What is real strength, and what is just an illusion?

Men have ideas ingrained in us from a young age about what it means to be “strong” or “powerful,” and society consistently pushes the messages to us in a variety of ways.

As we all know, women face a myriad of societal pressures to look a certain way, act a certain way, dress, talk, walk, and love a certain way. This article, however, is about false perceptions of strength in men.

What are some things that we think signal strength, but could really be hiding an insecurity?

1: He’s aggressive.

He’s aggressive in business. He goes after what he wants. He approaches women without hesitation. He pushes forward at all costs, no matter what.

How, you might ask, is this a false sign of strength?

I personally believe that life is far more nuanced than just mashing the throttle to the floor at all times. We must be aware of our surroundings, respectful of others, and conscious of self enough to know when to push, when to pull, and when to simply stand by and watch.

Being aggressive might get you titles, or money, or status — but it doesn’t always make you well liked, or respected.

And, it certainly doesn’t make you strong if that aggression is being used to mask an insecurity.

Some men don’t know how to process their own feelings or insecurities so they cover them up with financial or material successes. They put their head down and plow through objections, competition, roadblocks.

Real strength is shown by the ability to shift and adjust when necessary. He doesn’t always plow forward if it’s going to mean knocking people over. He slows down, assesses the situation, and responds accordingly. Even more so, he’ll assess before taking action so he knows the proper and most effective strategy.

He gets to where he wants to go by leading with purpose, integrity, compassion, and understanding. He is deliberate and intentional with his actions, which means that monetary or material successes are a reflection of who he has worked to become, and are therefore meaningful and appreciated.

They are the reward for his depth, not a mask to hide the lack of it. There is a big difference.

2: He has multiple intimate partners.

When I was younger, I always wanted to be the “ladies’ man.” Notice the plural usage of “ladies,” not an accident.

I thought that by showcasing how desirable you were to women, it would make you respected, admired, sought after, or even idolized.

After living this type of life for awhile, I noticed something:

Nothing ever seemed to change or progress.

There was no growth, no stability, no real meaning — almost as if a search had begun for something that didn’t exist where I was looking.

I think a lot of men think that quantity takes the place of quality when it comes to intimacy — but it doesn’t. And, I quickly realized that the people who were looking up to me for these “accomplishments” weren’t really people I wanted to be around in the first place.

The people who were really succeeding in lifewere focused on either:

Living a single life, or being fully committed to their partner.

They weren’t running around chasing women (or men, for that matter). They were either on their own, or all in on one person.

This gave them the strength and stability to focus on the things they were passionate about while having an inspiring teammate by their side.

Anyone can go out and “get girls,” but not anyone can earn and maintain the love and trust of a good woman. That is what takes real strength.

3: He’s loud and boisterous.

I think that one of the downfalls of the human species is that we gravitate towards the loudest voice in the room.

They must be confident if they’re that outspoken, we tell ourselves.

They must know what they’re doing.

They must be worth following if a lot of people are listening…

But, maybe they’re listening because this voice is drowning out everyone else’s…

That doesn’t mean that this voice is the one worth listening to. In fact, it could mean the exact opposite.

It could mean that this voice is so desperate to be heard that its only solution is to give people no other choice.

Real strength, though, knows when to shut up.

Real strength is willing and able to elevate others who may know better, or are smarter in this area, or who are not usually heard because they have the social awareness required to stay quiet. Unfortunately, if this person is in the same room with the boisterous one, they’ll never be heard.

That’s why real strength stands up and gives everyone space to share ideas, opinions, thoughts, and their authentic selves.

Real strength clears the room for the right voice, even if it isn’t his own.

4: He is unemotional.

Society conditions men to believe that showing emotions is a weakness — what follows is the conclusion that not showing emotions is a strength.

Obviously, this is utter bullshit.

Not showing emotions (or even being connected to them at all) is the culprit of many a breakdown, a toxic relationship, a disconnected or unfulfilling life.

Emotions are a real and integral part of the human experience. All of us experience them, but not all of us outwardly acknowledge them.

When we do, though, it makes us stronger.


We learn about ourselves, about others, about the world around us. We feel the feelings and therefore can more deeply understand them. If we avoid them, we’ll never know what they really are, and we’ll never properly be able to process them.

That keeps us weak, because it keeps us at their mercy. We’ll more easily get overwhelmed, or have to shut down in order to avoid them altogether.

We cannot manage something if we don’t understand it, and there is no greater strength than understanding ourselves.

5: He is the best at everything.

Spoiler alert: He’s not. Nobody is.

There is always someone bigger, stronger, faster, cooler, richer, more compassionate…always.

But, the man who wants you to believe he is all of these things is in denial about the reality of the world.

You’ll know who he is because he’ll always try to one-up you.

Your car is a 2021, his is a 2022.

Your house is 4,000 square feet, his is 5,000 square feet.

You can bench press 200 pounds, he can bench press 250.

You know the VP, he knows the CEO.

You know exactly who I’m talking about.

This guy cannot stand, for one minute, to have the attention taken off of him, or for you to believe that he’s not the second coming of Jesus.

But, he’s not.

Nobody is.

Nobody is, has, or does the best of everything, and that’s okay.

That’s what makes life interesting and fun — to be able to watch other people achieve greatness. To be inspired by them, to root them on, to lift them up, to stand in awe at their accomplishments.

And then, to take those lessons, and go out to achieve your own greatness in your own area.

Real strength doesn’t always need to compete with everyone.

Real strength knows that we can all shine together.