How women view weakness?

Lexie answered some questions many men must find confusing about women previously here.

Somebody asked Lexie at my blog:

“Lexie says “competence is the #1 quality for sexiness in a man and we have an innate desire to complement that”.On the flip side, what is her complementarian view of weakness, vulnerability, even incompetence in her man? A source of stress for men is that we’re not allowed to display weakness, vulnerability, or incompetence to our girlfriend or wife who will pull away or innately reject us for it.”

I remarked to Lexie:

“I think this is not a bad question, and one that also interests me.
Also, would you feel comfortable giving your general opinion on the roles of husbands and wives? Egalitarian? Complementarian? Hierarchical?”

To which she replied as follows:

“I’m not going to lie. Weakness and incompetence are not sexy. In fact, they are turn-offs. But any half-decent relationship or marriage isn’t just about sex. So men don’t have to hide their weaknesses, etc., from their wives and girlfriends. It might be a good idea to keep them from general public view, but in private women expect a real human being, not a Bond caricature. In fact, in a long-term partner, women want someone who can do a half-decent risk assessment and make a realistic appraisal of his own weaknesses – survival depends on knowing when to cut your losses and women don’t think much of a show of bravado (which is why we often speak disdainfully of ‘macho’ guys). Women want stability and security in a husband. Furthermore, women don’t expect men to be strong and competent in all areas. An inability to do x can easily be compensated for with an ability to do y. I know many women whose husbands are ‘hopeless’ at many things but there’s always something that they do well and that makes their wives smile quite smugly. So, men needn’t stress out over having weaknesses and so forth. That said, I wouldn’t recommend a display of vulnerability as a precursor to foreplay.”

&
“My general opinion on the roles of husbands and wives is that they have to be complementary so as to avoid the conflict arising from competition. I also think that the man must take the role as head of the family. The way I see it, a lot depends on the personalities of the respective spouses, but even when the wife is an alpha type (as I confess I am), there has to be a clear deference to male authority. It’s not that women are inferior to men (though I have sympathy for the argument that they are the weaker sex). To use a military analogy (which I hope will resonate with your readers), I see men and women holding the same rank but in different spheres (of influence), one being operational and the other logistical. When push comes to shove, operational matters must take priority and the practical expertise of the man in the field should be given more weight. When there is a difference of opinion that cannot be resolved by rational discussion, someone has to be the decision-maker and that person should be the husband. There are many reasons for this (not least the practical one of preventing endless arguments), but the ones that come to mind are that women are too risk-averse to make tough decisions, men tend to be more rational, and children (and dogs) naturally sense that men are the decision-makers and women the comforters. These are generalisations, of course, but if I can’t generalise I have nothing meaningful to say on the topic. So, most of the time, a marriage should be complementarian, each making use of their talents and natural gifts. For a fertile woman, this should mean a large part of her life nurturing children in the home, and her husband has a complementary duty of providing for the family. And this is probably the most important area in which all men need to be strong and competent, whether single or married – they need to be able to take care of themselves and their dependants, so much so that I do not think the practice in the olden days of giving job priority to male breadwinners or returned soldiers was in itself wrong. I won’t say it was fair – life isn’t fair – but I do know that as long as their husbands or fathers had decent secure jobs, none of my female friends would really suffer if they lost their jobs, whereas many families have been ruined (psychologically as well as financially) by male unemployment. (The single mums already live off benefits anyway.) I would add that the importance of male authority in the marriage increases dramatically when the wife hits menopause. I have seen countless women become unbearably hysterical and irrational due to hormonal fluctuations and while it is not their fault they should not be in a dominant role.”

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6 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Elgin Arbol on December 5, 2015 at 1:14 pm

    This is why you don’t listen to what women tell you about women.

    You have limitations. You’re not superman. But let the weaknesses go unspoken. She wants to figure out for herself what hidden flaws you have beneath that unruffled, stoic or debonair surface. If she can’t find any she’ll invent something ridiculous. She’ll give you the support she thinks you need, unless she’s batshit crazy.

