Seeking Men For Self-Esteem

By Maria Infante 

For as long as I can remember I looked to men for approval.

Why? Maybe it was my absent father who was only around for dinner and bed. He paid the rent but didn’t show me much interest. And he favored cousin Daniel over me.

So I made it my mission to become his favorite child.

I sought his love and attention by cutting my hair to look more like Daniel, and I wore clothes that looked like my cousin’s. But instead of being invited to join dad and Daniel, I was scorned and left behind.

I couldn’t understand why dad favored his nephew over me until I understood patriarchy. In patriarchies men and masculinity are valued over women and femininity.

In its worst manifestation I watched my drunk father dominate mother. Yet the church told her to devote herself to him, body, mind and soul, until her final breath. 

Her own father had inflicted abuse on his family, whether through beatings or insinuating that mother’s thoughts and feelings were worthless.

Traumatized from all of this, she still has trouble trusting men. My father, in particular.

Respect for men was not to be earned, but was simply expected – because they were men.

Meanwhile, society told me that men were so fantastic, so women should — obviously — devote themselves to them.

Always longing for men’s approval I became promiscuous in my teens. I guess I had “daddy issues.”

Luckily, not all men are the same. My other grandfather shares his life experiences with me, and I share mine with him. He told me that I have the potential to be anything. But I must let go of the shame of being “just a girl.”

Now I’m paying more attention to the love that my mother and my sisters unfailingly offer me.

I’ve begun to pay more attention to my own needs. I’m learning to respect myself: my intellect, my body… my flaws.

I have allowed men to dominate me for most of my short life. But I no longer feel incomplete. And now I know that I bring my own happiness.

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About BroadBlogs

I have a Ph.D. from UCLA in sociology (emphasis: gender, social psych). I currently teach sociology and women's studies at Foothill College in Los Altos Hills, CA. I have also lectured at San Jose State. And I have blogged for Feminispire, Ms. Magazine, The Good Men Project and Daily Kos. Also been picked up by The Alternet.

Posted on May 21, 2020, in sex and sexuality, women and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. 56 Comments.

  1. I share similar experiences with men that have altered my state of mind when it came to men. My father was always present in my life however he has always been distant. Coming from a culture that does not focus on dealing with emotional problems as they arise my father has always been cold if not angry. I grew up with 2 older sisters and culturally the oldest is favored. It always seemed as if most of the attention that my father had to give onto his daughters rarely trickled down to me This left me with a dull ache to feel love and a acceptance from men, but didn’t understand it was centered around the need to be accepted by father. I never felt completely whole because my father wasn’t an emotional presence in my life. I never understood how harmful my attitude towards love was until I left my family home for school. When I went to school the reins were unleashed and I felt free to chase the love I never knew I was after. This feeling of being accepted I soon learned could never com from a man because the truest form of love that I needed was self love. I realized that attention from men would never replace that feeling of lack within me that caused me to chase after men in the first place. This is a hard lesson that young woman have to learn when a father isn’t present throughout their life teaching them that a mans’ love isn’t all they need to feel good inside myself. I believe that if we teach young girls from a young age that self love is needed to feel whole and not the acceptance of men, women can grow up in this society strong enough to face the scrutiny that the world thrusts upon them.

  2. Seeking men for self-esteem is something I have usually done since I was younger because my dad was very absent in my life so I sought the attention of others. As I grew up I realized that that wasn’t the way to go I shouldn’t be needing the attention of other men/boys I am an independent woman and that was that. From then on I worked on myself and did what made me happy not anyone man. Don’t get me wrong I would love to have a nice stable relationship but I would never change who I am for one.

  3. In many cultures it has been the norm to attend to the man of the house since they are viewed as more powerful, and providers. In a Hispanic household this is very much the case. Women are taught to adhere to the orders of the father figure, and not to retaliate. It’s the expectation that the father will arrive after work to a house that is cleaned, and food that is ready to be served to him. As mentioned in this posting it may be that those around us influence the tolerance of such practices, or it may be the desire to be accepted. In a patriarchy that values masculinity over femininity, a woman will always need to learn to value and respect herself as others around her may not. Thank you for sharing, I really enjoyed reading this post.

  4. It is unfortunate that since early America, the stereotype of the women as the “household slave” persisted. You would think that by now, with the progress that society has made to arrive at this modern age, that stereotype would be gone. Sadly, it is still quietly ingrained in American culture and manifests itself in various ways, especially through domestic abuse. The idea of women being less capable than men is nonsense but still exists due to undying traditions and religious beliefs. Some women don’t even realize that they are living under the grip of this cultural expectation since they grew up with it; they saw it as a norm since it is how family members and the media portrayed women. Thankfully, awareness of women’s rights is ever-increasing and doesn’t seem to be slowing down. It is important to consider women as functional members of society, capable of pursuing the same opportunities as men, if we want to continue advancing. This requires that from the beginning, children be taught than men and women are equals, which begins in the household. The more people are educated about women’s rights, the better each successive generation will be.

  5. What I found most interesting about this article is the part where the author indicated that she was desperately seeking her father’s acceptance and went as far as changing her physical appearance to look more like a boy in order to achieve it. It was fascinating for me to learn that the author, being a very young age at the time, understood that what was needed wasn’t a simple change in interest (like going fishing, or sports) but rather the understanding that she needed to transform into a boy in order to be treated better by her father. She struggled with the need to be felt as someone who is important, and valued, yet at the same time knew that this could not be achieved by being herself (a girl).This reasoning and thinking may seem silly, however, to me this displays just how powerful the influence of patriarchy really is and how much it actually affects girls and women, leading into their adulthood. It puts into perspective for me, how and why certain gender traditions still, and continue to exist.

  6. I have noticed that in various cultures, males are preferred over females in a family. For example, in more traditional Chinese families, sometimes parents try to have a male child instead of a female child in order to carry on the family name. Ideas such as these are horribly damaging and unjust. Reading the part about “the church told her to devote herself to him, body, mind and soul, until her final breath” reminded me that it is essential to devote energy and care towards oneself, and find support and to support other women around you. As society often teaches girls to respect and devote themselves to men, it is important to dismantle this idea and empower girls to achieve their own aspirations. I have surrounded myself with women who are genuinely accepting and supportive, and kindly push me to reach my goals. The fact that they are genuinely accepting means we can converse about various topics freely and authentically, and this support system often keeps me going.

  7. I think that wanting a healthy relationship or connection with your father is of human nature. It might be important to distinguish between wanting just any male’s attention for self-esteem to getting this self-esteem from your father in particular. As a daughter myself, I find myself with the same feeling. I have always felt obligated to be the best I can be in order to make my father proud and have always wanted to be likable. To me, this applies to my mother as well so this is where I would say there’s a line between seeking self-esteem from any male rather than a parental figure. I think that when you are related to someone your actions and wants are completely different compared to just any stranger or friend of that gender. Do you think your attitude would be different if it applied to say a boyfriend? What about even to a close male friend of yours?

  8. I also had issues growing up, not sure if it’s mommy issues or daddy issues, but I did have issues. When I was younger, my dad called the cops on my mom, he was a heavy drinker, cheater, and an abuser to her. He went to jail and was never part of my sister and mine lives. Since my teen years, I always felt that I needed a boyfriend or something was wrong with me if I didn’t. And whenever a boyfriend and I would break up, usually I would think it was because of me either I was ugly or I did something and I needed to find someone else to prove that it wasn’t me and I was pretty enough to get someone else. It wasn’t till, I started to surround myself with women that were pretty and single and they showed me that I can be single too and doesn’t mean I have something wrong if I’m single.

  9. I struggle with knowing my worth so I always end up seeking guys to build up my self-esteem. while you have “daddy issues,” I have “mommy issues” and my mom has never given me approval in anything and she puts me down by comparing me to my sister. On the other hand, my dad saw this and started to listen to me more, which is all that I really ask. I ended up becoming a “tomboy” and mostly friends with guys and when my mom told me I had to look a certain way and act a certain way, I changed my ways and became a “girly girl.” Eventually, though, as I got older, I started to get lots of attention from guys because of my body and I guess since I seek for approval all the time, I took the attention and started to act in certain ways I wouldn’t before. Through this, I feel like my self-esteem was brought up because I was constantly told that my body was amazing and perfect but I was never complimented on my personality or face. I am starting to realize this is wrong and I should know my worth and develop my self-esteem through God and through myself. It is still a work in progress.

  10. As I read this article, I was forced to face the fact that family and religion, which are supposed sources of wisdom and guidance, often do great harm to the people who depend on them—especially women.

    “Maybe it was my absent father who was only around for dinner and bed.”

    So much of who I am and so many of the decisions I make are influenced by the opinions of my parents. Fortunately, I was born into a loving home, but as I grow older, it is shocking to see just how much the opinion of my parents matters to me. Additionally, growing up in a patriarchal household sets a precedent for the same structure in future generations.

    “Yet the church told her to devote herself to him, body, mind and soul, until her final breath.”

    Growing up in the church, I have definitely witnessed this mentality and expectation imposed on women through biblical precedent and toxic leadership. My friend’s mother, who divorced his father when he was young, struggled with being accepted by the other women in the church.

    Additionally, women are not allowed to be pastors or hold high leadership positions in some churches, preventing strong female examples and influence to combat the patriarchy. There is a strong expectation for women to be modest and pure, as their sexuality is seen as threatening to the men in charge. In the Bible, this is seen when Eve is tempted by the serpent and convinces Adam to eat the fruit, and when Bathsheba leads David to sin. Perhaps if churches moved away from a patriarchal structure, there could be more emphasis placed on strong women in the Bible—Esther, who saved the Jews from genocide; Rahab, a prostitute who helped the Israelites defeat Jericho; the story of Ruth, which could be viewed as one of female strength; and so much more.

    • I had a similar experience. It’s interesting that so many things can be helpful or hurtful, depending on how it is used. Like religion, sex… even fire and water.

  11. I enjoyed this post because it’s genuinely very relatable. I have been in a similar position before when I was a kid and I would always do everything to please my father. When my parents got a divorce it broke my heart because I thought my dad was such a hero. After all, we were so alike in my eyes. As I grew older I realized I wasn’t at all like him but I was indeed better. Although I still think to this day I try to please men if I find an interest in them and I always worry about what they will think of me. It’s not right and my mindset shouldn’t be like that but I believe it all stems from my problems with my dad when I was younger.

  12. Reading this made me reflect at my own experiences with my own family dynamic. Understanding the patriarchy that sits within a household is something we don’t learn until much later in our lives. This human experience is part of the other side of a coin where I stand. I grew up in a single parent household, my mother sick of my father and letting him leave without fighting for him to stay. Whether it was her narcissism or self respect, she determined that she would not fulfill a role she was not happy with. My grandmother too, she divorced a man who would lock her in a house with all three children for days, neighbors unlocking it and feeding them within the timeframe of my grandfather’s absence. Even my aunt, my mother’s sister and my grandmother’s daughter, two children to raise by herself. I learned obedience and loyalty to these women, and so did my younger male cousins, our lives meant nothing if they were not the ones who held us.

