Today there is no shortage of content on men and masculinity. If you search around subjects related to men and masculinity have for some reason, started to abound. And they happen to come from a variety of sources, even from outlets one would not traditionally associate with the concept (e.g. women’s lifestyle content).
Masculinity as a concept has been making something of a comeback in recent years. This is interesting given the trajectory of culture (in the West) in the past few decades. With the onset of social forces that seem to work against the masculine ideal, the growing interest in the subject could be seen as a refreshing change.
However, if you look deeper: from the nature of this debate, the aims of the stakeholders involved, and the (again) the trajectory of the broader conversation, it becomes apparent that all is not right. An abundance of topics, materials, and engagement with the topic of masculinity does not mean that what is on offer is worthwhile.
Amid this confusion, for a lot of men who wish to find the right content and messaging on this subject, there is help available. If they know where to look for it.
The aim here is not to get into a discussion of where the conversation on masculinity is going wrong, rather it is to hone in on this subject and distill down the key points that can help identify the signs of a masculine man, and answer the question, why being masculine is important.
What Doesn't Make a Masculine Man
In identifying the signs of a masculine man, it is best to start by knowing what doesn’t make a masculine man.
As noted there is no shortage of people going around talking about masculinity in a positive, negative, or ‘neutral’ way, explaining to the world what it means to be a masculine man, whilst having no clue what it actually means in practice.
In addition, today we have the more pervasive problem of men (or wannabe men) and adolescent boys who go around acting like ‘masculine’ men. Which in practice is either a recipe for failure, mediocrity, or downright conflict.
Being a masculine man, whilst seemingly straightforward, is not as simple in practice. Boys become men. It is a process that every man has to go through. Either through a rite of passage or through the trials of life.
Unfortunately today, a lot of men (arguably most men) don’t benefit from this process. A lot of men today don’t endure the kind of challenges that make them develop and grow into true masculine men. So what we are left with is a lot of men who go around behaving badly.
Either living as a bunch of losers who don’t know what they want out of life; or worse as “men” who think they have what it takes to perform optimally and succeed, but instead go around behaving like a bunch douchebags.
Here we will outline the main features of men who are simply not masculine. Some of the examples might surprise you.
OK, let’s get an obvious example out of the way. A clear sign that a guy is not masculine is his neediness. But what does neediness actually mean in practice?
Neediness, besides the obvious economic aspect, refers to a sense of absence. It is a psychological state where the person lacks something, which is not a problem necessarily, but it is the feeling of insecurity it gives rise to. And most problematically it causes the bloke in question to act out of that sense of want or absence.
The problem of neediness in men is most notable in the way (unmasculine) men relate to women.
If a guy is needy it usually means he has trouble relating to women as equals. Such men tend to approach women, and the subject of relationships in general, as a way of getting something for themselves. The girl is there to add or bring something into his life. Something he does not already have to begin with.
The neediness he feels could be due to a number of factors (the lack of purpose in life being a major one). But rather than addressing the deeper problem, such men seek to fill that gap in their lives by pursuing women, often for the reason of filling that emptiness inside of them, and their lives in general.
This sense of neediness, in the context of women, plays in predictable ways. Often the guy has trouble relating with women outright. There is a sense of neediness, which as often has an economic and social basis.
This means the (needy) guy in question tends to ‘act out of’ that sense of absence at an emotional level. Showcasing his need for validation, whilst communicating little or no value in return.
And don’t kid yourself: Women today are very aware of these things, and will catch on to these signs very quickly. And the guy who tries ‘win’ a girl’s attention, affection, or anything else in this sort of way, is pretty much doomed from the beginning.
To succeed in life you need to have or at least show courage. The idea that ‘fortune favors the brave’ is a fact of life. And invariably the simps, and losers among us also happened to be the cowards.
Look, there is no simple formula for bravery or courage, but in practice, it essentially comes down to this: You want something, but are fearful of something that is standing in the way of you getting it.
The question is are you willing to face the source of fear and confront it to get what you are looking for or are you going to allow the fear to make the decision for you.
Too often in life, it is our fears that determine our choices. Not our desires and true motives. And changing this pattern of behavior, which has a plethora of developmental and educational factors, is harder than it seems.
And a lot of men go through life living in various states of fear or uncertainty. Unable to confront the sources of their fear or unease, they take the path of actively avoiding them. Again the subject of women is often a source of unease.
When it comes to meekness, in the context of masculinity, the real problem is the lack of confidence. That is the ability to trust yourself, your abilities, and your potential to do things you would otherwise not.
The problem with a lot of men today is that they live in a state of not just fear, but a deep sense of unease with who they are as people. The meek man is not just lacking a core quality of masculinity: self-confidence, but he is also not sure of what he is as a person, and what he wants out of life.
This is a serious weakness for it works into a major inability that many men carry with them through life: which is the ability to stand up for themselves.
No matter how skilled or experienced you are, being fearful in the face of something is a recipe for failure.
If there is one lesson you can take away from this entire post it would be this: If you cannot or don’t want to stand up for yourself, not only will you not get anything you really want in life. And in most cases, whatever that source of fear-real or imagined-will keep you down for good.
Most weaknesses in a man’s life can be traced back to the problem of laziness. Laziness has many definitions, but essentially it comes down to the inability to do the things you are supposed to do, at the right time for a variety of reasons.
