From a woman’s perspective, when it comes to admitting mistakes, men seem to have arrived here from an alien galaxy.
- What woman has not been exasperated by her man’s refusal to admit that he simply has made a mistake?
- What woman has not been perplexed by her man’s bullheadedness in refusing to ask for directions when he clearly does not know where he is or where he’s going?
- What woman has not been hurt by her man’s resistance to apologize or to express remorse for what he has done — or not done?
Women, you are not alone in wondering what is going on in the opaque brain of your man. Many other women are just as confused as you.
You may have believed that your situation was unique. You may have assumed that your man, as wonderful as he is in other ways, is neurotic, insecure, has a severe character flaw or is simply not playing with a full deck. But before you jump to these conclusions, entertain the possibility that he is simply a man, much like other men who view certain aspects of life in a different way than you do.
“I Made a Mistake” “I Don’t Know” “I am Truly Sorry”
For most women, vulnerabilities are not hard to own up to. Indeed, I know many women who say “I’m sorry” many times a day. Perhaps, they didn’t anticipate a friend’s need, or they missed the ball on the tennis court, or they don’t know how to format a document. Admitting such weaknesses is no skin off their back. In fact, paradoxically, it may embellish self-esteem and enhance relationships (“I didn’t know how to create a dynamic PowerPoint presentation; I asked for help and made a new friend at the same time!”).
But for a man, revealing ignorance, admitting mistakes or displaying weakness is viewed differently. A mistake is not simply a mistake. It is a symbolic manifestation of vulnerability, a failing which cripples his self-esteem and diminishes his relationships. Hence, when men are put on the spot, they will do what they are accustomed to doing to protect themselves: skirt the issue, dance around the topic, dodge the bullet, evade the question, double-talk, attack the attacker, or simply lie.
This makes sense when you appreciate that the male psyche is founded on staying the course, toughing it out, riding through the storm, heroically going it alone if need be. For many men,
- An embattled holdout is better than admitting fault.
- A façade of strength is preferable to showing a soft underbelly.
- A pretense of wizardry is superior to admitting “I’m just a man.”
- A “fake it ‘til you make it” far outweighs confessing your ignorance.
So, women, next time your man frustrates you by his inability to admit a mistake, tell the truth or say he’s sorry, don’t judge him as a hopelessly flawed human being. Though some aspects of the male psyche may seem alien to you, understanding it can help you cope with behavior that, otherwise, you’d view as unacceptable, unreasonable, and unfair.