Ariana Santiago knows what it’s like to date someone with too much pride.
“[My ex-boyfriend] was so conceited and egotistical to the point where there was no room left for me,” said the sophomore public relations and theater major. “If I just got my hair done, he’d expect me to compliment his shoes.”
Taking pride in a relationship is one thing, but being too proud may be the surest way to chase away a significant other.
Dr. Joan Polliner Shapiro, an education professor who has done work in gender studies, said pride is “when two people are stubborn and both think they have the best possible reasons for being stubborn.”
“Pride is refusing to say ‘sorry,’ refusing to be wrong,” Santiago said.
Unfortunately, telling someone to swallow his or her pride may be easier said than done. Some people fear that letting go of pride is equivalent to letting their guard down or becoming too vulnerable.
“I think pride really comes into play with people wanting to maintain an image in relationships, and being concerned about looking a certain way to their partner,” said junior English major P.J. Raduta.
That may be one thing, but when it prevents a couple from communicating, it causes a new set of problems.
“When it comes to pride, most people are afraid they’ll be the weaker ones and will be taken advantage of,” said Peg Adamucci, a counselor practicing in Center City.
“There’s a fear involved because they’re kind of afraid to surrender enough to another person,” Adamucci said. “They withhold part of themselves, not letting the other person know how they feel.”
“I think relationships have to be negotiations, and if one person says ‘right’ and the other says ‘wrong,’ you’ll reach an impasse,” Shapiro said.
Communication becomes difficult when both partners are too proud to apologize, especially if each thinks the other is in the wrong.
“Whoever’s wrong initially should apologize, but there’s always two sides to everything,” said Michelle Wojtanowski, a junior BTMM major.
Wojtanowski once ended a relationship because her boyfriend’s pride became too much to take.
“He kind of had an ego and wouldn’t admit to his wrongdoings,” she said. “We broke up and I told him I’m not going to date him if he did what he did before.”
Santiago said she thinks both men and women are susceptible to pride, but in different ways.
“Males are so egotistical a lot of times that they feel like it’s an insult to their ego if they’re proven wrong,” she said. “But with females you swear you’re right and if you’re proven wrong, you defend.”
Shapiro said neither sex is necessarily more likely to be proud.
“It’s very, very hard for people to say ‘I’m wrong,’ male or female,” she said. “I don’t know if it’s exclusively one sex. It all depends what the argument is about.”
However, gender differences can come into play when it comes to talking out problems.
“Females and males tend to communicate differently,” Shapiro said, and as a result, conversations are frequently misinterpreted.
Pride does not always have to be a relationship’s worst enemy.
“There are times when pride might bind a relationship,” Shapiro said. “Two people who are proud of their culture might find they have a great deal in common because of this kind of pride.
“While pride can relate to individual selfishness, at times, when shared, it can also be a positive.”
Katie Ionata can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.