    Even now, as adults, my cousins and I hold an interesting bond that most might not expect, especially in our culture. They listen to the women far more than they do the men. Whether because it was the lack of presence of their father, or because all we’ve known is utmost respect towards women, who knows, we’ve never had a conversation such as this. Even the societal structure that usually exists outside of our household never managed to break in our home. I am a woman who is placed on a pedestal, not just an object, and especially not someone who desires the approval of a man. This has been instilled in me, hammered over the years where any form of dependence of a man is strangely odd to me. Even though I understand much more clearly that maybe the manner in which my family approached my own upbringing, I can’t help but notice my reactions towards relationships where it seems like women are at their partner’s whim. My perspective is skewed, a twisted reality where I feel an odd sense of disgust even though I understand that it isn’t a bad thing to rely emotionally on a partner in times of vulnerability, in particularly a male.

    Yet because of this upbringing, I take pride in my intelligence, whatever that may be to be quite honest. My self-esteem is determined by my current knowledge, but also my ability to evolve and adapt to situations. The way I perceive my physical appearance is interesting as well. I don’t like how I look, but maybe not for the same reasons maybe a majority feel. If I don’t look healthy, then I am unsatisfied. If there is a blemish on my skin, then I must drink more water. For me my appearance matters because it’s a reflection of how I take care of my health, a contrast to Maria’s own personal reasons as to her own changes.

    Of course all this is part of the human experience, even though it should not happen in terms of this manner. Despite being part of two different sides of a coin, ultimately this is still the same coin. There are deep rooted understandings of how our society currently exists, we have all experienced behaviors that break self esteem and leave women powerless. Yet, just like Maria says in her story, not all men are the same. It’s something each side of the coin need to learn, that men are human who are also learning, and some learn quite better than others. It’s experiences with these men that might allow us all the freedom from this strange desire to be accepted by them.

  13. Serena Delgadillo

    I really enjoyed reading this post because it’s always a good reminder that you should care for the ones who take the time to care for you. I don’t know what it’s like to grow up in such a toxic environment, but I can imagine how awful it had been. I have had close friendships with similar issues and they would constantly joke around about having “daddy issues”, but I never realized until now what that concept really meant. I feel as if I was lucky to grow up with the love that my dad gave me. I think I would have reacted in the same manner as a teenager. I have also noticed that with religion in mind it seems like as women we are almost supposed to devote our entire lives to men, but that isn’t the case at all. Thank you so much for sharing, it’s amazing to hear that you’ve found your happiness.

  14. This is far to a familiar story on the female upbringing. Growing up in a Latino family, there is defiantly a sense of the patriarchy. My grandfather is the highest-ranking member of our family, and anything he says goes. We are all required to do what he says, no questions asked. Being the oldest granddaughter, I have had very high expectations placed on me to keep the other grandchildren in line, but also to be the model grandchild. I have had to work hard in academics and my personal life. Often I am under the microscope of the rest of my family; they often question whether my career choices will make money for our family.

    In contrast, my male cousins have been given by my grandfather everything. When they were born, they got the house and the money to be sent to a private school. They got everything they wanted growing up and never had to worry about affording a place to live or food.

    I can say this up till thus far has worked to their detriment. They never learned what it meant to work hard for what they want. Because my sister and I worked hard, we gained respect from my grandfather. Because my grandfather has the most money in our family, he gave us many gifts as we got older as rewards for our hard work. Our cousins did not get the same rewards and became frustrated when they no longer received the lavish things they got when they were younger.

    I can say it is frustrating that it took hard work to gain our grandfather’s respect and support. The fact that the same support wasn’t given to my sister and me at birth is entirely reflective of the effects of the patriarchy in our family.

  15. “But because of that women who seek out sex often don’t care about the sex so much as the suggestion that it means they are wanted by someone, and therefore valuable.”

    I wonder if that seeking for sex is not even about feeling desired, but like substituting sex so that the woman make believe to herself that the men are having sex with her, because they care about her or find her intriguing. Often it seems like women with low self esteem who sleep around, do it because they want love but don’t value themselves so they try to find love in all the wrong place. But the differences both revolve around sex for both men and women, but just different value placed on it to their self esteem. Women want to feel valuable in the overall aspect but try to use sex to feel appreciated. But men would like to feel valuable overall, but feel like they can’t be picky when they are starved of intimacy so just seek surface level desire because of the strong sex drive men have and lack of desire they may feel. Women don’t need sex to feel sexually desirable, because women are sex objects in society and men are more visual.

    So women whether they like the attention or not, probably unless they are hideous, know they can get sex any time they want if they wanted it. And men’s attention means more because less steps are needed to where a man would have sex right away. Whereas a woman can find a guy hot, but that doesn’t mean she would sleep with him. She’d need to talk to him for a bit on the phone or text and see in person, and a connection and then see how that goes. If a man finds a woman attractive, if a woman wanted sex right then and there, he’d more often be ready and willing ha. So women are important to men’s self esteem, because men who aren’t getting laid or having long spells of not getting sex. I’m telling you, they probably will feel depressed and not so valuable, because how can one feel valuable if they aren’t getting the physical feedback of being sexually desired? Being sexually desirable is important to most people I think except asexual people. So men are depended on women for a man’s self worth also, so men seeking sex, to feel validated that they are sexual desirable, which boosts the self esteem for sure.

    • Yeah maybe. Women’s self-esteem is so focused on looks that I suspect it often goes:

      He desires me so I must be alluring so I must be valuable.

      I think straight women often think men think the way they do: I won’t have sex with someone unless I’m very attracted to him.

      But girls who come from emotionally cold families are often seeking love.

      How would you describe possible male experiences with this: She desires me so… ? (and is there more than one possible answer?)
      – She desires me so I’m sexually desired and thus, valuable
      – … I’m an alpha? I’m wealthy or powerful…

      But men are more commonly in touch with their sexual desire and sexual pleasure whereas women are more cut off from both due to constantly repressing desire and failing to get to know their bodies because sex for single women is so often seen as shameful.

