Guys are fragile, y'all. It seems that even in this modern age, many men suffer a blow to the ego when their girlfriends succeed. Although men seldom admit to feeling stung by partner's successes, their self-esteems do secretly suffer, according to a new study. Meanwhile, women feel just fine about ourselves when our partners succeed. Who's the more sensitive sex now?
In the study, psychologists used a series of experiments to measure how romantic partners reacted to each other's successes and failures. First, male and female partners were separated and then given problem-solving and social intelligence tests. Afterward, the researchers told each participant that their partner had either aced the test or failed miserably — and that's where the real test began. Following the "news" about a partner's test score, the researchers used both a written questionnaire (explicit response) and word-association exercises (implicit response) to measure a participant's level of self-esteem. Quartz reports:
When it came to explicit responses, both men and women’s sense of self-worth remained unchanged, regardless of whether their partner succeeded or failed. A woman’s implicit self-worth was also unaffected by her partner’s performance. However, men who were told their partner had succeeded registered significantly lower implicit self-esteem scores than did those told their partner had failed.
Ouch. The interesting part is that the men didn't acknowledge these feelings — they either knew better than to admit to feeling hurt by a girlfriend's success or were totally unaware that they felt this way. Yet the men seemed to "automatically interpret a partner’s success as their own (relative) failure," the study authors note. Could this explain why even progressive male voters often seem to reject female politicians? And more importantly: How do we change this? Because whether it's unconscious or not, feeing jilted when a partner does well is seriously messed up.