Tuesday, July 21, 2009

How to Train a Man

Let me let you in on a little secret: Despite all their posturing, men are actually really vulnerable to women, and most men will do anything to hide this. Every day, they obsess over women’s bodies, women’s sensuality, women’s opinions of them, their ability to please women romantically and in bed…. and how to cover all that up under the illusion that they are indifferent to whether women like them or not. Some common ways men are encouraged to prove this indifference to themselves and others include disrespectful talk about women with the guys, trying to hurt women’s feelings, and generally defying what women want. Curiously, all such attempts from them seem to require an audience, usually male, which operates as a pep rally for psyching themselves out until they actually believe themselves.

They go to great lengths to hide their constant vulnerability towards the opposite sex from themselves. In relationships, they might hold on to this persistent fa├žade by arguing, being contradictory, teasing and pushing buttons, and acting out in brazen selfishness with anything from using porn to blowing off household chores.

The thing about denial, however, is that the charade used to mask what one is so ashamed of has to escalate in intensity in order to keep blocking out one’s ever-nagging consciousness of it. And so you see some men making public attempts to provoke women with insults, making a show of indifference towards women’s unhappiness with them, speaking about women in a diminutive way with terms that trivialize their womanhood, and even acting out in physical ways against women. They make a hobby out of denying their emotional vulnerability to women’s approval of them, apparently bitter that women still dominate their thought life.

The fact that so many men work so hard to act this way in front of an audience shows just how much their behavior is an attempt to change their social image rather than being an indication of how they actually feel. Why do they have to prove their emotional invulnerability to others if they are so secure about it? Why put so much effort into denying something if they don't have something to hide?

It’s just like what many of us experienced with boys back in elementary school: boys often went out of their way to provoke, insult, and otherwise annoy the girls they actually liked and wanted to be around in order to prevent them and everyone else from knowing it. (Brilliant, eh? Lot of good it did them).

So, if men’s posturing and arguing don’t necessarily indicate what they want, but how they want to appear, what are they hiding? Consciously or subconsciously, men want more than anything to be wanted by women, to be able to attract the focused attention of the woman they're pursuing to the same degree that she attracts they're attention, which is a lot. Why do you think they drop their guy friends so readily once they get love-struck by some mysterious woman?

This means that whatever behavior of his manages to draw her attention and keep it on him largely determines how he treats her, whether that be because he is charming her or pissing her off.

When a man is really interested in a woman, whatever she wants in a man is what he wants to be for her, because he wants his already intense attention and appreciation of her womanly charms to be reciprocated. If she accommodates her own interests, he will adjust his behavior to ensure he continues to remain one of them. Once he has that reciprocation, however, he’s got what he wants so he has no reason to change what he’s doing. That’s alright if what he’s doing is bending over backwards to please you, but not if he’s slacking off. Give a man his ego trip and your attention and he’ll take both. Make him choose between the two and, if he’s into you, he’ll eventually choose your attention and drop the attitude.

Behavior therapy is very handy for this purpose.

The incentive for a man is a woman's expression of pleasure and approval when he leaves his comfort zone to try and charm her. Consistent acknowledgement of what a man does right will evoke more of the same from him, and willingness to go even beyond that to do other things you suggest. Expressing satisfaction when he does it right is the key to keeping it going. That satisfaction and pleasure as a response to him signals that he's just succeeded in making himself more important to you.

All men, however, are prone to slip into the selfish modes of their upbringing. If they think they can’t be what a woman wants, they will settle for negative attention from a woman and begin to provoke her. Often, women can reinforce a bad behavior in a man just by giving him extra attention for it, even if it’s negative attention. That’s why negative attention towards men, like nagging or throwing dishes at them, rarely keeps a bad behavior of theirs at bay for very long- it is still a type of attention. This is where your honesty about how his behaviors turn you on or off comes in handy, if it’s expressed as an increase or decrease in your interest.

