing the game on them. No one likes that, especially insecure (and therefore controlling) people, like, perhaps, your wife. This is simply about finding your voice, telling the truth, considering other people’s needs and feelings, but not at the expense of honoring your own.

At the end of the day, remember this: You can’t ask for permission to be the man you want to be. Throughout this process with your woman, continue to honor and cherish her. Not being a pleaser doesn’t excuse you from your responsibilities. You still need to listen, not argue, and run the sex and romance departments. And believe me, when you stop being a pleaser in bed, she’ll REALLY be pleased.

____________________________________________________________________

Wayne M. Levine, M.A., mentors men to be better men, husbands and fathers. Check out Wayne’s book, Hold On to Your N.U.T.s—The Relationship Manual for Men and see how you can become a better man at http://www.bettermen.org/

©2010 BetterMen.org

{ 88 comments… read them below or add one }

1 jojo July 18, 2010 at 9:38 pm

I’ve never sought the approval of women. The results are lackluster. It hasn’t done anything special for me. I still don’t seek their approval regardless though.

2 Rick July 18, 2010 at 11:30 pm

This is an amazing principle and true. It was quite eye opening for me to realize that when I changed from being a pleaser at heart to asserting my opinions when they were fair and reasonable, people began to respect me a lot more as a person. Where once I thought I would be well-liked if I protected others’ interests and personalities, I now realize that I am even more well-liked when I have character and self-respect. People take me more seriously and I get more of what I want from others, especially women, who love a man with personality, character, and integrity much more than a man who is exclusively deferential to their wants.

3 jojo July 18, 2010 at 11:56 pm

in response to Rick who wrote:

“This is an amazing principle and true. It was quite eye opening for me to realize that when I changed from being a pleaser at heart to asserting my opinions when they were fair and reasonable, people began to respect me a lot more as a person. Where once I thought I would be well-liked if I protected others’ interests and personalities, I now realize that I am even more well-liked when I have character and self-respect. People take me more seriously and I get more of what I want from others, especially women, who love a man with personality, character, and integrity much more than a man who is exclusively deferential to their wants.”

I’m glad to see someone is getting results. Onward and upward.

4 JamesBrett July 19, 2010 at 12:41 am

i struggled with this for years, and it caused numerous problems in my life. i found, though, that my actions were not necessarily me seeking the approval of women. rather, there may have been some other problems at work:

1) i am (or have been) addicted to conquest and accomplishment. this has manifest itself in team sports, work, dating relationships, climbing mountains, running marathons, etc. in some ways, i think i was searching for the approval of women only to gain self-worth from the conquest (because then i’d be uninterested). because i would seek the same approval from men, only in different ways.

2) which brings me here: one of the best ways to gain the respect and approval of other guys is to win the approval of all the women. i think this is what i did for a portion of my life. there were girls i dated only because other guys thought they were beautiful.

i’m not sure, but i think some of my seeking the respect of men by gaining the approval of women stemmed from my dad leaving when i was young. anyway, i enjoyed the post. too often we define manliness by having women. i think we ought to define it more by power under control in terms of women.

5 Gerard July 19, 2010 at 12:59 am

Oh wow. In terms of this process, I have overcome all described, yet it was great to revisit the things I went through. Of course, there was no sex and we weren’t in a relationship (I’m still a young adolescent), but I went through this with a girl whom I had become quite close friends with. In fact, the issues derived from things realized from this site, waking up to the call to become a virtuous man. I had a newfound respect for life, and began to take it much more seriously. She lashed out; I was always the funny guy who could make her laugh. I have reconciled with her, and things are alright between us, but things will never be the same and she sees me in a different light. A lesson that must be learned…

“This above all else, to thine own self be true.”

6 Chad July 19, 2010 at 1:45 am

Great article.

I’m a firm believer in the fact that you have to be your own man to attract the right woman for you. It’s not being selfish, rather it’s giving her someone she can respect, admire and lean on for support.

What’s the point of having your own life if everything decision you make, or thing you do is done to gain her favour or her respect. Do things because you want to do them, not because a lady wants you to do them.

Thanks for this one!

- Chad

7 Rock July 19, 2010 at 2:17 am

Really good post!

8 digital_dreamer July 19, 2010 at 2:43 am

Bingo! This is what we’ve been saying for the last several decades.

Time to grow up, boys, and quit pandering to women. Watching married (and single) men today struggle to obey their can-never-be-pleased “boss” is truly heartbreaking and gut wrenching. The constant uttering of, “yes, dear”, “okay, dear”, is demoralizing and lacks dignity when said by the “man of the household,” which is practically non-existent today.

If they can just consistently stand up to them, put their foot down, and quit catering to their every whim, they will be happier. And, the women in their lives will RESPECT them much more. Really. A woman wants a man who can stand up to her, as that indicates to her he will stand up to others and not be pushed around. What woman really wants or respects a push-over?

MAJ

9 B July 19, 2010 at 4:44 am

Two things:

1. I really think it should be more about not living for the approval of others, full stop. I know you touched upon that a little bit near the end of your article, but I sincerely think that that is the bigger issue. Living for yourself, and not worrying about what other people think of that, whether they be man or woman.

2. However, there should always be respect. Yes, it’s good to live and stand up for yourself, speak your mind, and not do/say (or refuse to do/say) things simply to gain someone elses’ approval. But you have to keep in mind that that is true for the other party as well.

This probably didn’t come out as coherently as I would have liked, but it’s late, I’m tired, and I figured I would submit this comment before I went to sleep and forgot about it completely. :) Ah, well.

10 B July 19, 2010 at 5:22 am

Ah, how I wish there were a way to edit my comment. What I mean is that there should be MUTUAL respect. It’s just as unfair and unrealistic for you to expect others to bend completely to your will as it is for them to expect it from you.

11 B July 19, 2010 at 5:35 am

Also, (and I apologize for making so many posts – I keep thinking of things to add), one should realize that in some situations, where the outcome affects people other than yourself, discussion should not be dismissed as an option in a stubborn attempt to “have your way”. Don’t let anyone push you around, but don’t go pushing anyone else around in the process. Yadda, yadda – as usual I am probably reading too much into things, or maybe I’ve simply misread things completely. Hopefully I’m making some kind of sense, and I’ve not veered off-topic.

