Saturday, August 21, 2010

Passive Men & Pushy Women

Passive Men

There are so many classic dynamics that come into play when you talk about "nice guys". We've all known them, we've all dated one, and a lot of us married one. I want to start with the strengths of a passive/nice man. First of all, he is a peacekeeper. He is a nurturer, and he is a protector. He wants all those around him to feel valued and honored, and he cares deeply for those he is close to. He gets along well with many different personalities, and he is not intimidated by the strength or intensity of a woman. In fact, he is drawn to a woman like that. He tends to be a great listener and sympathizes well in difficult situations.

However, until he has found his identity and knows he is a powerful man, here are the constraints you will run into; because he is a peacekeeper, he will most often sacrifice taking action when someone has been inappropriate or crossed a boundary. People will take advantage of him and in extreme circumstances be abusive with him, and he will accept that kind of behavior from friends, family & strangers. Passive men that are high nurturers can sometimes end up protecting the wrong things. They will protect dysfunction and keep cycles of unhealthy behavior running for years. They do this because they don't know how to protect healthy core values, and set healthy boundaries. Because he wants everyone around him to "feel good", he won't be honest when someone has hurt him or crossed a line with him. He becomes a people pleaser who is disingenuous with his words, therefore not trustworthy.

The woman who married a passive man with the hopes he would never hurt her, well, she has a harsh wake up call when she realizes he is too weak to protect her. It's like hiring a body guard and then realizing you are stronger, smarter, quicker, and more efficient than he is. Which leads me to talk about...

Pushy Women

Just like I did above, I'll start with the strengths of a high maintenance/pushy/controlling woman. She is independent and often has ideas that will make the world a better place. She is tough, but the common misconception is she is so tough she doesn't feel pain. She feels pain deeply as well as rejection, don't let the tough exterior fool you. She is highly motivated and can perform well under pressure. She also cares deeply for those around her and feels highly protective over her closest friends and family members. She is perceptive and discerning and often picks up on the more subtle aspects of people and situations that others would miss. She requires a lot of deep connection from her mate and her friends, and her standard for life is very high (for herself and for those in her life).

Having said all of that, if she has never known the protection and true strength of a man she could be way out of control. Because she has so many ideas on how to "make the world a better place", she will fight for ideas instead of fighting for people. Because she feels pain so deeply, she will often use threats and punishment when she feels scared, hurt or intimidated. Performance can become her identity, and she will sacrifice relationships to get to the top. When she can't find a man strong enough to lead her or protect her, she will try to be her own bodyguard, and that is not pretty on a woman. She views vulnerability as weakness. When her discernment tells her something is wrong she can often let judgement and fear dictate her behavior. Because her standard is so high for herself, she can become unreasonable in expectations from friends, spouse and children.

The passive man who marries a pushy woman, his wake up call feels like, "hey - you don't need me to protect you, the rest of the world needs me to protect them FROM you!!"

So the pushy woman starts to feel misunderstood, unprotected, abandoned and this unfortunately translates into rage and even more outrageous, out of control behavior. She has chosen to act crazy instead of communicating what she needs.

The passive man starts to take on the identity of a martyr, "look at this insane woman I have to deal with!" He builds a case in his mind that he really is a saint and she just needs to get herself together. He is clueless as to why she has just gone off the deep end, and has no ownership whatsoever that it might be in response to his passivity.

So what's the answer? I have to give you the short version in this blog. Basically the man has to find his strength, and know that strength doesn't mean intimidation, or over-powering, or bullying or being pushy. Strength can be quiet, but it is firm. It is a wall that can't be moved. It is comforting, it is safe, it is fierce, and it is brave. He has to know that he chose a dynamic, intelligent, bright and strong woman. That choice will require more from him. My family pastor used to say, "If you buy a Ferrari, you better know how to drive it and take care of it."

On the flip-side, the woman has to find her vulnerability. She has to know that vulnerability doesn't mean you're weak and helpless. Vulnerability will be the bait that draws him in, it will be the thing that invokes his strongest instincts, to provide and protect. Vulnerability means you know your value and your worth, and you communicate that to those around you. A woman who is vulnerable is one who feels safe and secure. She is beautiful and attractive in that state, and she is most at peace with herself.

Jon is a self-proclaimed recovered Passive Man. And I am a recovered Pushy Woman. Through the years we have been on this journey of finding strength and vulnerability and we can both tell you from experience, the journey has been worth it! Life is better now than it ever has been, and it can be for you too!


  1. good entry. thanks for sharing!

  2. Well done! Thanks

  3. I appreciate you writing this article and it has given me some good insights that I hope to work with. It is an interesting aspect of human behavior I would like to understand.

  4. I wish I had read this 20 years ago.

  5. i can relate myself completely with it

  6. the only difference is he is not there anymore with me as he was asked to leave me by his controlling step parents. he was a man like jon difficult to choose between the people he loves n is close to,he found it easy to leave me. the reason being, he started withdrewing

  7. n with controlling parents who scolded him at the age of 26 to stay away from me,demotivated him to stand up on his own.he behaved really weak n stopped having healty conversations with me. that started bothering me as that never happened earlier with the two of us. he was more controlled as they felt i was the reason behind all his mistakes n not being responsible. that also bothered me as he was casual about his exams n internship. i felt he did it out of laziness. n all this turned situations worst between us. i got really mad at him. he being a peace keeper he could not take it. n i got more mad as i feared that his parents have one more reason to prove that the relation is bad n not appropriate

  8. I am a passive man that finds himself in this cyclic pattern OVER and OVER again. Where I think I am strong and brave in my actions in life (prior military, street kid at a young age, and so forth), I read your article and realized that there must be a different type of strength that I am missing. I am polite. I am a protector and I think my girlfriend and most others in my past have felt secure (though like you stated, some I actually eventually abandoned in the way of ""hey - you don't need me to protect you, the rest of the world needs me to protect them FROM you!!" ). But, I have been described here and the way that I felt as well, so I was hoping you could explain this type of strength you are talking about. I really don't want to be the "martyr" in yet another relationship.

    1. For some reason my own blog won't let me reply under my normal username but anyway...That is an excellent question and one worth pursuing! Unfortunately it would take pages and pages for me to articulate all my thoughts on this different kind of strength. However, the good news is there is a book that does a pretty good job of it that I highly recommend: "Wild at Heart" by John Eldridge. Thanks for your comment!

  9. A weak man will, by default of his actions, invite that type of women into his life. She will ruin him in the end. A word to men reading this...if you found this article because you are uncertain of the one you are You will lose yourself in her.