Their Highnesses Anonymous and Lady Carmen asked for clarification about hurting the feelings and ego of men. In real life they are often intermixed, but this post explores them separately. Feelings have to do with his emotional identity. Ego protects and defends his sense of significance, his personal identity.
Hurt feelings work much the same as with females with some notable exceptions: Men don’t easily detect offenses, so they don’t hurt as easily or deeply. Men also lack keenness for detecting subtle offenses or detecting underlying meanness. Plus, they more easily forgive offenders and forget offenses.
Men see hurt feelings as accidents of life, including where meanness is involved. On the other hand, females learn to hurt feelings as a weapon especially against their natural competitors, females. When they use it purposely against men, they’re disappointed that results don’t prove out as well as with women.
(I suspect part of their disappointment lies with this thought: Purposely hurting her man’s feelings contradict her affection for him, and she sets up confusion within herself. Or, she learns to disrespect him, because unpredictable reactions to her repeated hurts keep her frustrated and unappreciative of who and what he is. IOW, manipulation works against the manipulator.)
As for the male ego, think of it as belief about his significance in the world. Challenge that, directly or indirectly, and she inflicts ego damage. She generates unpredictable results out of a man, when she challenges, posits, or argues that:
- He’s not the man he thinks he is. She knows many better.
- He’s not so great as competitor and shaper of human events of interest to him.
- He’s not as good, kind, loyal, thrifty, courteous, brave, consequential, influential, popular, etc. as he thinks.
- His accomplishments are not all that great, especially not as great as he claims.
- His dreams are irrelevant, impossible, or unachievable at least by him.
- His missions in life aren’t that big a deal.
- He can’t do what he says he can do.
- He won’t do what he says he will do.
- His fears or weaknesses disclosed for her empathy are as bad or worse than he claims. Such disclosed secrets signify desperation and need for ego stroking rather than solution or lecturing.
- His friends are a bad influence on him. (They may well be, but she should find a way around rather than stating it. However, bad or harmful the situation may be, his significance is solidly reinforced by friends and what he perceives as their continual endorsement. By bringing up the subject, she puts herself directly in the middle and severely weakens her influence.)
- He overstepped his role or her boundaries. And so, she belittles him in the mistaken belief that she can advance her agenda by hurting his feelings, since she’s so well intentioned. (She’ll do better finding some way other than belittle him.)
Negative feedback about a man’s sense of significance disrupts his beliefs about himself; he fights back, and she takes the damage.
Question or presume wrongly about a man’s current emotional state, and you hurt his feelings. Question, tamper, or assert against a man’s sense of significance, and you hurt his ego. Ego and feelings differ in intensity and consequences.
CAUTION: Ladies, remember these two thoughts: Before marriage, a little gamesmanship can help girlfriend or fiancé. Without going so far as to damage his ego, she can indirectly make him suspect that he’s not quite good enough for her as he is. It’s not HIS world that he’s not good enough for; it’s her and only her. But after marriage, she should never try to play that or any other game.