12 Cara July 19, 2010 at 5:50 am

Bravo, bravo! I think this is one article where the advice really works as well with the genders switched.
The heart of it is that a healthy marriage is a partnership of equals, each lending their strength to the project. When it becomes a leader/follower relationship, the leader gets angry and more demanding because they’re doing more of the planning/thinking/organizing everything, and usually without feedback; the follower gets bitter and shuts down because they feel devalued; and both get miserable. I’ve watched so many of my friends’ and relatives’ marriages go down that track, on both sides of the divide.

The difference is, women usually have female friends to help her look at the situation and assess it from every angle (and we do go over EVERY angle. Most men have no idea…) offer support, recommend professional counselors, etc. Men don’t seem to have the same support in place. Guys, if this is you in the article? I pretty much promise, she’s complaining to her friends about how she has to make all the decisions, you never take responsibility, she feels like she’s raising an extra man-sized child…and that talking about it is useless, because you’ll just agree (like always) and then go right back to the same behavior. If this article stops just one I-married-a-child conversation from repeating, it will be a mighty service to humankind.

13 James July 19, 2010 at 6:22 am

A little lackluster of an article, it’s lacking in pragmatic advice and any significant deconstruction of the power struggles within a relationship – submission isn’t, of course, gender specific and has more roots than simple childhood exposure.

14 Kai Devin July 19, 2010 at 6:37 am

Only I can do is to agree with this article. I personally never have been that “pleaser” and it always worked more or less. There has been troubles as well, but this happens if there are differences of opinion.You need to have a front, a frame that shows WHO you actually are and what matters for you and what not. This is what actually makes you different and of course interesting to others.

A few days ago somewhere I read a sentence (I can’t recall who said this nor where I read it):

Somebody who tries to be a friend to all is a friend to none.

I think this sentence is pretty much matching the whole article. Another thing which might sounds old to some readers here but to me still has a lot of meaning related to this article as well:

Art thou the victorious one, the self-conqueror, the ruler of thy
passions, the master of thy virtues? Thus do I ask thee.

Or doth the animal speak in thy wish, and necessity? Or isolation? Or
discord in thee?

Regards

15 Alex July 19, 2010 at 8:28 am

This post made depressing reading for me. It sounds like a corporate pep talk. With my wife, this guy wouldn’t last two days. A woman needs respect and each woman is entirely different. The last line did it for me – ‘And believe me, when you stop being a pleaser in bed, she’ll REALLY be pleased’. Now what the hell is that all about? Seems like the author has turned that art of love making into a paradox – maybe I just don’t understand. A fair philosophy in a relationship is simply that ‘what ye sow, so shall ye reap’.

16 SteveR July 19, 2010 at 8:31 am

Good article.
It’s always interesting to hear how women like a “man with a plan”. This holds true initially but changes quickly once she gets comfortable in the relationship. Only then will her true self come through.

17 Robert July 19, 2010 at 8:40 am

This is something I’ve been hyper-aware of the past 6 months. I never would have considered myself a pleaser, and then I met “her” (not married to anyone yet)

It’s hard to find the balance I crave, but I’m starting to see the type of woman with whom I want to be; it is the one who wants the leadership of a man. Now we’ll see if she’ll change. Overall I feel this is a pretty gutsy post.

18 MMoore July 19, 2010 at 8:43 am

It sounds great: living with a real man for a change, not a wimp who’s always kowtowing. But the question becomes – what role must the woman play to accommodate this old-fashioned “my way or the highway” male? The obvious answer is that she must either give up her needs to accommodate his or they are going to get a divorce soon. Bingo! We’re right back to the kind of marriage that women have endured for millenia, the kind they have escaped and vowed never to return to. Please, have your author address this conundrum. Women want to be in control of the relationship just as much as men do, that’s why the men have become so wish washy. They don’t want to lose their mate.

19 Jay July 19, 2010 at 9:42 am

@ MMoore, I think you hit on a good point, I do not believe that the “my way or the highway” male is the answer either. Also, I do not believe that this was the direction the author of this article intended. I think there is confusion among the responses in this post concerning the difference between the “pleasing man” and the “confident man”. In the pleasing man situation the woman actually has the upper hand in the relationship and it is pathetic. Any real relationship is give and take, plain and simple. Any relationship of quality requires a confident man and a confident woman. If the man is confident in himself he won’t have a problem with asking his wife’s opinion or getting her thoughts. If the woman is confident in herself, she will also not have a problem letting the man of the house make some decisions as well. A movie moment sticks out in my head: In 300, before Leonidas kicks the faggy Persian messenger into the deep well, he turns and looks to his wife; His wife gives him a look and a nod. Almost an approval or a “go for it” look. I do not think for one moment that Leonidas is a pleaser or needed his wife’s approval. They were just two confident people about to destroy some Persians.

20 jojo July 19, 2010 at 9:47 am

Hey MMoore, nice post but I must mention something. You mentioned “the kind of marriage women have ‘endured’ for millenia”. We were not around for these millenia and the social history of these millenia have been recast in a grisly light for the purpose of bringing about the present day chaos. Do you really know that it was necessarily so horrible for the majority of women? Are we viewing the past through the prism of modern day political correctness?

21 Gary FitzGerald July 19, 2010 at 9:50 am

Guys

let’s face it. If we couldn’t have sex with women we’ld be throwing rocks at them.

22 Dandechino July 19, 2010 at 10:22 am

I wish I read this article about 6 years ago.

Gary, I think you’re right.

23 Justin Wollmann July 19, 2010 at 10:39 am

I enjoy this article. Sure, it could have been a little bit better as the earlier poster specified. But, I will say that it fits my recent description of self very well. I had a very bad problem with trying to get people to like me but simply bowing to them! I was never acting myself, around man or woman. For example, I was always fearful of turning down an invite to do something with friends right after I just finished working ten hours. (Usually I’d rather go for a run and go home) The fear of being turned away for future invites to activities was always my biggest fear. After I have been assertive that I am not in a mood to do anything, I get requested to hang out much more than I ever did. Honesty works!

With regards to women: I took it upon myself to survey some female friends over the matter, if they wanted a man to “Be their life” or just a part of it. Every response I got was “I want him to be a part of my life, but I don’t want him to forget about himself.”

Maybe this is where the whole “Call her after three days” rule comes from– to give you a cushion from looking like a pleaser, as pleasers are quick to deliver their sentiments. However, I am fine with us men just calling when we feel like it. Whether that’s the next day, or next month. You won’t be worrying about when to call her if you worry more about yourself! And that’s just going to make you more confident when you do get the date going. :)

24 Another David July 19, 2010 at 10:40 am

I like this site, I really do, but this is the most misogynist piece of crap I think you’ve ever posted. Someone who goes to such lengths to seek the approval of their girlfriend/fiance/wife probably does the same for everyone. He’s a people-pleaser, regardless of the relationship.

