Lessons from a Recovering Doormat

A guy recently told me he’s miserable because his ex-wife and her kid are living with him until she can afford to move out. She wanted the divorce, moved on and dates other men. Yet he feels an obligation to take care of her and her kid. After all, he’s the man! And men are supposed to take care of women, aren’t they?

NO! Men are not the protectors of the world, just as women aren’t the nurturers.

This guy still loves his ex-wife and is losing his sanity from her indifference toward him and his feelings. Yet he felt—as a man—an obligation to let her stay with him. He’d hurt when she left for a date. He cried if she stayed out all night. It’s hard enough to end a relationship with someone you love. But watching the one you love get on with their life while you suffer is intolerable.

Many guys take a “be a man” approach to situations that need fixing or women who need rescuing. It’s culturally instinctive—one of those stereotypes that many men still adopt.

I dated a guy who told me from the get-go that he was a boy scout. He made a big point of telling me that. Many times. His dad brought him up to help others. Make everyone happy when he could. His emphasis on being a boy scout alerted me that he had problems. He offered to do all sorts of favors for me, to the point of seeming abnormal. Yet he was a nice looking guy, VERY financially stable, in a VERY powerful business with a company he owned.

But his identity revolved around being Mr. Boy Scout.

I think we ended because he got frustrated that I didn’t need him to rush to my aid if something went wrong. Or try to find things to do for me when things were going right. Heaven forbid I tried to do something nice for him! That wasn’t part of his agenda. He had to be the one doing all the giving. It made him feel more like a man!

Often the need to take care of a woman becomes a need to be in control at all times.

It eventually became obvious that Mr. Boy Scout with all that power had a very low self-image and needed to do things and care for others to feel good about himself, often at his own expense. We stopped seeing each other after I gave him some guidance on how to be more self-loving. He was determined to learn how to love himself. I had so much compassion for him and his programmed need to be Mr. Boy Scout.

The cavalier guy I mentioned first sacrifices his comfort and dignity to “be a man.” Meanwhile, Wifey happily takes advantage of “the man” and does what she pleases while his heart breaks and his self-esteem crumbles. I told him to get her out as an act of self-love and sent him chapters from the manuscript of my book, How Do I love Me? Let me Count the Ways. He’s now focusing on getting stronger by being more loving to himself and trusting in his spiritual faith.

It’s important to nurture your own needs and provide yourself with happiness—first. When you’re more self-loving, you begin to love yourself more. Stereotypes that push you to make other people’s need more important than your own well being are ones that need to be broken – fast!

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