Right now we’re in the midst of changing times. Most of us 90s babies are still trying to decide if that’s a good thing or not. We’re also reaching an age where we can safely sit back for a minute and look over a couple decades’ worth of change to see if we can plot a course for the future. Sadly, the future can look pretty bleak depending on where we’re currently standing. For others—it looks great. Things aren’t done changing—however—and the sands haven’t settled down into a solid enough pattern to really decide what this century will be like in a few more decades.
One thing for sure is that relationship dynamics are taking a hit. There’s a lot of blame going around as to why that is, but we can safely say that since every other area in life is changing, this one has to change too. The question is: Are we intentionally or unconsciously setting the men in our lives up for failure in these areas?
Aside from actually picking a fight with your man, there are some subtle ways that he could be set up for failure in life. Understanding these hidden pitfalls could help you help him to avoid the traps, and then maybe you’ll have clear sailing in your relationship in this shiny new era of change. Here’s a short list of sixteen traps to watch out for in your man’s daily life.
16Boys Will Be Boys—The Age Old Cop-Out
Right off the bat, we’ll start with one of the age-old super familiar cop-outs that we’ve all heard at some point in our lives: boys will be boys. When a little boy in preschool hits a girl, the teachers shrug it off and say, “Boys will be boys.” When a man catcalls a woman and or stays out all night while out partying with his friends, everyone laughs and says, “Boys will be boys.”
This simple line has turned into an excuse for bad behavior and a false expectation of how men and boys are supposed to behave.
According to ‘Everyday Feminism’, the term has become more harmful than helpful or humorous.
One key way it does such is with expectations. In one spot, the article states, “By lowering our expectations about what it means to be a boy, we influence these young men to lower their expectations of themselves.”
We all know that low expectations can hinder relationships. If we go around always expecting men and boys to be violent, disruptive, aggressive, and unwise then that’s what they’ll become. If they do not follow these behaviors, their peers—and possibly the women they may want to date—will ridicule them for not being “real men.” What’s a guy to do?
15‘Extreme’ Feminism Isn’t Helping Anybody
Feminism has been around for a while now and is a really great thing to have, but like all really great things—it can very easily tip over and become too much. One clear area in which feminism is working is how women are being treated now. We can go to work and school, vote and have medical care just like the men do. It is by no means perfect but we have to admit things are way better now than they used to be before feminism took over.
However, feminism isn’t exactly male-friendly. True feminism wants men and women to be respected equally, which is awesome, but extreme feminism (usually the type we hear about on the news) wants to bash men as payback for centuries of maltreatment from our ancestors.
The Washington Post states, “This gender antagonism does nothing to advance the unfinished business of equality. If anything, the fixation on men behaving badly is a distraction from more fundamental issues, such as changes in the workplace to promote work-life balance.” Men see these attacks and develop an incorrect view of feminism and how they fit into it which creates more problems instead of eliminating them.
14Girls Rule, Boys Drool
Ah yes, the gender wars. This is a social event that will likely rage till the apocalypse and maybe beyond. Who is better than whom? What many of us fail to realize is that while we’re all up in arms arguing over which gender is better, there are tiny people watching us and absorbing everything we say and do. These tiny people grow up to get jobs, go to colleges and build relationships with this gender war in mind.
The shift in the gender war is that girls are in power and better at everything than boys are. While this is good news for girls and women, it doesn’t help the next generation of men being raised right now.
As one article on Huffington Post states, “The modern princess culture seems to be that you can wear a pink dress and still climb a tree. You can love to dance and twirl and still play baseball. You can wear a crown and overalls. I think this message is fine. And I agree with it. Kids — you can do it all! Except the point isn’t ‘kids, you can do it all,’ it is GIRLS can.” This mindset hurts little boys growing up in today’s culture.
13How He Was Raised And His Emotional Immaturity
We’ve all dated at least one guy who was super sweet and very charming at first, but then he turned out to be a rotten apple! We mean this in the sense that he was sweet and charming all the time if he was getting his way and threw temper tantrums if he wasn’t. Coincidentally, he also couldn’t do his own laundry, take anything seriously and was always calling his mom to chat. Sure, keeping in touch with our parents is usually a good idea, but an hour-long chat every day seems to be pushing it a bit.