And what’s with that advice? “Take more risks. Be more confident. Don’t do it alone.”

Let’s all be honest here: we like getting laid. And sometimes, getting laid involves seeking her approval. Wasn’t it Winston Churchill who said two of the most difficult things for a man to do are climb a wall leaning toward him and kissing a woman leaning away from him? There’s nothing wrong with being confident and steadfast – in fact, that’s the way we should be – but there’s a difference between being confident in your own opinion and ignoring that of your significant other.

25 C.S. July 19, 2010 at 10:58 am

This is poorly written antiquated thinking. I can see that control issues are a problem for people who agree with this article’s inability to release modernity in relationships between equals.

This article lessens my respect for a normally well written web-site.

26 James July 19, 2010 at 11:18 am

Another David- What exactly is mysoginistic about the article? Mysoginy means hatred for women. Nothing in the article promotes the hatred of women. It just promotes not being a doormat for a woman just so you get her approval and get her in the sack.

27 icecycle66 July 19, 2010 at 11:35 am

Huzzah!
Down with the pussification of America.

28 Insomniac July 19, 2010 at 11:40 am

I’m not understanding the accusation of misogyny either, although I agree the advice given is a bit on the bland and generic side. He is right, however, about the problem, and it doesn’t just extend to trying to please women. A lot of men (women, too), for various reasons, define themselves by the approval of others. They become resentful and bitter at being doormats and denying their own aspirations and desires, and exhaust themselves with the effort, but don’t know any other way or see any way out.

29 Jill July 19, 2010 at 11:58 am

Woman commenter here. Thank you for writing this article! I’ve met so many men who are complete doormats in a relationship. Men, this isn’t attractive. No woman wants to be in a relationship with a man who doesn’t have a spine or stand up for himself. And I hope no man would want to be in a relationship with woman who’s a doormat either.

And I’m not getting the accusations of misogyny. Nothing was misogynistic about the post. It’s just advocating that men see themselves as an equal to women and not define their worth by what women think of them.

I think some of the problems people have with this article is that it doesn’t apply to them. They already have a healthy view of relationships and don’t need to be told that they shouldn’t just grovel all the time to women. To men who do this, they need to read this article. I know a few exs I’m sending this to.

30 David July 19, 2010 at 12:59 pm

Pretty low quality article from such a good website. Reading between the lines, I get the impression that the author has some unresolved issues. There is no quick fix or certain way to act that will get your significant other to bend to your will. The reality is that being with someone is a partnership that is built upon respect and trust that will lead to decisions that will benefit all parties involved. Like most things in life, the golden rule applies.

31 MormonMen July 19, 2010 at 1:12 pm

I would argue that this is the biggest problem plaguing men today. If we start being more loyal to what’s right than to the feelings of other people around us, we will be better men.

32 Insomniac July 19, 2010 at 1:15 pm

If we start being more loyal to what’s right than to the feelings of other people around us, we will be better men.

+1

33 Thomas July 19, 2010 at 1:22 pm

Comments about the article, and what readers have said:

B. – you are apologizing throughout your three posts, about being tired, incoherent, etc. Knock it off. This is the same kind of ‘pleasing’ whining that the original post was trying to address. Save your apologies for things that really matter. Your points were fine.

Cara – You get it. Thank you for being a cool chick. Yours were insightful, and I encourage readers to re-read your balanced, mature female perspective. Jill, too.

Kai – Nice. I appreciate when a fellow can quote a manly bit of poetry. It takes nothing away from your masculinity.

C.S. – you are foolish. The wrong kind of feminism has shackled you. All that remains on this road is bitterness and misplaced anger. I suggest you rethink this position, for your own sense of well being.

My comments: We have an epidemic in society of mistaken gender styles and expectations. I attribute this to a mis-application of doctrinaire feminism, the man-hating sort, which results in an imbalance of attention in schools toward feminine sensibilities and ignorance of masculine sensibilities. This is manifested in schools today: boys are tactile learners at certain ages. Boys need recess and physical outlets. We dismiss these needs, focusing on reminding Susie for the fortieth time she can be an astronaut, and scolding Timmy for playing with an airplane, imagining himself as a pilot. Too short of a post here to go into it all, but I cite Christina Hoff Sommers’s important book, “The War Against Boys” if you want to explore this.

‘Soft males’ and inappropriately hardened females are the result. We’re upside down. I am convinced our own genetics betrays us in this, and at core, those who are so affected live unsettled lives because of it. When I chide docile males to ‘man up’, this doesn’t mean to become somehow brutal or harsh to the women in their lives. At core, men are wired to protect. They deny their nature when they are rogues, as much as they do when they are docile or soft. Our educational system has churned out about 20 years of these lost boys, and I am afraid only a portion of them will find themselves. It’s one of the reasons why females make up 65% of undergraduates today. This is a cultural train wreck. As the father of both boys and girls, I am convinced there is a better way, and doing my best to teach it to the kids in my neighborhood, parents too.

As to society, things will get worse, then they will get better. It seems we are doomed to relearn the lessons of the past.

Ah, too much to get into for a short comment field. But clearly, a good discussion topic.

34 Julia July 19, 2010 at 1:36 pm

I’m a woman and I don’t understand what’s misogynistic about this article.

If a woman wrote an article about how women shouldn’t live to get men’s approval, that they should be themselves and shouldn’t change themselves for a man, the author’s message would be called “empowering” and followed with comments of “you go girl!” But if a man writes that men shouldn’t live for the approval of women, that’s misogynistic. Doesn’t make a lot of sense, does it?

35 D. Brown July 19, 2010 at 2:25 pm

Some of you reading this and finding misogyny need to build a life and stop finding reasons to be offended. To be clear for the whole band of PC thinkers – an article discussing not being p-whipped is not a critique of the woman – it’s of the man.

Though it wasn’t expressed this way, almost no relationship will work when it’s one sided and since this is blog about manliness it’s obviously from the guy perspective. We’ll all be much better off when we bury forever this PC crap.

