Thursday, October 30, 2014

The Destructive Effects of Self-Pity

Self pity

Want to improve your relationship? The first step is to quit being a victim and take complete responsibility for the status of the relationship — even if you’re convinced you’re not at fault. ESPECIALLY if you think you’re not at fault. Why? According to Dr. Margaret Paul, self-pity (being the victim) demonstrates a lack of strength:

  • Self-pity gets you off the hook from having to take responsibility for yourself. If you see yourself as a loser or unlucky or not good enough, then you don't have to take loving action in your own behalf.
  • The hope of self-pity may be to make someone else feely guilty enough to take responsibility for you. Self-pity is a form of control - to avoid making mistakes, and possibly failing, by getting someone else to feel sorry enough for you, or guilty enough, to take care of you.

It’s impossible for your partner to feel completely secure when you act weak and needy.

The choice is simple: Whine like a victim or protect like a Sigma. The happiness of your relationship depends on it.

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Dr. John Alexander is relationship expert and the author of The Sigma Male: What Women Really Want. To learn more about Sigma Coaching, visit his website, subscribe to his blog, “like” his page on Facebook, and follow him on Twitter.

 

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Defusing a Drama Queen

Drama

For help defusing a drama queen, read this article (via Unstuck).

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Dr. John Alexander is relationship expert and the author of The Sigma Male: What Women Really Want. To learn more about Sigma Coaching, visit his website, subscribe to his blog, “like” his page on Facebook, and follow him on Twitter.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Where Are All the Strong Men?

Strong Military Woman

A commercial featuring a strong female soldier filmed at a military camp — what’s not to like?

A better question: Why do commercials featuring strong women feel the need to denigrate men?

In this commercial for Navy Federal Credit Union, the group is literally up the creek without a paddle:

 

Apparently, this woman had to save the day because of the imbecilic shenanigans of “Campbell,” who, the woman says, will be the one left in the garage next time. Whether Campbell is this strong woman’s weak, dumpy husband or not, he still ends up looking sheepishly at his feet as she exclaims “Seriously?”

Wow! This “strong woman/weak man” model (found in countless other recent sit-coms and TV commercials) STILL hasn’t run its course. Oh boy…

I’ve written extensively about this modern trend in advertising (for example, here and here), so what else can I say? Well, answer this question:

What would happen if the same ad aired with the roles reversed?

Imagine Campbell, looking fit in his sharp military gear talking about the failings of some inept, dumpy woman. Guess who’d get left in the garage after that commercial… Feminist outrage? You better believe it.

As I see it, most men have become so afraid of feminist backlash that they would rather ignore this issue than risk saying anything “controversial.” But I have no problem speaking up.

Let me be clear: Kudos to strong women everywhere, including those in uniform — but can women only succeed when men fail? I don’t think so.

Unfortunately, I have to admit that the fault for this trend lies squarely on men’s shoulders, since television and movies tend to mirror society rather than map out its future. In their rush to support women’s rights, men have stepped away from the masculine roles that enhance a true partnership. I believe these types of ads exist because more and more of these kinds of men have become the norm.

And believe me when I tell you that getting left behind in the garage is the least of modern men’s worries. It’s high time modern men woke up and smelled the coffee…because women have already had a cup and are on their way to work. 

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Dr. John Alexander is relationship expert and the author of The Sigma Male: What Women Really Want. To learn more about Sigma Coaching, visit his website, subscribe to his blog, “like” his page on Facebook, and follow him on Twitter.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

"My Wife is Such a Baby"

Flesh Wound

Although the names have been changed, the following story is true.

EXAMPLE: JOE (42) & JULIE (44), MARRIED 12 YEARS

ROLE IN QUESTION: SIGMA PROTECTOR

Situation

Julie nicked her finger preparing dinner. The cut was minor — just a drop of blood.

