Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Dr. Phil's "Man-ual"

Dr. Phil's "Man-ual"

Oprah.com | From the June 2003 issue of O, The Oprah Magazine
Dr. Phillip C. McGraw on men

You probably have one of these at home, or you're considering acquiring one—an adult human male. Here, Phillip C. McGraw, Ph.D., provides a consumer guide to your model's inner workings. Don't start him up until you've read these instructions fully.

Women, how many times have you looked at the man in your life, shook your head, and wondered, Can he really be that stupid/insensitive/tuned out/selfish/clueless? The answer is, "No, he's probably not that bad." But he is, shall we say, different. And some of the things that cause you to question his mental or emotional acumen are pretty easy to explain. I'm going to give you the inside scoop that will help you get more of what you want and less of what you don't from your Y-chromosomed partner.

Before you judge the man in your life, figure him out. Anyone knows that if you're going to train bears, you need to understand bears. If you're going to train penguins, you need to understand penguins. So let's take a peek behind the curtain of maledom. Let's look at what makes these boys tick, what makes them do what they do, and not do what they don't.

Your Personal Man-ual
If you're looking for a "sensical" explanation for what seems like nonsensical male behavior, you'll find some important clues here:

• What Currency Do Men Value?
• How Do Men Operate in Relationships?
• Do Men Live Male Stereotypes?
• Competition? What Competition?
• How is Your Man a Hunter?

What Women Can Do

What do men want from us? How can we fulfill their most intimate desires—and also get what we want and need? Dr. Phil's got some ideas:

• What Men Want from Women
• What Never to Do
• How to Find the Good Ones

Men Express Their Feelings Through the Currency They Value.

Currency is what matters to people. It's the reward that motivates people to act in particular ways—to engage in certain behaviors and to avoid others. If you want to influence a man, you need to know what he treasures. Maybe it's money, time, his car. Maybe it's his daughter from a previous marriage. Maybe it's some secret or fear he has guarded closely all his life. If you want to know how a man really feels, pay attention to how he treats what he values. Whatever it is, if he gives you what is precious to him (whether you value it or not), he has performed an act of love that may mean much more to him than any words he might say.

How This Affects You
When people expect A but get B, they're upset. When they expect B and in fact get B, they're not upset. Exactly the same outcome, yet two very different reactions. So many women are upset about what their men do or don't do—not because what they do or don't do is wrong, but because it is different from what the women expected. Women express emotion verbally, and men express it by using their currency. The result is the same; the reaction is different.

What You Can Do About It
Start by answering this question: Do you want your man to really love you, or do you want him to love you the way you would love you? If it's the latter, you need to recognize that in many ways, you're dealing with an alien life form. If you insist on measuring him with your yardstick, he hasn't got a chance. Now ask yourself:

• Am I wanting and expecting the wrong thing?
• Am I failing to recognize that he is giving me what I want?
• Am I asking this man to give me something he just doesn't have?

If you answered yes to any of those questions, part of your solution may be very much under your own control, if you'll just recognize it.

The lesson here is twofold: Identify what he values, and determine whether he is sharing that with you. Watch what he does with his "personal accounts." If his currency is his time, is he sharing it with you? If it's his car, does he let you drive it, or are you instructed to stand ten feet away? If his currency is his daughter from his previous marriage, does he encourage you to interact with her—or are you excluded from any kind of relationship with her? Either way, you can be certain that he is communicating his feelings by deeds rather than words. You need to hear what isn't being said.

Men Make Choices in Relationships Based on Fear.
Men invariably protect themselves. If they believe that they are in some way inferior, inadequate or undesirable, they will do anything to avoid having that deficiency highlighted.

How This Affects You
Men adopt a "get them before they get you" mentality. They definitely believe in the old saying from sports that the best defense is a good offense. Result: If they suspect that for some reason they're not your Prince Charming, they will actively seek to alienate you so they can say it was their choice and not your rejection that created distance in the relationship. Bottom line: It stands to (his) reason that if he doesn't put himself—his feelings, his ego, his desires—on the line, then he can't get hurt.

What You Can Do About It
The best strategy you can undertake to deal with a partner who is motivated by fear and self-protection is to talk about this fear openly. Be warned: Men will jump through fire to avoid this conversation, because their egos won't stand for them to admit that they fear something. What you can do is deal directly with their fear of rejection.

To prepare for this conversation, you need to ask yourself some important questions:

• Are you in fact rejecting him?
• Are you sending him messages that say "You are inferior and undesirable"?
• Are you making him so low on your priority list that he has no choice but to conclude that he is undesirable and has been rejected?

Please understand, I'm not recommending that you just admire your partner unequivocally or encourage behavior that isn't worthy of admiration. I'm saying that you must consider whether or not you are playing into his worst fears. His worst fear is that he's not good enough for you, and that you are going to dump him.

Reassure him that while there may be issues that need to be discussed, you're not putting the relationship on the line over those problems. If you let him know that you have no intention of withholding your love, affection, attention or sexual interaction in a punitive way, you can reduce his fear of rejection.

Men Have Been Raised to Live Out a Male Stereotype

A lot of the disconnect between men and women has to do with the fact that men have been socialized in a way that runs counter to the way women do things. This "masculine code" is something that women simply have to be aware of to interact effectively with men. Think of these beliefs as deeply rooted rules of behavior, part and parcel of what it means to be a man:

Big boys don't cry: We hear it at football practice—"Get up and shake it off; that's not a bone sticking out, so get going." It takes some men a lifetime to learn that maybe big boys don't cry, but grown men do. It's an incredibly difficult lesson for us to learn.

Linear thinking is all: Most men tend to insist on a rigid chain of logic from A to B, B to C, C to D and so on. By contrast, most women are more intuitive. They're more likely to say, "Something ain't right here," even though they may not be able to identify specific, logical steps that point to that conclusion.