36 Daniel H. July 19, 2010 at 2:30 pm

Given the nature of the claims the author makes, I think it would help to see some data or references to empirical studies. As it stands, much of the content trades in what appear to be hasty generalizations and vague platitudes. For example, why think that “curing yourself of this tendency to please will actually allow you to be happier in your own skin, be more respectful, be more respected, be a better partner, more compassionate, more present, a better example to your kids, and be more of the man she actually wants you to be”? Maybe if you’re unhappy about being a “pleaser” then “curing” yourself of this will make you happier, but that’s nearly tautologous. Maybe if your wife doesn’t want you to be a pleaser, then “curing” yourself of this will make you “more of the man she actually wants you to be,” but again, that’s just tautologous. Useful studies would survey a wide demographic of men and women about what contributes to their happiness, what they value in relationships, etc.

One thing I admire about Brett and Kate’s posts is that they make an effort to back up their claims by citing various studies or directing the reader to their sources. I invite Wayne to do the same.

37 Peter July 19, 2010 at 2:44 pm

Guys, perhaps it’s not misogyny, necessarily, but I got the impression of a certain lack of respect for human sexuality in the monogamous sense, which is probably what may have disheartened other readers. I generally would prefer alternatives to the expression “getting laid”, which sounds base and implies somebody is doing you a favor.

Maybe that makes some of the frustration a bit more clear?

Actually, listen to this bit from The Symposium, by Plato:

“‘Do you desire to be wholly one;
always day and night to be in one another’s company? for if this is what
you desire, I am ready to melt you into one and let you grow together,
so that being two you shall become one, and while you live live a common
life as if you were a single man, and after your death in the world
below still be one departed soul instead of two–I ask whether this
is what you lovingly desire, and whether you are satisfied to attain
this?’–there is not a man of them who when he heard the proposal would
deny or would not acknowledge that this meeting and melting into one
another, this becoming one instead of two, was the very expression of
his ancient need.”

38 Anna July 19, 2010 at 3:01 pm

Overall, this article reminds me of reading Cosmo when I was younger – promise something that sounds fantastic, pump the article full of ego-boosting, we-feel-your-pain/it’s-not-your-fault commentary and popular complaints/theories about the opposite gender, neglect any action to be taken or make it very vague, finish with some exciting finale. It’s written so the reader can fill in between the lines with what they are understood to believe.

I always like reading AOM because the articles are written like good debates: pros and cons are discussed with comfort and both get their fair share of the limelight. Many viewpoints are considered, and especially in articles of this nature, it is not approached in a men vs. women manner. Unfortunately, I feel like the only (2) statements that weren’t one-sided in this article were buried at the end, hardly noticeable. I’m all for men learning not to look for approval, but this article let me down in a major way.

39 adameister July 19, 2010 at 3:35 pm

This was a great article and one that hits eerily home in my life lately. I recently broke up with my girlfriend of 4 years because of this very issue. I had consistently sacrificed for her happiness over and over and over, never asking for anything in return. When our relationship finally came to a braking point and I told her the things that needed changing it was like talking to a brick wall.

So I broke up with her. One of the hardest things I’ve ever done. However, now that she knows I’m done with the bullshit she respects me more. She’s listening to my opinions and needs. We’re now at a crossroads. Trying to work it out and I’ve told her, either she shapes up, let’s me do what I need to do in the relationship, or her second chance is gone. So far so good. Plus I think the children involved seem a lot happier now and are making sound decisions for the tough road blocks (for a child’s life) that life is throwing at them.

40 Trever Clark July 19, 2010 at 4:04 pm

Relationship dynamics are interesting. With my ex-wife, I always felt like I had to seek her approval. And it made me miserable. I kind of decided to turn over a new leaf after we got divorced. I started living by the “Ask forgiveness, not permission” motto. If you really want to do something, and it doesn’t involve sleeping with another woman, just do it. She might be pissed off, but she’ll get over it.

41 PeterPansDad July 19, 2010 at 4:36 pm

” I think it would help to see some data or references to empirical studies.”

Please allow me to disagree. I believe there is room for anecdotal writings. It is difficult to represent relationship statistics in a meaningful way. “Tell her what restaurant and movie you have planned for the evening and she’ll be 23.5% more likely to enjoy her evening. In fact, her pleasure will increase between 30-50%. Your own manhood will level up. 60% of the time it works every time.” This discussion is entirely subjective. Anecdotes are welcome. Results may vary.

“Useful studies would survey a wide demographic of men and women about what contributes to their happiness, what they value in relationships, etc.” Those are other people. They are living their life, you are living your own. You have to figure it out. Discuss ideas with peers/mentors (includes reading), try it yourself, evaluate, rinse and repeat.

In my own experience, it is difficult to prevent either being pushy or being a pushover. In any relationship, both parties need to listen, discuss and act together. I would also suggest prayer. It seems to me that a lot of guys fail to act. I don’t have percentages but I think the article was suggesting if we man up to equal partnership in our relationships we’ll be better men. You are the only measure of yourself, not a survey by an “expert”.

42 Joe July 19, 2010 at 6:32 pm

this article reminds me of a men with co-dependency issues – just repackaged.

43 Brett July 19, 2010 at 7:30 pm

Wow.

Now, I haven’t read all the comments and the article only scratches the surface so I don’t know if this has been covered but … if I am this kind of guy, how do I even begin to deal with this?

I got sick to my stomach even thinking about bringing up something my wife could see as confrontational (discipline, finances, duties, etc.) and it honestly makes me sad that I’ve just realized my relationship is exactly as the article describes. Apart from reading this author’s book and rereading this article, what can I do to start the process? Has anyone here been through this and succeeded? I want to act I just need the basic steps to start.

Thanks for any advice/help.

44 Erick July 19, 2010 at 7:48 pm

Brett- I don’t agree with this article completely but I have recently decided to stop trying to make my wife happy with every little choice I make.

That seems to come off snotty but it’s not. I was not doing things, and saying things at the expense of my own happiness. I was unfulfilled. And when you have that going on inside of you it tends to lead to some form of depression and overall you are not yourself. I have recently started taking baby steps. I make decisions on things. Small things. Where do we eat tonight? What’s for dinner? Should we do this before or after the kids nap? Etc. These aren’t life changers, but it makes me feel I am asserting my control. I’m still being respectful to my wife.

And then in the larger issues. I’m making my voice heard. I’m saying what I feel and what I WANT to say. But I approach it with an open heart, not an iron fist. Men and women disagree. If you stand your ground and open your heart to listen to her, then she SHOULD extend you the same courtesy. If she doesn’t, she doesn’t respect you and that’s an issue. I have a wonderful woman who listens respectfully and we find a middle ground a lot of the time.