Problem

Eight years prior, Joe had been in a serious car accident that landed him in the ICU for over a week. His recuperation and rehabilitation took over a year. He understands what real pain and suffering feel like. Joe’s difficult rehab has made it hard for him to empathize with other people’s “inconveniences.” He thinks Julie routinely overreacts when she suffers a minor injury.  

Joe’s Typical Past Reaction

Before he learned the Dragonslaying Skillset, Joe would have said, “That’s nothing. Take a look at what a real injury looks like,” while lifting up his shirt to reveal his extensive scarring.

Recommendations

Joe had been ignoring this type of Protector dragon for years, not realizing that his wife interpreted his reactions to her injuries as non-protective and uncaring. I reminded Joe that his duty was to protect his wife from all dragons, whether small, self-inflicted, or imaginary.

This time, Joe was prepared with the proper response. As soon as his wife announced that she had cut her finger, Joe grabbed a towel and applied pressure to the cut, saying, “I’ll bet that smarts. Small cuts are the worst.” After the bleeding stopped (about 10 seconds later) Joe applied a Bandaid to her finger and “kissed it better.”

Final Notes

Although this incident seemed insignificant at the time, Joe’s Sigma reaction was the genesis of a one-week relationship turnaround. He was amazed how Julie responded to his new-found status as her Protector. They reported feeling like they were newly married again.

Remember, if your spouse can’t trust you to protect her in small ways, what would make her think you’d have her back during a big threat? 

Are there issues that create anxiety or pressure in your relationship? Email me the details and I’ll address your concern in a future post.

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Dr. John Alexander is relationship expert and the author of The Sigma Male: What Women Really Want. To learn more about Sigma Coaching, visit his website, subscribe to his blog, “like” his page on Facebook, and follow him on Twitter.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Telling Your Wife What She Thinks

This week I stumbled across a great quote from comedian Bill Cosby:

Billcosbywomenthink


Read the updated post here.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Book Review: The Relationship Handbook by George S. Pransky

Relationshiphandbook

George S. Pransky’s The Relationship Handbook: A simple guide to satisfying relationships is a lesser-known, self-published book that contains a number of good insights into building a strong marriage. Although he splits his message into 15 chapters, his message can basically be distilled to a single idea: The cause of relationship distress is insecurity; thus, “the cure is understanding the psychological thoughts, feelings, and states of mind” in order to overcome that insecurity.

This thesis fits well with the Sigma Philosophy but as is the case with most counselors, Pransky never manages to identify the true source of a couple’s insecurities. Nevertheless, his book is an excellent companion to The Sigma Male, especially if you want to explore changing your state of mind.

By request, here are all 15 parts of my review. For your convenience, each post contains links to each post.

 1-A Fresh Start2-Compatibility3-Communication4-Moods5-Emotions6-Compassion7-Dissatisfaction8-Change9-Bringing out the Best10-Transcending Problems11-The Source of Conflict12-Levels of Relationship13-It’s Never Too Late14-Intimacy, 15-Commitment

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Dr. John Alexander is relationship expert and the author of The Sigma Male: What Women Really Want. To learn more about Sigma Coaching, visit his website, subscribe to his blog, “like” his page on Facebook, and follow him on Twitter.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Provider Insights: Financially Stuck?

Money Worksheet

Although Provider is the most easily defined Sigma Role, it can be the most challenging to implement. Understanding your responsibility to provide for your family’s basic needs is much easier than actually doing it. Often, many choices made early in life have long-reaching affects on your career and finances. Fortunately, as bleak as your current prospects look, improving your financial status is always an achievable goal.

Jason Hull, a Fort Worth–based financial planner and personal finance blogger, shared his expertise in an excellent Unstuck post to this week.

A few of the highlights:

THE 3 BIG FINANCIAL STUCK MOMENTS

1. Debt: I can’t deal with my debts. I feel overwhelmed whenever I start thinking about it, so I end up doing nothing.

What to do: Stop doing what it is that’s getting you into debt in the first place. You’re not going to pay it all off tomorrow. Set your expectations realistically.