Essentially what we were dating was an emotionally immature man-child. This likely was due to how he was raised—either with an overprotective parent, a helicopter parent or way, way too much freedom to just do whatever he wanted without boundaries, chores or expectations suited for his age.
According to Psychology Today, trying to maintain a relationship with a man like this is particularly hard. To quote, “He rarely thinks anything is his fault. He blames everyone around him for everything that goes wrong in his life—even his mother if he can’t find another scapegoat.” He’ll either grow up eventually or never change.
12Who He Looked Up To As A Kid Affects His Relationships
A stereotypical family unit is a man and a woman. While this is currently undergoing changes (for the better, others in a wait-and-see way), the reasoning behind this structure is to provide balance for a growing child.
Mothers—or the central female figures—provide a safe nurturing environment where needs are met, ouchies are taken care of and the child feels loved and protected no matter what. Fathers—or the main male role models—provide an ever-changing environment of energy, adventure, and challenge designed to safely encourage a child to push their limits and grow beyond their comfort zones.
According to First Things First,
“Studies have shown that involvement of a father or a positive male role model has profound effects on children. Father-child interaction promotes a child’s physical well-being, perceptual ability, and competency for relating with others…”
“…Furthermore, these children demonstrate greater ability to take initiative and evidence self-control.” Boys thrive with positive male role models in their lives.
A wise dad will intuitively gear these activities to the appropriate age group and monitor the whole time for safety. All the while he’ll still be pushing the limits and getting his kids to explore and move beyond what they think they’re capable of.
11“I Don’t Want To Talk About It” Is Said Way Too Much
One area in life which girls have a natural advantage is communication. Girls are drawn toward people and faces as babies and we start learning to talk as soon as we can, while boys usually like pictures and movement—preferring to walk before they talk. As a general rule, however, a lot of men grow up without a good set of communication skills which hampers their romantic relationships.
By necessity, men learn to communicate effectively in the work environment and with each other. We, women, tend to demand a higher level of communication than what men are used to or comfortable with, which can potentially set the men up for failure. As Stylish and Trendy states, “Men often fail in their relationship with women for a simple reason of not being able to communicate properly and adequately. Remember women have the excellent quality of understanding body language naturally and effortlessly.”
As the article goes on, it lists ten ways in which men either appear to communicate (without actually saying anything at all) or generally fail completely to fully express themselves. Some of these areas are easy to overcome with encouragement and practice while others will take time or possibly never fully resolve.
10He Was Raised To Never Show Weakness
Today’s men and boys are very familiar with the age-old concept of never showing weakness and always appearing to be strong, powerful and in control. This mindset doesn’t allow for a difference in behavior between enemies, coworkers, friends, family and girlfriends. It simply states—don’t show weakness.
Men are raised to believe that this mysterious weakness is emotion. If a little boy starts to cry, his dad will pull him aside and urge him to not cry, to man up and be tough.
At school, his peers will beat him up or mock him if he shows emotion. Therefore, by the time he’s a man and is in an otherwise healthy relationship, he won’t be able to properly express his emotions because he’ll either have turned that off or will still view it as showing weakness—a huge no-no.
As Psychology Today puts it, “One of the Ten Commandments of masculinity is ‘Thou shall not feel’. This kind of mind-heart disconnect begins when boys are in the early years of elementary school.” Men who were never taught to connect with their emotions are automatically set up for relationship failure or for a large amount of work that should’ve taken place gradually over the course of their childhoods.
9He Expects Basic Life Skills To Be Done For Him
We’ve all heard the joke that men can’t cook or clean to save their lives. This usually creates a laugh at someone’s expense followed by a string of examples that are—sadly—very true. The reality of the situation is that a lot of boys are never taught basic life skills like vacuuming, washing dishes or laundry, or shopping for their own food, because their mothers always did it for them.