45 Alejandro July 19, 2010 at 10:42 pm

It’s ironic that the popular media often talks about how women should stop trying to please the men in their lives and be their own person. But, similar fates befall many men, as they have for centuries. Yet, that seems to be fodder for comics and misandric therapists who always want to paint women as the victim. I had an uncle who was emotionally and verbally abused by his wife. The situation created a lot of tension and drama on my dad’s side of the family. But, my uncle – who had survived World War II in the South pacific – just wouldn’t stand up to her at times. I got an idea why years later when, during a family gathering, he told me that he often left the house when his wife would go off on one of her screaming tantrums. He didn’t want to hit her; not so much out of chivalry; he was afraid if he hit her once to try to shut her up, he wouldn’t be able to stop. A young coworker told me last week that his wife of 4 months had told him, since she earned more money than him, it was only right for her to control the household finances. She told him he couldn’t return to his parents’ house because it would be a waste of gas. I told him that his wife has no business telling him when he can or cannot visit his parents and that as long as he’s paying his fair share of the bills, household finances are a mutual concern. I think I made him realize he needed to stop that crap now; otherwise, he’ll be on the road to a life of marital subjugation. It all comes down to respect. Most everyone deserves respect, but sometimes you have to demand it – even in a marriage.

46 7jcjg July 20, 2010 at 1:59 pm

crazy… i love when i finally read an article that adresses the issue it seeks to address. i’ve been parting from the people-pleasing type i have the tendency to be, and this article really highlighted some areas where these issues exist.

47 Michael July 20, 2010 at 3:13 pm

@Brett — I have faced similar issues. Here’s a great article on some of it:

http://www.happinessinthisworld.com/2009/05/24/the-good-guy-contract/

The biggest thing I would suggest is to follow the article’s advice on a support system closely. If you could do it alone, you would have already. Go to a counselor, tell him or her your goals, and say, “Can you help me do this?” If you have men in your life who seem to have this problem better addressed, ask them if you can spend time together and talk about it.

Conflict is inevitable in any intimate relationship. It’s how we manage the conflict which defines the relationship. If you can’t stand to stand up for yourself, she can’t trust you in or out of the home. That may be what she wants, but it’s not a happy way to live for either of you.

Best of luck.

48 silentblood July 20, 2010 at 9:55 pm

As someone who lives in a 24/7 D/s lifestyle as the sub(I’m male btw) I can only partially agree with some of the comments here.
One thing to consider is if the relationship is built on dominance or submission. Submission does not equal ‘being a doormat’. Submission in D/s is a gift. A sub(of either gender) can always say no or withdraw consent.
In a normal vanilla relationship however I’d agree with this article and most of the comments. :-)

49 jp July 20, 2010 at 11:36 pm

It seems wrong to not listen to your partner in bed. Communication is key.

50 Schmidty - Man Vs. Style July 21, 2010 at 6:01 am

I have recently come to the conclusion, that women are very selfish, and as men we try to please them and think it will help us in the long run. but the truth is that it doesnt. If we worry about ourselves internally and concentrate on what we want, we appear more attractive to women I think.

Schmidty

51 silentblood July 21, 2010 at 8:36 am

@Schmidty: And men aren’t very selfish either? Men *and* women have the same chances at being selfish or not.
But otherwise I agree men should focus on what they want and their needs and be self suffiecent.

52 kris July 21, 2010 at 11:38 am

Those seeing themselves in this article and who want to change should check out (arrrgh…I hate having to put this name up because it automatically gives the wrong impression) No more Mr Nice Guy by Robert Glover. It goes in depth about this kind of pleasing behavior and how to change it.

53 Victoria July 21, 2010 at 12:42 pm

WoW!!
I LUV this article!!!
As I read it, and thought of myself and how I “expect” a man to be, I had to re-evaluate myself.
Thanks!

54 Abigail July 21, 2010 at 3:01 pm

First off I want to say that I completely agree with what you’re saying about being true to yourself, about behaving in a way that makes you happy while still being respectful to others, but not living for other people’s approval. What I disagree with is approaching this problem from the perspective of men seeking women’s approval. Really any guy who is so insecure about needing his partner’s approval a) was probably in a bad relationship to begin with, and b) probably seeks approval from everyone, not just women. I realize you touch on this in the conclusion, but not strongly enough, because that is the real issue at hand, male insecurity, as opposed to gender relations. Also, it’s not just men. Many women have this same issue and could probably benefit from reading your article, too. I just wanted to say, men and women don’t have to be divided about this. We don’t have to be enemies; in fact, I think we’re stronger when we learn with and from each other. And if one of these pleasers should have been so lucky as to find themselves with a partner who is patient and supportive, don’t discount her as a person who can support you while you change. If she’s that confident a person herself, she’ll probably be thrilled with the new you. That’s all.

55 Jiminma July 21, 2010 at 4:56 pm

An amazing piece. Sums up my now finished 25 yr marriage.

56 g-a (female) July 21, 2010 at 7:26 pm

great topic,…timely and all,…of course it can’t be “in depth,” but i’m surprised that no one mentioned a “castration complex” being a severe problem in this area, what with the disastrous and competitive and condemning attitudes of feminists of this modern era “sticking it” to little boys (unfortunately too many mothers do this as well),…

i’m very glad to hear respect and good values, including fidelity, being honored,…some suggestions on the web-site, that i passed by briefly, sound like a grown-up man’s kind of “boy scouting,”…maybe it’s “man scouting!”…sounds great for energy, interest, adventure, and FUN!!!!,…enjoying ourselves and life is VERY important!

57 g-a (female) July 21, 2010 at 8:19 pm

enjoying ourselves, AND respecting ourselves, and life, is VERY important,…

58 g-a (female) July 21, 2010 at 8:38 pm

and respecting ourselves,…

59 Sam H July 21, 2010 at 9:55 pm

The problem I see with this article is that it only addresses one side of the spectrum of a relationship. An ideal relationship would be, as others have said, a relationship in which men and women are confident, caring, and meet in the middle. They put all they can into a relationship and get as much out of it as possible.

The problem I have with this article is that it deems it inappropriate to be submissive. You cannot be the loving, cajoling, caring guy that your women or even friends may want at times. Sure, you need to look out for yourself and you can’t be an absolute doormat (which, really, I don’t think men are- most simply believe that doing women “favors” is a way to win their approval and ultimately get what they desire). It’s a healthy balance of self respect and giving of yourself, of being vulnerable, that will find you the truest and most loving ending.