    Reply

    • Posted by Julian O'Dea on December 5, 2015 at 2:17 pm

      I am not sure I understand your comment, Elgin.

      It seems to contradict itself.

      Perhaps this comment from Lexie is relevant: “In fact, in a long-term partner, women want someone who can do a half-decent risk assessment and make a realistic appraisal of his own weaknesses – survival depends on knowing when to cut your losses and women don’t think much of a show of bravado …”

      Reply

  2. Posted by Anon on December 5, 2015 at 7:01 pm

    Thank you.

    Generalizing is expected.

    Lexie answers my follow-up questions in part with “this is probably the most important area in which all men need to be strong and competent, whether single or married – they need to be able to take care of themselves and their dependants”.

    The image that comes to mind is the cautionary tale of the husband who is fired but is scared to face his wife so pretends to go to work at his former job for weeks or months until compelled to admit to his wife that their hitherto comfortable life is no longer sustainable. The expected reaction is that she’ll leave him.

    My follow-up question is to “women don’t expect men to be strong and competent in all areas. An inability to do x can easily be compensated for with an ability to do y.”

    What are x and y?

    Which is to say, what weaknesses, vulnerabilities, or indicators of incompetence in men are deal breakers for women? Which ones are women more forgiving about? I’m curious too how the qualifying judgement for rejection is different in different stages of a relationship, eg, just met vs dating vs going steady vs long-term couple vs married vs with children, etc.

    Conversely, what strengths and indicators of competence in men are high enough priority for women that they compensate for weaknesses, vulnerabilities, or indicators of incompetence? Some men seem to keep their women’s faith and fidelity despite apparent shortcomings, while other men seem to be on a virtual tightrope where a few missteps are enough to break the deal.

    Reply

    • Posted by Julian O'Dea on December 5, 2015 at 9:33 pm

      I may ask Lexie for further comment, but she is a busy wife and mother.

      I shall think about your questions, Anon, myself.

      Sometimes women complain that men expect them to be pretty and so on, and it is unfair. Which it is. But then “life is not fair”. Men’s physical expectations of women can be harsh. The equivalent harshness is seen when women require men to be competent breadwinners, and ideally clever and successful. Women can not be attractive enough through no fault of their own (some of the most outraged feminists are women who simply missed out in the appearance area). Similarly, some men are just not very competent, or they are unlucky, or they have the wrong qualifications for the market.

      It is probably not that common, but sometimes one spouse is, simply, not as “good as” the other. I have been toying with this idea a bit lately. In the biblical sense, some people have one talent, some five, and some ten. Sometimes a five talent woman is married to a one talent man.

      On a slightly different tack, in my experience, it does matter that a man keeps his cool “under fire”. It is usually better to err on the side of stoicism. However, I think Lexie’s point about a man knowing his strength is a very good one. Women won’t thank you for leading them into messes. As the Clint Eastwood character in a movie says, “a man’s got to know his limitations”. More positively, he has to develop cunning as well as courage. In the terms Machiavelli used, he has to be a fox as well as a lion.

      “The lion cannot protect himself from traps, and the fox cannot defend himself from wolves. One must therefore be a fox to recognize traps, and a lion to frighten wolves.”

      By the way, husbands could benefit from dipping into Machiavelli.

      My wife and I once went on a “road trip” to a large city which neither of us knew well. At one stage I was trying to navigate the roads and drive the car safely, as my wife was becoming increasingly hysterical. It dawned on me that a man has to not only deal with the challenges that life throws at him, but also deal with his wife’s reactions. That road trip was a nice metaphor for married life.

      Reply

  3. […] recent posts (here and here) and consequent comments, Lexie has provided these further comments. I think many men will find […]

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  4. […] “How women view weakness?” […]

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