Life as a Dare states,
“The message that this is sending is that the man should always rely on women to do the house stuff while they focus on more important things…”
“…This puts the girl that your son dates and then eventually marries in a really awkward position–she has to teach her husband how to clean or just do it all herself. And that is simply not fair.”
The mother figures likely believed that these were tasks that their boy shouldn’t need because he’ll find a wife instead. Plus, we wouldn’t want him to turn into a sissy or anything, right? It turns out that these boys grow up to be men who’ll likely live on their own for awhile and will struggle in their future relationships over the domestic chore load.
8The Change In Careers Can Affect Their Relationships Too
Men have dominated the workplace for so long that it is almost indisputably their domain—a place where men can be men—to conquer the challenges of their careers and rule in peace. Except nowadays we’re entering the workplace in force and challenging the men on their own turf. This is all fine and dandy except in a few instances where both parties push too hard.
A surprising trend is emerging that spells change and potential damage to the next generation and their relationships: women are better at school than men. For the longest time, men were the only ones who could go to school. Now that the playing field is leveling out, natural advantages are surfacing and women are striding ahead in college and universities—emerging triumphant with degrees and getting the higher paid jobs they earned.
According to The Washington Post, “By Olivieri’s calculations, the biggest obstacle keeping men out of college might be their own squeamishness about certain gendered jobs. They may have to change their minds soon.” These traditionally female-dominated jobs are teaching and nursing. Women are still flooding into these career fields, which are on the rise, as well as infiltrating other male-dominated areas. This is resulting in massive workforce changes that will stress your guy out.
7Taught That Asking For Help Is A Sign Of Weakness
Another area in which men struggle and are set up for failure is in asking for help. This can range from help with daily things like chores (especially if they’re a stay-at-home dad) and the pile of work on their desk at the office to more serious matters like mental health concerns and relationship struggles.
Whatever it is, men can’t seem to ask for help at all, or they wait till it’s almost too late. Telegraph explains,
“This is because of the way men are taught, through childhood, to be manly. They learn to believe that struggling to cope is a sign of weakness…”
“…These social expectations can end up hurting men terribly, making life much harder than it needs to be when things do go wrong.”
Of course, there’s always the flip side to consider. When men do ask for help, they don’t always receive it. Their peers or family members will view their request as a sign of laziness and help will be slow in coming or they will be mocked instead. Then there are the men who ask for help and sulk when they receive it. This usually occurs because they are angry with themselves for failing to solve the problem on their own.
6Men Tend To Feel Entitled In A Relationship
Parents and culture are largely to blame for a lot of the ways men are set up for relationship failure and one of these instances is the current entitlement culture we’re all suffering from right now. Many men are raised to feel entitled to certain things which range from a sandwich ready when they arrive home from work to more serious concerns.
If a man feels he is entitled to something—however big or small it may be—this will throw intimate relationships into a completely different dynamic than it should be and leave the woman stuck with few options. The man either bullies his way into getting what he wants or sulks like a child till you give in.
Affinity Magazine offers some blunt advice to the entitled men out there,
“So dear men, when a woman tells you no, respect it… And yes, we know ‘all men aren’t like that,’ but please stop using this rebuttal whenever a woman has a general regard for her safety. It’s dismissive and does absolutely nothing to resolve the issue that there millions of men worldwide that are like that.” Letting go of preconceived entitled notions will go a long way in salvaging many relationships.
5Times, They Are A-Changin’
With the increase of women in the workforce, jobs are changing and the economy is shifting. Based on how connected men are to their jobs and careers, many of these changes can be stressful for them and set other men up for failure before they even get the chance to try.
Women are more likely to be hired for higher paying jobs than men are (even if the wage gap is still going strong) and this leaves perfectly capable, qualified, hardworking men with ambitions out of a potentially successful career.
If he does get the job, the shifting gender bias will soon become clear. Men and their ideas will be overlooked in favor of women’s because no one wants to offend the women and risk a lawsuit or unfavorable reputation. This won’t apply to all jobs but give it enough time and it will be the norm for many where brain triumphs over brawn.