60 Erik July 21, 2010 at 10:46 pm

Jill … thanks for contributing. Always good to see that women are reading.

I, for one, needed to read this article. After the demise of an 18yr marriage and then a subsequent 4yr relationship, I can honestly say that I’ve needed to stop being the “Nice Guy” and man up for a long time. During this past 18 months I’ve started reading the AOM site, read some great books (several due to interviews I heard on Brett’s podcast), and started changing my life for the better. Women want strong men, and I am now becoming one.

I will always honor and respect women (at least the good ones). But I will no longer sacrifice my own life and goals in a misguided, co-dependent attempt to keep a relationship together. Life is too short. And the sex is better when a woman respects her man’s strength! :-)

And guys, if this article spoke to you, please read “No More Mr. Nice Guy” by Robert Glover, “Iron John” by Robert Bly, and even “Choosing Me Before We” by Christine Arylo (written for women, but 95% of it addresses this same issue … taking care of yourself so that you can be a true partner in your relationship).

61 Erik July 21, 2010 at 10:49 pm

Abigail … Right on!

It was a very strong woman who helped me find my way to being the strong man I needed to become. Men … your women want you to be your best. A good, healthy couple will continue to help each other grow independently, as well as together.

62 steve July 21, 2010 at 10:59 pm

If somebody is seeking approval, why not just give it and get it over with? Why must everybody be so tough on everybody else? If you are henpecking and getting mad that a guy ain’t standing up to ya why not just take stock of your primitive behavior and enter civilization by stopping? This applies to men as well but as the issue here is women then I pose the question; why not control yourself and behave properly instead of animalistically?

63 silentblood July 22, 2010 at 8:48 am

@Sam: Exactly. There is a point where it’s no longer submission but rather being a doormat. Even I, as a submissive, have enough spine in me not to give in to every whim of my Dominant fiance. Or even seek her permission for everything I do. As much as I love her there is just so much I’m willing to do.

64 BenR July 22, 2010 at 5:36 pm

Does anyone else notice the irony in an article that demands men stop submitting to women, yet seems to hold “becoming more attractive to women” as the primary goal for such a demand?

Instead of submitting to women, we are supposed to submit ourselves to this alleged ideal of what women want from a “manly” man.

Frankly, I think it’s a lot more grown-up to just act like an adult and treat the people around you with respect, but not be afraid to voice and defend your own opinion, without regard to their gender or what they might think of you.

65 Phoenix Men's Counseling July 22, 2010 at 8:32 pm

A very good post. Men do need the approval of women, and fear runs this machine for guys. Guys are scared of being rejected or for standing up for themselves and their needs in the relationship. For a lot of men who aren’t emotionally attuned, the relationship stays quite imbalanced, and men give over their personal power to their partner. It becomes a parent-child relationship, instead of a relationship with two adults.

For more practical tips, advice and help for men and relationships/stress/mental health, see my blog at http://www.phoenixmenscounseling.com/blog. Thanks!

66 Phoenix Men's Counseling July 22, 2010 at 8:35 pm

A good post. Men do need the approval of women, and fear runs this machine for guys. Guys are scared of being rejected or for standing up for themselves and their needs in the relationship. For a lot of men who aren’t emotionally attuned, the relationship stays quite imbalanced, and men give over their personal power to their partner. It becomes a parent-child relationship, instead of a relationship with two adults.

For more practical tips, advice and help for men and relationships/stress/mental health, see my blog at Phoenix Men’s Counseling.

67 Hunter July 23, 2010 at 1:58 am

I read through quite a few of the comments, and I hate to be the naysayer here, but I think many are in denial.

I’ve never thought of myself of a particularly weak man. I’ve always had the ability to lead others and convince groups of people to agree to my chosen course of action when the situation dictated that need. I’ve never felt as though I was below average or far above average in intellect or confidence, so the statement that follows is not intended to offend anyone, or aggrandize myself.

I think many commenters are kidding themselves when they say they don’t seek the approval of women, or that they did at one time but no longer suffer the affliction. I’m not looking to point fingers, but instead raise the question: Why are so many men afraid to look this problem squarely in the face and admit that they suffer?

I’ve often tried to garner the approval of women. The reasons have always varied, but usually they all lead back to confidence, ego, and sex. I’m not ashamed of the fact that I need work in the arena of self-development, so what exactly makes many afraid to admit that maybe they too are one of what one would assume is the majority of men, those of us who were raised to seek approval?

Man up, admit it if you need to work on yourself, because really you’re only fooling yourself when you say you don’t.

-Hunter

68 Hunter Traxle July 23, 2010 at 10:56 am

Women, or what I refer to as ‘succubus’, need us more than we need them. They want a man, they want security, they want gifts, they want financial stability, and they want your soul. From my experience women seem shallow just like most Keystone drinking frat boys. Most women would mount a fence post if they had the chance. They think only with their ovaries and their logic is flawed. I have found out that the best things in life is a cold brew, warm pipe, and your best masculine friends. These are the few constants in life. Women come and go, but your fellow brethren will never leave you. That’s why I try to live a righteous, chaste, manly existence.

69 Hunter Traxle July 23, 2010 at 5:05 pm

Wow there Traxle, that is a pretty harsh way of stating that. I’d even say that’s a bit misogynistic. There’s a balance between manly self-arrurance and full blown hostility towards the idea of a woman’s companionship.

Also, I’m pretty sure that somewhere along the line your “fellow brethren” are likely to have less time to “never leave you” as they find the pleasure that a woman’s company can bring.

70 Veronica Venus July 24, 2010 at 12:55 am

Wow! Hot topic. I’m not surprised though. As a woman (who happens to work with men to spark attraction in women instantly and get more/better sex), I think the main point here is for a man to be his natural self and voice his opinions. PERIOD. Women do the same thing. A guy comes along and she loses her mind & self-respect – dropping friends and her interests to “be available” to him. It goes both ways. It is a sign of lack of character and fear of rejection. I think we’ve all been there when we were younger.

There is nothing sexier than a man who has an opinion and is not apologetic if it doesn’t coincide with ours. He’s got a presence that is irresistible.

I’d like to go to where it all starts. The entire relationship is shaped by how the man presents himself when a woman first encounters him (virtually or in person). There are guys who don’t like to hear this, but how you’re feeling when you first encounter her directly influences how she reacts to you. It’s natural. She can’t help it. You’ve heard about the famous “womens intuition”. (Can’t really stand that because men have intuition too) Well that’s what let’s us know one of 3 things: if you’re someone we desire, someone we want as a friend or someone we want to run from.

