What Happens When You Hurt a Man's Ego?

Men will often take your words literally, so choose your words wisely.
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Just because a man may take the emotion out of most situations doesn't mean he is made of stone. Even if you hurt a man's ego inadvertently, you can cause irrevocable damage to the relationship, especially if the hurt goes unaddressed. After all, he's human and has feelings too.

1 How a Man's Ego Gets Hurt

Men are testosterone-driven creatures, full of masculinity and strength, so it's easy to forget you can hurt a man's ego. In a CNN interview conducted by Michelle Burford, psychologist Jay Carter noted that people have more influence over others than they think. Carter explained that when you say something to a man out of anger or frustration, he takes your words literally. For example, if you say, "You are so irresponsible," he hears "irresponsible" and thinks you're applying it to everything he's ever done. In reality, you may have simply been disappointed that he forgot to pick up milk on the way home.

2 How to Handle Him

Clinical psychologist Savita Date Menon offers some advice on handling the male ego. If you hurt a man's ego, he recoils and you may lose his trust. Menon advises that you learn how your man's ego works -- what it feeds on -- and put that knowledge to good use. Men thrive on praise, attention and recognition through affirmation and acknowledgement of achievements or success. Menon notes that communication is also important to stroking the male ego.

3 Apologize

If you've bruised your man's ego, it's not the end of the world, as long as you take action. In "How to Give a Meaningful Apology," psychotherapist Beverly Engel lists steps to take: apologize, acknowledge your offense, provide an explanation for your actions and express genuine remorse. For example, "I'm sorry I said you were irresponsible; I was feeling stressed out from work and didn't mean to take it out on you. I know I hurt your feelings, and I feel terrible about it."

4 Make Amends

Although men don't typically hold a grudge, try to repair the damage so he understands that he can still trust you completely. In "The Right Way to Apologize," sociologist Martha Beck explains that you can do this by focusing on restoring his dignity. By simply asking, "What can I do to make it up to you?" you can start the mending process. Beck reports that being heard and feeling valued have incredible healing power.

Kimberly Liby has been a content writer and editor since 2006, with articles in "944" magazine. She has written on a range of topics including cooking, health, current events, philosophy, psychology, career, education, writing and editing. Liby holds a Bachelor of Arts in English literature with a writing minor from Arizona State University, and a Master of Science in psychology from the University of Phoenix.