Men's Issues and Counseling

21May 2019

Why Women Deal More Effectively with Failure

By Richard J. Loebl, LCSW, BCD

When a woman walks down the street her greatest fear is that she will be assaulted or killed. When a man walks down the street his biggest fear is that he will be laughed at.

(This statement is attributed to Margaret Atwood, author of The Handmaid’s Tale. Ms. Atwood is a Canadian novelist, poet and activist.)

“Failure is not an option.” Men learn this adage from an early age. As a result, boys are taught that performance is essential – in sports, good grades in school, and later at work. Messages from our fathers and from society in general tell us that we must score points, score with girls, make a lot of money, and win against the other guy.


And when we don’t win, we are faced with the most dreaded of all conditions: shame. For men, failure is all about shame. We didn’t just get a C or D on the test. It’s much worse than losing the game or an account that didn’t pan out. And rejection by a woman is nearly fatal to a man’s self-esteem (which is all too fragile due to relentless and unreasonable performance demands).

Shame is toxic negative self-esteem: not good enough. Shame is a driving force for the LATE Men. The LATE Men are adult men who are developmentally stuck as Lost, Angry Teenagers. They’re late to mature, and late to show up as fully functioning adults. They tend to self-sabotage, and shame is their biggest Achilles’ Heel. I’ve written extensively about The LATE Men and their emotional and relational struggles. When young boys are pressured with performance demands – and when they are not taught or supported regarding their emotional and relational lives – they become emotionally crippled and unable to cope effectively with mistakes or failure. Chronic debilitating shame is the result.

Some essential information about shame:

  • Shame hates its name – it needs to hide in the shadows.
  • Shame is a type of fear – the fear of being less than; not good enough.
  • Shame is learned – we are not born with shame. Negative messages or unrealistic expectations starting in early childhood set us up for shame.
  • As a result, we operate on self-limiting beliefs (such as “I’m not smart enough,” “Girls don’t like me,” and “I’ll never be as good as…”).
  • You aren’t your story about yourself. You aren’t who you think you are – those are only learned opinions and judgments.
  • Shame is so painful and unacceptable that men use self-destructive coping mechanisms to deal with it (anger, rage, controlling and impulsive behavior).
  • We may overcompensate with grandiosity. We may practice superiority over others to disguise deep-seated feelings of inferiority.
  • Shame and grandiosity are both based in contempt. Shame is contempt toward one’s self, and grandiosity is contempt toward others. (Terry Real)
  • Shame is often a symptom of depression in men. Depression and shame in men is often masked with anger. (David Wexler)
  • Shame is healed by bringing it out into the light (what we resist persists; what we deny intensifies). When I work with men in therapy – especially in therapy groups and personal growth workshops – their feelings of shame are dramatically reduced simply by speaking their truth. And the emotional support by other men who share these fears is incredibly healing.


What Doesn’t Work

Men learn to cope with failure and shame with two primary modes of behavior (along with denial):

  1. Avoidance, withdrawal, addictions, and other forms of self-sabotage or self-limiting behavior.
  2. Self-imposed performance demands and status seeking behavior. Often the most “successful” men are driven by shame.

Men seek social status with money, cars, boats, or the biggest muscles in the gym (along with a trophy wife, a higher golf score, the next promotion, etc.). Status is very simply the external manifestation of being good enough, better than, or acceptable to others. If I drive the right car; if I can drive my car faster and get in front of the other guy; if my bank account has enough zeros – then I must be good enough.

So, if my social status is good, and if I’ve performed at a high level, why am I so depressed? Why am I angry all the time? Why is my marriage a mess? And why do I struggle with addictions?

The reason is simple. These are all self-limiting beliefs. Happiness isn’t acquired through performance or acquisitions. We sacrifice peace of mind, self-acceptance, loving relationships, and self-love for the American Dream. And we lose ourselves in the process – along with meaningful connection with others.

How Women Do It Differently

Historically, women heard different messages growing up. You should find a good man, get married, and start a family. In the past, failure for a woman resulted from being single too long. From not landing the right guy. Or because they couldn’t or wouldn’t have children. This has been changing over the recent past. Women now have more opportunity in this country than ever before. However, there are some emerging signs that this doesn’t always work out quite the way women expected. More stress, less satisfying home lives, men who are unhappy because they are in competition with women along with other men.

But women still manage failure better than most men. They turn to their family and friends. Men are taught not to do this. It’s shameful to “fail” and even more shameful to talk about it. “Just man up. Don’t be a baby. Put on your big boy pants and get back to work.” Women are more likely to know how to express their feelings because they are taught or shown by other women and girls growing up. Women feel revived by the nurturing they receive – while men often feel shamed by nurturing behavior. And women don’t base their self-esteem and self-worth on a score card.

So, What Do We Do with Boys and Men?

We can better prepare boys for the normal failures that everyone experiences by letting them know that they have intrinsic value. They are good enough because of who they are – not because of what they do. We can encourage achievement, but not at the cost of self-acceptance. And when we teach boys that their emotions – their feelings of anger, sadness, shame, and fear – are normal, valid, and worthy of love and support, it encourages them to keep trying.

Please contact us today to learn more about our services for the LATE Men, and for any man who struggles with feelings of shame – or the behavioral manifestations of shame, including relationship distress, self-sabotaging tendencies, addictions, and anger management problems.

27Nov 2018

The Five Best Gifts for Your Wife or Girlfriend

By Richard J. Loebl, LCSW, BCD

This is a special holiday edition of my series about The LATE Men – adult men who are Lost, Angry Teenagers – late to mature and late to show up as fully functioning adults. They become stuck in an adolescent level of development. The LATE Men experience relationship distress because they’re lost and angry – they don’t understand women and what they need, and when their women express feelings and needs, they often react with anger.

Men Lost in the Holidays

The holidays are tricky and stressful for LATE Men. These men typically grew up in dysfunctional families, and they were culturally influenced by a toxic code of masculinity. This code taught them how to be controlling and angry, and how to stuff their more sensitive feelings (sadness, shame, and fear). The holidays present LATE Men with challenges they are unprepared for.

The LATE Men were never taught how to properly love and care for the women in their lives. So they don’t know what to do during the holidays. Or they’re so angry they sabotage this special time of family connection and celebration. For example:

  • Due to shame or self-doubt they numb themselves with alcohol, drugs, electronic devices, and other activities – and they don’t show up for the holidays.
  • They’re angry because they feel burdened, unappreciated, or they’re running from their shame – and they isolate, pick fights, or become excessively controlling.
  • Many LATE Men do their best to be helpful – even generous – but they miss the mark. They don’t really understand her needs or desires and they buy inappropriate gifts. Or they buy expensive gifts but don’t show up as loving partners.

The Five Best Gifts

Many women appreciate nice jewelry, perfume, and clothing – even certain electronic devices. These are perfectly nice, lovely gifts. They can also be impersonal, with little relational meaning or depth. LATE Men can do something different this year, and surprise her with a heartfelt gift of love and positive attention.

Here are the five best gifts a LATE Man can give his wife or girlfriend – gifts that express heartfelt sentiments of appreciation, gratitude, and love.

