In the era of third-wave feminism and the rise of the manosphere, it is no surprise that gender dynamics is something constantly talked about. There is a battle of the sexes going on, and there are many men out there who feel like they are powerless : especially in a relationship. For some guys this is a reality because their partners directly control what they’allowed to do on a daily basis. Men are told that they can’t go to the club without their partner. Men are told that they can’t hang out with their female friends one on one. Men are told they can’t do this or and are told they can’t do that. These are obvious and extreme examples of powerlessness in a relationship.
In this article we will examine less obvious examples of powerlessness. How can a man’s perception surrounding his gender role lead to him giving away power in a relationship? How can a partner’s mood or emotions be used as leverage over a man? How can a man’s insecurity lead to him being stuck in a toxic relationship? How does a lack of affection and loneliness affect a man’s approach towards a relationship?
When your sense of self-worth is based on your partner’s happiness with you as a provider
Male gender roles have been centered around being a provider. For the longest time this primarily meant that men will put forth resources to provide and protect their partner. With the rise of women’s economic independence, these material resources have becomes less important as women have been more capable of supporting themselves financially. Even though this may be the case, the role of being a provider has become a toxic and burdensome thing for men.
By being a provider, men base their sense of self-worth on how well they can provide. How do men get a sense of how well they’re providing? Their partner’s happiness in a relationship. If a partner is constantly giving negative feedback onto her man about his inability to provide her what she wants, the message he receives is that he is incapable as a provider. On a much more deeper level, this man feels less than a man, and will develop a low sense of self-worth.
When men have little control over their partner’s negative energy or feedback, they will feel powerless. No matter what I do, even if its my best, she just can’t seem to be happy or grateful for my efforts. This sense of powerlessness can be huge depending how much a man cares about being a provider. And if he does care that much about being a provider, the man will eventually ask himself this: what is the point of me providing if all I get is negative feedback?
Once a man is very aware of this insurmountable task of providing and pleasing his partner, he can either feel the powerlessness and do nothing; or he could seek out new ways to regain power for himself in the relationship.
My partner’s mood is something that strongly affects me and I must fix her mood.
We’ve all heard of the girlfriend, wife or partner that gets over emotional, has a sudden outburst or even throws tantrums. With the provider mentality, every guy jumps into the scenario and feels compelled to fix the problem or his partner’s emotions. This behavior is something I wouldn’t encourage for any guy out there, and its a real problem. However, the bigger problem i wanna address is how men allow their partner’s emotions or bad mood affect or ruin their own.
The reason for this is many men are unable to handle negative energy around them, especially when it is a woman carrying this negative energy around them. This negative energy could affect a man’s emotions, and with the provider mentality, a man might feel responsible for his partner’s emotions even though he was not the direct cause of it. Even though if the woman is not complaining about her man, the negative energy coming from her would affect his mood as well.
It can be extremely difficult for a man to enjoy his day when he knows that his partner is continuously in a bad mood. For some reason he can’t help but feel guilty or powerless in being unable to fix his partner’s emotions. And this is a major burden that some men might feel as well. No matter what I do, I can’t make my partner happy.
This is the message that the man repeats in his head, when he is overly empathetic and feels responsible for his partner’s emotions. What a man should realize for himself is: my own happiness and mood is tied to my partner’s happiness and mood directly. And over time he might ask himself this: what can I do to be happy on my own?
When a man gives into a woman’s emotions at the expense of himself. (not setting boundaries in his relationship).
Some men will take it even further with how their partner’s emotions affect them, and that is evidently seen through how their partner’s emotions affect their behavior. In order to make their partner’s negative energy go away, they will give into whatever demands their partner requests at that moment. In the case where a woman demands something from a man with negative energy, the negative energy is simply too much for the man to handle. The man fears the wrath of a woman and resorts to the short-term solution of giving into a woman’s demands.
Even though this scenario could be a daily occurrence for a man, a man can fail to recognize that his actions in such a scenario are fear-based. Instead, a man can perceive that his fear-based actions are just him emotionally providing for his partner. He is in denial about his acquiescing nature everytime he has to face his partner’s wrath. And this denial also makes it less likely for him to recognize that his boundaries are being crossed.
Why is this relevant? Because whenever a man gives into his partner’s emotions, he could also be letting her cross his boundaries. He is giving into her at the expense of himself. He is willingly giving up part of himself for invasion.
When a man’s boundaries are left unguarded, he loses ownership of many things. His emotions, sense of self and confidence are all expendable. This is just another way a man gives up his power within his relationship.
For this kind of problem there are two ways that would help. First of all is learning how to confront and face your partner’s wrath. Secondly is learning how to set and enforce one's boundaries in a relationship. Through these two things a man can learn how to not give power to his partner so easily.
A man who fails to set boundaries in a relationship teaches his partner that his boundaries are allowed to be crossed whenever her wrath arises. The more times a man allows his partner to cross his boundaries, the more she will believe that this is acceptable and normal for her partner.