  16. Maria brings up a great point about the overlap between patriarchal social constructs and religious organizations: “Yet the church told her to devote herself to him, body, mind and soul, until her final breath.” While I understand and empathize with the desire to connect with people on an emotional and religious level, I find that too often religious beliefs are used in lieu of critical thinking or of self-reflection. It is easy to say ‘things have always been this way’ or ‘that’s how I was taught’ when society begins to push back against firmly held beliefs and religious indoctrination and organizations play into this concept. Loving thy neighbor is great, sure. But is being homophobic OK because the Bible says that gay people are subversions of God’s will?
    I think that the steps that Maria – and others – are taking to find their inner respect and strength are immensely difficult and it is extremely brave and important to do so. I just wish that society as a whole was more understanding and accepting of the fact that men and women are simply not being treated on equal terms, especially in the formative years of their lives.

  17. That’s funny, I thought my desire for female approval was clear irrefutable proof of matriarchy.

    • Nope. Patriarchy means men rule. No female President of US yet, Mostly male Congress, Most CEOs are male, most religious leaders are male, most media heads are male.

      We’re moving more toward partnership, as women have made many gains in above examples, but still live in patriarchy.

  18. This was a great topic that needs to be talked about more. Our society expects women to be trained and prepared for men. We are expected to tend for men and our lives are centered around being a “wife” which makes us subconsciously crave male approval to feel like we are enough. We are told to close our legs and wear baggy clothes in the presence of men even in the comfort of our own homes so that they don’t stare at us innapropriately when its should be men who are taught to not be such sexual predators. There are men and WOMEN who argue that it’s a man’s basic nature to feel that way so we need to be the ones to cover up. Everything we are taught to do is to make us compatible for men.

    I didn’t have a good relationship with my dad, he wasn’t abusive but we simply just weren’t close. I’m a naturally dominant woman who was raised by a strong and dominant mother so I did not like authority. Every time my dad would try and control me, our relationship would worsen. I did not like having a man telling me what to do. Because I had such a close bond with my mother I never sought after my dad’s approval but growing up I peeked approval and validating from boys that I would talk to. I would observe them and try and morph my personality into something they liked just to gain their approval. I got it every time and it made me feel good and confident and I realized my power. Eventually I started to gain pleasure from making men feel unwanted and small but I still needed to feel acceptance from them. To this day I still enjoy the feeling and I feel like if I don’t have men fawning over me, I feel empty.

  19. Interesting to read this topic and learn about the environment around our teens as a girl or boy and how girls were looking for some approval from their counter sex. I grew up in Iran and of course after the 1978 revolution when everything became so radical to even not have mixed classrooms until you get into college. But I can tell you that most women in Iran were looking into some kind of approval from their men, if they wanted to do something. If it was not her dad or husband, then it was her brother or cousins. It obviously makes sense if the radicalism wants to diminish a country and its culture, they better to limit the women and mothers of that country like exactly what happened in Iran and tell them you are under control of your men and should obey your men like what happened with catholic church centuries ago.

  20. I grew up in a house where my father ruled and he had control over money, vacations, family gatherings, dress code and house rules. My mom was the bread winner, she had a double MBA, she was the one who worked while my father had failed business after failed business. When my mom died, she was young, he was left with a healthy chunk of money. She was a VP for a major tech company and when she was not at work, her life was devoted to her girls. To make things easier on her my sister and I cleaned, cooked, took care of the house and each other. My dad, did nothing. He wanted to finish his AA, wasn’t working and was taking 2 classes a quarter. But when my mom came home he would take credit for the house and dinner. Because I had one swift hand across the face too many, I remained quiet, my little sister was in fear of ever getting her first slap. Because I saw how hard my mom worked, I never said anything. When my parents moved out of state when I graduated, she was tired of waiting for him to help contribute, so she completed his BA for him on line. But once my sister was away in college and I was out here in California, the days he worked from home, the house didn’t get clean and dinner wasn’t made. I know she figured most of the truth out before she died, that her girls helped her get through her long days and took care of her as well as she took care of them. And she learned that she would always have to carry my father. Once she died, both my sister and I are not close by and he at first wasn’t bothered by it. He had her money and after a 40 year marriage, he began dating a few months after her death. Now after ten years he has realized that he doesn’t have a partner in life, he can’t get the quality he had from my mom and unlike our mom, we won’t take care of him. We know he is lonely and he doesn’t care about the money anymore. I often wonder how often, if at all, how many times he may have slapped my mom, degraded her, made her feel worthless or under his control. If he did she did not let on. But the joke is on him. He may have her money, but he isn’t happy spending it, he doesn’t have his kids, or his grand kids. When I was little I was a daddy’s girl and something changed and he wasn’t the same with his family. My mom used to say it was because of all the horrible jobs he had, which is why she completed his degree. She felt he could have a good job, he was a smart man, she lifted him up and she supported him always. Yet, he wouldn’t let her take her grand kids on a vacation with the money she made and supported him with for the majority of their marriage.

    Our eyes were open, my sister and I were taking notes, we saw the lesson growing up. I have been called a feminist, I have been told I have a bad attitude against men because I don’t ask for help, I have been told that men wouldn’t want me because I am too strong, confident and independent. I am ok with all of that. I actually don’t think most men are bad, I know a lot of great men in my life. But every once in a while I see one like my father. My good male friend told me that I challenge the masculinity and control of men because I am independent and resourceful. And this good man told me to never apologize or change that. I never have, and I have never looked back, nor have I regretted any of it. My children will know the lessons I learned, regardless of their genders, and they will know that it is ok to be strong and independent. A strong woman will work with my son and together they will support and lift each other up, and a secure man will work with my daughter and not feel threatened by her abilities and self worth- she will know what those qualities will look like in him.

