You're on your first date with the online hottie you've been texting for weeks. In person, he is even more handsome and sexy than in his pictures. You love everything about him: the smell of his cologne, how he dresses, and how his eyes sparkle when he smiles at you.
He raises his glass at the dinner table and says, "Bon appetite!" You joyfully respond, "Bon appetit!" Suddenly sans twinkle in his eye, he says, "Are you correcting me?" You think he must be joking, but you can't really tell. "Of course not" you say, eyeing his face for any change. "It's just that I studied French, and there is no t sound at the end of appetit."
After that brief dark moment, the rest of the dinner goes off without a hitch. You both decide to go dancing. It's hot on the dance floor, so you peel down to your sheath dress. After a few cocktails, your head is spinning. You are giddy over how well the date is going.
As the two of you walk to his car, he says, "Oh you looked great on the dance floor." You say, "Thanks!" Then he says in a tone that signals what's coming is for your own good, "But you really should gain six pounds."
When you are finally home, you kiss him passionately in the car. You both say goodnight. He suddenly gushes over how hot and wonderful you are. "I want to see you again very soon!" he says with boy-ish excitement.
The next day, you feel a little down. You can't really place the feeling because you are so very attracted to this man. You hope his interest in you is sincere, but something tells you that he has the upper hand. You reassure yourself that he must be sincere because he was so honest in giving you constructive feedback about your weight.
Here is what you should do: Run from this guy! Even on his best behavior, his sense of entitlment comes through in evaluating your weight. He has already begun his "tear-down approach" to leave you feeling as though you want to earn his approval. That fact that he felt criticized by you over such tiny matter of pronouncing a word is another very bad sign. He is clearly concerned about maintaining a very positive image of himself.
Personality researchers have discovered a close correlation between this sort of arrogance and a lack of honesty (1). Haughty, arrogant people lie, cheat, and manipulate to get what they want. It's tough to know where you stand with an arrogant man because of his preoccupation with his image and corresponding tendency to obscure the truth. The good news in all this is that you don't have to wonder if he is honest—his sense of entitlement tells you that he is not.
"But I can't help being attracted to confident men!" you say. This man isn't confident! He is like a shallow, wide, sparking pool. When you dive in, you'll come into immediate hard contact with the bottom. He spends so much time cultivating a certain image, that there is nothing under it to be discovered. He has to keep you off-guard so you won't see that he is a hollow shell of a person.
Note that "modest versus arrogant" and "confident versus underconfident" are separate dimensions. And confident, modest men are—how shall we say it? They are downright yummy! They are sincere, fair-minded, and non-greedy. Cues into the modesty of your guy are the easygoing way he handles criticism, how considerate he is over everyday matters, and his total lack of racism or sexism.
Of course, he loves how smart you are! He'd never feel threatened because he simply accepts how things are. He has no interest in establishing his superiority, and loathes the thought of exploiting anyone. If he sees a spider in the house, he'll catch and release it outside.
The world opens up with a humble man like this. His utter rejection of any sexual double standard for men versus women melts away shame. Sexual exploration and real intimacy are possible with this deeply confident, empathic man. He wants you to see all the way through him. He wants very badly to know you, too, but refrains from asking intimate questions out of respect for your privacy. He is like a crystal-clear pond that is also black because the bottom is so very far from the surface. He has a fascinating depth of character born of a lifetime of openness to experience.
The trouble with these truly humble guys is finding them! Their women never let them go, darn it!
The arrogant man, in contrast, might tell you how disgusted he is with the incompetence of people at his work. Or he might describe how many women have been after him. Or he might make a demeaning remark about members of a certain race, refer to sexually active women as "sluts", or make fun of the elderly.
Heaven forbid you marry one of these arrogant guys! Sure, they seem sexy to you now because first impressions are their strong suit. But imagine how sexy he will look sitting on the couch while you do all the cooking and cleaning. Or just think how hot he will look in bed with your best friend. If you challenge him, he might say how lucky you are to have a man who doesn't beat you like the husband down the hall. Remember that arrogant people don't have high regard for others. They exploit them. They don't care about being fair.
Roughly 3 out of 4 divorces in the U.S. are initiated by the woman. Very often it is for just these sorts of uncaring, unfair behaviors. Don't let yourself get trapped into a relationship with an arrogant man. They are the very ones to use guilt tactics to get you to stay way longer than you should. Call them out on their attempts to make you feel guilty, and you'll see that their vulnerability was fake. They are tough as nails. Let them rust on their own.
1. Lee, K. & Ashton, M. C. (2006). Further assessment of the HEXACO Personality Inventory: Two new facet scales and an observer report form. Psychological Assessment, 18, 182-191.
See my related post on the decency of humble men and women: