Self-Esteem Versus Self-Respect

In the world of gender relations, women usually–if not always–test the men in their lives in various ways. In the world of “Game”, this is called the “shit test”.

An example of this would be when you’re talking to a gal in whom you may be interested, and she says, “I’ll bet you already have a girlfriend.”

An example of a bad answer: “No…still looking.” (It’s a bad answer because–while it may be factually correct, it misses completely the whole purpose of the test.)

An example of a good answer: “Yep…several. Which number do you want to be?” The second answer is good because it (1) communicates that you know you are being “tested”, and (2) you are showing–with light humor–that you aren’t going to be pushed around by her.

OTOH, sometimes the “test” can come from unexpected sources. I never thought in terms of one’s mother as being a potential “tester” for the men, but this piece by RM makes lots of sense on so many fronts.

Personally, I’m thinking RM has stumbled onto some gold here. And the implications are much deeper than “Game”. What do you guys think?

17 thoughts on “Self-Esteem Versus Self-Respect

  1. i don’t know if, as a ‘girl,’ it’s okay to comment, but i’ve seen this up close and personal. my ex craved, Craved, approval from his dad. his dad thought giving approval would make his sons arrogant, so he never gave it. never. when i would compliment my ex or encourage him, it made him angry. it got to the point where he yelled at me with great disdain in his voice, “I already know what YOU think!” it was a stfu yell. also, his mother pampered both her boys.

    rather than try to become a man, he caved in and is still treading the water of trying to please his over-bearing, abusive, authoritarian-demanding, father, who still treats him like a child.

    when we had our first baby and she was 2 months old, we were at his parents house. i was playing with her and told her she was beautiful. his dad immediately blurted in with a stern voice, “No. We can’t have any of that here.” to which i responded, “Oh, yes we can. And we will. If she doesn’t know she’s loved and beautiful at home, the world (and other girls) will shed her to pieces. She must know she is loved and beautiful at home regardless of what the rest of the world thinks.” that began years of him disagreeing vehemently about how i, personally, parented my girls, and me eventually having to step in when he crossed the line – crossing the line happened when he would usurp my mother-authority with my children right in front of me and tell them something completely different. there was actually a time when i had to protect my oldest from him, but she doesn’t remember that now.

    this man demanded his children never grow up, and he continues to treat them like children. he came to have a love/hate relationship with me b/c i would not allow him to treat me like a child.

    now, their son that i was married to is divorced … and their other son has moved back home, having never married, not working, and not knowing what to do with his life. both are in their 40’s. both are still seeking dad’s approval. dad uses this need in his boys to manipulate and control them.


    i read this article to my new husband. he said he learned quickly that he never stayed with his late momma after he was an adult for more than three days. he said by the end of the first night, she had decreased his age to nineteen. the second night to fifteen. and by the third night, he was ten. he didn’t let her continue her pattern.


    it’s good for momma’s to be momma’s. it’s not bad for us to be momma’s just because daddy’s don’t stand up and be men. my ex never figured that out. he expected me to become who he wanted to be, and i wasn’t a man. my new husband lets me be me, a woman, a momma, and he’s the man and the daddy/step-dad. he sees this as good. we’re a team. we don’t need to occupy the same role; we need to be who we’re supposed to be.

  2. I am a very longtime lurker, but this post made me finally have to comment.

    This is fascinating, and highly confusing. I’ve out and out asked a man before if he already had a girlfriend. My purpose in asking….was to find out if he already had a girlfriend. Twice now I’ve gotten answers similar to the one you call “good,” and I took it to mean he had a flippant attitude and not allowed things to proceed any further. It wasn’t some sort of test to find out if he could or would stand up to me. It was because he reminded me (in concrete, not vague ways) of a previous boyfriend, who did in fact, I found out later, have “several” other girlfriends. Mr. Larijani — how is a woman to ask any necessary questions and get straight answers, if the simple act of asking is perceived as a shit test?

  3. @Holly
    The problem is, when women ask that question, they usually are not seeking to know whether their potential B/F already has a G/F. It’s almost always a “test” of some sort. The guys are used to being thrown on the defensive by this sort of question.

    The reason they answer you as they do, is because they used to being asked in the context of such a “test”.

    So to make a long story short, you are being penalized for the sins of your predecessors.

  4. i probably think more like Holly b/c “Game” continues to befuddle me … perhaps b/c i met my first husband at 19 and married at 21 and missed all this stuff thru the years. or perhaps b/c i just don’t think in that way.

  5. I still don’t quite get why the subject of “game” is something the men on these pages fuss over . . .

    Over the years I’ve heard and said the expression “he’s got game!” many times, but “game” as often mused about on this blog and others is something that neither I nor many of my friends have flocked toward much. Girls just think differently than men. . .