  21. “In “Plato’s Republic” Plato talks about how I desire to be well regarded can lead to good things (of course it won’t necessarily!). But it’s true that you can get great music and art and great sports and great products and sometimes even great leaders Because people aspire to get their ego fed. Of course, it can go the other way. I think when people aren’t actually talented and one through ego fed they can end up putting other people down to lift themselves up. Or trying to trick people into thinking they’re really great when they really aren’t. Then it can be distructive.”

    I don’t understand tearing people down or bullying that can come from this like you said. But the problem with this like you said, is very few people are of that caliber, but yet still aspire to it. And only the top people will get that praise, so if you’re a person who feels they are skilled or talented, but feel you’re overlooked. That can cause a problem, as it could cause a chip on one’s shoulder, which often can make a person feeling like they have something to prove. Some can get defensive easily as a result or more confrontational from the bruised ego from that. It can be a problem even when someone is atop of their craft though, as the perfectionism and burning fire is not what most have and it’s hard for that person to work with teammates or co workers who don’t have the same crazy competitive motivation.

    When I watched the Last dance, Michael jordan talked about things or watched clips of people talking about him and he didn’t even know people felt that way. I think hyper motivated people can get tunnel vision where they are so consumed, that they don’t really notice if how they are acting really bothers their co workers. It’s not so much of not caring, but being so consumer in it that they got lost in their efforts. Jordan didn’t feel he was a tyrant, but that was the story by reports and he saw clips with his teammates feeling that way and it got him emotional when seeing that they felt that way. It bothered him a lot. He said he just wanted to get his guys ready for the playoffs and bring the intensity, he did it to make them better. And if they didn’t want to do it they didn’t have to.

    • When you are in the spotlight you get a lot of feedback but you might not get otherwise. And I guess you particularly need this when you are so nearly focused and unaware of yourself and your behavior and how it affects other people.

      It’s also interesting how often people puff themselves up because they actually feel so insecure deep inside that they have to put a lot of work into convincing themselves, and trying to convince others, that they are as great as they wish they were.

  22. At first, I was not sure whether or not I could relate to this topic, as I had grown up only surrounded by women. However, I realized that in school, I strived to do my best when surrounded by my male peers, as if I was looking to them for gratification. I think this topic is really important because it is so engrained into society that many forget or ignore the effects that it has on young girls, even women themselves.

  23. “But because of that women who seek out sex often don’t care about the sex so much as the suggestion that it means they are wanted by someone, and therefore valuable.

    Another gender differences that men gain value from other men by having sex with women whereas women lose value by having sex with men. You would think this would be changing more but recent research is still finding that double standard.”

    Well even though men seek out sex more than women, like I said, men seem to tie their self esteem to women if not more, it’s just different. The seeking of sex is for the pleasure of it and ego stroke, but just as much a feel for a man to be wanted by someone too. I mean it’s not as meaningful compared to someone loving you and the value of that. But feeling desired feels good to and wanting to know and feel you are sexually desirable to the opposite sex right? Well it’s not obvious or apparent to men unless the woman wants and has sex with the man. So it’s hard for a man to have validation of worth when sex is so craved and important to men and to their happiness and since men are attracted to women.

    Unfortunately, women’s reactions to men can have a huge dependence on a man’s self worth, ego and happiness. Other men gaining value from sex with other women and getting other men’s praise has some to do with it and the difference with how women are treated differently. But you have to take into account, there’s varying levels of insecurity. I think that comes from insecurity of boys internalizing societal views of how boys should view sex and peer based stuff.

    But don’t forget a man can want to do well with women that has nothing to do with praise from other men. Like me, I’d be annoyed if guys praised me or I don’t understand it. It’s like selling yourself short. Like If I want to sleep with many hot women, it would be because of lust but just being a person who wants to do well in many aspects I desire. Sports, music, career. If you do well in sports, it means your a good athlete right? If you do well in music it means you’re a talented musician right? If you’re a good comedian, it means you’re really funny right? If you’re very successful, it means you’re a talented, ambitious person, more accomplished and better than other men at right? So much to be proud about right? If you’re attracting many attractive women because of your looks and charm, it means you have better qualities that are above average to other guys right? But this is all internal. The self satisfaction of doing well in one’s pursuits but not something to do to be praised or even want that. It’s not needed. The results give the satisfaction and if anything, it would mean a person must not be actually good if they feel it’s a big deal to get other men’s praise. It’s the average basketball players who make a good play, that just to show off and brag about their sports accomplishment right? Do good basketball players do that? I don’t believe they do, because they know they are good and talented and like making a big 3 pointer would not be something they’d brag to friends about, because it’s not something that’s a big deal to them because of their strong skill set in that aspect. They are more likely to be frustrated when failing at shots because of high expectations backed by skill set.

    • Thanks for the clarification. It’s interesting to understand ways of seeing from different places in society.

      • I do appreciate how you seem pretty fair and not generally judgmental. Everyone can be judgmental, but just different degrees, just like I can depending on what it is even though I try not to be. It’s human nature to some extent. But I was expecting to be shamed for my honesty. I mean I’ll admit it. I do have a big ego and am a proud person. But I also have a big heart too, so it is quite the contradiction almost. The ego is not out of a bad place meaning to put others down. It’s just there idk.

        Some people it’s just wired in them. I’m and like most people aren’t to his degree. But I was watching the last dance which was good, a sport documentary on ESPN. And it featured the Chicago Bulls with Michael Jordan being the main person of course. The guy has his flaws of course, but I don;t believe he;s a bad person. He;s just very competitive. But the compeitiveness drove him for his career goals and all the things he’s aspired to. And he apparently but that effort in the business realm. Hes;s a billionaire and one of the wealthiest black people in America. He;s no OPrah of course, but still. I mean he makes more than Beyonce and Jayz combined, and they are one of the most wealthy celebrities in US.