It can always be fixed: The male's reaction to conflict is usually something like "You got a problem? Here's how you fix it," whereas the woman involved may not care anything about the fix. For her, knowing that the problem has been recognized and that her emotional circumstances have been acknowledged may be all the fix she desires.

Power + Control = Success: Men are socialized to measure their own value in terms of how much power and control they have—not how sensitive they can be or how deeply they can connect with another person.

How This Affects You
Every single way in which the world makes a man is at odds with most women's definition of intimacy. Relationships in general, and intimacy in particular, are all about taking down your defenses. Intimacy means trusting people enough to give them the power to hurt you. And that is absolutely contrary to a man's nature.

What You Can Do About It
To help a man overcome his fear of vulnerability and intimacy, you have to demystify the whole area for him. He knows that his emotional self contains information that could potentially be used against him, so you have to convince him that he can trust you with it. Teach him that when he allows himself to be vulnerable with you, he can be assured of a good outcome.

Also, you tend to get what you give. If you're open and honest, and you reveal true things about your intimate self, you're much more likely to have that behavior reciprocated than if you simply demand that he do so.

Men Tend to be Highly Competitive.
I've heard so many men talk about this lately, true to that masculine code that we talked about earlier: They need to feel that they're in control. It's as if men have never stopped wanting to be the knight in shining armor who saves the damsel in distress.

How This Affects You
A lot of men will tell you candidly that they are indeed threatened by women's competency. An ambitious, bright young male in corporate America will be identified as a go-getter; he's labeled as a young lion on the move. A woman who demonstrates exactly the same degree of ambition will be labeled as a hostile, aggressive bitch.

What You Can Do About It
You can let your man know that just because you are a successful, independent, financially self-sufficient woman, you haven't stopped being vulnerable. A woman has to be willing to show her needs and not be afraid of them. If his attitude is 'I've got nothing to offer you,' let him know that he does. You need him to be a partner and a soft place for you to fall.

Men Are Hunters.
As a result of the substantial differences between men and women when it comes to sex—differences that are psychosocial, biochemical and neurological—trying to get a man to function according to female standards is like trying to get a pig to fly. It's just not going to happen. That old but often accurate notion that men are hunters seems especially applicable here.

How This Affects You
Men have less of certain hormones and more of others than women do, and that fuels us to respond in different ways. For most women, sex is primarily an emotional thing; for most men, it's primarily physical.

A man often fails to see how sex and other aspects of the relationship are intertwined. I have always counseled women that there are times you make love, and there are times when it's purely recreational: Wham, bam, thank you ma'am—just a complete physical release, and cover me up when you're done. Men and women both need to recognize that there's a range of feeling when it comes to sex. If you don't acknowledge that range, the two of you are going to have a problem.

There is definitely a double standard with men when it comes to fidelity. If they are having an extramarital affair or an extra-relational affair, they'll probably look at it as if they are going and taking something from a woman, not giving something of themselves away. There's no emotional investment there.

Men are visually stimulated, which means if they are in a target-rich environment, they may well become aroused. This is not just a maturity issue; their brains are actually wired that way, which is very different from your own wiring. But this is not some involuntary reflex action over which he has no control. It is a choice. Men can be amazingly shortsighted on these issues, often failing to project ahead to the consequences of their actions on their wife or children.

What You Can Do About It
Discussing the matter of fidelity, before a crisis occurs, is crucial. Couples need to talk about what fidelity means to each of them so there's no confusion. Understanding that men fear rejection and therefore thrive on acceptance and are easily visually stimulated, you can program out a considerable risk of unfaithfulness by investing energy in what may seem superficial: your appearance and the level of sexual activity in your relationship. Please don't write to me objecting! I'm not saying this is fair, only that it is effective. Let the training begin.

What Men Want from Women: Validation
Men are definitely the weaker sex; your admiration is a huge deal for them. They need external validation, and validation from the woman they love is the kind they value most.

A man needs to know that his partner is proud of him and of what he does. He knows he's not the President of the United States, he knows he's not saving the world every day, he knows that he is probably just a cog in the machinery.

He can bluster all day long, he can brag 'til the cows come home, but make no mistake, when you look him in the eye or put your arms around his neck and say, "Have I told you today how proud I am of how you did such and such?" it will be worth its weight in gold to him.

What Never to Do: Judge
The biggest mistake you can make in a relationship is to be entrusted with potentially hurtful information and to use it as leverage in an argument. If your partner opens up to you about his fears, needs, desires and other secrets, and you turn that on him, you've gone to a place from which there is likely no recovery. You must be a good steward of his private revelations.

If you take a judgmental attitude and are always ready to condemn a man's every move, you may be right, but you'll also be lonely. Decide right now that your goal is to be successful rather than to prove yourself right and men wrong. Focus on understanding how men think, rather than why they do, and I promise you'll get a lot more of what you want.

How to Find the Good Ones: Take a Good Look
I hear both men and women say, "There aren't any good ones left!" Since both sides say it, it can't be true.

First ask yourself, "How are my recognition skills?" Do the qualities that initially attract you to a man make him a good long-term partner? If your answer is no, then change your selection criteria. They say that nice guys finish last. It may be that the ol' boy who's hustling you may not be the person you want raising your children or being there for you when you're sick.

If you just get up, go to work, go home, go to bed, then start the whole thing over the next morning, a guy would have to throw himself on the hood of your car to meet you. Lift up your head, broaden the criteria, and don't be too quick to eliminate candidates.

Printed from Oprah.com on Tuesday, December 24, 2013 © 2012 Harpo Productions, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Source: http://www.oprah.com/omagazine/Dr-Phils-MANual

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