  1. Give Her a Break – Let her know you will take care of things at home so she can go out with her friends. Cook and serve dinner for her (and don’t let her do the dishes). Make a commitment to do that once every week. Buy her a package of spa services for a few hours, a full day with friends, or an entire weekend. Organize and plan a romantic weekend trip for the two of you. All of these gifts are more special and loving when they are presented in a romantic greeting card (in your own handwriting!).
  2. The Gift of Emotional Connection – The biggest complaint made by women in couples therapy is the lack of emotional support and connection by their men. I suggest writing a letter to her that expresses your commitment to be attentive, responsive, and emotionally engaged on an ongoing basis. But no empty promises! Add a note in your calendar (one that shows up every week of the year) that reminds you of this commitment. Let her know that you intend to stay emotionally connected by truly listening to her with understanding and empathy.Practice being emotionally open and honest yourself. All LATE Men have a healthy, loving, and responsible Adult self (in contrast to the Lost, Angry Teen, a wounded Inner Child, and a demanding, judgmental Inner Critic). Put the Adult in charge, and focus on maintaining a confident (not arrogant) friendship with your wife or girlfriend – one that includes humor and laughter.
  3. The Gift of Service – A recent study found that women are more interested in sex when men do household chores. And we know that both women and men feel appreciated and loved when partners are helpful and actively contribute to the upkeep of home and hearth. A special holiday gift of service (which may arrive as a written promise in a card or letter) may include timely completion of your “Honey-do” list, organizing and cleaning the garage, painting the house, or planting flowers. Other gifts of service may be ongoing, with a written commitment to wash her car every week, vacuum the house weekly, or do the laundry on weekends.
  4. Romantic Gestures – Write her a romantic poem. Leave a love note for her once a week (surprise her by placing the notes in different locations – such as her car, on her pillow, in her closet). Buy her some flowers – or a single rose. Send her loving texts during the day. Shampoo her hair – or brush her hair. Give her a massage (without the expectation of sex). If you want other romantic ideas, try asking her!
  5. The Gift of Appreciation & Respect – The sincere expression of gratitude, appreciation and respect is one of the four cornerstones of a healthy, loving relationship (along with trust, emotional support, and positive attention). I suggest writing her a letter that details everything you are grateful for. Let her know that you recognize and appreciate all that she does, and all the love that she gives. What do you respect, admire and honor her for? How is she your equal in life, and what has she taught you? Make a commitment to show her appreciation and respect every day.

One final gift idea for LATE Men and the women who love them: Our Connections: A Workbook for Couples. This reasonably priced workbook is a wonderful gift for her and for the relationship. The workbook is “…like a repair manual for relationships.” Based on our popular Connections program of marriage retreats and couples therapy intensives, it is a collection of exercises and articles designed to help couples in the pursuit of a more

secure, satisfying and successful relationship. It’s also the perfect gift for counselors and therapists who work with couples.

For additional information about the LATE Men, counseling for men, and couples therapy, please contact us today. The following articles about the LATE Men can be found in our web site:

The LATE Men

The LATE Man in Relationships

The LATE Men – 5 Reasons Why Men Self-Sabotage

Self-Sabotage: The Epidemic

8 Types of LATE Men

The LATE Man Grows Up

20Jul 2018

And Suggestions for Positive Connection

By Richard J. Loebl, LCSW, BCD

This is another article in my series about The LATE Men – men who are chronologically adult but late to mature – late to show up as fully functioning adults. They’re stuck, emotionally, psychologically, and relationally, in an adolescent level of development. The LATE Men experience relationship distress because they’re lost and angry – they don’t understand women and what they need, and they react with anger. With some relationship coaching, the LATE Men create more successful partnerships with the women in their lives.

The LATE Men

The LATE Men (adult men who function as Lost, Angry Teens) are emotionally and behaviorally undeveloped, and like teenagers, they often show up late – late to mature, and late to make or keep commitments. These men tend to self-sabotage, causing relationship distress, and problems at work and at home. LATE Men can be narcissistic, confused, angry, controlling, passive-aggressive, and defensive.

The LATE Men typically come from dysfunctional families – with divorced parents or broken homes, fathers who were emotionally or physically absent, mothers who were over-worked or overprotective, or they were mistreated emotionally or physically. Relationship coaching and specialized counseling for men, can help the LATE Men to become the loving, responsible Adults that most men truly want to be.

Understanding Women and Their Needs

Women aren’t all that different from men emotionally and relationally. All of us experience the primary feelings of anger, sadness, joy, love, fear and shame. And all of us need positive, safe emotional connection with others. The LATE Men often have difficulties recognizing and understanding their own feelings. So it’s even more difficult for them understand the women in their lives. This guide is offered to help men manage – and even prevent – relationship distress caused by misunderstanding and negative reactions.

    • It’s All (or Mostly) About Emotional Connection  One of the most frequent complaints I hear from men is that their women just keep talking, on and on, about things that are meaningless, irrational, or insignificant. Women complain that their men don’t listen, or that they are dismissive. This is not a communication problem. Rather, it’s about emotional connection. Boys learn to talk mostly about external things (think cars and sports) or actions (performance). And boys are generally discouraged from talking about feelings or relationships. In the absence of these relational skills, the LATE Men misinterpret adult women, resulting in angry reactivity, conflict, and relationship distress. Unlike men, women frequently talk to create or maintain emotional connection and intimacy. Women want to be seen and heard – and they’re looking for emotional attunement (literally tuning into each other’s emotional wavelength).
    • Safety First  Historically and biologically, women have been smaller, less physically strong, and more vulnerable than men. At least in the past, Job #1 for men was to protect and provide for their women. Times have changed, and women are more empowered, but fear and anxiety is still a core emotional reality for women. Women need to feel safe in relationships with men. When women are critical, controlling, or demanding, they may feel unsafe (possibly feeling abandoned or insecure in the relationship) – and they may be looking for reassurance.
    • Love  Obviously… But what does that mean? I’ve learned from many women that they feel loved when there is emotional support, when their men are available, attentive, and responsive, and when there is a sense of positive emotional engagement. Women want to know that their men are there – and they care.
    • Desirability  Women want to know that their men want them and find them desirable. They want to know that their men find them attractive and sexually appealing. (But most women don’t want to be ogled or groped.)
    • Respect  Aretha Franklin got it right: “All I’m askin’ is for a little respect when you get home.” She wants to be appreciated and valued for who she is – not just for what she does.
    • Partnership  The old patriarchal code is dead or dying, even in our current political climate. In fact, our current political struggles could be symptomatic of this doomed male dominance. Women are no longer resigned to playing second fiddle to their men. Partnership will replace patriarchy in the new world, or at least the new, emerging American order. Women will continue to need men – as committed partners who, as men, are both strong and sensitive.

    Relationship Coaching for Positive Connection

    The LATE Men can learn to do much more than to just avoid relationship distress. And they can do much more than simply please their women and make them happy. They can empower themselves to become more complete human beings – to live fuller, more meaningful lives with a fuller range of emotional expression and much more satisfying relationships. These are the most important tips for creating successful relationships with women:

    1. Empathy, Compassion, and Emotional Support  It’s not that hard. Even the toughest, most emotionally disconnected LATE Man can learn how express loving kindness. Relationship coaching is highly effective in teaching men the most effective winning strategies with women. It’s all about connecting heart-to-heart. Men tend to react from their own narcissistic wounds, and they can learn to see things differently – to rationally understand that it’s not about them. It’s about women in distress – and women who need support and positive emotional connection. Then, the LATE Men can access their own internal sensitivities and simply express compassionate understanding and support.
    2. Reassurance  It’s amazing how positive and responsive women can be when they feel safe. A little reassurance goes a long way. Just let her know that you’re there and you care. Not in a flippant or dismissive manner of course. Look into her eyes and hold her close – even if she’s a little resistant or angry (without forcing it!). Let her know that you love her, and that you’re there for her. Tell her that “Together we will work this out.”
    3. Show Her You Love Her  Do you know her well? Most LATE Men don’t know a lot about what she likes, wants and needs. John Gottman developed a very effective Love Map exercise (also available in our Connections: A Workbook for Couples). Tuning in to these preferences and desires is a wonderful act of love that will pay many dividends. And just telling her every day that you love her – in person, in little love notes, texts, etc. – will result in a much improved relationship. Listen with interest when she talks; and let her know you understand and appreciate her feelings. And flowers, doing chores, or washing her car without being asked are acts of loving kindness that will be much appreciated.
    4. Respond – Don’t React  You’re feeling blamed or attacked. She’s upset – maybe angry. Your natural response is to react, with defensiveness or anger. Don’t do it. Stop, pause, take a breath. Now do the opposite – instead of anger or shutting down, try empathy, loving kindness, or just ask her what she needs from you, gently and patiently. Set a loving boundary when she does cross that line (that is, when she’s truly offensive or abusive).
    5. Open Up  Let her know about your authentic self. Practice the language of feelings: mad, sad, glad, ashamed and afraid. And know that your anger protects your more vulnerable feelings of sadness, shame and fear – and avoid blaming, critical, and defensive behavior. Be willing to let her see your internal self. Let her know what you need. Share your hopes and dreams as well as your fears. She will feel closer to you, more trusting, and more compassionate.
    6. Respect & Appreciation  Isn’t that what you want from her? Start with the belief that she loves you and that she’s doing the best she can. Just like you. Let her know you appreciate all that she does and respect her uniqueness and individuality. Treat her like she’s your best friend. You don’t have to agree with everything, but respect and appreciation goes a long way.
    7. Partnership  You’re not the boss. There’s no place for domination and control in the new world order. Women have the same rights as you and are just as equal. Millennials have it right –they are much more egalitarian in their relationships and marriage than any other generation in our history. And they report much more relationship and life satisfaction. Let her influence you and your decisions – this is one of the most important keys to a successful partnership.

