Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Pitying men

We've had this discussion with our daughters before, "there's no need to have a boy as a friend." We've also discussed that they should not get drawn into becoming a boy's (or girl's for that matter) emotional tampon. What is best for the boy is to find someone who is in a position to care about him that can actually help him. They are well aware that boys will intentionally choose to become Beta Orbiters in the hopes that eventually she will find value in them and upgrade their status. Participating in this is not kind, it is not honest, and is not becoming behavior.  

Here is the (edited for privacy) exchange our youngest just had with a boy: 

"I know you have no idea who I am but I have a huge crush on you and I cant help but think I would do anything to be with you"

Oh yeah, sorry, I don't really know you
"Yeah I want to know you better and try to be a guy who treats you like there is no one else in the world, xxx-xxxx if you want to get to know me text me." 

Um, sorry, I'm not really interested
(Picture of a minion falling on his face) "Oh ok" "BTW the minion represents my life I try to get up but get knocked down right away" 

She showed us the exchange and asked us if we knew why this boy would say what he did. (Our daughters have been taught that exchanges like this are talked about in house. They are not to gossip or humiliate boys like this by telling their friends about it).

Even in the grown up world I have seen men willingly accept and sometimes seek pity from women. I know there are scores of men out there who are in the fight to wake these men up from this desire and other misguided ideas so that they can achieve personal success. The only advice I have for men is to seek out MEN to talk to. You'll learn in due time that pity from a woman is NOT what you should accept or seek. 

For women (and teenage girls) when you are in a situation where your natural reaction would be to pity a man (boy), recognize this is not your lane and what you're about to do/say is harmful. I'm speaking specifically about people you don't know well, aren't related to etc. (Please spare me all the incidences where a woman should have compassion for a man specifically or men in general. That is not what I'm talking about.) Usually women are not equipped with the wisdom that pity seeker needs. Sure, she can tantalize his ears and tell him all that he desperately wants to hear and figuratively nestle him to her chest but this does not help him.

We recently had an old friend post on Facebook an emotional tale of his wife blowing up their marriage. I wish he would have been enraged and expressed that instead of talking about hurting and crying. What followed were hundreds of comments full of pity from women. That pity is now what defines this man, the sorry soul, the man who is hurting, the poor dear. Almost every comment he's had on his posts since then have been shadowed with this pity.

I'll try to explain the dynamics of it. To believe that a woman is capable of respecting a man whom she pities is as misguided as believing a man would rather be loved than respected. Even in our platonic everyday interactions with men, we want to deal with men we respect and have a visceral reaction to men we don't respect, find pitiful or effeminate. Men, similarly, desire to deal with and be respected by pleasant, kind, attractive women. They have a visceral reaction to ugly, harsh, loud, and bitchy women.

The woman who doles out pity to a man is being inherently disrespectful and usually condescending. When her words outweigh the words of strong men's advice to the pitied man, she is not only being disrespectful, she's interfering and is completely out of line.

We need to guard against thinking our commiseration is of any value to a man. It is not. And it certainly is useless when there are other men available to give good advice. Our motives need to be carefully checked when we feel the desire to express pity to a man. Often our own solipsism is revealed - we feel his pain as if it was our own. How nice...not helpful. Some motivations are more manipulative - hurting men make great Beta Orbiters - throw them some morsels every now and then and keep them close, begging for more.

Our daughter had the same reaction I would have: "Why did he do that to me?" in other words, why did he put me in that position? It is very disappointing and awkward. It is in those situations where women will pour out the pity just to ease the discomfort of the situation. Which again, is disrespectful and not honest. While it would be nice to not encounter men who seek pity from women, we should have a plan in mind for what to do when it does happen. What can be said that would be helpful but not disrespectful?

When I am with RLB, it is simple, I keep my mouth shut and look at him. Online it is even easier - don't say a word. And don't get me wrong, I am not talking about hospitality here either. If you have a visitor in your home who is being challenged by something in his life, gracious hospitality is always in order.

As you can see, I don't have all the answers, but I do know that giving a man pity is not the right answer.


  1. I think men seek pity in women at low times because they're seeking the comfort of their mother. Of course, if you're raised by a single mom, as a ton of guys are these days, they either got no mothering or too much, and either way the default is to seek it out, and since they got no fathering they have no idea how to stand on their feet. This is not your fault or burden, but the worst thing you can do is be harsh. Your daughter did the right thing.

  2. That makes sense. Even with our son it was tempting for me to want to nurture him, speaking words of comfort and sympathy, when what he needed most was empathy and instruction from his father. What a mess that develops in single mother households. Just listening in to what RLB would talk with our son about, I knew that wisdom was not in my possession, I certainly couldn't draw on shared experiences.


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