Guys are always complaining about how their girlfriends tend to pick fights over ‘silly’ things. But they seem to lack self-awareness about their own ridiculous behaviors. Just because they’ve got a Y chromosome doesn’t mean that men get a free pass on being petty about life.
Weirdly, it’s usually the idea that they HAVE to be strong, brave, and powerful that generates men’s irrational, overly emotional, and sometimes unnecessary selfish behavior. Being a man involves a lot of posturing, and when someone sees through their tough guy masks, the only way they can regain their dignity (in their minds) is to pick and win a fight.
If you’re reading this, you’re most likely a woman who’s wondering what on earth your man is thinking when he picks fights with you. And hoping that he doesn’t see talking about his feelings as being ‘cowardly’. The bad news is that he probably doesn’t ever want to admit he’s in the wrong, but the good news is that you can see these fights coming, understand why they’re happening, and just maybe prevent them from happening in the first place by addressing the root causes of your man’s pettinessTh.
22The Petty: They’ve Got A Lower Pain Threshold…
Well, maybe they don’t. The scientific jury is out on whether men have a lower pain tolerance than women do, but anecdotal evidence always paints the men as fussing over a broken toe while women grit their teeth through a natural birth — without the help of anesthetics. According to Mayo Clinic, women report feeling pain more often than men. That’s no surprise — we have to shed the lining of a major organ every month, and the process is not exactly pleasant.
However, in a study conducted by Karolinska University Hospital in Stockholm, researchers found that patients who actively demanded to see a doctor about their pain were more likely to be seen first — and these active patients were usually men.
Who hasn’t seen their boyfriend limping around from a twisted ankle and acting like he’s been wounded in battle?
Women may report experiencing more pain, but it seems like men are much more likely to complain about it loudly enough to get bumped to the front of the line in a Swedish emergency room. One thing’s for sure: if your man can’t handle pain, he’s probably been told all his life that if he shows his feelings for a second, he’ll be known as a wimp forever. Which means that when he inevitably hurts himself, he’s going to really milk it. And whining is definitely less manly than talking about feelings…
21The Fight: But He’ll Never Admit It
Men may be loud about their injuries, but they’re often reluctant to admit they’re in any pain. Bragging about a broken arm is seen as manly. Crying about it, not so much. If he feels like he’s made too big a deal out of accidentally hammering his thumb, he’s going to retreat, sulk, and deny EVER experiencing any pain in the first place — even if he was moaning and groaning five seconds before, he’s going to insist that he never made a peep.
Pointing out that he’s upset is only going to make him put his internal anger about wimping out onto you.
It’s your fault his hand hurts because you’re the one calling attention to it… right? At least picking a fight with you will take his mind off his troubles. When he isn’t hurt badly enough for the ER and he’s too manly to take an Advil, picking fights with his girl is the next best thing. Keep this in mind the next time your man snaps at you over nothing: if he’s sporting a band-aid or limping, as well, he’s probably just trying to keep from succumbing to the pain.
20The Petty: There’s Hangry, And Then There’s Mangry
As with pain, men seem to have a different experience than women do with hunger. Most women are smaller than men (the actress who plays Brienne of Tarth is an exception), so unless you’re running marathons and lifting twice your body weight in the gym, you probably don’t need to eat nearly as much as your boyfriend or husband.
According to Harvard University, sedentary people need to eat about thirteen calories per pound of body weight each day, whether they are male or female — but women tend to be healthier at a lower weight than men of the same height.
When caloric needs for both genders go up due to an increase in activity level, men’s body weight again contributes to their (generally) needing even more food.
And because they need it, their bodies are sure to tell them to eat. NOW. Ever see how much food a men’s sports team packs away? Women get hangry and are placated with a sandwich and a salad. Men’s hanger is a whole other ball game. Unless he gets a square meal three or more times a day, he’s going to feel like he’s starving. His temper will grow shorter with each calorie his fast metabolism and big body consume. Which means…
19The Fight: If He Doesn’t Eat Right Away, He’ll Whine About It
You may think you know how to cook dinner every night, but reheating some leftover soup and topping it off with a piece of toast is not going to cut it for most men. Some guys are born chefs who are perfectly happy to whip up their own feasts in the kitchen, plus a delicious, smaller side dish for their woman. It goes without saying that if you meet someone like this, you should be sure to lock him down right away. (Seriously, girl, you won the lottery.)
The average man, however, has been relying on his mom, the college cafeteria, and take out meals to meet his nutritional needs. You may not cook as well as his mom (more on that later) but you probably are a better cook than he is, so when you move in together you’ll find yourself responsible for a big chunk of the food prep.