  • Start modestly
  • Get an accountability buddy
  • Build a competition with that buddy
  • Create little milestones

2. Overspending: I don’t have anything leftover from my paycheck at the end of the month. I know I’m overextended, but I can’t seem to resist the online flash sales. I’m saving money in the long run, right? 

What to do: Stop defining happiness in terms of what you have versus what you are. Spend time doing little things that create a sense of fulfillment, enrichment, and purpose.

  • Dial down your lifestyle
  • Reduce your spending baseline, bit by bit
  • Put away the plastic
  • Question your purchases

3. Taxes: I haven’t paid my taxes, and I just got hit with penalties, which is going to make it even harder to clear up.

What to do: Make it a project. Break it into subtasks.

  • Work with the IRS
  • Use an anti-motivation strategy (e.g. commit to doing something you dislike if you don’t file on time)
  • Spread out the pain (e.g. setting deadlines for different sections)

With Jason’s help, Unstuck created a simple worksheet to help you prioritize what’s important to you and plan your spending accordingly. I wholeheartedly recommend it as a great starting point as you work to strengthen the Sigma Role of Provider.

You can read the complete Unstuck article here.

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Dr. John Alexander is relationship expert and the author of The Sigma Male: What Women Really Want. To learn more about Sigma Coaching, visit his website, subscribe to his blog, “like” his page on Facebook, and follow him on Twitter.

Friday, October 3, 2014

DC Comics T-Shirts Misrepresent Superheroes as Non-Sigma Sexists

Batman vs superman

Guest Post by Matthew Alexander, Director of Coaching, Sigma Status 

I’ve read and collected comic books as long as I can remember and have to admit that the more things change, the more they stay the same. Even though writers and artists put their own spin on individual superheroes, these characters’ basic traits remain pretty consistent. I know the editorial staff does its best to take as much artistic license as possible but the fact is, comic book companies protect their trademarks like sacred cows — anything to secure the never-ending flow of royalties attached to their biggest character’s sparkling images. 

Given that, I was amazed to discover a recent marketing gaffe that slipped by the licensing arm of DC comics. As it turns out, a couple of recently released t-shirts offended a multitude of buyers, as they portrayed both Superman and Batman as sexists.

First, the Superman t-shirt:

Superman macks on wonder woman

Next, the Batman t-shirt:

Batman wife in training

These images, along with an accompanying litany of vitriolic comments, went viral this week. Most people, including comic book aficionados, were not happy about this perpetuation of negative stereotypes. Without question, this news item didn’t do much to elevate the oft-sullied image of the comic book industry, which has long been accused of everything from cashing in on the sexist portrayal of scantily-clad female characters to inspiring misogynistic rape fantasies. But in an effort to avoid becoming a magnet for our friendly neighborhood trolls, I’ll just stick to a discussion of the images I’ve posted here. 

From the perspective of both a relationship coach and a comic book fan, I find both t-shirts problematic.

Given the well-known romantic involvement of Superman and Wonder Woman, the first t-shirt distills their relationship to nothing more than a conquest, another notch in Superman’s belt. I’m not a Superman fan, but this t-shirt still had me shaking my head.

Superman is perhaps the greatest Protector icon ever created, nothing like the womanizer suggested by the word ’Score’. A respecter of all women, Superman has always been drawn to the strongest of them, from his longtime friend Lana Lane to the tenacious reporter Lois Lane. Additionally, Wonder Woman is the epitome of womanhood: Strength and beauty inside and out.

Since they are the combination of humanity’s ultimate Protector and womanhood’s ultimate Defender, this reductionist version of Superman and Wonder Woman’s true relationship completely misses the mark.

Besides, I’m pretty sure that Wonder Woman wouldn’t let down her guard if she didn’t feel absolutely safe with ‘Supes.’ I’ll bet she’d bash his face in if he tried to make an unwanted advance.

