Why Are Men Afraid To Ask For Directions?

by Fernando Perfas

“Asking directions 1” | Photo by MikeHennessey Photography via Flickr/Creative Commons

Why are men afraid to ask for directions? Evolutionary psychology found the answer to this intriguing question. You may find yourself at odds with their findings, and you are not alone.

Apparently, men’s disinclination to ask for directions in modern time evolved out of the era when our early forebears roamed the ancient savannas of Africa. Most often, a man asking for directions could get himself killed. Asking for directions made it obvious that the person was not from the area, rendering him vulnerable to ambush. I really don’t know if this is the whole story. Nonetheless, it’s an interesting theory.

Fast-forward to modern time. Common sense tells me not to get out of my car and ask for directions after I made the wrong exit from the highway to some shantytown where goons hang out on street corners. Twice as risky as if this happens at night. In this case, my instinct does not have to rely on my vestigial memories of Africa. It’s obviously dangerous, like a hissing King Cobra threatening to inflict death on me. Unavoidably, now and then,

When this happens, pray that you don’t have your wife with you on the trip; otherwise, all hell can break loose.

I make the common error of making a wrong turn that transforms an otherwise leisurely drive into hell. Often, it is a crucial turn that sets me back five miles from my destination and turns the certainty of a GPS-guided trip into the disconcerting feeling of being lost. When this happens, pray that you don’t have your wife with you on the trip; otherwise, all hell can break loose. Worse, when your brood sitting behind you add to the melee their innocent chorus, “Are we there yet?” At this point, you just about have it and feel like ripping the wheel off the car and hanging yourself with it.

One good thing, though, is when you and your partner kind of settle to a common agreement that you both don’t know where you are going and make an innocent mistake of turning on the wrong intersection. You decide to stop by the closest diner to get your bearing back. You can hide your shame or fear of asking for direction by feigning you really need to use the bathroom and that she could help herself with some coffee, and while doing so, if she would be kind to ask for directions on your behalf. Sometimes this ploy works but not always. I wonder how much of my machismo sometimes inhibits me from admitting I’m lost and that I need help to find my way.

“The macho man is always in charge until you are lost. Swallowing that pride and admitting you are not omniscient, after all, takes a lot from you. I also think that there is an element of self-esteem at play here.”

The macho man is always in charge until you are lost. Swallowing that pride and admitting you are not omniscient, after all, takes a lot from you. I also think that there is an element of self-esteem at play here. More confident and self-assured individuals often don’t find it difficult to admit to a mistake or shortcoming. They don’t feel that such an admission diminishes them. On the contrary, such admission of imperfection may inspire others’ confidence that they are as human as anyone can be.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR  Dr. Fernando B. Perfas is an addiction specialist who has written several books and articles on the subject. He currently provides training and consulting services to various government and non-government drug treatment agencies regarding drug treatment and prevention approaches. He can be reached at fbperfas@gmail.com.

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