    Please contact us today for more information about relationship coaching and counseling for men. For more information about the LATE Men, please read the articles listed below. And stay tuned to our monthly emails and this web site – The LATE Men will be published as a complete self-help book in 2019!

    Who’s In Charge?

    The LATE Men

    The LATE Man in Relationships

    The LATE Men – 5 Reasons Why Men Self-Sabotage

    Self-Sabotage: The Epidemic

    8 Types of LATE Men

    The LATE Man Grows Up

29Nov 2017

Why Do Men Become Sexual Predators?

8 Causes of Sexual Harassment, Coercion and Assault

By Richard J. Loebl, LCSW, BCD

Sexual assault and harassment is nothing new – it didn’t start with Al Franken, Roy Moore, Matt Lauer, Charlie Rose, Donald Trump, or Bill Cosby. The numbers are astounding. A recent ABC/Washington Post poll shows that 33 million women have been sexually harassed at least once in their lifetime. Another study reported that 50% of all women, and 20% of all men, have been sexually harassed. The victims usually feel humiliated and degraded – and many are scared and suffer symptoms of PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder), anxiety and depression.

The vast majority of sexual predators are men. Only a small minority of these men are famous. Based on the numbers alone, you probably know someone who is or has been a sexual offender. But why do men mistreat women in this manner? What are the causes of sexual harassment and assault? Is this a type of sexual addiction?

First and foremost, there is no typical profile of a male sexual predator. And sexual harassment and assault is not the result of misplaced sexual gratification – it’s not really about sex at all. Also, contrary to public statements made by numerous politicians and men in show business, it’s not a “mistake”. Alcohol and drug use often contribute to this behavior, but it doesn’t cause men to act out sexually. And the good news is that good parenting, education, and counseling for men can be effective in preventing and curtailing this serious problem.

8 Causes of Sexual Harassment and Assault

I’ve grouped together 8 primary causes of sexual harassment and assault based on a large number of research studies. Most men do not fit neatly into any one of these categories. Rather, there are multiple causes of sexual misbehavior. And these 8 factors are often interrelated: For example, there is overlap between male privilege in a patriarchal society and issues related to power and control.

1. Patriarchy – A patriarchy is a male dominated society. Most contemporary western societies are patriarchal, and the United States is no exception. In these societies men hold most of the power – in government and politics, and in control of most economic and legal systems. In spite of the rise of feminism over the past 30-40 years, we are still a male dominated country – perhaps even more so after our last presidential election. There is a traditional male code in our society that is still quite prevalent. This mostly unspoken code dictates that men have certain “privileges” that correspond to an exaggerated sense of masculinity. Also referred to as “machismo,” the male code promotes power and control over women while disregarding responsibility and consequences. In a patriarchal society, women are often viewed as sexual objects – and the goal is to subdue and conquer women sexually. The sex industry in the United States is just one example – prostitution rings and pornography are generally dominated by men. Our patriarchal culture clearly provides a fertile breeding ground for sexual harassment.

2. Power & Control – Closely related to patriarchy, studies show that power and control are major factors in most incidents of sexual harassment and assault. In these cases, the unwanted sexual advances are an act of intimidation and domination. Men in power positions often assert their “male privilege” because they believe they can get away with it. These men may operate on the belief or fantasy that the victim may actually enjoy their sexual aggression. They most certainly do not – female victims of harassment and abuse are traumatized, and usually need treatment for the resulting conditions of PTSD, anxiety and depression. And when you look below the surface, many of these powerful men are deeply insecure and need to be in control of women to assert a sense of competency – even to be admired. Counseling for men who act out sexually due to feelings of inadequacy or shame can be highly effective.

3. LATE Men – I’ve identified a large group of men in our society who are psychologically and emotionally under-developed. I refer to these men as the LATE Men – adult men who function as Lost, Angry Teens. These men tend to self-sabotage at home and at work, and they are relationally and sexually immature. Sexual acting out and misbehavior usually begins during adolescence, and the LATE Men fail to develop appropriate adult relationship skills. I’ve worked with LATE Men over 40 years of practice, and many of them have harassed women sexually. For more information about the LATE Men, see my articles at

4. Cultural/Historical – Another reason why men mistreat women sexually is that they always have. It’s built into our history and our culture, and it’s a self-perpetuating phenomenon. Biologically, men are larger and stronger than women, and are “programmed” for sexual conquest (the instinct for preservation of our species). Culturally and historically there was a lack of negative social and legal consequences, and predatorial men were able to get away with sexual mistreatment of women. Each generation of men learned from the last that men are sexually entitled. A set of shared myths and beliefs developed that supported this behavior (for example, women secretly like to be pursued in this blatant, sexual manner; and they just “play hard to get”).

5. Parental/Familial Influence – Male children are rarely held to the same level of standards that are applied to young girls in the family. For example, teenage girls tend to be supervised and controlled to a greater extent than male teenagers. A daughter who is sexually provocative or aggressive is much more likely to be controlled and punished than a sexually aggressive boy. The patriarchal male code is quite insidious. The vulnerable female child is closely guarded and protected. The male child is encouraged to hide or disguise his vulnerability, and to be tough, strong, and powerful. Their vulnerability goes underground, along with their compassion and empathy. Male children often learn to mistreat women by watching their fathers (also brothers, uncles, and grandfathers). And their fathers are often missing in action (they work all the time, and when they’re home they don’t show up as highly functioning mature adults). These young boys may also witness other types of violence or abuse against women that legitimizes sexual misbehavior.

6. Aggrieved Entitlement – Sociologist Michael Kimmel coined the term aggrieved entitlement. He explains that America was always the land of opportunity – and American men were entitled to jobs, a loyal wife and family, and “…positions of unchallenged dominance. And when we are told we are not going to get them, we get angry.” (Angry White Men, 2013, Persus Books Group) Today, many men are angry that women are becoming more empowered, taking their jobs, and demanding equal and fair treatment. They’re angry that women can get men to buy them drinks, dinner, and expensive weddings – and these same women have the power to reject them (or make more money). A type of reactionary contempt and hostility toward women develops, often to compensate for their feelings of inadequacy. These feelings contribute to the goal of humiliating and hurting women through sexual harassment and assault.

7. Personality Traits – Certain personality types or traits are associated with sexual harassment and assault. Specifically, narcissism and antisocial (sociopathic) personality types. In both types of personality there is a lack of compassion, empathy or remorse. The narcissist is fundamentally self-centered – his needs come first. The antisocial personality type disregards the rights of others – he lies, cheats, steals, and he is recklessly aggressive and dangerous. These men objectify women, often believing that female victims are somehow responsible for their own abuse or harassment. Many narcissistic men have a core self – one they are not conscious of – that feels inadequate or worthless. And the sexual mistreatment of women magically affirms their proud sense of masculinity. A common example today is men who coerce women into watching them masturbate (such as Louis C.K. and others). These men want to be seen and admired to boost their fragile egos. Counseling for men with these personality traits is critically important, and can be quite effective.

