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How Men Act When They Feel The Women Are Better Than Them

For all the lovely ladies who didn’t ever hear from the ‘awesome’ guy you went out with last week, I know how hard it is to let go of the fumes that come from a blow off for no apparent reason. Especially when the semi-serious date seemed to spark the connection, had palpable chemistry, and even got a thumbs up from the ‘gang’ – in short, had all the elements for a reasonable likelihood of escalation from semi-serious to serious! But then poof! The guy vanishes, and without any discernible trace of anything that could have gone wrong.

couple holding hands (10)

Image source: Pixabay, under Creative Commons License

I have been there and more often than not, these potential-dates-turned-disasters have fetched me a rather misinformed but token girl power refrain (he was intimidated by you, you are awesome) from my friends. As little consolation as that rather reductive reasoning is, I have given it its place outside the canon of ‘misused excuses’ for consoling oneself in the face of a blow off. And not without GOOD reason!

Suggested read: Signs you are a rebellious young woman

Of late, more and more blow off instances around me called for my detailed intervention on how ludicrous the whole situation is. For starters, you have abundance of support for the proposition that men like women who are smart, fun, independent, and of course, reasonably good looking and will not date any that don’t fit the paradigm. Should be THAT simple – except when it isn’t.

couple holding hands (10)

Image source: Pixabay, under Creative Commons License

What I found, then, is kind of alarming. Not only is the situation commonplace with girls who could very well be the poster child for ‘He’s Just Not That Into You’ but also with women who are in real relationships with men who cannot/do not know how to deal with their women’s success.

Of course, generalizing an entire gender and saying that all men cannot gulp that women are better than men drink would be wrong on so many levels – for it lumps all men into a generalized category, assumes all women are better than men, and constructs this ascendancy on assumed levels of success in academic credentials, careers, and socio-economic standing. However, to say that all men can savor the women are better than men drink like sips of their favorite tipple is wrong too!

Suggested read: What you NEED to know when dating the independent woman

In this age and time, women are matching their male counterparts, even beating them in their own game, and most certainly, by their own rules! Now, we aren’t suggesting that all women are better than men – for that would be another generalization – but we need to look into the reason why men act or behave in strange ways around women who wear their ‘strong, independent’ sash with pride.

What really happens?

Case I: Men who are inherently insecure and cannot stand the idea of a ‘better’ partner

couple disagreement

Image source: Google, copyright-free image under Creative Commons License

Times are changing and for the most part, men and women are making their peace with shifting gender coordinates and the dynamic thereof. But there still are – and will remain – some men, who, regardless of how much the times change, will hold up the male chauvinism glory days of the 1950s as the golden social model. These men, then, under no circumstances, will make their peace with a more richer, successful, educated or even smarter partner – whether all tangible measures of those parameters for their partner oust their own figures by landslides or are simply behind by a minute decimal!

Such men are the reason the entire male species is deemed part of the merry members of the male chauvinist club. However, as already mentioned, these are gross generalizations that do nothing but obscure the real reasons behind the intimidation. First, patriarchy is to blame. The mindset that men are supposed to be primary breadwinners and always be more ‘accomplished’ than their spouses not only injects a misguided power equation in the ways both genders interact and come together, but also poisons any possibility of a healthy relationship by breeding the venomous progeny of ‘false sense of entitlement’ to that supremacy. This ideological interpellation leads them to believe that they will be emasculated in the presence of a more successful figure, and hence, either want their partners to dumb down or quit stringing her ‘accomplishments’ along so he can flaunt his.

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Image source: Flickr

Second, most feelings of inferiority and the consequent insecurity stem from low self-esteem. And the most common response to feeling inferior is defense. And as hard as it might be to gulp, a man’s ego is something he wears about with pride. When that asset begins to be battered or bruised, he reacts by either being rebellious or resorting to ways that will make him feel like he is ‘in power.’ Again, societal pressure and messages about ‘masculinity’ that infiltrate his brain fed from all outlets may cause him to feel obligated to be in control but when he asks for you to downplay your achievements or dumb yourself down, you should draw the line. His lack of respect for your competence cannot and should not be deployed to inflate his own ‘lesser version of masculinity.’ This tenet is as misguided as the girl power refrain I mentioned at the outset. Masculinity isn’t a definite, solid concept, and he should learn to accommodate the shifting gender dynamic whilst working on his own esteem and confidence.

How such men behave in their relationships

man waiting

Image source: Pixabay, under Creative Commons License

These men will either take the nearest exit or opt for the tortuous, torturous traits as these:

  1. He will doubt your love: A man who is insecure will capitalize on the slightest mistake to express his doubts about your love. This is owing to his feelings of inadequacy and belief that this ‘awesome’ woman ought to be with someone else- someone better than him, someone her equal.
  2. He will act extremely possessive: Since this man has a low self-esteem, he’d like to be in the loop for everything she does, so that he isn’t ousted as the second-class competitor among the horde vying for her attention.
  3. He may become a green-eyed monster: This man can get jealous in the blink of an eye. He gets jealous of the slightest call from another man, he gets jealous when you are friends with a male colleague at work; he gets jealous of anything that signals competition to him.
  4. He will exhibit controlling tendencies: Here, his male ego comes to the fore and he likes to be domineering so as to weed out any traces of being led about by a woman. He’d impose restrictions, use threats, force, bribes or any coercion strategy to feel in power.
  5. He will act overly suspicious: This man will be overly suspicious of his woman’s every move. Not only will he feel suspicious of her proximity to male coworkers or friends, but also doubt if the bff is badmouthing him or having a bad influence on her by asking her to take the reins of the relationship in her own hands.

Suggested read: 10 things every man MUST know before committing in a relationship

Case II: Men who aren’t insecure but cannot deal with their partner’s success effectively

couple holding hands (10)

Image source: Pixabay, under Creative Commons License

This species is not uncomfortable with the women who are doing better in their studies, career or life, in general. In fact, they are drawn to women who are strong, confident, smart, financially independent, driven, and career-oriented. They also enjoy their opinionatedness, aggressiveness, decisiveness, and the fact that they garnish the package with intelligence and humor. They aren’t intimidated by such women and will even go as far as to brag to friends and family about how great she is.

The problem?

The problem arises when two specific forces intermingle to create a rift.

One, men can often lead with their accomplishments to spark a connection but that approach rarely works for a woman. An independent streak enhances a potential attraction, if and only if the men feel the ‘spark’ already. This dichotomy creates a problem when a relationship between a man and a seemingly better off woman brings forth the same qualities that were regarded in high esteem outside the personal space into play within the relationship. Similarly, if men take the power equation to the other extreme owing to an inability of dealing with it, the independent women do not like coming home to the same fierce competitive environment they’ve been grappling with all day at work.

Two, when women bank on their ‘smart, independent’ sash to win approbation, they discount the possibility that a seemingly ‘lesser’ version of their species has ‘got’ the man because she took care to build the ‘safe, intimate’ space first. Similarly, this absence of a safe space to feel okay about the partner’s success can be all in the man’s head. He may have been using cognitive coping strategies in relation to the ‘better’ status of his better half that vanished when he compared his relationship with other relationships around him where the status quo represented a much more desirable equation for himself. As already mentioned, women’s accomplishments are all feathers in the cap but men need to feel the emotional safety and intimacy first to accommodate those trophies of a potential better half. Of course, there is a problematic gender dichotomy here and an immensely, discriminatory one at that – but that is matter for another discussion.

couple holding hands (10)

Image source: Pixabay, under Creative Commons License

Right now, that’s just the way it is. And when such dynamic progresses to become a long term relationship or is carried into marriage, these issues are quickly flared into a fire of imbalance that consumes men more rapidly than women. The problem is not so much the imbalance in incomes, success or qualifications as it is in with the lack of a fine balance in the relationship per se. And to build this balance and fine tune it is the onus of both partners together.

Suggested read: 9 most common reasons why relationships fail

How such men behave in their relationships

couple holding hands (10)

Image source: Pixabay, under Creative Commons License

These men are often unsure about the go-to strategy to deal with the power equation. They like their partners and do not want to do anything to put the relationship in jeopardy. However, they also need to ‘feel like men,’ and be ‘in charge’ ever so often – and also feel the presence of a healthy balance in their personal equation. Thus, they resort to ambiguous signals that do not do much to ‘fix’ the lack they feel but might end up throwing their relationship on a confusing track. Here’s what they do:

  1. He acts awkward: These are the most ambiguous and to be honest, strange signals. Stiffening one’s stance, wavering pitch of voice, avoiding eye contact, pushing out their chest, and perhaps, fidgeting more than is normal are all signs of being intimidated.
  2. He either ignores your conversation or makes an excuse to bail: In case an intelligent debate steers toward his defeat or you bring up a promotion or a recent success, his ego might be bruised and he perhaps, needs alone downtime to lick his wounds.
  3. He suddenly turns competitive: If your experience-sharing time has escalated into a heated tennis match and he tries to match up to your every move, you can be sure he’s feeling a little left out. This cannot be fixed in one sitting – but needs work from both ends so as to correct any lack of effort from the partner’s end and nurse the bruises to his ego at his end.
  4. He tries to intimidate you: This is perhaps the biggest goof up and ends up being really funny. But make sure the faux pas isn’t pushed too far and his friends don’t take the ‘not letting him live it down’ jokes too far either. Else, the wounds would leave permanent scars.
  5. He tries to overcompensate: If he seems to be running off the mouth in uncontrollable doses of late, it might be time to sit down and ‘have the talk’ about what’s wrong.

In both cases, it is important to note that the primary fix lies with the man himself. A partial onus is on the women to ensure they don’t rub the ‘success’ in their men’s faces and focus on cultivating the emotional intimacy in their bonds!

Featured image source: Google, copyright-free image under Creative Commons License

Article Name
Women Are Better Than Men: How Guys Act When They Think So
For men who cannot gulp the 'women are better than men' potion, there's a medicine for this generalization on both ends. Learn what it is.
Sejal Parikh

Sejal Parikh

"I'm a hurricane of words but YOU can choose the damage I do to you..."