Have you ever noticed that men take career setbacks much harder than women do? I know a lot of ambitious, hard-working, impressive and successful women who, of course, suffer setbacks and disappointments. But I’ve noticed that they bounce back from those much quicker than the men in my life do. I don’t mean that women necessarily fix those setbacks in tangible ways but, rather, they don’t let the negative emotions associated with them overpower them. I have male friends who, when they have a career setback, that creates a cloud that covers every area of their life for months. When asked, “How are you” they can only answer that question based on how they’re doing since the career problem. It defines them. It dictates their mood daily and hourly. That’s actually one area where women are better at compartmentalizing. Here is why men take career setbacks so much harder than women.
Their parents are tougher on them
Men’s parents tend to put more pressure on them to do well in their careers. That’s just societal expectations perpetuating themselves. I’ve noticed that my male friend’s—their parents worry more about how their careers are going than my female friends’ parents do. I don’t say care more—I say worry more. Which is quite impactful.
They feel more pressure to provide for you
Men feel like they need to be able to provide for themselves and their partner. Yes, even if you’re a successful working woman who can provide for herself, your partner still feels like he should—on some strange principle—make enough money to support both of you.
They feel pressure to provide for kids
If you have children, he feels like the weight of college tuition and karate lessons and family vacations falls on his shoulders. It’s just a leftover societal norm thing. It doesn’t matter if you, the mom, make enough to supplement on those things—he feels like his income should be enough for the whole brood.
Their careers are their identities
For men, their careers are often their identities. That’s why retirement can be much harder on men than on women. A man is a lawyer/doctor/consultant. He isn’t a man who does a lot of things, in addition to practicing law or medicine. He is a lawyer, who does other things sometimes.
They equate power with respect
Men tend to equate power with respect. They feel like, if they aren’t powerful, that the world will see them as weak and won’t respect them. Women tend to think more along the lines of, if I’m kind and a good person, the world will respect me.
Other forms of joy aren’t as encouraged
Men aren’t really encouraged as much as women are to seek other forms of joy. I mean, just look at the female self-help section of a bookstore versus the male one. The female one is about travel, friendship, love, and inner peace. The male one is about money and career and power.
They don’t feel they can open up
One simple reason men take career setbacks so hard is that they don’t really feel like they’re allowed to tell people how upset they are. They’re told to hold in their feelings, and always put on a strong face. So, they really don’t get to vent as much as women do.
It’s pure biology and evolution: when we lived in caves, it was the man’s duty to bring resources back to the cave, where his female partner waited. Money is a resource.
People ask them about it more
Have you noticed that people ask men about career more in conversation than they ask women? They may ask women a bit about it, but also things like, “How’s your mom doing?” and “Do you have anything fun planned this summer?” But they tend to focus on work stuff when talking to men.
Your parents have expectations
Your parents have expectations of your partner. They want him to be able to provide for you. You insist to them, that you don’t need that from him. But they don’t care—they want what they want for you.
They don’t cultivate friendship as much
Women are encouraged from a young age to cultivate friendship and a close circle of loved ones. For boys, the talk is more about teamwork but for a goal (like in sports). It’s not about the relationship for the sake of the relationship, which can leave men just feeling a bit lost and lonely without a solid career.
Asking for help isn’t as acceptable
Men don’t feel like they’re allowed to ask for financial help as much as women do. For men, it’s a massive hit to the ego to ask their parents for money.
Other men can be hard on them
Men can be kind of mean to each other—have you noticed? If a powerful man meets a less-than-powerful man at a party, he might be sort of condescending, or just not give him the time of day. Women will talk to and befriend other women of all income levels and statuses.
They aren’t as good at de-stressing
Women are more encouraged to get into things like yoga, meditation, nature walks, and journaling. Men are just told to keep moving, find a solution, and keep working—they aren’t told to stop and address stress.
The whole family name thing
Just because of the way society has been for a long time, men sort of feel like, when they have a family, that is their family—not theirs and their wives. What I mean is, they’re always thinking about passing down their family name and perpetuating power on their side of the family.