8. Sex & Love Addiction – Many clinicians believe that most sexual harassment and assault is caused by, or at least closely associated with sexual addiction. Epidemiological studies show that somewhere around 5-15% of adult men engage in compulsive sexual behavior. Some experts in this field believe the numbers are much higher. There is no doubt that many men demonstrate an inability to control their sexual urges, regardless of potential or actual negative consequences.

Counseling for Men Who Mistreat Women Sexually

The biggest difficulty is getting men into treatment. First, most of these men are in a state of denial (or they seriously minimize the significance of their actions). And openly discussing their behavior would probably result in overwhelming shame that would be unacceptable to most men (on top of their pre-existing feelings of inadequacy). Usually, it requires intervention by an aggrieved spouse, girlfriend, or employer.

Couples therapy can open the door to individual counseling for men who act out sexually. In either case, the goal is to heal the wounds from childhood and to teach men how to deal with feelings and relationships in a healthy, mature adult manner.

At our Center, we believe that all men contain within them the capacity to be loving, compassionate, responsible husbands, fathers, friends and co-workers. Counseling for men who mistreat women is necessary and effective. For further information, or to schedule an appointment for consultation, please contact us today

16May 2017

Is He a Narcissist?

And How to Deal with Him

By Richard J. Loebl, LCSW, PA

Narcissism is on the rise. Millennials may surpass the “Me Generation” – they are often seen as entitled and self-absorbed. And narcissism is in the news every day: Several powerful world leaders, such as Russia’s Putin and North Korea’s Kim Jong-u are well-known for their narcissistic behavior. Famous entertainers and athletes are almost expected to be narcissistic – and they rarely seem to disappoint.

When people think about narcissism they usually visualize a man. There’s a good reason for that. Studies show that men are about three times more likely than women to show up as narcissists. What about the man in your life? Is he a narcissist? And what can you do about it?

It’s All About Him

Narcissistic men are similar to narcissistic women – but the men tend to be more aggressive, domineering, unethical and socially inappropriate. Many LATE Men are narcissistic. LATE men are Lost, Angry Teenagers – adult men who are developmentally immature (see my articles on LATE Men in this web site). These narcissistic men are lost because they operate on a false, elevated sense of self. But this inflated self, or personality, seems hollow and based in shame and worthlessness. And they’re angry when they don’t get their way – or when they’re “one-upped” by someone else.

The problem is huge. Studies show a dramatic increase in narcissism in the 21st Century. Men are generally more self-absorbed, entitled and grandiose. They’re more arrogant and insensitive to others. Narcissistic men are manipulative and controlling. They use others for their own personal benefit. Relationships and marriages are damaged or destroyed. There’s even been a significant increase in abuse and domestic violence that can be traced to male narcissism. And narcissistic heads of state are insensitive to basic human rights, and dangerous to world peace and stability.

Is He a Narcissist?

He’s so self-absorbed that he doesn’t seem to care about your needs or feelings.

He’s selfish – his needs and desires come first.

He complains or protests when you have expectations or make requests.

He always has the right answer. You’re wrong. He knows best.

He has an inflated ego. He’s smarter than others – more talented – the best.

Yet, at times, he seems quite insecure or jealous of others. He always seems to be looking for approval or admiration.

He gets very defensive and argumentative. It’s always your fault (or someone else’s).

He always needs to be in control.

Narcissism can manifest in minor, even subtle ways. This is referred to as narcissistic personality traits. Or it can be a full-blown characterological disorder. NPD (Narcissistic Personality Disorder) is estimated to affect 6% of the population. But men represent about 75% of all individuals diagnosed with NPD. At our Center, we estimate that at least 65% of our male clients (including husbands when we see couples) have at least significant narcissistic traits.

The DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of the APA) defines NPD as “A pervasive pattern of grandiosity (in fantasy or behavior), need for admiration, and lack of empathy…”. This is a summary version of the diagnostic criteria:

  1. Grandiosity – exaggerated self-importance and need to be recognized.
  2. Fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, etc.
  3. Views himself as “special” and unique.
  4. Requires excessive admiration.
  5. Entitlement: unreasonable expectations of favorable treatment or compliance with is expectations.
  6. Exploits others – takes advantage.
  7. Lacks empathy: doesn’t recognize or identify with other people’s feelings.
  8. Envious or jealous of others.
  9. Arrogant, haughty attitude.

Does this sound familiar? If someone you know has 5 or more of these symptoms, he may have NPD. Otherwise, he may have narcissistic traits – one or more of the symptoms listed above, though not as extensive, or pervasive. But these traits alone can be very troubling and cause very serious problems.

Self-Esteem, Confidence, or Narcissism?

  • Normal self-esteem and confidence
  • Self-acceptance and self-assurance
  • Goal-oriented or ambitious with work-life balance
  • Appreciates, but does not need, compliments and recognition
  • Mutuality in relationships (give and take)
  • Feels guilty when his mistakes are hurtful to others
  • Appreciates and values contributions by others (a team player)

Narcissistic Traits

  • Over-confident, self-absorbed or selfish at times
  • Sometimes aggressive to get his own needs met
  • Occasionally controlling and demanding
  • Needs recognition and appreciation frequently (underlying insecurity)
  • Sense of entitlement
  • Some ability to be empathetic and compassionate toward others
  • Narcissistic Personality Disorder
  • Similar to narcissistic traits, but more exaggerated and pervasive
  • Grandiose with no sense of humility
  • Excessive focus on his need to be recognized and admired
  • Preoccupied with his special personal qualities and accomplishments
  • Highly competitive – intolerant of anyone who may show him up or is “better than”
  • Lack of empathy or concern for others (and may throw them under the bus to look better himself)
  • Manipulative relationships – to obtain admiration and approval; to advance his own goals; and to maintain power and control over others
  • Deep core of worthlessness, well-hidden from others and himself
  • Over-reactive, defensive, “thin skinned” and argumentative – shifts blame to others

How to Deal with Him

Most narcissists don’t believe they have a problem or that they need to change. Unfortunately, research studies indicate that NPD is very resistant to change. Even the less serious narcissistic traits are stubborn, in part because these men can’t or won’t admit that they might be flawed. The good news is that you have choices, and you can often manage the situation effectively using the following approach:

  1. Emotional detachment from the narcissism, not the man. It’s not about you, and you don’t have to take it personally.
  2. Mindfulness – observe his attitudes and behavior from an objective, detached point of view. Avoid judgments.
  3. Use your mature, Adult self (see “Who’s In Charge?”). Your Adult self is loving and responsible – not reactive or judgmental.
  4. Avoid the Victim Triangle – These are the roles we play when we are emotionally reactive and get caught up in the drama: Victim, Persecutor, Rescuer. The only way out of the drama is Adult love and responsibility.
  5. Set boundaries – know when to say no, dispassionately (without drama).
  6. Self-care – Focus on your own needs, but not in service of avoiding or distancing from him.
  7. Suggest counseling or a men’s therapy group (without pressuring him). Or offer to go with him for “couples counseling.” Most narcissistic men can be taught to develop Adult ego skills and strategies. He can learn that it’s in his own best interest to learn how to work and play well with others!

If you would like additional information about narcissism, the LATE Men, coaching and counseling services for men, please contact us today. We’d like to hear from you about your personal experience, and we value your feedback.

08Sep 2016


8 Types of LATE Men

How They Cause Relationship Distress
How Counseling for Men Can Help

By Richard J. Loebl, LCSW, BCD

This is another article in my series about the LATE Men – adult men who are developmentally stuck as Lost, Angry Teenagers. In my work with men over many years, I’ve identified 8 types of LATE Men. This article will describe these types, explain how they cause relationship distress, and I’ll comment on how counseling for men can help.