When he comes home hungry, he’s going to find fault with every little thing you do until you feed him.
Kind of like having a very large toddler around, but one that can use language well enough to play on your insecurities. Don’t put up with this behavior. If your man keeps picking fights because he’s hungry, tell him to make himself a sandwich.
18The Petty: He Doesn’t Want Other Men Looking At His Girl
No guy likes it when another man is checking out his girl. And these days, with every other woman trying to make it as an Instagram influencer, he’s got to contend with hordes of online and real-world guys trying to get with his girl.
So is he going to suck it up, trust his girl, and try to put it out of his mind? If she says he’s her one and only, no matter how many men hit on her, he should believe her. At least, that’s what you’d hope he’d do.
Instead, he might say he’s okay with your several hundred overwhelmingly male Snapchat followers, while secretly fantasizing about chasing them all off with a shotgun, 1920s farmer style. He knows that he should be cool with your online presence.
He should be a supportive boyfriend who understands your ambitions with respect to your social media presence.
Jealousy should be kept on a tight leash in a civilized world. And when he has to keep his inner caveman repressed day after day, guess how he finds an outlet for all that aggression?
17The Fight: He’ll Say You Were Flirting With Another Guy
If he can’t take it out on the guys liking your post-workout selfies, he’s going to take it out on you. In a completely petty, verbal way, of course. (If he’s getting physical with his anger, ask someone for help and get out of that relationship! Seriously.)
He’s going to find little things you’re doing wrong and blow them up into huge fights because he wants to know how far he can push you while still keeping you all to himself. If he can make you mad, and you still stick around, he sees it as a sign that you’re not leaving him for one of your Instagram followers anytime soon.
Little does he know that you weren’t thinking of leaving him in the first place. When did he start making mountains out of molehills? That’s when you start thinking of ditching your bae.
Make it clear why you fell for him and why you stay with him.
And tell him that picking fights is NOT going to make you want to stay with him! You’re not on the point of leaving him because some guy is checking you out. You’re on your way out the door because he is making a nuisance of himself.
16The Petty: He Doesn’t Want To Do The Dishes…
Oh, the dishes. From time immemorial, washing dishes was only one thing on a long list of tasks women had to get through during their daily drudgery — along with birthing and taking care of a litter of children who would mostly not survive into adulthood. Now, most people in the Western world are lucky enough to have running water, among other things, which should, in theory, make doing dishes a breeze. No more hauling water from the stream, guys — we even have these gadgets that wash your dishes for you! But sadly, doing the dishes is still pretty annoying (unless you have a dishwasher, in which case, please stop complaining about loading it.)
Men will do anything to get out of the dreaded task of dishwashing.
Is it because the Y-chromosome contains a protein that interacts with dishwashing detergent to dissolve the male sense of responsibility? If it weren’t so expensive and unsustainable, we think that our men would rather eat off paper plates with their hands than have to wash a single utensil. Ladies, if you wonder why your man would rather put his hand into a woodchipper than a sink full of soapy water, you are not alone.
15The Fight: So He Tries To Get You To Do Them
Permanently disabling his hand is your man’s last resort for avoiding the dishes. Far easier, and usually much more effective, is getting you to do them. Some men will go as far as gaslighting their girlfriends and wives into thinking that it’s their turn to do dishes when they’ve already taken three or four nights of dishwashing in a row. That sort of deliberate trickery and outright lying? Not something you should stand for.
Most men, however, will just leave the dishes for as long as they can. He’ll come up with every excuse in the book: his mom called; his boss needs him at the office, urgently, on a Tuesday night; his best friend just broke up with his girlfriend and they need to have a guy talk session on Xbox Live. (Side note: why do so many men have deep conversations with each other while shooting zombies on Xbox? Why can’t they just call each other?)
Eventually, you’re going to get fed up with flies buzzing around a sink full of dirty dishes, and you’re going to pull on gloves and get the deed done. Don’t stand for that!
He’s lived in a bachelor cave before. His threshold for filth is high. But girl, you’re going to have to be strong. Leave those dishes until he does them. Buy nose plugs, light scented candles, and if all else fails, move out.
14The Petty: He Goes Fishing For Compliments
Okay, we’re the first to admit that girls are guilty of this one as well. Who hasn’t asked her boyfriend if she looks pretty? And who has ever accepted him saying, “Actually, you look kind of tired. Did you gain weight?”
But men, it’s time to own up: you totally do this, too. Checking yourself out in the mirror in the morning, then sneaking a glance back at your girl to see if she noticed your gains? Doing your daily pushups in the kitchen while she gets dinner ready?
It’s not that we don’t appreciate the eye candy, because believe us, we do. And 99% of the time we’re happy to swoon over our gorgeous men. The thing is, sometimes a guy can fish for compliments too much, and it’s like waving a big flag with INSECURITY written on it.
Showing off is welcome, but if he’s constantly asking for attention, his antics are going to be met with indifference.
Especially if he’s always fishing for compliments when she’s busy doing something she’d prefer he help out with, rather than standing there and flexing. Would it kill the man to start some onions frying, or wash his breakfast dishes? Why can’t he put those muscles he’s so proud of to use?
13The Fight: He Sulks When He Doesn’t Get What He Wants
You’re in the kitchen after a 12-hour shift at work, and he comes in looking for validation. But you’ve been taking care of other people’s demands all day, and if one more person (no matter how dear to you) demands your attention, you’re going to snap. Not to mention that you’re cooking dinner again when it’s supposed to be his turn and he skipped out on dishes yesterday (of course.)
So when he tells you how hard he worked in the gym today, you give him a noncommittal response.
Cue the sulking. He’ll complain that you don’t appreciate him enough, or that you don’t care about his needs. If you’re not careful, you’ll end up in a fight about who had the worst day and who deserves to be taken care of the most.
Sometimes, the truth is that you deserve to take care of one another equally.
Validate him even though it’s difficult to concentrate on his problems and desires, then clearly state your own needs. Maybe, if you play your cards right, you can even get him on vegetable peeling duty. Or using his big, strong hands to give you a back rub. Maybe you can turn his constant validation-seeking into something much more fun than a fight. This petty side of your man might not be such a downside after all…
12The Petty: He Lies About His Bad Habits
Ever catch your boyfriend smoking when he says he quit two years ago? Or scarfing down junk food when he’s committed to a clean diet, to support his hardcore fitness regimen? Guys like to talk big about dropping their bad habits, but when you come right down to it, they don’t always follow through. This can get annoying when you’ve been breaking your own back each day to help him kick cigarettes and Big Macs out of his life.
He doesn’t want to do the emotional work of experiencing guilt, accepting responsibility, and trying again.
He wants to change. He wants to be that guy who eats clean, lifts heavy and reads in the evening instead of watching Netflix and playing video games. The problem is that all these things take time, hard work, and a lot of failures along the way. He’s got to get the bad habits out of his life while incorporating the good ones into his daily routine. And when he fails, he doesn’t want to admit it because in his mind, he’s saying that everything about him is a pure failure.
Slipping up just sends him into rationalizations and denial. And if you catch him in the act…
11The Fight: When You Call Him Out, You’re The Bad Guy
When you find the cigarette butt in the planter, or the fast food wrappers in the trash, you probably don’t relish the idea of calling out your man on his behavior. But he asked you to help him, and you intend on pushing him out of his comfort zone because you know he’ll be grateful in the long run.
So you confront him, and he starts out looking contrite. After you finish saying what you have to say, however, the justifications begin. He’ll claim it was just one time, one mistake, when evidence of his bad habits is overflowing every trash can in the house. He’ll refuse to even look at you for fear of seeing the condemnation in your eyes. How do you help him kick a bad habit when he won’t even let you call him out on his mistakes?
You don’t have to take on his failures by yourself — build a support network that can help him break his bad habits without your having to deal with them all the time.
This is when you need to call in reinforcements. Get his friends and family involved, because you two might not be able to do this alone. And that’s okay. Maybe he needs his girlfriend to be loving and supportive, and his brother or best friend to be the one who enforces the ban on whatever poison he’s trying to get out of his life.
10The Petty: No One Will Ever Take Care Of Him The Same Way His Mom Did
If your man is a momma’s boy, you’ve got a hard road ahead of you. First off, you’ve got to earn his mother’s approval before there’s any chance of making it beyond the casual date stage. Then, you have to keep his mom’s approval. In his eyes, his mother is the smartest person in the whole wide world and can do no wrong, so if she’s not happy with you, you must be the problem.
Never mind making his own choices and being independent of his parents — he still needs someone to tell him what to do with his life.
Where it gets really petty is when he starts looking for you to take care of him the same way his mother did. She treated him like a prince when he was growing up, so why shouldn’t he expect the same from the other woman who claims to love him most in the world?
You expect him to act like an adult. She still thinks of him as her little boy. And he’s going to merge the two by expecting you to feed him and clean up after him while also treating him like an adult. Any time you do one and not the other, he’s going to feel betrayed. Which means that when dinner time rolls around…
9The Fight: His Mom’s Cooking Is Better Than Yours
When you’ve done takeout for dinner one too many times, it’s time to break out the kitchen supplies and get cooking. It’s a weeknight, so you’re not thinking of anything too fancy — maybe a stirfry or some roasted chicken with veggies. Of course, when you ask him what he wants, he just shrugs. So you assume he has no preference.
The thing is, he totally has a preference.
Whether you’re using your own mother’s go-to recipes or your favorite food blog, he’s not going to like it because it doesn’t taste exactly like what his own mother makes at home.
Roast a chicken? If his mother always overcooked it, he’ll say you’re giving him food poisoning; if his mother always cooked it just right, you’ll get flack for making the chicken too dry. Vegetable side-dish? According to him, you’ll either steam all the nutrients out of them or serve them up raw.
Why doesn’t he just cook all his own food if he’s so picky? Or better yet, have his mother overnight him a cooler of food? You’ll probably bring up these exact points when you inevitably get into a fight with him. And… well, it wouldn’t be too bad if you never had to cook again because his mother sends hampers of home-cooked food over every day. This might turn out to be a good thing.
8The Petty: The Horror Of The Man Cold
When a man has a cold, everyone around him will hear about it. Instead of popping an aspirin and going about his day, he sits on the couch surrounded by wads of used tissues, googling his symptoms on WebMD and freaking out when the Internet tells him his runny nose could mean he has six months to live.
Why does your man treat having the sniffles as the end of the world? It might be that he’s feeling self-conscious and vulnerable.
He’s used to being strong. Now, a little virus he can’t even see is making him weak. He needs to make it into something bigger than just a cold, because then he’ll be justified in being weaker. Nothing should bring a big, strong man to his knees but the worthiest of adversaries. So, if the dreaded rhinovirus comes calling, he’ll be sure to let everyone know just how dangerous and deadly it is. After all, it is his duty to warn others of the beast besieging his immune system. Who knows who it will target next?
As he deals with this crisis, deathly ill and battling for his life, he’s not expecting to be asked to do any chores around the house. What monster would ask such a thing of him at a time like this?
7The Fight: He Refuses To Do Anything When He’s The Least Bit Sick
You’ve been battling a nasty cold for the past five days, and it’s finally starting to let up. At last, you can go to work without being hopped up on cold meds. A full night’s sleep is finally within your grasp. It’s been a tough week, you deserve a break.
And then… he comes down with the cold.
He calls in sick. He stays glued to the couch. He’s calling for you to heat him up chicken soup and you SO did not sign up for this. After two days, you lose your patience and tell him to pick up after himself and make his own tea.That’s when he explodes.
You don’t care about what he’s going through. You’re heartless. Can’t you see he’s sick? Why would you withhold love and affection from your man when he’s in his hour of greatest need?
It’s like he wants you to yell at him for not taking care of you when you were sick. That way, he can say that his illness is much worse than your teeny little cold.
But unless he’s clearly at death’s door, trust us — he can look after himself.
Remember that it’s your responsibility to take care of him when he’s actually in need, not when he’s just showcasing his insecurities in yet another guise.
6The Petty: He Doesn’t Want To Admit He Had A Bad Day At Work
When you have a bad day at work, you come home ready to go into full rant mode. After a bad day, you’re not just willing to share your feelings, you HAVE to go through every awful emotion you experienced that day. Otherwise, you know you’ll just keep getting angrier and angrier until you explode — and you don’t want to do that to your man, who seems to have an amazing job that never sets him off.
Things may not all be rosy on his side, though. He feels like he’s the strong one, the one with the great career and amazing coworkers. If something goes wrong, he doesn’t want you knowing about it. Maybe you’ll judge him for it. Maybe you’ll sink into a bottomless pit of despair. Then both of you will have terrible jobs, and where will that leave you as a couple?
This totally illogical thinking is made even worse by him keeping all his anxieties about work buried deep down inside.
He doesn’t bring his concerns out in the open — he lets them linger and fester.
So a petty work argument becomes, in his mind, an example of everything wrong with the world. And when you say anything that sounds remotely similar to what his annoying colleague has been complaining about all week…
5The Fight: He Wants To Vent His Frustration Without Talking About His Feelings
He goes off on you for no reason. All you did was say that you didn’t know where that stain on the table came from, and now he’s carrying on about how you think everything is always his fault. You were just trying to figure out what kind of cleaner you needed to use!