The source of the problem of laziness is one of mindset.
A lazy guy is a guy with excuses. He is someone who always has something going wrong in his life, some misfortune or trouble affecting his work. The lazy guy, if he gets that far, is also the ineffective guy on the job. The one person you cannot rely on.
Let’s face it. We’ve all been there. There are days, weeks, heck even months when nothing seems to happen! And the idea of making something happen could be the hardest thing to do.
The key difference however is that the lazy guys let things get away. He does not take charge. He does not take a stand. He is not willing to lead… Himself.
Examples of lazy people are all around. These are the people who give up or give in at the first obstacle or challenge. The principle that ‘when the going gets tough, the tough get going’ simply does not apply to them.
Key Qualities in a Masculine Man
Right. Now that we have an idea of the qualities and unmasculine. Let’s take a look at the key attributes of a truly masculine man. Now it must be said that the number of qualities one can associate with a masculine man are many. Too many to list. So here our focus will be on three main attributes that shape the character of a masculine man in the modern (Western) world.
Before you can lead anyone, you should be able to lead yourself. Take any leader of men, and you will find someone who sets a very high bar when it comes to personal standards in all areas of life: fitness, diet, work and finance, and the quality of his relationships.
A key feature of any leader is the ability to make decisions. Hard, difficult decisions. A masculine man understands the importance of doing the right thing, which is not always the easy thing.
In practice, this means being willing to take risks, putting yourself in difficult/uncomfortable situations, or better actively seeking that which makes you uncomfortable and taking it head-on.
To be a leader entails being a leader in your own personal life, which means adopting a never-say-die attitude, no matter the challenge. To be ever ready to take charge and act! Recall here the words of Seneca, the Roman Stoic Philosopher:
The greatest obstacle to living is expectancy, which hangs upon tomorrow and loses today. You are arranging what lies in Fortune’s control, and abandoning what lies in yours. What are you looking at? To what goal are you straining? The whole future lies in uncertainty: live immediately.
Facing your Fears
No surprises on this one. Succeeding in life entails doing what you are afraid to do. Do what makes you uncertain, and uncomfortable (as long as it is legal) whenever you can, and not worry about the outcomes.
Life is about taking risks, knowing full well the pay-offs for making the effort, and the consequences of inaction.
When one speaks about facing your fears, the modern world we live in does pose the kind of challenges that threaten life and limb. Instead, the kind of fears one may be faced with could be the simpler things in life (or not so simple).
Like asking your boss for a pay rise, telling that obnoxious bloke in your dorm to back off or else! Or it could be about summoning up the courage and introducing yourself to that pretty girl in your class.
The examples are numerous, but the core nature of the problem remains the same. Are you willing to get out of your comfort zone: that little safe-space that you have built around for yourself, and go out into the world and make things happen? Are you ready!?
Living with Purpose
We often hear the importance that is placed on ‘being happy’. The idea of doing something’ or the other is somehow going to make you (or anyone who is listening to the particular message) “happy”.
Whether such a thing is true or not is secondary to the real question that every masculine ought to consider as the central goal of his life: and that is to live a life of purpose.
But what does that mean actually? What does it mean to live a life of purpose?
A simple but powerful answer to this question is: To live a life where you are fulfilling your potential by doing the thing you were meant to do.
Whilst this answer may seem a bit vague and unfocused, if you look carefully, every man, deep down feels he is called to do something. There is some deeper or higher calling that each of us is called to fulfill.
It is difficult to explain what it is, but it is just there. Just waiting to be unleashed. However, the real challenge is in finding your calling. To discover that mission that you are called to fulfill. But finding that purpose involves a process of self-discovery.
This takes us back to the first point: personal leadership: Knowing who you are; learning what matters most in your life, and critically being able to go out and get after what you really want out of life. To hell with who or whatever that may say otherwise.
However, the path toward becoming a masculine man and living a life of purpose is not always easy. For it is no accident that a lot of men don’t make it in life, and with good reason.
Just like boys need a rite of passage to become men, men need specific guidance on being true masculine men.
Discovering Your Purpose in Life
Nothing comes easy in life. Anything worthwhile will require you to dig deep, learn, strive, and of course work hard to get to where you want, and to be able to live a life of purpose.
Often the problem when it comes to living a purposeful life is that men, particularly young men who are still finding their way in life, fail to master the basics of leading a normal life. That is to be able to meet their basic need and wants, whilst being able to pursue their higher goals.
Such as being able to develop their social skills. To be able to build a business and establish financial independence. To be able to attract women and/or to find the right partner. To be able to develop your skills to contribute constructively to society.
This is where the role of guidance or specifically coaching comes in. Look if you want to do anything worthwhile in life, which as noted is going to be tough, then why not do it with some professional help with proven results, to help you move forward, in your journey, towards success.
For that is exactly what you stand to gain if you are willing to make that commitment. If you want to be a masculine man and lead a life of purpose then it is time to make a decision.
Make it worth your time and take a step from your life and ask yourself: are you leading the life that you always wanted to. Are you doing the things or working towards outcomes that you truly believe in? If not, maybe now is the time to make a change.
Masculinity, purpose, and fulfilling your potential all have one thing in common: they correspond to the will to make a positive difference in your life and those of others. Do you have what it takes to make it happen? Now is the time to decide.