His actions tell the real story.
As someone who grew up around strong male and female role models, my controversial opinion is this:
Boys and men are seriously lacking good quality male role models to look up to in modern society.
Emotionally mature men are capable of loving, protecting, caring for, and opening up to their loved ones (and themselves). They have layers, depth, and aren’t afraid to be introspective.
I believe that our society has a longstanding tradition of stifling the emotional growth and exploration of boys and men along their journey of self discovery. We are told that showing emotions or vulnerability is “weak,” and largely encouraged to pretend that everything is fine, even when it’s not.
However, there has been a shift in recent years to cultivate a more open and honest discussion about the human realities we all face, regardless of gender.
How, then, do you identify a man who has done the inner work to grow into an emotionally mature member of society, who’s capable of a loving and dedicated relationship?
1: He respects everyone equally.
As the old saying goes: A man of quality is not afraid of equality.
Now, more than ever, we are living in diverse and complex societies. I, for one, have always enjoyed a heterogeneous community over a homogeneous one. In other words, I think wide varieties of people are far more interesting than spending time with those who are all the same.
When you spend time around all different types of humans, you see our commonalities more than our differences.
You understand that we are all navigating the roads of the human experience the best we can with the tools that we have. We all have our own insecurities, doubts, fears, regrets, dreams, and hopes.
When you see through the facade painted for you by false narratives in society, you’ll start getting along a lot better with people, and subsequently respecting them as you learn more about whythey are who they are.
2: He helps rather than harms.
There are already enough negative, toxic, abusive, and angry men in the world — you don’t have to be one of them.
As you look around the world on a daily basis, there are infinite opportunities to help those around you.
Holding the door for someone going into the grocery store, picking up that prescription for your partner, offering to take the kids to soccer practice — sometimes the smallest opportunities are the most meaningful, and they’re also the easiest to step into.
Our life is full of opportunities to protect those we love — and those we don’t even know. So many people take these chances and turn them into something negative, but all that does is perpetuate a cycle of hurt and disappointment.
Lend an ear, or a shoulder to cry on, or call a friend you’ve not spoken to in awhile and check in. Helping others doesn’t have to require money or physical strength, it just requires a kind heart and the willingness to put in the time.
3: He gracefully accepts criticism and responsibility.
As a man, I’ll openly admit that the male ego can have its fragility. It’s very easy to feel inadequate or “less than” because of something we hear, or read, or see about ourselves.
A lesser man flies off the handle when faced with criticism.
A lesser man strikes back with harmful words and actions.
A lesser man ignores and avoids his shortcomings and pretends they don’t exist.
A good man, though, that man has cultivated a sense of security in himself strong enough to hear, absorb, and accept criticisms from both himself and others.
He understands that no problem can be fixed until it is recognized, and each shortcoming is an opportunity to improve — which he always seeks to do.
4: He leads with compassion and empathy.
I believe a real mark of strength is the ability to put someone else’s interests ahead of your own. To simply sit, listen, and provide feedback if asked for it.
Being a caring and compassionate man has long been labeled as “weak” or “soft” by our society.
I’m always happy to say — fuck that noise.
There is no greater mark of strength than a person who cares for another. Caring for people makes you open, and vulnerable, and requires you to expose your emotions in order to connect with someone else.
That requires real strength, because it brings with it real risk.
5: He sets boundaries for himself.
No amount of kindness or servitude will do any good if you allow yourself to be walked on by everyone you meet.
Being a good man who brings value to the world is not the same as being a doormat who allows people to disrespect him and take, take, take.
Knowing what you deserve in return, setting standards and boundaries around it, and maintaining them is an integral part of living a full and happy life.
This is particularly difficult for some men when it comes to relationships, because they don’t want to “turn off” someone they are dating by saying “no.”
But, maintaining boundaries is a sign of self-respect. It shows people that your mental and emotional wellbeing is more important than their toxic traits or behaviors.
6: He is kind to himself.
Mental health challenges in men are one of the most overlooked plights on our society. Men are less likely to be vocal about their challenges, less likely to seek help, and more likely to take their own lives due to their struggles.
Disclaimer: Before I go any further, I need to acknowledge the obvious reality of the pressures and injustices that women and girls face every single day. I cannot begin to imagine the experience of being a woman, which is precisely why I write from the male standpoint, about the male experience.
Please do not skew my focus on men in this article to mean I am taking the focus off of women. This article is simply being written by a man, for men.
You may be confused about the messages you receive from the world around you. What are you supposed to look like? How are you supposed to act?
Hell, maybe you even clicked this article hoping to find some real answers about how a man “should be.”
While your search for truth is respectable, you mustn’t allow it to take you outside of yourself to the point where you adopt negative self-talk, or accept a harmful self-narrative that doesn’t serve you.
No matter who you are, where you’re from, what you look like, or who you love — be kind to yourself.
7: He is true to his word.
Remember the concept of honor?
I think about honor quite often, and how it used to play a much larger role in our society.
People yearned to be remembered for generations to come — but not for going viral in a TikTok video — for doing something worthwhile.
For making a positive impact on the world and in the lives of others.
Honor, though, is strongly rooted in honesty. In being trustworthy, and reliable.
In people knowing that they can count on you in their times of need.
Honor resides in doing what you’ll say you’ll do.
This is what makes a good man, someone who earns the trust of others through his consistent actions.
Staying true to one’s word is becoming increasingly rare in our society which is what, like any other supply shortage, makes it even more desirable and valuable.
8: He stays curious about the world.
What makes life feel stale?
Lack of curiosity. Lack of exploration. Lack of reading. Lack of self-education.
A real man opens his mind, eyes, and heart up to letting as much of the world in that he possibly can.
Being curious about the world at any age is imperative to experiencing the most of it with the time we have.
It allows us to learn about different cultures, people, languages, history, art forms…
It allows us to learn about ourselves and our own interests.
In doing so, it helps us grow and expand as men. It empowers us to have more interesting conversations. It sparks even further inquisition and inquiry about the way things were, are, and where they have the potential to go.
Without a passionate curiosity about the world around us, the spark of life gradually begins to fade.
9: He opens himself up to love and being loved in return.
Men of past generations are notorious for being unemotional, and even cold.
Their idea of strength was being stern, strict, and stoic.
While they might’ve appeared as “strong,” their lack of emotional openness made for unhappy marriages, higher stress levels at work, and disconnected children.
A real man understands that there are chasms of the heart and soul that can only be accessed through love and being loved in return.
It requires the risk of being hurt, it requires the effort of giving to someone else, and it requires the selflessness of putting others first more often than not — but the rewards far outweigh the risks.
10: He is fully and authentically himself.
No matter what anyone tells you, no matter what external pressures you feel, no matter what stories you read, movies you watch, or photos you look at — you are the only you who will ever exist.
There is an existential weight and also honor of facing this hefty realization.
There will never, in the history of the universe, be another human being exactly like you.
Even identical twins have personality differences.
Being a high value man means embracing that and living it fully.
It doesn’t matter if you lift weights 5 days a week, or not at all.
It doesn’t matter if you grow a lumberjack beard and drink whiskey, or take ballet classes and sip rose.
It doesn’t matter if you love women or other men, or both, or neither.
At the end of the day — the only thing that matters is that you’re fucking happy.
And you’ll never be truly happy if you let the opinions of other people stop you from living a life that is authentic to your truest self.
That, my friends, is how you wake up every day and live life on purpose, by purpose, and forpurpose. By creating a reality that is exactly what you envision it to be.
Joseph A. Cornacchia