With regard to the second image, I’ll let blogger PJ speak for me:

“The idea that you should settle for being married to or sleeping with someone awesome instead of being the awesome person is insulting. This just happens to be aimed at a young girl. I resent the idea that she should “train” to be so Batman’s wife.”

To me, the idea of Batman falling for a weak, vain woman is laughable. While Superman has always been a worldwide Protector, Batman looks after the weakest and most downtrodden of Gotham City’s citizens, especially its women. It would have been more accurate to have titled the t-shirt “Training to be Bruce Wayne’s Wife,” as that would have fit the false image maintained by Batman’s alter ego.

Like Superman, Batman has only been attracted to the strongest women he associates with: Talia al Ghul (his arch nemesis’ daughter), Selina Kyle (nĂ©e Catwoman),  and Vicki Vale (reporter) just to name a few. He also relies on the assistance of other strong women, like Dr. Leslie Thomkins (physician) and Dr. Barbara Gordon (PhD).

But I’m overreacting, right? They’re just a couple of innocuous t-shirts.  What’s the big deal? If you don’t like them, don’t buy them.

Unfortunately, these t-shirts rehash the negative stereotype of domineering male/weak female, a view that sends today’s men into full retreat. Modern Men are so desperate to distance themselves from any appearance of chauvinism that they have willingly eliminated all forms of dominant behavior from their lives, including the positive dominant traits of Protector, Provider, and Presider.

That’s too bad, because I think we can agree that both Superman and Batman adhere to the Sigma Philosophy: They respect a woman’s strength but are still willing to ensure her safety. And that’s dominant behavior we can’t afford to leave behind.

Shame on DC for sullying these superheroes’ images while indirectly giving a black eye to real men who actually care.

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Dr. John Alexander is relationship expert and the author of The Sigma Male: What Women Really Want. To learn more about Sigma Coaching, visit his website, subscribe to his blog, “like” his page on Facebook, and follow him on Twitter.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Why Strong, Independent Women Want Strong, Independent Men

Strong woman

As a strong-willed, “conservative” male, I am regularly asked how I could possible presume to know what women want. Even if I were to set aside the research I compiled while writing The Sigma Male, the answer would still be simple: I’ve spent most of my professional life listening to women describe what they want in a partner. They’ve told me! 

As a plastic surgeon, many of my patients are women making life changes. Whether they are addressing a physical issue that has always bothered them, seeking to please a spouse’s desires, looking to roll back the effects of childbirth or the ravages of time, or paying particular attention to their appearance as they re-enter the world of dating after a painful divorce, these women all have the same thing in common: Sitting in an exam room makes them incredibly vulnerable and, as a by-product, extremely open.

As I meet with these women they freely share details of their life, unsolicited information that justifiably outlines their hopes and fears. I’ve met with myriad women of distinct backgrounds, ethnicities and beliefs, but through the years I’ve come to recognize reoccurring themes that have given me a clear understanding of what they desire. After applying this knowledge to my own relationship, I decided to help others do the same.

Although I’ve worked with struggling couples for some time now, I still find it satisfying when I discover a fresh voice that sheds additional light on everything I’ve learned. To wit, readers continue to send me links to affirming articles and interviews, which I’m happy to pass along to you.

In an article titled “Why Strong, Independent Women Just Want to Be Taken Care of (Sometimes),” published by The Huffington Post, writer Lauren Jacobs comments on the paradoxical nature of the article’s title:

“Mature, confident, independent women sometimes face the catch-22 of wanting to be strong in the world while wanting to be ‘taken care of’ in their romantic relationships. That is, some women want to be completely respected for their capabilities and strength of character while also wanting to be led, supported and cared for emotionally, socially and yes, sometimes even economically when they are with a man. The stronger a woman is emotionally or professionally in her daily life, the more she may desire some aspect of this.”

While noting that she and other women do not want to be seen as “takers, traditionalists, needy, or vulnerable,” they still value men who are “givers.” Here is her explanation:

SOCIO-POLITICAL REASONS

1. The uphill battle in securing rights outside the home leads women to want to be treated that much more nicely at home.

