Some experts have called the last recession a “man’s recession,” since more male jobs evaporated than women’s. That means that there were (are) plenty of men at home while their wives pressed on to build their careers or do whatever it takes to generate more revenue for the family. Most men would tell you that they are relieved to have money coming into the house and are pleased for their wives’ professional advancement. They very well might be; however, how does her success make him feel on a subconscious level? Moreover, how do men process their partners’ success in any arena—be it in the kitchen or at a neighborhood social hour?
In a new study published online in the American Psychological Association’s Journal of Personality and Social Psychology®, researchers found that men were more likely to feel subconsciously worse about themselves when their female partner succeeded than when she failed. However, if you flip the dynamics the other way, women’s self-esteem was not affected by their male partners’ success or failure.
“It makes sense that a man might feel threatened if his girlfriend outperforms him in something they’re doing together, such as trying to lose weight,” said the study’s lead author, Kate Ratliff, PhD, of the University of Florida in a press release published by the American Psychological Association. “But this research found evidence that men automatically interpret a partner’s success as their own failure, even when they’re not in direct competition.”
Men subconsciously felt worse about themselves when they thought about a time when their female partner thrived in a situation in which they had failed, according to the findings. The researchers studied 896 people in five experiments.
Researchers also looked at how relationship satisfaction affected self-esteem. Women in these experiments reported feeling better about their relationship when they thought about a time their partner succeeded rather than a time when their partner failed but men did not.
Published originally on Sanity Break at Everyday Health.