Feeling nervous when you’re talking to an attractive woman and waffling with your ideas and statements? She get’s uneasy vibes and definitely puts you in the friend category…or worse yet, if she’s unscrupulous, she’ll use you until she’s done with you. You get NO RESPECT. It’s hard to come back from that. Just leave her.

Don’t care about her as a person and just want to jump in bed with her? She get’s creepy vibes and pulls back. NO RESPECT again and worse yet, she’ll tell her friends at the social gathering. You won’t even get to engage in a conversation with any woman withing 5 miles of the place. Enough said.

Feeling confident, looking her in the eyes and saying what you want to say in a clear, firm voice. Feeling and owning your attraction to her (even envisioning her explicitly in your mind), yet not caring how the conversation will go… Disagreeing when you want to (in a non-hostile manner) and not caring what she thinks. Ding! Ding! Ding! Instant attraction AND RESPECT. It gets women every time! This is why only a small group of men can just walk into a room and dominate the atmosphere. They are present. They are secure. They don’t care (in a good way)! This is why they enjoy relationships where their woman can’t take her hands off of them and initiates sex frequently (while other guys are going through a drought). Okay, so my response is a bit simplistic, but you get the picture. If men can changed this ONE thing (which really isn’t a change), they would live a blissful dating, love and sex life.

Thank you so much for this post. Really enjoyed it!

71 Anthony July 24, 2010 at 4:33 am

After reading many of the comments here my thoughts are this:

In my thoughts being a “Pleaser” to me is a form of rushing at a whim to her demands and feelings for sex at night or the problem I have, not feel like dealing with the emotional roller coaster so you will just say ” alright ” just so you can watch the ball game or go back to your PS3.

I mean their have been many men who are rocking on their PS3 or whatever they are doing, their lady comes to them with some problem, they talk it out and argue back and forth about it, by the time your done *BAM* you have to be at work in the next 3 hours. So lets look at the F’d up situation. 1. You have to deal with this emoitonal creature who just can leave it alone, 2. You have to stop doing whatever Manly thing you were doing 3. It carried all through the night which will in turn make the next day very irritable for you. So what do we do or say just to avoid all that BS and enjoy whatever free time you have … ” sure ” or .. ” mmm hmmm, I heard you ” .. just so you can live on the next day not knowing the consequence in the future for such actions.

To someone who mentioned the movie 300 example I completley agree. I believe one should not RUSH to her ideals without giving it time, thought. Of course you consider whatever problem she has however you think it through first before you make such decisions. If you feel its a fair assessment then you make changes together to form a peaceful existance .. however if you disagree then you let her know why and figure out a way to live with it .. and STICK TO YOUR GUNS about it. But saying that sadly to say in todays people are living by the .. ” Make it or Break it ” .. syndrome. We as human beings are promised 70 years if that now a days by the way things are happening, and people are trying to get in where they fit in.

72 David Knapp July 25, 2010 at 1:04 pm

“You still need to listen, not argue, and run the sex and romance departments. And believe me, when you stop being a pleaser in bed, she’ll REALLY be pleased.”

Kind of confused about that last line. Shouldn’t we please our wife in bed? Shouldn’t this be the one area where we are a pleaser?

Thanks ahead of time for your response.

73 Alethea July 27, 2010 at 6:13 pm

Speaking as a chick:

1. This is a great article for men and women both to read. I have been a pleaser and I have been a taker, and I didn’t feel secure or happy in either role. When I am feeling fragile and weak, I want to know that my partner can step into the gap. When I feel strongly about something, I want to know that my partner will be an honest sounding board, and will support me to the hilt if he agrees. A healthy relationship has love and strength going both ways.

2. How you act cues your partner to how they’re expected to react. A caring and responsive partner will pick up your cues and act appropriately. I am, by nature and encouragement, a strong-willed individual. Sometimes I need to be told to back off. It hurts, but I love my partner for it, because how else will I know that I was out of line? Communication, communication, communication. If you can’t talk honestly and openly about the HOWS of your relationship, you’re in the wrong relationship.

3. Regarding sex and romance… Having a dutiful slave-boy who accommodates your every whim and doesn’t do anything without your express request is a very specific sort of fetish. Even if your girl goes for this, she likely wont all the time. Absolutely, pay attention to her needs. Absolutely, change if something isn’t working for her. But if you are ignoring your own desires (especially if you are assuming she won’t go for something without even asking her), you’ll be as passionless as a sexbot. It’s not fun. You two are doing this for both of you, not just for her, and she doesn’t want to feel like a selfish bitch. I’ve met very few women who didn’t secretly fantasize about a passionate lover throwing her across a bed, and you can’t get lost in the moment like that if you are just a pleaser.

74 silentblood July 30, 2010 at 10:36 am

@Alethea:About your number 3, exactly. My very dominant fiance does not want a co-dependent slave, but rather a *partner*. In my D/s relationship, sure I do all kinds of things for her, but I also do things for myself. It isn’t like I need to get an order to do something. I act on my own initiative. But anyways, even if it was a vanilla relationship, I’d still be a slave ;-p

75 Kristin July 30, 2010 at 11:16 am

People have a tendency to take things to extremes, when this article points out that some men live for the approval of others and are too timid to form their own opinions a number of men react with, “Yeah! Women are castrating bitches!” Sigh.

Personally, I have broken up with a man because he wasn’t assertive enough. Not because I want to be dominated but because I was tired of making all the plans and putting all the effort into a relationship. I have had the other side of the spectrum too and it is just as tiring, a man who thinks he is right in EVERY situation no matter what anyone else says. How irritating and patronizing to be with someone who is an “expert” in everything, even when he clearly is not!

Can’t we have some moderation? A man who feels confident in what he knows and likes but is willing to learn new things or admit he might not know something? It seems to me that the ideal relationship consists of two people who agree on the big things and are willing to occasionally do something they don’t want to do for their partner’s sake.

76 Carbon July 30, 2010 at 1:37 pm

@Anna: I agree. Good, but a bit on the side of Free-Chapter/Paragraph-for-book-sales-Marketing.

I agree that this comes a lot from the parents.
But it also comes from the Ancient Greeks, other Beauty==Virtue ancient societies, The 11th-12th century Medieval Chivalrists, The Victorians, and the 50′s.

Today, it also comes from our 15th-century Community Property laws, where a woman can marry a guy and take half of his stuff.