      • In “Plato’s Republic” Plato talks about how I desire to be well regarded can lead to good things (of course it won’t necessarily!). But it’s true that you can get great music and art and great sports and great products and sometimes even great leaders Because people aspire to get their ego fed. Of course, it can go the other way. I think when people aren’t actually talented and one through ego fed they can end up putting other people down to lift themselves up. Or trying to trick people into thinking they’re really great when they really aren’t. Then it can be distructive.

  24. S Moreno-Martinez

    As I briefly read through some of the comments about this post, I couldn’t help but notice how many people felt compassion towards this girl who had conformed and learned to get out of the norm of letting men essentially run her life, have power over it. It truly is sad how she had to grow up the way she did, but she is one of so many women who’ve been victims of the toxicity that is patriarchy. I myself have realized that I’ve been conformed to live in this way and not by choice. It is more because of the fact that many families pass on these ideals to their children because that is all they’ve ever known sometimes. This is the very same reason why education is so important and why it’s been something society for many years has tried to keep out of women’s reach. With the power of knowledge, women are able to accomplish just as much as men are able to and ultimately abolish the nonsense that is patriarchy.

    • Thanks for bringing up the point of how socialization within a patriarchal culture can bring about this sort of behavior, too. Thanks for sharing about your experience with this.

  25. I grew up in a family with an abusive father and a very loving mother, so I completely understand where she is coming from. As an individual who experienced such trauma, it’s very easy to get sucked into the idea that what they are/were doing was appropriate and right. A father is supposed to love and protect their children no matter what. Instead in these situations they use their status as a “father” to gain your trust and then use this power to abuse someone. This is why abused women have trouble trusting men later in life. I was programmed at a young age by my father to please him at all costs and to lie about it and so that trickled into my relationships with men as I started to date. The survivor response of seeking men for self-esteem is a very common thread among victims and trying to reprogram your brain into believing you don’t need a man’s approval to know that you are worth a lot is hard to accomplish.

  26. This hits close to home, for me. It is in no way an excuse for how I control my life decisions, but I completely empathize on how this person feels and I do feel that the lack of my father’s presence and the discouragement that my mother dealt with has affected me.
    My father became very distant and stopped engaging attention towards me before I was 8 years old. I thought that I had done something wrong and felt responsible for trying to mend whatever it was that caused for his absentee. He loved American football and baseball and I would pretend to be engaged in the games with him, but he almost always shunned me away and told me that I was a distraction. During family gatherings, his side of the family, the men of the family would always gather in the living room and watch sports while the women gathered in the kitchen. I wanted to play with my one and only cousin, who was several years older, but he behaved the same way the rest of the men in the family did and told me to go away and hang out with my mom and grandmother.
    My mother moved to America to leave tradition and seek freedom from having to feel obliged to a set standard within a marriage, only to find herself in that exact situation that she ran away from. My grandmothers would always bring up the discussion of an ideal marriage for me, since I can remember, and my mother would later tell me, marriage is a prison…and divorce is hell.
    As I grew older, I found that my dysfunctional family dynamic has had an impact on my behavior towards male figures and the type of men I surround myself with. I also found that seeking female companionship was difficult in my youth and often felt threatened by those who imposed power. I think that is likely because I was surrounded by submissive females.
    For nearly twenty years now, my mother has been single. She tells me that she has no interest in another marriage and has become a very self-assured individual with priorities of self-care. She has been my biggest support of the recent couple of years. As for my father…my last memory of him is that he is a drug addict, an alcoholic and getting in trouble with the law.

  27. Wing-Yee Tse

    When I read this article, Seeking Men for Self-Esteem, I thought of myself. I haven’t had my parents since I was a child, and I have no experience of how to get along with men. Of course, I’m talking about adult men. Every time I see my classmates’ parents, I will try to show my good side. Hopefully, my friend ’s parents will recognize me as a good friend of his daughter. Sometimes I often ask my friends, did your parents say anything about me? I think these are my introspections and inferiority. I came to the United States a few years ago, and I live with my uncle and aunt’s family. My uncle likes to tell stories and life experiences with me. I love him very much because I never know how it is feeling to have a father or a parent like this, so I work hard to prove myself to my uncle that I am doing very well. But sometimes it is tiring to show yourself. I don’t know why I did this. Maybe it’s nature. Men and women are attracted to each other, and one side always wants to express themselves. Soon after, I decided to go out alone, and I didn’t want to prove myself to others. I started living outside myself and also have a boyfriend. Then I found it important to be yourself, and have someone who can let you be yourself. Only if you respect yourself, others will naturally respect you.

  28. Self-Esteem relates to how one feels about one-self in terms of likes, dislikes, your abilities,what makes you proud as a person overall and other related areas. No one is perfect – we all have our strengths and weaknesses but having weaknesses doesn’t generally correlate to having low self-esteem. Self-esteem is a core identity issue and both men and women struggle in some sense with this respect. Women don’t and shouldn’t need men to showcase their self-esteem.

    The women of today in the workplace have slowly started to stand up for themselves, be more confident rather than earlier on in most cases where they took a back seat and in most cases never got a chance to display their true potential. Anyone be it man or woman with low self-esteem eventually doesn’t have control or direction of their own lives and destiny. Their lower confidence forces them to seek dependency and advice from others all the time, unable to make decisions of their own and this vicious cycle makes sure those individuals will never come out of this mold.

