Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Art of Manliness - Stop Living for the Approval of Women

Good post from the Art of Manliness - when we live for anyone else's approval, we no longer own our lives - we have given them to someone else. A lot of men live for the approval of women in general, or a wife/girlfriend in particular.

My key to a successful relationship is to create a space in which you can be exactly who you are, in the most healthy sense, and be in relationship with your partner with the knowledge that you can walk away if s/he is unwilling to honor your essential self.

When we need to hold onto the relationship at all costs, we are living for our partner, not for our own best interests.

Stop Living for the Approval of Women

by Guest on July 18, 2010

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.

Read the whole article.

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