Men have always faced enormous pressure to “be men.” The trouble is, society has such a narrow definition of what it means to “be a real man.” In the movies, “real men” are dominant, aggressive, tough and strong, both physically and emotionally. Nothing fazes them. This leaves no room for feeling, thinking, saying or doing anything that indicates a sign of sensitivity, vulnerability or weakness.
This puts men in an impossible position. Society doesn’t entitle men to their emotions. Many men perceive admitting their emotions as a threat to their masculinity. It shouldn’t be. The only way to strengthen or mature one’s character, regardless of one’s sex, is to immerse yourself in your emotions—learn from them and understand them. None of us are immune to our emotions—we’re only human. Silencing them won’t make you stronger, and ignoring them won’t make you more of a man.
As a woman, I’ve had to learn the difference between real men and wannabes the hard way, so take it from me: What makes a real man? A man who’s not afraid to own up to his failures, weaknesses and shortcomings. A man who’s not afraid to feel. Someone who’s open to admitting imperfection, sensitivity, uncertainty, and vulnerability. Now, that’s a real man.
Being a man isn’t about how fast you drive, how many women you have sex with or how many pounds you press. No number can quantify somebody’s masculinity. I quantify my men in honesty, respect and independence. I measure my men in modesty. I want a guy who’s man enough to fess up to his feelings and tough enough to learn and grow from them, and strong enough to recognize when he is wrong. I want a man who’s brave enough to risk not winning. I want a guy who’s willing to put his ego on the line for me.
Men who prescribe to society’s ideals of what it means to “be a real man” jeopardize their ability to maintain happy, healthy relationships. This is because men who hide behind their strength and so-called masculinity often lose sight of what is right along the way. Rather than admitting when they’re wrong, they find somebody else to blame. Rather than accepting their emotions, they ignore them and let them fester deep under the surface. This tension builds and never goes away and is eventually released in the form of unwarranted aggression. This ideal hinders men from exercising their compassion and respect, and renders them unsympathetic and unnecessarily defensive. These men are not easy to be with. Trust me, I would know. So why are so many men trying so desperately to fit this definition?
Maybe because these men think that’s what women want. And sadly, many women do.
Not me. I’m not impressed with men that flaunt their conquests and victories in front of me like bait. It’s easy to be open about the times that we annihilate opponents. It takes serious cojones for a man to own up to the time he got his ass handed to him. So ladies and gentlemen, when faced with a decision, take the man who’s not afraid to look the fool. Take the man who stands behind his individuality and doesn’t hide behind his muscles. Look for a man who flaunts his modesty and honesty. Humility—that makes a real man.