The LATE Men

The LATE Men (adult men who are Lost, Angry Teens) are emotionally and behaviorally unfinished, and like teenagers, they often show up late – late to mature, and late to make or keep commitments. These men tend to self-sabotage, causing relationship distress, and problems at work and at home. LATE Men are often narcissistic, have under-developed identities, anger management problems, and they’re often passive-aggressive and defensive. They typically come from dysfunctional families – with divorced parents or broken homes, fathers who were emotionally or physically absent, mothers who were over-worked or overprotective, or they were abused emotionally or physically. Counseling for men, or couple’s therapy with a special focus on male psychology, can help the LATE Men to become the loving, responsible Adults that most men truly want to be.

8 Types of LATE Men

As a specialist in male psychology and counseling for men, I’ve worked with hundreds of men over 40 years in individual therapy, couples counseling, and group therapy. The 8 types of LATE Men tend to cluster into 3 major categories – Lost, Self-Absorbed, and Angry. The 8 types are not mutually exclusive: each type is clinically and experientially coherent, but there is a great deal of overlap across the categories and types. All of them experience relationship distress, along with various types of self-sabotage. Yet all of the 8 types are distinct and clearly identifiable. And most of them tend to be good men – capable of being loving and responsible at work, in relationships and with their families. They’re often creative, supportive, caring, even heroic when it’s called for.

The Lost Men

1. Confused & Clueless Type – This type of LATE Man has a confused or unformed sense of personal identity. I’ve worked with a number of married men who don’t seem to understand why there is so much relationship distress. Their wives are angry and burned-out – they complain that their husbands are shut down, don’t communicate, and are disconnected emotionally and physically. These LATE Men are emotionally repressed, and have little or no insight or understanding about themselves. Counseling for men helps them to identify the parts of themselves that are buried and undeveloped. Through this process they can begin to form a core identity, with beliefs, values, and clear interpersonal needs and preferences. From that core identity, they can begin to communicate more clearly, act more responsibly and assertively, and relate in a more connected and intimate manner.

2. Depressed/Ashamed Type – This is one of the most common types of LATE Men. Depression in men is often masked and difficult to identify, because most men would be too ashamed to reveal their internal struggles. Instead, they may appear withdrawn, shut down, moody or angry. Depression in men is mostly shame-based – they generally feel not good enough or not worthy. They feel they don’t measure up to other men, or to the expectations of women or “society”. As a result, much like depressed teenagers, these men tend to isolate, under-function at work and at home, become irritable, and are unmotivated – and they may become self-destructive. Counseling for men is essential to provide emotional support, and to help them navigate through the relationship distress caused by their depression.

3. Anxious/Insecure/Avoidant Type – In the movie and musical The Producers, the character Leo Bloom is a great example of this type of LATE Man. Leo (played by Gene Wilder in the original movie, and Matthew Broderick in the musical) needed his little blue blanket to cope with his uncontrollable anxiety and insecurity. In real life, many LATE Men suffer with personal and relationship distress because of low self-confidence, anxiety and insecurities. And they often avoid people, and situations where there is conflict or other perceived challenges, because the anxiety is so overwhelming. Counseling for men with a special focus on anxiety can be very effective. Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy and couples therapy are particularly effective with this type of LATE Man.

4. Dependent/Addicted Type – Many LATE Men struggle with addictions and dependency on alcohol, drugs, pornography, video games, etc. The actor Robert Downey, Jr. is a good example of a LATE Man who sabotaged his career and relationships due to his chemical dependency. Probably due, in part, to his father’s drug use (and they used drugs together starting at age 6), this talented actor was arrested repeatedly on drug charges, did time in jail, and went through rehab several times, followed by numerous relapses. Counseling for men, along with recovery programs, family support, and meditation has resulted in 13 years of sobriety and a resurgence in his career. And like many other LATE Men, his relationship distress was reversed, and he is now happily married with 2 young children.

There is another aspect of unhealthy dependency in LATE Men that deserves special mention, because it results in serious relationship distress. One example of this type of dependency are young men, usually in their 20’s, often labeled as “failure to launch”. These young men are generally immature, not fully responsible, and dependent on their parents because they are unable or unwilling to fully support themselves and live independently. Another, even more common example, are married men who are excessively dependent on their wives. Some of them are either unemployed or under-employed, or their wives provide most of the financial support for the family. Many of these LATE Men depend on their wives to manage most aspects of day-to-day living, including household chores, raising the children, and planning other aspects of their lives together. These marriages are in a lot of trouble, resulting in arguments, distance and a lack of intimacy. Marital and individual counseling for men is often necessary.

Self-Absorbed Men

5. Narcissistic Type – Almost all LATE Men tend to be self-absorbed. It’s all a matter of degree. Narcissists are primarily concerned about themselves and their own well-being. They can be egotistical, vain, arrogant, hypersensitive, and they lack empathy or are unconcerned about others (resulting in a great deal of relationship distress). The extreme version is NPD (Narcissistic Personality Disorder), which includes grandiosity, a sense of entitlement, exploitation and mistreatment of others, and other forms of arrogance. Many people believe that Donald Trump is a narcissist, along with other famous figures, such as O.J. Simpson, Kanye West, and President Richard Nixon. Counseling for men with narcissistic traits is most effective when the focus is on behavior – specific strategies for improving relationships.

6. Workaholics – This type of LATE Man operates from fears and shame. They often grow up with parents who are judgmental and have rigid expectations for performance. As teenagers, they struggle with low self-esteem, poor self-confidence, and they don’t have a solid sense of personal identity (or they just feel bad about themselves). This sense of personal shame, along with fears of judgment by others, follows them into adult life. They may find refuge in work, but it’s their only sense of identity and personal value. But no matter how much they do, they still don’t feel good enough, and they become lost in the work, stressed out and overwhelmed. They’re often disconnected from their families, resulting in a great deal of relationship distress. Counseling for men helps workaholics to achieve work-life balance by unearthing and resolving the underlying fears and shame that drives this addiction.

The Angry Men

7. Angry-Aggressive Type – Teenagers tend to get angry. They’re angry with their parents, who don’t live up to their expectations – or they’re angry because they want to be independent and their parents aren’t ready. And I believe they’re angry because they begin to see problems in a world that looks unfair, demanding, and perplexing. In the past, the role expectations for men were pretty straightforward. The world was less complicated, and a man’s role was to protect and provide. It’s much more complicated today. When boys grow up with relationship distress in his parents, and any level of neglect, abandonment or abuse, it’s no wonder why so many angry teenagers grow up to be angry men. The aggressive type of anger in men is something we see every day –road rage, arguments, fighting, abuse, angry impatience and demanding behavior are just a few examples. This is often a LATE Man who is full of emotional pain, depression, fears and shame. Counseling for men is essential to break the cycle of violence and anger, to help men work through the internal injuries and distress.

8. Passive-Aggressive Type – In the movie Meet the Parents, Robert De Niro was comically passive-aggressive to the extreme. With a bogus smile, De Niro would make negative judgments about Ben Stiller’s chosen profession. Passive-aggressive men often seem nice enough on the surface – easy-going, affable, and reasonable. They agree or make promises – but they don’t show up or follow through. Or they’re sarcastic and critical, often indirectly expressing their anger. The anger is usually repressed and counseling for men helps these LATE Men to identify and accept their feelings – and to find constructive ways to manage them.

If you’d like to read more articles about the LATE Men, please use the links, below. If you know a LATE Man, or if you think you’re a LATE Man, please contact us today for more information, or to set up an appointment with one of our counselors or therapists.

Who’s In Charge?

The LATE Men

The LATE Man in Relationships

The LATE Men – 5 Reasons Why Men Self-Sabotage

Self-Sabotage: The Epidemic

The LATE Man Grows Up

28Apr 2016

Illus-Yakity Yak-blogHow Men Are Missing the Mark

By: Greg Douglas, LMHC

During my work with couples I often find that partners seem to be talking to each other, yet neither one actually ‘hears’ what the other is saying. A wife was talking about her difficulties dealing with a child or co-worker while her husband tried to supply her with a specific answer to the problem. While the husband tried to find a solution to the problem the wife felt unheard and unsupported. This is a perfect example of how men are missing the mark. In the following examples I will show how counseling for men helps to diffuse relationship distress and create more positive connections.

