They’re the fodder of every sitcom: Man Clichés. We’re not in touch with our feelings. All we think about is sex. We love football but hate the museum. They’re usually overly broad, simplistic and demeaning to both genders. Any truth to them? Well...yes, sometimes. After writing a book about male stereotypes, The Maxims of Manhood: 100 Rules Every Real Man Must Live By, I’ll weigh in -- along with a few relationship experts -- on stereotypes that have a nugget of truth.
1) All we think about is sex
Not literally, but there’s something to this. Scott Haltzman, MD, author of The Secrets of Happily Married Men, explains: “Men do think about sex more than women. One of the reasons is that they have super-high levels of testosterone -- 20 times that of women. Testosterone levels are associated with sex drive. Women who are treated with testosterone will notice that they think about sex more often than before testosterone treatment.”
2) We don’t express emotions
We’re permitted to cry at the end of The Shawshank Redemption, E.T. and maybe Good Will Hunting. That code of machismo is drilled into us from a young age. As communication expert Carol Goman, PhD, says, “In our culture, little boys are taught to suck it up, to get out there and try again. They’re encouraged not to express emotions.”
3) We hate Valentine’s Day
We love you; we just don’t love Hallmark. The problem is structural: Romance is best when spontaneous, but Valentine’s Day has all the spontaneity of tax day. It’s forced, expected, rote. We’d rather give you flowers on a random Tuesday. (So why don’t we ever give you roses on Tuesday? Um, no comment.)
4) We hate the four words, "We need to talk"
We don’t like SERIOUS talks. So how should you deal with this? As Andrea Syrtash, relationship expert and author of Cheat On Your Husband (With Your Husband), says, “Don't make a big deal of having to have a (cue scary music) 'talk,' since it may put him on the defense. Don't try to have a talk when he's trying to go to sleep or rushing off to work. Keep it light and he'll be more receptive.”
5) We crave gadgets
More, more, more. We covet more gigabytes, more megapixels, more gigawatts. Whenever Apple unveils the newest iPhone, suddenly our current version -- a year ago, the crown jewel of technology -- must immediately be scrapped.
6) We always want to be right
Are we always right? Of course not. But maybe we’re hardwired to think we are.... Haltzman says, “Many studies suggest that men develop with stronger visual-spacial centers of the brain, which help them visualize things in three dimensions. They feel more comfortable when everything fits together logically. So when they notice that the oil levels are low in the car, or that the TV set is on the wrong angle, it's not to be critical of their partners -- it's just to give themselves peace of mind.”
7) We like a good bromance
Every Judd Apatow movie taps into something real. “He loves you the most, but needs quality time with his buddies,” says Syrtash. “Whether it's a boys' weekend or a night out with his friends (or a geeked-out hour on his PS3 playing video games with a friend), it's good for him to have the outlet.”
8) We use humor to deflect
“Men utilize teasing, joking, even sarcasm, as a valuable means of communication,” says Haltzman. “Studies of dating women show that they value a guy with a sense of humor, but when married men resort to horsing around about potentially serious issues, their wives are not pleased by the escapades. Research shows that when women use humor, men feel more content about the quality of their marriage.”
9) We’re skeptical of this “yoga”
And Pilates, cardio kickboxing or anything that involves “chakras.” There’s absolutely no good reason for this. The results speak for themselves, and we could probably lose a few pounds. But we’d rather get in shape by lifting so much weight that we throw out our backs, because that’s what men do.
10) We need to hold the door
It gives us the illusion that we’re needed. We’ll go out of our way to hold the door, even if it means awkwardly bumping into you and accidentally slowing down your progress. (Somewhere in that sentence is a metaphor about marriage.)
Jeff Wilser is the editor of groom website ThePlunge.com and the author of The Maxims of Manhood and The Man Cave Book. You can follow him on Twitter at @JeffWilser.
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