(This is similar to what Robert Glover says in his book No More Mr Nice Guy. He talks about how Nice Guys teach the people around them his boundaries are allowed to be crossed through his actions.)
We are insecure and can’t leave a woman who is not good for us
Another common thing are guys who are stuck with horrible girlfriends. Many guys are just too scared to leave the current relationship that they are in, even though if the relationship is toxic. A lot of times it could also be a man’s denial about the toxicity of the relationship preventing him from leaving the relationship. But I also believe in an issue not talked about often, and that is the guy’s fear of abandonment.
A man would rather be stuck in a relationship than experience the painful feelings of sudden abandonment. The fear of abandonment is something that we experience when we are a child and it's an experience that sticks with us as we grow older. Instead of finding a way to confront this fear of abandonment, many men allow this fear to dictate and control their lives.
If a man were to confront this fear of abandonment, it would possibly mean confronting the partner about breaking-up, and going through the pain of losing that person. Such a confrontation and break-up is no easy task for any guy. However, the pain of being in a emotionally abusive relationship is still more tolerable than experiencing the permanent loss of a partner. ( I write more about the fear of abandonment as being a Nice Guy Behavior here.)
We place a woman’s love and affection above everything else
The most tragic thing is when a man places a woman’s love and affection above everything else. In order to have access to this, a man will do anything to stay in a relationship. This means doing things that give away personal power. What are the reasons for this? Men believe that a woman’s love and affection is extremely hard to come by for them.
Most men live in scarcity of meeting women. Not only do they have trouble attracting a woman, but they also probably have trouble keeping a woman. So once they find a woman that is willing to stick around for them and show them the love and affection that they want. They are willing to do anything to keep that woman around. And that could mean giving into whatever demands or wishes that they want.
Another reason men put a woman’s love and affection on a pedestal, is because of the lack of tenderness and affection they have in their lives. The amount of pain or sorrow that a man might experience is too much for himself to handle and confront. Instead of working through his own pain, a man believes that finding the right woman who loves him for who he is will solve this pain of his. This is a dangerous expectation and huge misconception.
A woman should never be expected to nurse a man’s wounds and especially for a man who can’t treat his own wounds. Moreover, a woman should not be expected to carry a man’s pain. Unfortunately, this is an unrecognized expectation that men have towards women, and therefore serves as the reason as to why they treat a woman’s affection as some sort of medicine for their pain.
How do we stop giving away power?
Unlearning the programming of being a provider.
As providers, we have to learn to stop basing our sense of self-worth on how good of a provider we are. To speak more frankly, our job is to really to not please women at all. Period.
One method to unlearning this is to make a list of conditions that could make your girlfriend or partner happy. This could be something as outrageous as “guessing what she wants to eat correctly everytime”, or “making sure all the dishes are super clean to her standards.”. As soon as you realize how outrageous all these conditions are, the sooner you can begin to stop placing such high value on meeting such conditions.
This is just one method and step of unlearning the progamming of being a provider. The path of unlearning such programming could take years and lots of hard work.
2.) Setting our boundaries in relationships and asserting our needs
Robert Glover talks about being selfish in his No More Mr Nice Guy book. And that it is super okay with being selfish. Why? Because being selfish means recognizing and asserting our needs. And drawing our boundaries.
Imagine our self as our kingdom, and our needs as the needs of the subjects of our kingdom. If we constantly ignore our needs, it would be like we were ignoring the needs of our subjects. If we allow others to violate our boundaries, it is like allowing invaders to invade our kingdom.
The more we draw and enforce our boundaries: the more protected our kingdom will be. And the more we assert our needs, the more the voice of our subjects will be heard.
3.) Stop putting a woman on a pedestal
It can be the hardest thing to not want a woman’s love and affection. For men who lack a woman’s love and affection, their desire for intimacy with a lover might even be more. When I talk about intimacy, i’m talking about trust, vulnerability and transparency between two people. Not sex. Men who lack intimacy, a woman’s love, affection and sex are going to put women on a pedestal for sure.
One way to gain an abundance of more intimacy in one’s life is seeking it from someone other than a romantic partner. This can be a friend or family member that you are not truly intimate with yet. To be truly intimate with someone is revealing all aspects of yourself and trusting that person to honor and respect all those aspects of you.
I would highly recommend men to join a men’s group and explore what it means to be truly intimate with another man. Male intimacy is something not valued enough in our society today and it should be honored more.
As for having more access to sex, love and affection this requires a man to reexamine his approach with his dating and sex life. How is he going to get more sex? How will he meet more women. (more articles on this in the future :) ).
4.) Embrace Loneliness.
Robert Glover talks about men learning to be lonely and embracing the pains of being alone. This suggestion is based on the idea that as we spend more time alone with ourselves, the more we are able to get a sense of who we are, and over time even enjoy and appreciate who we are when we are alone.
Instead of just basing our identity around the reactions or feedback we get from co-workers, friends and family, we base our sense of self around who we are when we’re alone.