Ask Dr. V: A Boyfriend’s Ego
Venus Nicolino, PhD of clinical psychology, answers your questions in this section. This week: a boyfriend’s ego
I have a problem with my boyfriend’s ego. A few weeks ago I finished taking beginner level judo classes and earned my yellow belt. I really enjoyed the classes and found I was pretty good at it, even though I’m not really muscular (I’m tall, 5’9″, but slender, and weigh about 125lbs) … plus I’m a pretty girly-looking girl. I wear my hair long and like dresses, etc.
Anyway, because of all this, my boyfriend didn’t take my classes very seriously and when I told him I got my yellow belt he just laughed. And when he was done laughing, well, I was kinda mad and so I challenged him to a wrestling match.
We’re the same height but he has at least 40lbs on me, and he didn’t want to do it at first but after I said, “you’re just afraid of losing to a girl,” he said, “OK, let me teach you a lesson.”
So we moved some furniture out of the way and we got going and he didn’t try very hard at first, because he just didn’t think he’d have to!
But then I tripped him with a leg sweep and he went down on the floor, and I could see his face get all red and when he got back up he started trying really hard to beat me. Well, long story short, I kept using throws and leg sweeps to send him to the floor, and waited ’til he got really tired, and then when I could tell his strength was running out, I kept him down on the floor and after a fairly long struggle, I pinned him!
So I had a little fun at his expense and said “I hope you learned YOUR lesson,” but since then he hasn’t let it go, and kept after me for a rematch, saying I got lucky, etc. … so last week I finally said “OK” to one more match because he wouldn’t stop asking, and, yes, I beat him again.
Now he’s TOTALLY bent out of shape and keeps trying for another match to prove he can beat me and I need help because I’m sick of his attitude!
Was I wrong to defeat him?
Should I just fake it and let him win?
I keep telling him it’s just because I know judo and he doesn’t but he’s still angry!
(Also, when I suggested we take classes together so he could compete with me better, he said “I don’t need to know judo to beat a girl!”)
What should I do???
No more Girly Girl
Dear No More,
An ordinary Greek vase for storing grain or wine was usually decorated, as a matter of course, with a naked woman marching off with something resembling a fish, tree trunk or a loaf of bread, but which was really a phallus. It seems in our current day you have resurrected this image by marching off with your boyfriend’s penis. You were not wrong to defeat him but society has told him he is wrong to lose to a woman.
The second image to come to mind is Michelangelo’s David from the biblical story of David and Goliath. It is without a doubt the most famous sculpture of a male nude in the Renaissance tradition, and has inspired a representation of the young and athletic male body down to Tarzan and Superman. What I’m trying to convey is your boyfriend has fallen victim to these images, symbols and meta-messages of “what it means to be a man.” If these Judo matches continue, my guess is one of you will definitely get injured. Both of you have already been wounded: You — because he won’t allow you the credit you deserve; and Him — because his ego has been smashed.
In the words of Margaret Mead: “Men have always been afraid that women could get along without them.” My guess is due to your physical strength and Judo training, your boyfriend deep down inside fears you just don’t need him. So, what should you do? Celebrate him in another area of the relationship where he excels. One suggestion: give him full credit for all of your orgasms and to do so sincerely and with enthusiasm. Remember he needs to feel appreciated by you and always wants to be your hero — especially in the bedroom. In his mind, Judo is child’s play in comparison. If he continues to throw his “I’m not good enough” tantrum, gently remind him that he’s your hero where it really matters.
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