Instead of yelling back at him (though of course, you’re perfectly in the right to do so), try asking him how his week at work has been. Now that his guard is down he might actually tell you what’s really wrong. And once he starts talking, you two will stop fighting.
It will probably take a while for him to learn from this experience, and the next time something goes wrong for him at work you’ll be back to square one. Stay patient.
If he has a safe environment at home to air his frustrations, eventually he’ll be comfortable coming to you with his work problems.
Or if it gets too annoying, you can ditch him and find a man who talks about his feelings. Which is harder said than done…
4The Petty: He Feels Vulnerable But Thinks He Has To Be Strong
From the time men are little boys, they’re told that expressing their feelings makes them a wuss. Mom comforts him when he cries, but dad tells him to man up. As a result, men often grow up terrified of expressing their feelings, of revealing a single crack in their armor.
He wants to impress you, and be your big, strong protector; so if he’s feeling vulnerable he thinks he needs to just deal with it on his own.
Whether he’s having drama with his friends, trouble with his family, or going through an existential crisis, he sees his emotions as his own cross to bear. Never mind that you always come to him for support. He doesn’t think he could retain man-status if he did the same.
You’ve probably noticed that he’s upset, and tried to get him to talk about what he’s going through. But instead of seeing you as his understandably concerned girlfriend, he feels threatened by your insight. If you know what he’s feeling, how is he supposed to hide it from you? He clams up even more than before, slowly nurturing his resentment toward you for not recognizing his great sacrifice…that you don’t even know he’s making. It all comes to a head when…
3The Fight: He Says We’re “Nagging” Him About His Feelings
You’re asking him why he looks so down, and he snaps at you to leave him along. Inside, he’s thinking: Why don’t you appreciate how strong he’s being, keeping his feelings all bottled up?
Call him out on what he’s doing. You know he doesn’t need to be left alone right now. He needs to man up and talk about his feelings — and to know that he’s still masculine and tough when he does so. Tell him that he’s going to be more manly if he does the hard thing and talks about what he’s going through.
Seeking help from those you love can be seen as a sign of strength if it’s done in a spirit of self-improvement.
And when he does start talking, make sure to listen. Don’t offer up quick solutions. Repeat some of what he says back to him to show that you’re interested and engaged. He doesn’t necessarily need his problem solved immediately. He just needs to share.
It will be hard for both of you the first few times, but it’s worth it in the end. Hopefully, he’ll realize that having an open, honest dialogue with the woman he loves most in the world is more important than keeping up his tough guy front.
2The Petty: His Guy Friends Say He’s Whipped
If your man’s friends are all single, there’s no doubt they’re salty about him landing a beautiful woman like you. Whether they’re conscious of it or not, they are definitely going to try to sabotage his relationship out of jealousy.
You probably know all this, so when your boyfriend’s friends start joking about how whipped he is, you just roll your eyes and assume he’s also thinking about how ridiculous and transparent their sabotaging is. Meanwhile, he’s freaking out. His guys think he’s whipped? His guys don’t respect him anymore? He loves his girl, but maybe it’s time to stop showing it so much. If he’s going to lose all his masculinity, is the relationship even worth it?
If you comment on how his guys are just being jealous haters, he’ll defend them and see it as proof that what they’re saying is right — you ARE trying to separate him from his friends and his whole life before he met you!
As we’ve seen before, it’s unlikely that he’ll bring up these concerns to you. Instead, he’ll sit there and take it while his guy friends make fun of him for being in a relationship. He decides to take drastic measures to reclaim his identity.
1The Fight: He Tries To Show Everyone That He’s Actually The Boss
Your boyfriend stays out all night, doesn’t call, and shows up in the morning still tipsy. He collapses into bed without even offering a single explanation, and you’re convinced he’s having an affair, but when pressed he says he was just out with the guys.
And then he tells you to make him breakfast.
He’s trying to get you to act like a hysterical girlfriend to confirm the twisted picture of you his guys have put into his head. Don’t cave.
Tell him to make his own breakfast and go about your business.
This is a tricky problem to deal with. Confronting him makes you look like you don’t trust him. Calling out his friends puts them in the right. So how do you deal?
One way to fix this problem is to make sure that his guy friends don’t stay single. Sure, you may not want your besties dating dudes who mess with other people’s relationships, but you can definitely use your matchmaking skills to fix them up with the girls who only wish they were your best friends. Pair off like with like, right? Once all your man’s friends have girlfriends, they won’t have a leg to stand on when they call your boyfriend whipped.