Forbes stated, “As The Economist article states about jobs, ‘When brute strength mattered more than brains, men had an inherent advantage. Now that brainpower has triumphed the two genders are more evenly matched.'” Men will always be better at jobs requiring brute strength but the brainy ones will have tough competition.
4It All Starts In The Schools
The bulk of American children are educated in public schools (though private and homeschools are on the rise), and these schools are staffed with predominantly female teachers. This is due—according to The Washington Post—to the fact that more women are graduating college and going on to become teachers.
“By ceding to women careers like teaching and nursing, which require college degrees, men are more likely instead to work in jobs that don’t call for a diploma.”
With women in the classrooms, the men are off doing construction or electrician jobs. This leaves the children being educated primarily by a woman. There’s nothing really wrong with that, except that women have different teaching styles than men do and boys have wildly different learning styles than girls do.
Often, the lady teacher won’t be aware of this and will quickly find herself frustrated with her male students and their over-activity or inability to learn something which all her female students have mastered (while managing to hold still and be quiet for the duration of the lesson). This raises a generation of men with self-confidence issues, a distrust of the education system (resulting in a decreased likelihood of attending university for a degree) and often a diagnosis of ADHD.
3Way Too Many Societal Pressures
The general pressures of society on men are a major component of stress and often set men up for failure due to the high—and often unhealthy—expectations placed on their shoulders. Global News illustrates one point in their article stating, “But even without stock prices wiping out family fortunes, economic crises can be especially dangerous for men.
Job losses often deprive men of their role as financial providers, which can lead to equally powerful feelings of having lost their masculinity.” Men are programmed and pressured to be tough, hide their emotions, provide for their families, get the girl, have the house, and be physically fit.
All of these stresses pile up on your man and eventually wear him down. The stress will then leak out into your relationship and create unresolved issues that eat away till there’s nothing left. You aren’t able to relieve a lot of these pressures as a whole, but you can do your part to let your man know he’s valued and appreciated by you at least—which will help him weather the storm. With the changing times, he’ll be glad to know you’re on his side and rooting for him as he works to figure out what it means to be a man in today’s society.
2“The Talk” Isn’t Given To Boys As Well As It Is To Girls
We’re well aware of how the hookup culture hurts girls and women but less aware of the impact it has on boys and men. According to Time,
“Recent research shows that boys get every bit as emotionally invested in adolescent relationships as girls do—the main difference being that boys feel far less in control of how those relationships progress.”
These early adolescent relationships are the building blocks which boys will use for future relationships as they become men. The lack of control will typically scare a boy and drive him to find a space where he is more in control—usually, this is a good thing but it can go too far too often.
The article in Time further states that girls are given “The Talk” in more detail than boys, down to birth control and how not to get taken advantage of. Meanwhile, boys are given a brief talk and left to wing a lot of their education in this crucial area of life. This results in grown men who feel that birth control is the woman’s responsibility rather than admit they don’t know any better. Many boys might start out with dreams of a lifelong relationship only to be crushed by peer pressure.
1Men’s Friendship Difficulties Affect Their Romantic Relationships
We often see women calling each other up to chat and connect. Their friendships are portrayed as strong but funny to men who—in pretty much every silver screen film—stick to drinking and making fun of each other till the critical point in the plot when the hero needs a wake-up call.
When women go through tough times like breakups, they surround themselves with their gal-pals and work through the heartbreak in a community setting. Guys tend to isolate themselves and self-medicate with partying and hook-ups. Women have strong friendships while men often have shallow friendships or no friends at all.
The Good Men Project has an article on this subject which sums up the mindset of many men in one sentence, “Only if you don’t need friends will you be worthy of having them.”
Men are raised to suppress their feelings and emotional needs, resulting in difficulty making friends because they simply can’t access the feelings required to make friends and be a good friend in return.
Other men don’t feel the need for friends and some are okay with seeing Frank once a year for their fishing trip. This leaves the women as the primary outlet for companionship, which is a demanding job sometimes. Moreover, it can give men the perception that only females are capable of healing and nurturing their souls.