You’d never guess to look at us, of course, but men are sensitive. When researchers at Purdue University, Indiana, asked a man to open a door for a random sample of men and women, they found that the men who’d had the door opened for them reported lower confidence and self-esteem. The women, being presumably not so touchy about these things, were unaffected.
Bearing this in mind, there are several other acts of loaded kindness that men should take care not to inflict on one another. Or, if you want to emasculate somebody, here’s the manual.
Buy him drinks
An old favourite, exploiting two things all right-thinking men would like to be: wealthy and heavy drinkers. Begin by buying the first round, then make sure you finish your drink well before he does. Let him stew for a minute staring at your empty glass, then, perhaps under cover of a trip to the toilet, buy the next round also. Now he is both a lightweight and a scrounger, with two drinks in front of him – the pub equivalent of being lapped. (Note: in doing this, do not become so drunk you begin crying.)
Call him “my friend”
This phrase came into the language, I suspect, from foreigners translating their own perfectly neutral terms, such as amigo. In English, however, it is loaded. While “mate” can be used freely on both sides of a conversation, when someone says “my friend” to you, you can’t call them “my friend” back without making it sound like you want a duel. (That “my”, expressing ownership, is perhaps at the heart of this.) In Scotland, “pal”, “big man” or Gordon Ramsay’s “big boy” have a similar function. Or that may just be the accent.