Common areas where men miss the mark include:

  • Trying to fix the problem
  • Trying to make a point and change our partner’s mind (needing to be right)
  • Believing that we are mind readers (or experts at reading signals)
  • Feeling attacked in conversations and becoming defensive

Trying to fix the problem:

Men we are very solution oriented and seek to find answers to any problems that come our way. This can be very helpful in some situations such as problem solving at work or repairing a household appliance. However, attempting to simply fix our partner’s problems often contributes to relationship distress. This pattern often devolves into a pattern where the husband is working harder and harder to help his wife, while his wife is feeling like her husband is not listening to her and is not supporting her needs. Couples therapy can be helpful in these situations, and individual counseling for men can guide husbands toward more effective relationship skills.

I find fulfillment in helping my male clients to see how they are working much harder than they have to. There is often no concrete solution to these problems. What we can do is listen and provide emotional support. I recently worked with a young couple who experienced relationship distress, and the wife expressed a great deal of frustration. She didn’t feel heard by her husband. She tried time and again to show him how she felt and why she acted the way she did. Her husband repeatedly tried to show her that she was seeing the situation wrong. His wife felt dismissed and unsupported – and he was frustrated and confused.

A common technique I’ll use in counseling for men seemed to make a huge difference. I simply introduced the idea that the couple needs to focus on giving each other emotional support, rather than talking only about the content (specifics of what was said). Once both partners accepted this mindset they shifted their pattern and were able to reconnect.

The Fix:

  • Listening– We must be engaged and responsive to the emotional content in our partner’s story.
  • Understanding– Showing that we can see why our partner is upset – this starts the healing process.
  • Supporting– Being there emotionally, and expressing empathy, opens up the door for reconnection.

Trying to make our point:

Men often tell me their goal is to “make my partner understand where I’m coming from.” This goal is understandable and often starts out with good intentions, yet it leads right back to the trap of not feeling heard and not feeling supported. When both partners are looking to make a point, one person plays offense (making their point) while the other partner plays defense (defending their point). This dance almost always leads to relationship distress – an endless cycle of back and forth with no resolution (sound familiar?). Another common technique used in couples therapy and counseling for men is to change the goal from making a point or “being heard” to “being able to hear.” This includes showing an ability to soften our approach and relent from our offensive attack to seek and understand where our partner is coming from (it is often not what you initially thought).

The Fix:

  • Stop playing offense and be responsive and empathetic– One of the keys to breaking out of this cycle of relationship distress is backing down from the position of offense and changing the goal of the interaction. Instead of trying to make one’s point, the goal needs to shift to understanding your partner’s feelings and needs.
  • Practice patience– Ask your partner to explain her viewpoint first.
  • Tune in– Repeat what your partner has said in your own words to show you are intently listening.
  • Validate her feelings– Respect that your partner may have different feelings than your own. This does not mean either of you are right or wrong.

Thinking we can read minds or interpret signals:

For men it is often difficult to read signals from women. We are witness to many signals on a daily basis, from changing body language to shifts in mood. Trying to interpret these signals without actually knowing how our partner feels and why they are acting this way is a recipe for relationship distress. We can’t read minds, and neither can our partners. Counseling for men helps us to be more in tune and engaged with our partner, which lessens the chance that signals are crossed and messages are misinterpreted. This gives us the chance to communicate effectively and avoid the many traps that come with believing we are experts at receiving signals.

The Fix:

  • Remain emotionally engaged– Rather than jumping to conclusions about what they’re thinking or feeling, we need to ask and to be open to hearing them and seeking to understand their experience.
  • Be willing to show a vulnerable side– Putting our own emotions out on the line can be scary. But there are many benefits, such as better connection, greater intimacy, and increased safety in the relationship.

Feeling Attacked and Becoming Defensive:

Men often fear coming to couples therapy. They may see this as sitting on a couch while their wives remind them of all the ways they are failing. Men often feel attacked and respond defensively as a way of protecting themselves. In counseling for men, many of my clients are very proud and do the best they can. Negotiating the multiple roles that men must excel in– along with being sensitive to their wives – can be very difficult for men today. When wives complain, men often experience this as an emotional wound to their pride and ego. The way to avoid becoming defensive is to understand that our partners probably love us, but they are experiencing their own perception of relationship distress. They are not complaining to make us feel bad. Rather, they may be protesting a need that is not currently being met. We must work to avoid personalizing what our wives say, and seek to understand how they feel and what we can do to respond with emotional support and empathy.

The Fix:

  • Don’t take it personally– Work to avoid personalizing what your spouse has said and seek to find a deeper meaning behind their protest.
  • Become compassionate and empathetic– Understanding that most of us are trying very hard to do our best can help us to see a need for increased support instead of defensive arguing.

If you would like more information about counseling for men and relationship distress – or if you would like to schedule a session with one of our counselors, please contact us today.

04Mar 2016

Photo-AshamedManFace in Hands-Blog


Self-Sabotage: The Epidemic

Why LATE Men Are Dying Young

By Richard J. Loebl, LCSW, BCD

During the past 15 years, more than 30,000 white, middle-aged men have died every year from various forms of self-sabotage. That’s 500,000 American men – an epidemic by almost any standard or definition. The actual cause of death is suicide, drug overdose, and liver disease caused by alcohol and drug addictions. These middle-aged men are experiencing emotional and relationship turmoil related to financial difficulties, separation and divorce, social isolation and depression. Counseling for men who self-sabotage can help to stem this tragic devolution.

Cause or Effect?

This epidemic of self-sabotage was discovered by a Princeton University professor who recently won a Nobel Prize in economics, Angus Deaton, Ph.D. In his December, 2015 report, Deaton used mortality statistics to show that white men in the 45-54 age group have been “hitting a midlife wall” (Men’s Health magazine, March, 2016). The article in Men’s Health accurately reported the scope of the problem in terms of addictions and suicide by middle-aged men. It did not adequately explain why so many men in this age group self-destruct. This group of men – I refer to them as the LATE Men – suffer from depression and feelings of shame – along with a tendency to under-function. And they are often socially isolated, separated or divorced.

Who Are the LATE Men?

The LATE Men are adult men who function much like Lost, Angry Teenagers. They are emotionally under-developed, and like teenagers, they often show up late – late to mature, and late to make or keep commitments. These men are often depressed, and they tend to self-sabotage, causing problems at work and at home – often leading to separation and divorce. Counseling for men, with a special focus on male psychology, can help the LATE Men to become loving, responsible Adults.

By mid-life, the LATE Men have an established pattern of self-sabotage, including some or all of the following:

* Under-employment or unemployment

* Lack of success in careers or work environments

* Financial instability and hardship

* Marital distress, separation and divorce

* “Process” or behavioral addictions (internet, video, gambling, pornography, etc.)

* Chemical addictions (alcohol and illicit drugs)

* Prescription drug abuse and addiction (often related to chronic pain and other health problems)

* Anxiety disorders, depression, and chronic shame (feelings of worthlessness)

* Anger management problems

* Social isolation (from family and friends)

The LATE Men tend to reach a low point by their late 40’s or early 50’s. That’s when their levels of satisfaction with life hits bottom. They become burdened with a life of unmet goals, unrealized dreams, disappointment, and depression. It’s no wonder the LATE Men self-medicate with drugs and alcohol – or resort to suicide. Is it too late for LATE Men to benefit from therapy or counseling for men?

