“An egotist is a man who thinks that if he hadn’t been born, people would have wondered why.” Dan Post
The ego. We all have one. It is part of what makes up our psychological selves along with the Id and the Superego. While Merriam-Webster defines the ego as simply “the self, especially as contrasted with another self or the world”, it can be further described as the part of the self that remembers, plans, assesses, and responds to its surroundings. In my own words, I would describe it is the part of ourselves that causes us to act or react in a specific way based on how the related events affects our self-esteem and our pride. Each of us has different life experiences that shape our egos and therefore shape our reactions to the world around us.
While both men and women have egos, the male ego never ceases to astound and perplex me. While no blanket statement applies to everyone, it seems safe to say that men tend to have more of an ego than women, and that men allow their egos to dictate their decisions and actions to a much greater degree than women do. While we may often hear the phrase, “He has such a big ego!”, we rarely hear the same phrase uttered in reference to a woman.
Is it a compliment or a criticism to say that someone has a big ego? I suppose that depends on whether we think that the ego is a source of strength or an impediment. Calling someone an “egomaniac” is generally looked upon as an insult, but there are some who would consider that tantamount to a status symbol, much in the same way that some individuals take pride in being workaholics. While the ego can drive many to great success, it can also cause many to be blind to reality.
It has been my observation that in many cases the degree that one’s ego effects his life is inversely related to his self-esteem and feelings of success, and is often used as a defense mechanism. While some may view a man with a “big” ego as a strong individual, what I see isn’t a “big” ego as much as a “fragile” ego because it is so easily damaged. If a man’s ego is easily injured, is that a sign of strength or a sign of weakness? If the words or actions of another can wound a man’s ego so easily, that tells me that he may not have the strength of character to let the thoughts or feelings of another roll off his back, or that he is so self-involved that he is unable to relate to the thoughts and feelings of others and view them objectively and without consideration for how they affect him. A healthy ego, in my view, is one that is also tempered with a healthy dose of humility.
As a woman in the dating world, I often wrestle with how to deal with a man’s ego, especially if it is a strong one. While I don’t have a big ego, I do have a very strong will and most of the time that is not a good combination. Not only do I not usually want feed a man’s ego, I’m often apt to bluntly tell him where I think he’s wrong. Hmm….is it any wonder I’m single? In actuality, I’ve learned to pick my battles when it comes to dealing with the male ego. If it doesn’t matter that much to me and it makes him feel good, then by all means I’ll go along with it. Where I draw the line is if I have to take a lesser role in order to build him up.
Not long ago I was out for the evening with a male friend and we started playing pool. He didn’t know that I could not only play, but that I’m pretty good. He started to scheme about how we could start going out to play on occasion and how it would be a great way for me to meet men. I thought it was funny until he suggested that I act like I can’t play very well and let the man win. I was appalled! While I saw his point, I made mine clear. If I play a fair game and come out the winner, a man’s reaction to that is all I really need to know about him and his ego. Sore losers need not apply!