    Based on research in this area, it predominantly shows that self-esteem typically tends to increase as we grow older and that in general men tend to have higher self-esteem (some say blatant ego in some respect for some individuals) than women worldwide. Interestingly enough this gap seems to be much more in Western civilized countries than under-developing countries with gender inequality tending to relate the various culture-specific influences on the overall development of their self-esteem.

    There are various ways to increase self-esteem starting with learning to understand everyone is different, stop comparing yourself with others, working on honing your weaknesses, do what makes you happy and confident, learn to make decisions and learn that it’s ok to fail but fail faster, that you can only change things which are in your control and stop worrying about things not in your direct span of control, it’s ok to make mistakes but learn from it and finally be positive about oneself.

    For women, dependency on men is what they can try to avoid as best possible as part of the above recommendations and doing this over time will certainly eliminate that dependency overall and realize what took so long for them to realize their true potential.

  29. It’s sad she went through this and other women through harmful messages sent to them about them being inferior to men or internalize that. I know why this was pointed out because of this blogpost and realize it probably is more harmful with how this effects women, though maybe not. But I think it goes both ways, though for different reasons. However, I think just as many men seek women for self esteem too. A woman can make bad decisions because she has daddy issues. But boys can put such unwanted stress on themselves too and lose peace of mind, because their self esteem is set based on women’s response and attraction to them. Validation. I don’t mean boys bragging about how they are having sex with or dating, but it can be all purely internal. Maybe boys aren’t around other boys who brag about banging hot girls, but they see what’s going on and everyone has egos. And see boys doing what they desire and other boys who maybe are even less attractive than they are or d bags but getting laid. So the feeling of missing out, and so feeling of failure or undesirable because on how they feel they compare to other boys and just salt to the wound.

    This can be especially true if a boy has more dating potential than other guys, but let anxiety or social anxiety get in the way. It’s weird how much joy, pride, anger, for boys is actually based on the female sex’s desires or lack of desires to them. It’s just amazing how boy’s happiness and self esteem is put based on all this and why I feel boys actually seek more from women as far as a boy being happy or depressed. The big thing I think is because of ego validation. Seeing other guys egos stroked while others none. You know how in society with rich and poor, we talk of the have and have nots. It seems like that as far as dating for guys. There’s a few who get the plethora of it all and the pleasure and ego strokes for days, while other guys are like paupers just getting crumbs and instead of ego strokes its the reverse ha. I think the problem is women are blamed when that’s wrong as more often it’s the guy’s faults, but it’s very difficult for, not just a guy but anybody to have to swallow their pride and admit their faults. It’s weird too because imo dudes are selling themselves short. Why are you selling yourself short? When they blame women too. Just speaking as a man and observing how, god, men do and have done so much for female approval. The middle aged guy with the porsche? You think it’s just because he likes flashy cars? Hmm, it most likely it “peacocking” and to show off to women. Now think about the work and moving up the chains to have that $ and then spending that money in effort to look better than other men and desiring to impress women?

    It sucks for women because they are often the losers in this, being the pawns of men’s egos competing vs each other, but men are unhappy too, because that’s fucking stressful. There’s so much to be thankful for and to be happy about, but it will lead to unhappiness. It’s hard though as our society, not just men, but society shapes people to be so competitive with each other and compare. When you compare yourself to others, you’re bound to be unhappy, because someone is always more talented, better looking, smarter and more successful. So it’s just a set up to being unhappy. I’m saying that as a man who struggles with that, because I’m such a competitive person in just about every way.

    • Yes, a couple of you men have mentioned how guys can also seek out women for self-esteem. And I have seen men right on my blog bout that before. Like huggy bear, whom I haven’t heard from in a while.

      She talks about a number of ways in which she did this, one being sexual. And it’s sad that the men seem to refer to. Men seeking sex for self-esteem. I think it’s harmful but for both men and women but it shows up in different ways, right?

      Women may seek out sex with men for self-esteem and then end up suffering by being shamed as a slut. It’s also more dangerous for women. One of my students wrote about her experience getting raped because of situations she ended up in while trying to seek approval.

      While men who seek out sex for self-esteem get high-fives it’s harder for men to get sex than women – specifically because we shame women and celebrate men. So men are more likely to feel bad that they aren’t able to get any sex, or not near as much as they would like. Plus a lot of men make stuff up and exaggerate, leaving the men who believe it feeling even worse off.

      And then a lot of these men get mad at women, when the real root problem is the punishment that women get from having sex. And then when men get mad at women they are hostile and women since the hostility and avoid them.

      You have a lot of interesting insights. I’m curious about your thoughts here.

      • I think most guys do things where women’s approval or lack of approval has a big indicator of a man’s self esteem. Basically the stuff men do kind of revolves around women. I seen a quote before where men would live in a cardboard box if that’s all they needed for women to sleep with them ha. Well obviously that’s an exaggeration, as Idc if I’m never getting laid, I sure as hell would not feel comfortable living in a cardboard box. But it just shows like, a lot of the things men do, fancy stuff, is not to simply impress women but incentive of attracting women. A lot of extra stuff is done to get a woman’s appreciative approval. It’s hard to see how a man’s self esteem is completely independent of women. Seems like the most confident man, a rich successful, good looking millionaire could end up feeling a hit on a his ego if for some reason he was on a long dry spell and women didn’t seen interest in him and his not as funny, charming friends, less good looking successful friends were doing fine in dating.

        Like so much can go right, but success in dating and sex can be such a difference on a man who was owning the world, but now feeling in the dumps because he hasn’t gotten laid in a long time. To a guy guy who could be mediocre in everyway, but for a moment has a swag during a month where he’s attracting hot women left and right and the ego stroke of feeling he’s got looks or charm that’s better than other guys and it’s based on women’s attractions or lack of attractions to guys. Men’;s egos, therefore, self esteem can be so reliant on women, because of how competitive men are with each other but also because it’s the only source of validation men have of being sexually wanted. And also since women are sexualized and men are just generally hornier than women or craving sex more often as well so visual. Lack of sex can be tough for women, but I think it’s just to another level for men generally because it’s harder to come by for men so a bigger deal to get it as well as men involuntarily starved of it more.