Hope and Help for the LATE Men

In my article “The LATE Man Grows Up” I suggest 8 steps to Adult male integrity. Even very depressed middle-aged men can benefit from counseling and therapy groups designed specifically for men. The 8 steps include mindfulness methods, non-judgmental awareness and acceptance, healing past emotional wounds, forgiveness and healing relationships, and practicing responsibility, commitment and leadership roles. In addition to these steps, we guide and encourage men to practice self-care, with proper nutrition, exercise, health care, and sleep hygiene. Finally, we combat depression with support and therapy groups for men, a focus on building healthy relationship patterns, and creating new, achievable goals and dreams.

Even the most destructive patterns of self-sabotage can be reversed. We have many years of experience helping LATE Men to live a new life of purpose, love and community. For more information, or to schedule an appointment, please contact us today.

09Feb 2016

Busy growing man

The LATE Man Grows Up

From Insufficiency to Integrity

By Richard J. Loebl, LCSW, BCD

This is the fourth in a series of articles about The LATE Men – Adult Men as Lost, Angry Teens. In my “Who’s In Charge?” model of the self, all of us have four primary internal parts: An Inner Child, a Teenager, an Inner Critic, and a loving, responsible Adult. Teenagers may become rebellious, angry, confused and withdrawn – and some teens don’t grow up. Specialized counseling for men and men’s therapy groups effectively address LATE Man issues like anger management and relationship distress.

The LATE Men

The LATE Men (adult men who are Lost, Angry Teens) are emotionally under-developed, and like teenagers, they often show up late – late to mature, and late to make or keep commitments. These men tend to self-sabotage, causing relationship distress, and problems at work and at home. LATE Men have anger management problems, and they’re often passive-aggressive and defensive. They typically come from dysfunctional families – with divorced parents or broken homes, fathers who were emotionally or physically absent, mothers who were over-worked or overprotective, or they were abused emotionally or physically. Counseling for men, or couple’s therapy with a special focus on male psychology, can help the LATE Man to become the loving, responsible Adult that most men truly want to be.

Growing Up – The Emerging Adult Man

The LATE Men I’ve worked with in therapy over the past 35 years helped me to see myself more clearly. Like so many other LATE Men, I struggled for years with self-sabotage, shame, anxiety, anger management problems, and relationship distress. Years of psychotherapy helped me to understand and cope with a painful childhood full of loss and family problems. Personal development workshops taught me to see myself more honestly and to become more responsible and emotionally balanced. Attending men’s groups helped me to see my true nature as a man, and empowered me to be a better husband, father, and a leader.

About 10 years ago I was counseling Andy individually and in couples therapy (Andy is a pseudonym and he represents many LATE Men I’ve worked with over the years). I’ve found that counseling for men is very different from working with women. After about 6 months of therapy, Andy would make a little progress only to be followed by regressions into old patterns of LATE Man behavior (avoiding responsibility at work, anger management problems like road rage, passive-aggressive behavior with his wife, and alcohol abuse). I was feeling some frustration with his lack of progress when, during a therapy session, I told Andy that he needs to “grow up.” He told me this was the first time anyone was that direct with him – his wife would be critical and complaining, but it was laced with her own anger and judgment. Andy had a physical handicap from birth that contributed to his LATE Man behavior – and his parents and other authority figures were permissive to a fault. Andy told me that my entreaty to “grow up” changed his life.

He thought about this often, and it empowered him to be the loving and responsible Adult man he wanted to be.

This is the goal for LATE Men – to become fully functioning, Adult men. I define the Adult part of us as loving and responsible – for one’s self and others. The steps for achieving this goal are outlined below.

8 Steps to Adult Male Integrity

1. Honest Self-Reflection – Counseling for men is often necessary to help LATE Men see themselves more accurately and objectively. Men’s therapy groups are especially effective because the men learn to give very honest and direct feedback to each other, in a supportive manner, and without judgment. This type of therapy helps men to identify and understand their feelings, values, beliefs, and behavior patterns. Most LATE Men need to begin with a thorough inventory of negative personality traits and behavior.

2. Be MAD (Mindful, Accepting, and Detached) – LATE Men are often unaware of their thoughts, feelings and behavior – and their effect on others. Mindfulness is awareness without judgment. Mindfulness is a skill that is easily learned and practiced daily. This calming and centering practice is especially useful in anger management. LATE Men can replace emotional reactivity with emotional detachment, acceptance, loving kindness, and letting go of past injuries.

3. Emotional Integrity & RegulationCounseling for men helps LATE Men to identify and understand their feelings, often for the first time. They learn about the 5 feelings – mad, sad, glad, ashamed and afraid. They learn to regulate their emotional reactions – especially anger and shame. LATE Men often live their lives in anger and shame. Emotionally injured as children, they feel not good enough but they build a defensive wall around themselves. When they feel injured as adults, LATE Men tend to react with anger or with passive-aggressive behavior (they shut down, become uncooperative, or take revenge). Emotional regulation is a skill that is easily learned and practiced by men who are committed to the process of personal growth and development.

4. Healing the Past & Forgiveness – LATE Men are often unaware of childhood injuries, or they minimize their importance. Counseling for men helps them to recognize incidents or patterns of neglect, abandonment and abuse. The purpose here is to piece together an accurate picture of childhood influences that explain – not excuse – LATE Man behavior. Andy learned to avoid responsibility partly because his mother over-protected and enabled him. He became passive-aggressive because he learned that direct expressions of anger in his family were unacceptable. Childhood wounds are healed in the process of supportive therapy, and by using new skills of self-love and re-parenting the Inner Child, along with a step-by-step process of forgiveness (letting go of the past).

5. Integration – A central goal of counseling for men and men’s groups is integration of the self. The four parts of a LATE Man’s personality are fragmented and mostly unconscious. The Inner Child is wounded, and his needs are unrecognized (or he’s coddled, and given too much). The Teenager is lost and angry. The Inner Critic is demanding and judgmental. Often, there is no Adult in charge. The mindful process that occurs in therapy and self-development work results in narcissism being replaced by healthy self- love (loving the Inner Child). The angry Teenager is contained – and is given opportunities to find his unique identity and voice. Also, the Teenager is let off the hook – he no longer needs to protect the wounded child because the Adult takes on that responsibility. The Inner Critic is respected – that voice also protected the Child and Teenager. The Adult works cooperatively with the Critic to distinguish real threats from narcissistic threats. And the Adult loves the other parts, allows the Child to play and the Teen to express himself responsibly and creatively.

6. The Joy of Responsibility & Commitment – LATE Men often view responsibility and commitment with dread. They believe they should be more responsible, they make demands on themselves, but they operate from shame and fear. They see themselves as not good enough, and this leads to avoidance, defensiveness and self-torment. Counseling for men is highly effective in teaching the LATE Men to take pride in themselves and their deeds. They learn to be responsible for themselves and live a life of balance and self-care (including work, family, friends, nutrition; exercise; and relaxation).

7. A New Relationship ParadigmRelationship distress often drives LATE Men into couples therapy or individual counseling for men. Wives and girlfriends often resort to the ultimatum – “Get therapy now or I’m leaving you.” Direct encouragement by significant others in couples therapy or by other men in men’s therapy groups are helpful in learning a new relationship paradigm. This includes skills such as listening to others and taking feedback non-defensively, letting wives and girlfriends influence them and their decisions, staying emotionally connected and responsive to others with empathy and compassion, and showing love every day with small acts of loving kindness. Finding mentors (at work or in the community) and healthy male friends can also be essential to personal growth and development.

8. Leadership – Men are natural leaders, and our neurobiology is programmed with innate abilities to protect and provide for others. A final step in a LATE Man’s evolution from insufficiency to integrity is the development of leadership roles at home, at work, and in the community. Leadership roles can first be developed and practiced in men’s groups and workshops. Leadership tasks and functions range from being a loving and responsible spouse and a positive male role model for children, to providing guidance, training, motivation and vision to others.

