Doctissimo well-being, 2009: 'How to avoid offending him'

How to avoid offending him

It's widely believed that women are the touchy, sensitive sex but now it would appear that men are just as volatile and quick to take offence, and can sometimes react very unpredictably.

How not to offend him 
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"Haven't you put on a little weight" "Do you know Emma's husband has just had a great promotion?" He starts to frown almost as soon as these (apparently innocuous) words have left your mouth. And then he takes offence, or, worse still, starts to sulk.

And this isn't just a one-off; it seems that our men are becoming increasingly tetchy. "He's quick to (mis)interpret whatever you say, attributing a negative meaning (often wrongly) to the slightest comment or remark. And then he gets hostile and resentful.

"It's as if you've attacked him personally or been really inconsiderate," says Florence Escaravage, coach and founder of Love Intelligence. Learn more about this relatively new phenomenon and get advice on the best way of handling your man.

His need to be noticed

Men, whether metrosexual or not, are paying increasing attention to the way they look, and enjoying the dubious privilege of being scrutinized, admired and even criticized because of their appearance. Although relatively unimportant in the past, physical appearance now plays an important part in seduction but for those who don't quite measure up it can result in a fragile self-image.

"Men are now taking more interest in their image and so they want, perhaps subconsciously, more appreciation and positive feedback," elaborates Florence Escaravage.

His view on what is hurtful

A survey conducted (September 2009) by the website "Looking for love" asked 6,050 people what comments they found most hurtful. Men replied that they were most hurt by comments on the following:

  • Physical appearance: 29%
  • Behaviour in public: 18%
  • Opinions (political, religious): 11%
  • Career choices: 32%
  • Friends: 10%

In the past, a woman might get offended if you failed to notice her new haircut or sexy lingerie. But it now seems that men can also take offence very easily for similar reasons.

His definition of self-confidence

Historically, men were the hunters whose primary function was to bring food to the cave to feed their family. Man's sense of pride is, consequently, derived from his professional expertise, competence and the notion of "doing". Work is the area in which he most excels and where most of his battles are played out, and that holds true even today!

But women are unimpressed by this male jostling and think it unimportant so they may playfully point out that their best friend's partner is doing very well and is climbing rapidly up the social ladder. Although such comments are not designed to hurt, they are guaranteed to make his hackles rise. This is exacerbated by the fact that men are generally not "talkers" but "doers" who define themselves though their actions and achievements.

Understanding his ego

Sometimes tetchiness can arise from a man's arrogance or superiority - in short, his ego. "This affects men who are very confident, successful and very at ease in society," affirms Florence Escaravage. If they're used to being treated in a certain way outside the home, then the slightest lack of attention at home can meet with their immediate disapproval. This is inevitable in everyday life when there's no need to keep up appearances and just being nice or kind doesn't always do the trick.

Avoiding his Achilles heel

  • Identify his insecurities. If you want to escape from this emotional minefield, first of all you have to really want to but you also need to recognise that a problem exists. If you simply say "The problem isn't with me" then it's going to be difficult to change anything. On the other hand, "admitting that you too can be rather touchy can be liberating" asserts Florence Escaravage ... Then you may be able to encourage him to talk openly and identify his shortcomings together.
  • Try to be kind. "You don't have to play the shrink with him, but you need to realize that today's bad temper is probably connected to something that happened either in the past or in a sphere that doesn't directly concern you (work...). One way forward is to anticipate the danger areas and try to avoid them or play them down," suggests Florence Escaravage. When you realize that he's misinterpreted (negatively) what you've said, you can always choose to rephrase or reassure him.
  • Build up his self-esteem. The best way to prevent his negativity is for you to be positive and constructive. Confrontation is fine once in a while as long as it doesn't become a habit, particularly if your man is often easily annoyed. In this case, it would be better to try a different approach. Try, instead, to be appreciative; point out his exceptional qualities and encourage his choices, both professional and personal.

Hopefully, your new attitude will encourage him to give more thought to how he reacts to others and help free him of his insecurities. If he wants avoid all those pointless arguments, he'd be far better off focusing on his strengths and learning to articulate his feelings rather than behaving aggressively and your positive support will go a long way in helping him to make the change.

Posted 30.06.2010