One of the best ways to discourage a bad behavior then is to highlight your lack of interest in it. Whether he’s just getting to know you or he already knows better, let the loss of your attention be the punishment for his disrespectful or difficult attitude by taking distance from him in whatever way works best for you.

If he complains about your cooking, for example, have him cook for himself the following night while you go out to dinner with a friend. If he teases you or makes jokes at your expense, look at him as if he’s speaking gibberish and acting unusually strange, then postpone your Saturday night plans with him and go out with the ladies to a hot comedy club instead. It will be much funnier than him. If he argues with your personal decisions, or pressures you to change them, cut your time with him short by saying you have to get up early in the morning and need the whole bed to yourself to get a full night’s rest. Subtle reminders that you have other things you can be doing and other people to see will usually snap a man out of his indifference act.

If he repeats any of these negative behaviors, tell him directly what you don’t like about what he’s doing, and what behavior you want from him instead. If he persists despite your warning, tell him to leave so you can re-evaluate the relationship, then ignore his calls. Don’t argue. Take space and cool down. He’ll regret it later. A woman doesn’t have to get emotional and upset to teach a man a lesson. Just give him a choice.

If you’re in a female-led relationship, you can make a policy of stopping a heated argument by tying him to a chair in the bedroom for a little while and getting other things done around the house. Don’t forget to gag him! It gives him time to calm down and rethink his approach and it gives you time to do something you enjoy instead. Finish that book you’re in the middle of, or order take-out and enjoy watching a movie in the next room.

To complete his lessons, wait until he shows a change of heart and until you’re feeling better, and then give him a chance to rephrase what he was trying to say before. Tell him what behavior you want from him instead of what he did, what type of behavior will please you, and have him do a few practice runs with you right then and there. When he does it to your satisfaction, reinforce this with some light praise.

Then, just to prove to the both of you that he can earn back your trust and confidence in him, assign him an unpleasant task or duty as a punishment for having upset you in the first place. It will prove just how sorry he really is for putting you down and being knowingly offensive. It can be cleaning toilets, buying tampons at a crowded supermarket, or bending over to take a spanking of some sort. You’ll be surprised how much better you’ll feel once he accomplishes this as a token of his commitment to change his attitude. And once he endures it, he will feel much more optimistic about trying to be the man you want, now that he has a way to make up for his possible failures and start over with a clean slate from you.

The more a man thinks he can be what a woman wants, and knows she won’t tolerate anything less, the more he will try for the positive attention rather than the negative attention.

In fact, assigning a man tasks that benefit you, especially tasks that challenge him, and showing him positive attention when he carries them out, strengthens this positive dynamic, increasing your trust in and satisfaction with him and increasing his sense of adventure in pleasing you.

Physical challenges are the best. Ask him if he can cook a three course French meal totally nude without burning himself or the food. See if he can carry both you and the groceries up the stairs and through the front door at the same time. Have him vacuum the whole house each day with 20-pound weights on his arms and legs. That will help get him in shape. Suggest he practice Kegel exercises and see how many times in a row you can have sex without him losing his erection. There are endless variations on this theme. Make sure when he succeeds to show him how excited and pleased you are by the results of his hard work. Challenge him to make slightly larger sacrifices of his comfort zone than he is used to in order to accommodate your sense of fun, and both of you will be excited when he exceeds his previous achievements. It will increase his excitement about making you ultra happy.

These are just the basics, of course. A woman can develop her own strategies along these same principles, according to what she knows about her partner, and the relationship will take on its own style of conflict resolution and romance.

Training a man is all about a woman getting the most from her man for the building of intimacy in the relationship, which requires him to come out of his privileged status so he can get to know and relate to her more. Helping him break free from ridiculous corporate myths and personal denial by confronting him with his desire for and attraction to her is all part of it. Why should other men's delusions control his state of mind towards her and get in the way of the intimacy between them?

For more, check out Sherry Argov's advice on getting the most out of your man.