What does a real man look like? Guys can have a hard time trying to find a healthy role model. How does a guy practice to be a man when society has so many examples of hyper masculinity or femininity as the “standard” for a man?
By “hyper masculine” I mean the men who show these types of traits: domination, force, dogmatic, relentless, hoarding, more is more attitude, expansion without regard for boundaries or long term consequences, lone wolves, and a “boys don’t cry” attitude. These are hard men. If a guy rejects the hyper masculine role, he may adopt feminine attitudes of yielding, passivity, intuition, softness, cooperation, giving, being, conservation, interdependence, and expressing emotions. He may become a soft man.
None of these are “bad” things. They just aren’t the embodiment of healthy masculine energy. Healthy masculine energy is more like pushing through (without dominating); active; logical; healthy competition (instead of smashing you in the dust); receiving; quantity (without having it all); doing; expansion; independence; and warmth and connection.
How Did We Get Out of Alignment
The roots of imbalance started a long time ago with patriarchy. Patriarchy takes the negative aspects of masculinity and amplifies them. Patriarchs dominate through taking power rather than sharing power. They domesticate animals and people to control them. This takes away their natural sense. Patriarchs take more resources than they need and desire to own what they cannot use. Patriarchs also remove or belittle things that challenge their authority. It’s warped, extreme, and unhealthy masculinity.
To regain a sense of balance, we have to let women take on the balancing role of femininity, renounce patriarchy, and encourage men to embrace healthy masculinity.
So What Does Healthy Masculinity Look Like?
Healthy Use of Power
A healthy man is neither tyrant nor weakling. He neither engages in fear tactics, manipulation, or abuse to put himself above others nor does he abdicate power to place himself below. He can share power with others because he understands that power is in abundance and we all do best when we stand in our power. Personal power can’t be stolen, but it can be unused. A healthy man uses his power to care for himself and those he cares for and makes things happen.
Is Always Evolving Towards Wisdom
Wisdom is knowledge applied. So to evolve toward wisdom is to accumulate learning and use it in ways that lead to more knowledge and eventually wisdom. A healthy man is humble. He knows what he doesn’t know and will ask questions. Curious and introspective, a healthy man shares what he knows with others. He’s always looking for ways to become a better man and help other do the same.
He Is Willing to Work
A healthy man is willing to work for what he wants. Whether his dreams are big or small, he follows through and doesn’t just talk about it, dream, or plan. He delights and compliments others on their accomplishments because he knows what it takes to achieve dreams.
Handles Conflict Appropriately
One of a man’s roles is to do battle. The healthy man is disciplined. He is purposeful and adaptable. He accomplishes his goals without creating unnecessary damage. His actions are balanced and respectful, being neither too detached or cruel nor a powerless pushover who doesn’t fight back.
Healthy Boundaries Around Love
They say our first love is our opposite gender parent. This relationship, and our first crush, sets us on the road for what we are like in love. We may be stingy lovers who approach life with no zeal, withholding passion for fear of being heartbroken. Or we may be chasers who long for the thrill of conquering someone. This can leave us never satisfied as real love never lives up to those soul mate expectations.
A man with healthy boundaries around love can both give and receive. He doesn’t feel guilty about being loved, nor does he withhold it from himself or others. He’s a cuddler who feels and shares his feelings. Even if he’s an introvert or private person. he can share with those who are close to him.
He’s a Member of Team
Healthy men are members of teams. These can be families, sports teams, bromances, and romantic relationships. He’s not a lone wolf, nor is he always the commander of the ship. He understands that all people have value and treats them with respect. He knows that he adds to others’ enjoyment and experience of life as they add to his. Respect and reciprocity keep these relationships running in a smooth, connected way.
He Honors Everyone
Healthy men know that the divine masculine and the divine feminine are both required to have a healthy whole. Each has a role to play. When he’s respectful of his mother, daughters, sisters, and other women, he is helping to keep nature in order. He doesn’t play dating games by leading women on, cheating on women, or trying to dominate them. He knows that women are equal, yet different.
Real men know that men and children also deserve respect. He understands the quote from Terence, “I am human. Nothing that is human can be alien to me.”
He Feels His Feelings
A real man isn’t stone faced and dead inside. He feels his feelings. When he’s angry, he’s angry. When he’s sad, he’s sad. He let’s his feelings be as they are knowing that they will come and go. When it’s appropriate, he shares his feelings. Although there are days when he feels he wants to give up, he never does. He has courage. He accepts his destiny and doesn’t run from it.
Real Men Are Not Perfect
Real men makes mistakes. They are human. They can sometimes laugh at their mistakes. Sometimes they will cry over them, but they are never defeated by them. They know we all have our shadow sides. That’s just part of being human. They also know that they do not live there.
Masculinity is an energy. While its expression may change over time, the essence of it stays the same. This list of qualities borrows from the characteristics of Carl Jung’s divine masculine archetypes. If you want to learn more about what a healthy man looks like, you can research his ideas online or in his many writings about the topic.