    My heart went out to this guy, though, kind of. I’m a little confused as to why he never let his mother know that her unconditional praise hurt him rather than helped him. I can see myself doing something similar. If it was hurting my son, I’d want him to let me know. By the power of the Holy Spirit, I am capable of changing my habits.

    He never got into to why he didn’t tell his mother and I thought I read a little bit of bitterness towards his mother for something he never communicated to her. Women are hardwired to nurture. They are human so they won’t do it perfectly. Feedback would be helpful.

    If nothing else, it helped me understand the male psyche a little better, maybe.

  6. Thanks for your reply. Now, how would you suggest a woman go about asking if a man has a girlfriend? I’ve always tried SO HARD to avoid game-playing bullshit and just be honest and direct. (An old man who mentored me in my late teens told me that “men rarely mean what they say; women rarely say what they mean” and that if I said what I meant, I’d find success with men.) Since evidently most of the guys I’m attracted to are all about game-playing now, plain and simple English no longer suffices for communicate. How would you suggest I ask that question? Thanks in advance.

  7. @MrsLarijani: He indeed did say why he didn’t tell his mom; but in malespeak. …He needed the affirmation to come from the merits of his accomplishment rather than from the fact of his sonship.

    If he had to explain it to her that she needed to let him earn his spurs, so to speak, any praise from her would have then been filtered. Think of something in femalespeak: You want Amir to notice you. It’s ok to you to put yourself in his path; but at some level you recognize that coming out and asking for it too directly is not going to satisfy the itch in your soul that his spontaneous recognition of you would provide.

    Not to presume to steal any link love from Amir that has not been freely given, but this is appropro to this discussion in more than one way:

    I’ve tried a few times to explain why, but have deleted them because they would wind up hijacking the thread. But think on what I wrote there in light of popular Christian culture and what we hold out (think of Boundless deciding that you are a “real man”, say, for marrying a single mom) to our young men as models of masculinity, and most importantly, **how do we recognize them ** as masculine. Some of this has to do with conceptions of masculinity, and some of it has to do with the bureaucratic mindset with which we try to turn out the “real men.”

    The fellowship, the ecclessia; the local church: They have a place to tempering and sharpening men. But “shit tests” in the male/female relational sense — we need a better term to bring this into wider discussion in the churches — are for relationships; not for discipling.

    @ Ame: It is in fact important for parents to let go of their parenting and turn into parents of adult children; as I have done, as you will have to do.

    I have commented here and elsewhere that churches will not teach young men how to flirt (the thought originally comes from Paul Coughlin) and Amir has correctly pointed out that this is not the job of the church. What I think I want to say is that the church should not be condemning young men learning how to talk to women; or how to talk to women they want to be close to (“flirting” — or, if you will forgive me, a sanctified form of “game”).

  8. @Holly
    You might try asking around. If you’ve got other women with whom you are networked, have them find out for you.

    If you ask directly, you might preface that you are not intending to put him to a “s*** test”. This will let him know that you are aware of some of the issues, and that you are seeking to play straight.

  9. Holly,

    As an old married guy, let me try to answer.

    First, If I, a complete stranger, were to meet you, would I after a few minutes or hours of conversation, determine that you were an honest person. That you told the truth every time, no shades of gray, no ambiguous answers which make the guy wonder if you are telling the whole truth, or are you vague giving answers, imprecise in your telling a guy about yourself, so that he wonders what you are leaving out?

    If you are even remotely vague, incomplete, and deceptive in your answers, then when you ask a straight up question, you will likely a vague imprecise answer kind of answer from the guy. Not because he is necessarily dishonest, but because it is an attempt to protect himself and his privacy from someone who is perceived to be dishonest.

    Now you may be as honest as they come. I don’t know you at all, but, I know women, and women have a tendency to shade the story to portray themselves in the best light.

    An example.

    Him How many boy friends have you had?
    Her None, I’ve never had a date.
    Him Never?
    Her Well, I went to prom with a classmate from school, but that wasn’t an official date, cause we were friends. And I went to the formal in college, but that doesn’t count cause my roommate set me up with a friend of hers. And I’ve been out to eat in a nice restaurant on a Saturday night with several different guys from work, but those were just casual events not official dates.

    Him So, you’ve been on several dates with at least four different guys.
    Her Nope. None of them were dates cause I would never marry any of those losers.
    In fact, I’ve never been on an official date!
    Him You won’t be having one with me either. Have a nice life.

    Get the picture.

    The S test is generally used to make a defining line between reality and perception.

    At least that’s my analysis.

    Now, understand that I believe in total depravity, so I believe guys are just a sinful as the ladies. So I’m certain that some of the guys are liars, cheats, frauds, perverts and various and sundry other lowlife behaviors. So your job is to determine what kind of guy he is, using every honorable avenue available to you, including a private detective. You may have to S test a few yourself. And it’s possible that you still haven’t met an honest man. But, check your self first, are you putting off a aura of less than honest? If so, they are just being defensive.

