Men are often quiet about their emotions and stereotypically do not feel comfortable talking about their feelings or insecurities. Modern culture has created an environment where a man must be stoic and bulletproof in order to be ‘masculine’ and this means that they need to present a façade of invincibility. This is actually quite unfair however as a lot of men have probably as many insecurities and issues as women, but are simply unable to say anything about it.
This also then means that other people are unaware of the problem. A woman can have a bad day and be feeling low about herself and come home to talk about how she is feeling, while a man in exactly the same situation will often come home and say nothing. This then means that the woman can end up accidentally stepping on her man’s feelings or not being as sensitive as she could be, and that he ends up looking after her and catering to her emotions while he is feeling very low himself.
To be a great girlfriend then is to be sensitive to the subtle signs that a man is not feeling great and to help him feel better about himself. At the same time she should aim to boost his confidence just the same as she would her girlfriends – even if he is the most arrogant man on the planet (if he is then know it is just an act, for you). There are several ways to do this and the first is to recognise his right to relax in front of the TV with a beer. You know when your self esteem is low and you take a hot bath with candles? Well this is the exact same thing. Only then being shouted at and told to wash up is not going to help. When your man says he is had a hard day and wants to sit down then realise it may be more serious than he is letting on – choose another time to ask him.
At the same time make sure to volunteer bits of positive feedback without being asked when an opportunity arrives. A lot of women, though well intentioned, use their praise as simply something they say back or say at the end of a conversation on the phone. For example if your guy tells you you are amazing and you say ‘you are amazing too!’, or if you are ending a call and you say ‘I love you, you are a great guy!’. These are nice of course and you should by no means stop, but they are also ‘expected’ to a degree and thus some of the meaning is lost. At the same time a comment like ‘great’ or ‘amazing’ could be about anyone and is not very specific.
On the other hand if you are talking about work and you volunteer ‘you are so amazing at your job, I have always admired you for that’ that will be far more sincere. In other words it needs to sound like you are not saying it because you have to, and that it still counts even though you are his girlfriend. It also needs to be specific about him – so think about what it is that you love or admire about your man and then find a way to work it into conversation.
Men also do not fish for compliments so you have to be more attuned to know what they want to hear. For example if your guy is talking about someone he admires, then there are few nicer things to do than to say ‘you are just as good looking as he is’, or ‘you are just as smart – you could do that’. It might not seem like much but it will leave him glowing all night, do not assume he already knows.
In other words, treat your guy how you think he should be treating you. If you feel he has not been appreciating you enough lately then stop and think – have you been appreciating him any more? It is a strange form of sexism that men’s emotions are considered often as being of secondary importance. To be a great girlfriend is to recognise this inequality and start increasing your man’s confidence whether or not you think he needs it.
Oh and one thing you should never do is to tell a guy’s friends he is feeling low. Mostly this will lead to them taking the piss more not less and chances are it will get back to him. At the same time he is spent years building up his image of infallibility in front of his mates and to say this is to destroy that work in one move.