"It becomes a refreshing change of pace: When a man’s kind treatment comes from a desire to give, we can relax, be ourselves and not have to push so hard.”

2. The reality of domestic violence causes women to pay extra attention to a man’s inclination to be protective.

"Women want to feel safe, and we deserve to feel safe, especially in the presence of men.

SOCIO-CULTURAL REASONS

1. Women try to look nice for men and want them to notice.

“Because we primp, preen, prep and prime ourselves in these ways for the benefit and attention of men, (let's face it, few of us endure hot wax for our own enjoyment), it is nice to feel that we are being taken care of or even courted once we are on the date that we have spent numerous hours, dollars and grimaces prepping for."

2. Acknowledging gender differences is fine, as long as you understand both sides of the coin.

"In other words... go ahead and tell us we're cute when we're mad, we have no sense of direction, we're overly emotional, we're obsessed with greeting cards, our apartments look like a bed-and-breakfast, that we're ridiculous to wear high heels and then complain about them... but then hold the door, share your umbrella, carry our bag, offer your jacket, buy us a drink, take us to dinner, write us a thank-you, email us with date plans, call us to say goodnight and tell us you're thinking of us. You can't have one without the other. I think that’s only fair."

3. A romantic night out shouldn’t feel like a business proposition

"When a man plans a fun excursion or suggests a new restaurant and pays for the couple, the date becomes both simpler and more romantic; thus, even women who are fully capable of planning an outing or footing a bill often prefer this mode, at least at the beginning of a relationship.”

SOCIO-EMOTIONAL REASONS

Women are socialized to be responsible — giving and helping, loving and sharing — so they like to see evidence that men can take care of people too.

1. Self Worth

“As strong, confident women we have enough self-esteem to know our intrinsic worth and to expect someone who respects us, who will continually be there for us and who will remain interested and dedicated enough to want to care for and about us for years to come."

2. The Emotional Biological Imperative

“A woman seeks someone whom she can imagine taking care of her while she is pregnant, in labor, recovering from delivery, nursing, weaning and/or unfortunately, sometimes going through the emotional and physical pain of miscarriages or infertility issues. It takes a real man to stand by their side and be there for them through the difficulties as well as the joys in life. Women also seek caregiving ability in a man who will be father to their children. Will he be there for them, support them and provide love and a sense of security?”

At this point, lest men believe that woman want too much, Jacobs has a special note for them:

”Most women are kind, reasonable, realistic people who want to make sure that their partner feels secure and loved. Most are not asking for fancy meals, fancy trips or fancy things; they know that the company is always the most important factor.

"THEY SIMPLY WANT TO BE TAKEN CARE OF.

THE BOTTOM LINE

"We’ve lived happily on our own for many years, and we’d rather be on our own and not be taken care of than be with someone and not feel taken care of. If we're going to be with somebody long-term, we want to find the man who loves our strength and wants to make us feel cared for in the ways I have discussed. And for the reasons I’ve discussed, we're not going to apologize for it. We either have to find a way of tactfully articulating our aforementioned paradox of strength and the need for care, or we have to find a man who intuits our needs — who has the desire to care-take while fully respecting us; who is strong, sharing and supportive while acknowledging and enjoying our strength; who is wholeheartedly giving in the right ways at the right times.”

I think it’s obvious that in describing what women are looking for, Lauren Jacobs is quoting from The Sigma Male without realizing it.

And for any man interested, now that “Mr. Right” has been so adequately defined, you can become that kind of man by focusing on the Sigma Philosophy and its Protective Skillset. It’s that easy.

You can find Jacob’s article in its entirety here.

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Dr. John Alexander is relationship expert and the author of The Sigma Male: What Women Really Want. To learn more about Sigma Coaching, visit his website, subscribe to his blog, “like” his page on Facebook, and follow him on Twitter.