    That’s my two cents.

  10. @Charles/SingleXtianMan

    He needed the affirmation to come from the merits of his accomplishment rather than from the fact of his sonship.

    I think that idea is un-Biblical which is why it confused me.

    The “sonship” should spur you on toward love, good deeds, diligence, etc. Heritage has kind of a lot to do with how one turns out. I’ll emphasize “kind of”. Our earthly parents are not perfect, so one can always change the trajectory of the next generation.

    Anyhow, when it comes to sonship in Christ, therein lies the very reason why one should be compelled to do well in life.

    Am I making any sense?

  11. Mrs L / Charles – i think this is a hard one in many ways b/c it is just so difficult for men to understand women and women, men.

    i think the author became bitter toward his mother because he lacked his father’s role in his life. mother and father play different roles. kids need their fathers to push them some, to make them strive for goals. his is a ‘harsher’ role in a sense. mothers are the always nurturing, love me no matter what, cry on her shoulder anytime role. dad’s love no matter what, but their expectations are different. their role is different.

    and i think it takes both roles to balance a child.

    had the author had the strong paternal role, he could have eventually smiled at his momma knowing that’s how she is b/c she’s mom. kinda like the sword and the shoulder at the same time but in two different people and roles.

    this is why i’ve strongly encouraged my ex to have a relationship with our girls and our girls w/their dad. none of the three know how hard i’ve worked at this and how much i’ve prayed about it. but my ex, for all his faults and bad choices, is not all-bad. he is a good dad in many ways. he holds our girls to high standards and expects them to raise up to them. he is mostly not unrealistic. i try to stay out of their way and let them have that relationship w/him. my girls need someone to set a standard for them and encourage them to reach it.

    i set standards for them, too, but they’re different kinds of standards. b/c i’m a woman. i’m momma.

    so it doesn’t surprise me that Mrs L thinks this idea is unbiblical. or that Charles said, “He needed the affirmation to come from the merits of his accomplishment rather than from the fact of his sonship.” the reality is … kids need both.

    in my understanding of a s*** test, God put His chosen thru many in the bible … Abraham had to wait years for Isaac … Joseph was in prison for years … David bombed his. God sifted these men like wheat to see what they were made of, to make them strong. His standards are high. but His love is unconditional, never-ending, constant, dependable, always there.

    we are all made in His image, male and female … masculine and feminine. God is able to be both … we are able to be the one we’re created to be.

  12. @Ame and @MrsLarijani
    Not all of the expectations of RM are un-biblical. Fact is, God commands us to honor our father and mother. That command is not contingent on the parents doing everything according to God’s standard, either to God’s satisfaction or our own. Even if a child has a father who is a total scumbag, that child is hard-wired to want to please his father and mother.

    Ergo, when that affirmation doesn’t come, there is a void.

    The problem gets compounded because it can be difficult to know if that failure of affirmation was the result of a failure on the part of the child, or the parent, or some combination of both.

    When the reconciliation between father and son can happen, the results can be phenomenal. This is the case in earthly reconciliation, as well as our reconciliation with the Father.

    OTOH, if a father dies and the reconciliation has not happened, the pain is also indescribable. I speak the latter not from experience of my own, but with respect to others.

  13. And if the bond between father and son is good, and the father tells the son about the Heavenly father, the results can be phenomenal as well.

  14. Charles – that’s true for both sons and daughters b/c if you don’t give/lead your kids to God, you leave them floating in the world out there w/out a foundation to hold onto. you model it to give them a picture of a more powerful, unseen, world. and that is phenomenal.

  15. @MrsLarijani
    If it’s of any comfort to you, I don’t totally understand or comprehend “game.” I didn’t even hear about it until several years ago, when I was channel surfing one evening. I came across a program featuring a so-called “pickup artist” teaching his craft to a group of young men on one of the cable channels formerly devoted to music.

    The show left me with more questions than answers. For example, if the pickup artist was supposedly so good at what he did, then why did he need to use an attractive young woman as one of his “wings?” Also, why did this pickup artist dress and act in a manner which struck me as sinister? I know plenty of women are attracted to bad boys; I once got dumped by a gal who later married one. Still, this guy’s act was ridiculous.

  16. If a guy gave the game response, I would walk away thinking he was either

    a. a world class jerk or
    b. trying to Game me.

    The best response would be…no, I don’t have a girlfriend. Would you like to get coffee sometime? There is no need for games when you are upfront and confident by asking for a date with confidence. And if she says, “no” what’s it to you? (you in the general). The other possibility is that she might have a friend and be asking on the friend’s behalf.

    Women don’t neccessarily like jerks, it’s just that the jerks are the only ones with the confidence to ask a woman out. They don’t care if she says no.

    Why anyone would think “shit test” when the girl might be interested in you is beyond me. These things make dating worse, not better.

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