        As a result men just seemingly in a constant state of like arousal, so it hits harder from the physical craving but like ego bruising too. It doesn’t have to do with like bragging though, but can just be internal and feeling a man is missing out on carnal physical pleasure other guys are having and then if a man feels he’s better than said guys. That only adds dump truck full of salt to his metaphorical wound and magnifies as great failure on his part. It’s easy to rate your abilities in general and have a general consensus or what your expectations are and how you should do. If you’re failing at it and then people who you feeling you have more talent or potential than, are doing better too. Then it only adds to the feeling of failure which was already felt and then seeing that.

      • I’ve noticed tho but it’s just such a hard thing to not do. I believe the biggest source of unhappiness people have in their lives, the insecurity, the anger, the anxiety, depression and sadness. As big of the external adversities that hit people are. More often I believe it’s comparing themselves to other peoples lives that leads to it. You could have a great life abc yet feel you don’t or not realize it when comparing to others because it makes you feel you’ve missed out. I remember you said how unhappy women can be because they compare their bodies to other women’s bodies who are models.

        But it doesn’t just end there, it can be simply damaging to, man or woman, compare your traits, skills etc to others and especially life. I think the biggest issue is comparing ones life as it will make a person feel depressed and unfulfilled and lose being grateful which provides a big source of happiness. It’s sucks but it can be easy to get caught up in almost competing to having the most successful and exciting life or want one as exciting as others have. But in the end it just seems to lead to a lot of unnecessary stress to life, when I think one of the more precious things in life is to have peace of mind.

      • Thanks for expanding on this.

        One difference between women and men, I think, is that women’s sexuality is more commonly dampened by constant slut shaming — women damping down their desire until it drops off or goes away, Helping to explain why nearly half of American women have a little to no interest in sex. But men don’t have a similar dampening of desire, partly because they are not shamed for wanting sex, and partly because they do have a different biology that is less likely to be sexually dampened. But because of that women who seek out sex often don’t care about the sex so much as the suggestion that it means they are wanted by someone, and therefore valuable.

        Another gender differences that men gain value from other men by having sex with women whereas women lose value by having sex with men. You would think this would be changing more but recent research is still finding that double standard.

  30. I have to believe that you realize men look to women for approval, which is a powerful motivational force.

  31. When I saw the title of this post, I had a plan for what I was going to say in the comment I intended to leave hereand my question was whether seeking to work towards a potential relationship is what I want to do and that I could potentially be doing it to try and fill a loneliness void so to speak? You don’t seek out a relationship just to fill a void such as isolation and loneliness. I suppose i’m probably seeking approval in some way and that being blind there are opportunities I’ve missed out on that I should never have missed out on. Maybe that’s not really what this post is about but it’s the idea going through my mind and whether it fits or not loneliness is never an excuse for anything but I’ve seen people that go from relationship to relationship and I think we are all seeking perfection in some way knowing full well there isn’t such a thing as perfection. My grandmother has 6 grandsons and I myself am one of those. This has nothing to do with perfection or anything like that out of the 6 grandsons 2 of the 6 it is said are her favourites but we are all loved by her.

    • Well it is human nature to need connection. So your loneliness is telling you something real and something valuable, that you do need connection. One of my best friends is in a relationship with a blind man right now and she is super happy. They are perfect for each other! We may seek connection for other reasons like to feel valuable. And that isn’t all bad in that we are social animals and it could be that we evolved to want approval because that aids better behavior and social cohesion. But it’s helpful to be aware of what our motives are. And it’s best to find relationships that are healthy for us and not hang onto unhealthy relationships out of desperation, of course.

      I was reading this a while ago and thought I would send it along to you (it was written by a New York Times columnist who is going blind in one eye and might become totally blind in the future, so he is interested in these issues):

      The young lieutenant governor of the state of Washington, Cyrus Habib, who went blind at 8, graduated from Columbia University, won a Rhodes scholarship, got a Yale law degree and made a big splash in politics, then decided that his ambition was consuming him. He recently announced that he would leave office later this year to begin the roughly 10-year process to become a full-fledged Jesuit priest.

      Because of space constraints, there was much about Habib that I didn’t get to share in the column. For instance, I mentioned his trek last year to the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro but not his revelatory, gorgeous explanation of what a blind climber experiences in lieu of a conventionally defined view.

      “You feel it,” Habib told me. “You feel the whole world dropping away. I have a sense of spatiality, based on acoustics and maybe even other types of senses that I can’t scientifically describe. I can feel when I’m in a huge cathedral. I can feel when I’m in a small bedroom.” At the top of Kilimanjaro, he said, “It felt to me like I was on the moon, because of the thinness of the air. You’re kind of high — lightheaded — and you feel this sense of vastness that’s not just around you but also below you. You can feel it in your body.”

  32. Sometimes we tend to turn to God to help us with what is going on in our lives. To pray and ask for some kind of miracle that will change the way things make them better for us to be able to be happy. I have always thought that to believe in God; you don’t necessarily have to go to church for the simple reason that church has so many ideas that maybe God does not. For instance, your mom was told by the church that she must devote her life to him until the day of her death, but what if she is not happy, does that not matter to church? Sometimes we believe that we have to do certain things to keep the men in our lives comfortable. We change the way we are sometimes so drastically for them to accept us. We are not taught just to be ourselves; instead, we are thought to be what they want us to be.

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