“You must be the change you wish to see in the world.” Gandhi

“When the best leader’s work is done the people say, ‘We did it ourselves’.” Lao Tzu

Andy, like many other courageous men I’ve worked with, taught me a great deal about LATE Men, and about myself. I’ve learned that even the most confused and troubled men are capable and motivated to learn and to grow – to become loving, responsible Adult men with integrity. Counseling for men and men’s therapy groups are highly effective when there is a deep understanding and compassion for LATE Man struggles. Some communities also offer support groups for men ( is one possible resource), along with personal growth and development workshops.

We would like to hear from you about your experiences with LATE Men, and we welcome your comments about this series of articles. Please contact us today for additional information about services for LATE Men and their significant others – including counseling for men, men’s therapy groups, and couples therapy.

Other Articles in This Series:

Who’s In Charge?

The LATE Men

The LATE Man in Relationships

The LATE Men – 5 Reasons Why Men Self-Sabotage

19Oct 2015

The LATE Man in Relationships

By Richard J. Loebl, LCSW, BCD

This is the third in a series of articles about The LATE Men – Adult Men as Lost, Angry Teens. Women often encourage counseling for men – or bring men into couple’s therapy with them – because their men won’t communicate, they’re irresponsible, or they’re emotionally disconnected. These men are often LATE – late to develop, mature, or to show up in the relationship.

The LATE Man

The LATE Men are emotionally under-developed, and like teenagers, they often show up late – late to mature, and late to make or keep commitments. These men tend to self-sabotage, causing problems at work, at home, and in relationships. They usually grew up with dysfunctional family dynamics – divorced parents or broken homes, fathers who were emotionally or physically absent, mothers who were over-worked or overprotective, or they were abused emotionally or physically. Counseling for men, or couple’s therapy with a special focus on male psychology can help the LATE Man to become the loving, responsible Adult that all men truly want to be.

This article describes how LATE Men do relationship. Specifically, how they behave in relationships, how they view themselves and their wives or partners, their feelings and emotional reactions, and what they need from a partner or spouse. Counseling for men will also be discussed, along with implications for couple’s therapy with a focus on male psychology.

What LATE Men Do (and Don’t) in Relationships

o They Re-Create Childhood Wounds

The LATE Men carry mother wounds and father wounds from childhood. Mother wounds result from at least 3 different types of circumstances:

1. Mothers who are overburdened, often holding down a job and raising children simultaneously. This type of unavoidable abandonment or neglect leaves emotional wounds.

2. Mothers who are over-protective and controlling, often due to their own fears or anxiety.

3. Mothers who are verbally or physically abusive.

Father wounds are almost universal for LATE Men, due to absent or unavailable father figures. These male children often have no appropriate male role models to help them develop responsible and loving adult behavior. Many other fathers are LATE Men themselves, and they may be excessively controlling, angry and abusive with their children.

These unfortunate circumstances result in a breakdown in some in the most basic functions of healthy adult male behavior. Like teenagers, the LATE Men are lost – with identity confusion and a true lack of understanding and ability to function in an adult manner. Most of these men need individual counseling for men or couple therapy.

o They fail to protect and provide

There is wide spread agreement that the primary function of adult men throughout history is to protect and provide for their women, their children, and their tribes or communities. LATE Men tend to under-function. They don’t show up for people who count on them. They’re irresponsible, and they self-sabotage. Protecting wives, children and families is instinctive to almost all animal species, including humans. The modern version of protection is to provide for the family. Unfortunately, LATE Men often fail to protect or provide in relationships today.

o They disconnect emotionally and physically

LATE Men may try to fix problems or control their partners. And when women don’t want to be fixed or controlled they often object to this subjugating treatment. The LATE Men often become defensive in response to this perceived attack. For this and other reasons, LATE Men will disconnect, distance, or shut down.

o They avoid and may develop addictions

Avoidance takes many forms – LATE Men won’t talk openly about their feelings or needs; they may obsessively watch TV or sports, play video games, and cruise the internet; and they may become addicted to alcohol, drugs, gambling, or pornography.

How LATE Men See Themselves and Others

o Not good enough

LATE Men may not admit it at first (they may not even know it consciously), but they usually have some awareness of their self-sabotage, and they see themselves as inadequate, incompetent, inferior, lazy, defeated, or a failure. A major goal of counseling for men is to unearth these self-defeating perceptions.

o Misunderstood and doing the best they can

When LATE Men hear complaints, criticism and judgment by others (especially wives and co-workers or bosses), they frequently see themselves as being misunderstood. They believe they’re doing the best they can, and people are too hard on them or unappreciative.

o Victim

LATE Men often feel that people treat them unfairly. They believe people make unreasonable demands, or have unrealistic expectations. Even a simple request may be viewed as excessive pressure or even an attack. Complaints or criticism are viewed as an attack on their character. This view of wives and partners is often a major focus in couple’s therapy.

o Wives and partners are…

…confusing, dramatic, unreasonable, demanding, nagging, withholding, and unappreciative.

What LATE Men Feel

o Anger

The LATE Men are Lost, Angry Teenagers who are developmentally stuck. They’re angry because they feel like victims, and see wives (and others) as treating them unfairly. And anger is very frequently used as a defense – a defense against underlying feelings of hurt, fear, sadness and shame. Anger may even result from depression – angry men often feel helpless, hopeless, and full of self-doubt and worthlessness.

o Shame

The Achilles heel for many adult men – especially the LATE Men. Shame is the psychological and emotional version of a compromised immune system for many men. The LATE Men feel like failures – or they unconsciously defend against this deep emotional pain. As adult men, our primary function in life is to protect and provide for our wives and family. When we fail, or see ourselves as failures, it’s a serious blow to the “ego” for most men. It’s a devastating injury for the LATE Men.

o Numb

The LATE Men have great difficulty tolerating strong emotions – in themselves or others. Men’s brains, in stark contrast to women, evolved to support their role as protectors and providers. Women need to talk about their feelings – their brains evolved to nurture and emotionally support their family and tribe. Men need to take action to hunt and protect their wives and families. Historically, emotions other than anger got in the way for men of action. Today, emotional discussions create excessive stress, especially for LATE Men who feel threatened by feelings they can’t control or fix.

o Injured

When LATE Men believe that people treat them unfairly or make unreasonable demands – when they feel judged, unappreciated, misunderstood, etc. – they feel wounded. The technical term for this is narcissistic injury. Different, but related to narcissism, this type of injury is ego deflating to LATE Men. Counseling for men and couple’s therapy helps men to heal, grow (up), and to connect to others with emotional integrity.

What LATE Men Need

o What they believe they need

LATE Men believe they need a break. They believe they need others to back off and see how unfairly they’re being treated. They want their needs to be met by wives and partners (appreciation, not to be bothered, sex, meals and household chores, etc.) without an expectation that they show up responsibly in the relationship.

o What they really need from wives and partners

The LATE Men need love, friendship and connection just like all of us. Women are understandably challenged by LATE Men. Women’s counseling services with a sensitive and non-judgmental approach to dealing with LATE Men can be very helpful. Men in general need the physical presence of women in their lives. Just being there lets a man know he is loved and cared for. And they may not admit it, but they need a nurturing approach by the women in their lives. They need loving touch – not smothering. They need to know they’re loved and appreciated.

o Specialized counseling for men and couples therapy

LATE Men need to recognize and understand the developmental and cultural forces that contributed to their lost sense of self, angry feelings, and destructive behavior patterns. They need a compassionate and accepting approach by counselors and therapists who are trained in understanding and working with male psychology, emotions and behavioral patterns.

o Accountability and responsibility

LATE Men need to learn that they will feel better about themselves and become more successful when they are accountable and responsible. Counseling for men, including specialized men’s therapy groups, is designed to empower men with acceptance, understanding and compassion.

Men are often reluctant to ask for help. They grow up believing that they need to do it themselves. They are the fixers and problem solvers – asking for help is experienced as shameful. This process is even more difficult for the LATE Men, who desperately need couples therapy and counseling for men. We encourage men who identify with this description to contact us today about counseling for men. And we encourage women who are in relationships or married to LATE Men to approach their men with love and compassion, and suggest couples therapy or individual counseling for men today.

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