Otherwise: This behavior is hard to spot, and harder to kill.

One of the big keys is you’ve just got to Make yourself OK with pissing people off in the short run. (without purposely being a dick)
People are all different and they Will disagree. But you’ve still got to speak your mind & stick by your guns, no matter how much concensus you listen to and build.

*The trick is that if you do/say what would risk pissing people off in the short run, they end up Respecting you in the long run.

But as far as someone so far marginalized to any one side, in this case: pleaser, your thinking is probably Wildly unsophisticated and maybe even black-and-white when you first try to change, and at some point later you’ll probably have to ‘Cross the line’ about 5 times before you successfully find out where the line is.

That being said, feel free to at least once in your life say to an irrational girl, “Well if you’re that much against it, then fuck off and go hang out with someone else. The door is right there. {points]”

77 Steven August 2, 2010 at 7:55 pm

This article sucks.

No, we shouldn’t be overly engaged in pleasing people, or overly concerned about pleasing your wife even. But what is the example the author gives us?

“You agreed to see your buddies less often back in the day. Why? To please her.”

Really? That’s the example? You gave up time spent indulging your self-consumption instead of time giving into your relationship with your wife – the most important relationship you have – and somehow this is a bad thing?

78 randy August 4, 2010 at 10:46 am

well said steven!

79 Mick August 4, 2010 at 5:15 pm

The lesson? Be yourself. And let the rest of ‘em deal with it.

80 Eivind F S August 5, 2010 at 6:52 pm

Great article and hits home. I’m also surprised to see so many negative responses by men. I can only assume that it hurts to have your trip exposed like that.

What many of us don’t get is that what a woman looks for in a man isn’t primarily understanding, communication and agreement. They are looking for a quality of consciousness which is stable and authentic. That only comes when a man knows what he wants and when he is not ashamed to claim it. For a man to do that is an act of love. For a BOY to do that can be dangerous (which is what the boy often fears – his own destructive potential), but for a man to do it is always healing for the world. That quality is what makes him a man.

A good woman wants that man. She doesn’t care about many of the things the PC establishment talks about – changing diapers, doing the laundry and all that superficial drivel we talk about because we have nothing better to do – as long as she feels fully loved, opened by his masculine consciousness, surrendered to his direction. Everything that happens is an expression of that.

Yeah, it takes work (I’m not there yet), but don’t diss it just because you’re too afraid to go for it. That is not honoring yourselves and your core essence.

Eivind

81 Alethea August 12, 2010 at 10:43 am

Eivind,

I respectfully disagree. You seem to think it’s an either/or. As a woman, I am ABSOLUTELY looking for understanding and communication. And honesty and support, not blind agreement. If I had kids, I’d want my partner to contribute to their care and feeding (if I have to suffer diapers, you do too), and I DO insist that my partner contribute equally to the household. Fair is fair.

That said, my partner is a man, not a boy. He thinks deeply about his beliefs, respectfully tells me when he thinks I’m full of shit, takes action when action is needed and is not afraid to make a decision without my consultation, if the circumstances warrant it.

I guess the distinction is is, you should be masterful with your own life, but don’t try to be masterful with mine. Pull your own weight with chores and duties, care for me and mine as I care for you and yours (that’s what a relationship IS), but run your own life! I can just about handle mine, but I don’t want to handle yours at the same time – that way leads to resentment and an unfair balance of power, as well as being absolutely exhausting. I shouldn’t have to approve your playdate before you arrange beers with friends, I just ask you tell me about it before hand (or as is reasonably possible) so that I can make arrangements for my own time. Treat your partner with respect, but make your own decisions.

82 Tyler G January 21, 2013 at 2:46 am

This goes very well with No More Mr. Nice Guy by Robert Glover, mentioned earlier by kris. If you find yourself identifying with the pleasers, I’d suggest giving this book a look.

I personally try to find a compromise when sorting things out, but it usually ends up being the other person’s opinion anyway. Maybe I need to be a little more assertive…

83 dave February 3, 2013 at 8:47 pm

Do not see the “approval” angle.i would NEVER approach a woman ( if she is so interested ,she can approach me), but I do see where guys would want some respect.

84 wjdude March 1, 2013 at 1:15 am

Wow…a blog for men about being a REAL man? lol. What a Godsend!

Great article and while I’m not currently in a relationship with a woman, I learned a lot from it. I’ve made some of these mistakes, a few of them, but part of the reason I’m single is because I’ve always been my own man. Perhaps I’ll get lucky one day and find the right woman for me. Perhaps, but I won’t sweat over it.

Peace out gents

85 Logan Delasancha March 11, 2013 at 11:12 pm

Müthiş bilgiler bunlar hayran kaldım gerçekten .

86 Tez July 22, 2013 at 11:25 am

I read this entire article, nodding along, accepting that this pretty much sums me up.
It’s something I’ve acknowledged and have been working to correct for some time now, so I couldn’t have stumbled across this piece at a better time. I embody every aspect of the people pleaser. I’m polite, quiet and even dull down my presence so as not to overshadow others. All I really want to do is shine and electrify a room with my enthusiasm, rather than hiding it. I have my support structure in place and hope to improve my confidence and my attitude ASAP. Thanks!

87 sarah November 15, 2013 at 6:36 am

women lose confidence in a relationship when it appears that her man can’t handle himself. if he can’t handle himself, how’s he going to handle her and ultimately, their partnership? simpering and contrite are not good qualities in anybody.

this post simply points out that when a man finds his voice and starts exuding confidence, his insecure woman will start feeling more secure and will stop being so passive/aggressive. a happy wife = a happy life and the fastest way to a happy wife is self confidence.

88 Robert Cooper March 16, 2014 at 2:20 pm

Some good comments here on effects and ways to change; however, in order to successfully accomplish self-change, we must understand where and why these thought processes and resulting behaviors began. They began before we were five years old.

I find that You’re OK, But You Don’t Know It, by down-to-earth psychologist Ed Reitman, PhD, is an excellent guide to getting at the core of why we think about ourselves as we do and how that drives our unsuccessful behavior. Out of, perhaps, two thousand books I’ve read this is one of the most important.

Once we learn, own and integrate into our lives the simple truths Reitman shares from his 50-year practice, we can relax, see that we have true worth and enjoy living a happy, successful life. Otherwise, we are living a lie.

The only connection I have with Ed is as a friend of several of his friends and patients who made me aware of his excellent book.

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