A girlfriend of mine regularly plucks grey hairs out of her 35-year-old boyfriend’s eyebrows, the only thing is, he’s not going grey. In fact, despite what she tells her boyfriend, he’s never had a single grey hair anywhere on his young hot body. So what is she really extracting from her man? An inflated ego.

Every time her guy gets a little too sure of himself, a little too cocky and starts taking my friend for granted, she gets out her warmest smile and her pink Tweezerman tweezers. And before she can say “All done, Honey”, he’s back to his attentive self, thinking how lucky he is to have scored such an accepting girlfriend, aging the way he is and all.

While she may be the only girl extracting perfectly fine hairs out of her boyfriend’s head, she’s certainly not the only girl extracting a little ego from her partner. Be it remaking the bed after his failed attempt to remind him that he needs you, or affectionately grabbing his little belly and saying, “Oh, I love your little gut, my ex’s six-pack wasn’t nearly as cuddly”. Pluck, pluck, pluck.

So why do we do this to the men we not only like, but love? Well, it’s not because we don’t value the relationship or them. It’s just that, every now and then, even the best boyfriend or husband can get a little too comfortable within a relationship and become complacent. So we offer a loving reminder that perhaps he’s not as perfect as we’ve made him believe he is, so that he tries a little harder. After all, most of the time it’s us women who have inflating his ego in the first place, so it only seems fair that it’s us who lets out little air.

My grandmother firmly believes that a man should always love a woman a dash more than the woman loves a man. She was happily married for 52 years and my grandfather still got jealous whenever she left him to go to her doctors’ appointments, or flirted with the waiter when ordering her tea. It seems a man will only walk all over a woman if she hasn’t kept him on his toes. That said, you can’t run a man’s self-confidence into the ground and expect the relationship to thrive. A guy’s ego is a delicate flower that needs watering and, if it isn’t coming from you- trust me- he’ll start looking elsewhere. Conversely, if you flood him with praise, be warned, the relationship will wilt.

We’ve all known very accomplished and extremely beautiful girls who seem to date men who are not nearly as attractive and successful as they are. Yet in spite of this, or perhaps because of this, they behave as though it is them who’s lucky to have scored him. These girls cling to their men, fawn over them at parties, pander to their every need at home, interrogate them about every female colleague at work, even a far plainer looking girls. Sure it’s flattering in the beginning but before long these supposedly brilliant women have successfully convinced their men that they was God’s gift to women. And guess what usually happens? They dump these goddesses and decide to share that “gift” with as many women as they possibly can. Their ego’s become so inflated they literally take flight and leave.

Of course, these girls are perplexed. They had done everything they thought they were supposed to, and had started with a dynamic of the guy being grateful that she had given him a second glace. Little do they know that it was her being ‘out of his league’ which attracted him in the first place. If a man doesn’t feel like they’ve snared the catch-of-the-day, he’ll just keep putting out his fishing line.

Truth be told, we’ve all been dumped by guys who – deep down – we know aren’t worthy of us. But we drop our guard because we think we can. We start overcompensating by being overly affectionate or nauseatingly complimentary and before we know it, we’ve pumped up their egos up like the Hindenburg.

So how do we avoid our relationships ending in disaster, without being cold? I say love and appreciate your man but perhaps, when his ego swells up like a helium balloon and he starts to loose touch with reality, be the wise woman who keeps his feet on the ground- even if that means bursting his bubble with a pair of pink tweezers!

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