How to be a man: The 9 qualities of masculinity (2023)

What is masculinity?

Before we try to become something, we have to know what we’re trying to become. This means we have to define “masculinity”. It’s easy to say that masculinity is one of those things that you know when you see it, but that leaves us with a big problem:

That makes it easy for anyone to change the definition to suit their narrative or message.

Men who aren’t willing to do what it takes to become masculine will bend the definition to include things that are antithetical to becoming a man but because they do it AND they still want to be considered masculine, they argue for it.

For example, a lot of guys like to argue that because men play video games, that video games (especially sports games or first-person shooters) are examples of manliness.

Even men in today’s world think that being able to hold your liquor, smoke cigars, and get laid off from dating apps makes you man. These are things that men do. They do not inherently make you masculine.

I’ve thought about all the different arguments that people make about what a “real man” does. People give lists that include things like

  • “A real man takes martial arts or does MMA”
  • “An alpha male lifts weights and is good with women”
  • “Real men make 6-figures and have a big family”

The arguments always come back to making money, getting laid, and being in shape. Now don’t get me wrong: those things are important. But there are many masculine men who don’t hit all these characteristics.

No one would say that:

  • The firefighter who risks his life but is terrible with women and only makes $70k/yr isn’t masculine.
  • The overweight mechanic who takes care of his family but has faithfully been with his high school sweetheart isn’t masculine.
  • The boxing coach with no family and who makes almost nothing but pours his energy into leading young men in the community isn’t masculine.

It goes beyond superficial metrics, but those metrics are proxy indicators for something more meaningful. So what is masculinity, exactly?

Masculinity (adj.)

Any behavior that attempts to reduce entropy and/or break homeostasis by direct force (1st degree or order of action) Contrast with femininity, any behavior that attempts to reduce entropy and/or break homeostasis by indirect (2 degrees or orders of action) action.

In my opinion, this is the most general definition. If you need a refresher on entropy, a good jargon-free definition is “lack of order or predictability; gradual decline into disorder.”

Masculinity is all about exerting your will on the universe and shaping it to your desires. Now, there can be positive or negative versions of this. This is where the ideas of “positive masculinity” and “toxic masculinity” come from, but masculinity itself is neither good nor bad. It is simply a characteristic.

Jack Donovan once said, “There is a difference between being a good man and being good at being a man.”

Masculinity is about the latter. It is the work of being good at being a man. You can be good at being a man without being a good man.

The same masculine leadership qualities that made people follow Gandhi are the ones that made people follow Hitler. Here are 9 qualities of a masculine man that all boys must develop to achieve their greatest potential.

How to be a man: The 9 qualities of masculinity

Painful things essential to growth:

Getting dumped
Loved one dying
Being broke
Losing a fist fight
Public embarrassment

— Ed Latimore (@EdLatimore) August 30, 2020


A man must be strong.

This goes beyond the physical strength you build from the hard work of lifting weights, but that helps. Generally speaking, a man must be strong enough to remain on course in the midst of distraction.

These distractions will come from two places: his thoughts and the actions of others.

Masculinity resists the actions of others

A strong man is strong because he is able to resist change, natural or intentional.

This means that masculinity stands resolute in the face of peer pressure and social influences. This requires strength, therefore a defining feature of masculinity is strength.

(Video) 9 Masculine Qualities Women Love In Men

  • What is the purpose of physical training? To resist the natural decay of our bodies in the face of nature.
  • What is the purpose of mental training? To resist forces that seek to influence us for their personal gain. [Check out a good mental training program I wrote by clicking here—>How to focus better and improve concentration]
  • What is the purpose of emotional training? To resist the persuasive manipulations of those who would lead us astray.

Masculinity resists entropy. Masculinity resists change for change’s sake alone.

But the other end of strength is that masculinity impacts and creates. Masculinity does not subtlety influence; it directly manipulates, directs, and impacts. Strength is required to do this as well.

Masculinity is strong enough to stand its own frame of reference, resisting all efforts that don’t align with its vision while simultaneously shaping the world in its vision.


A man must always be honest, even in the face of pain, anguish, torture, or death.

Honesty with others

There is more to this honesty than just telling the truth to others.

That’s also important, but it only scratches the surface of the honesty required to be a man. Every lie that a man tells forces him to live in some degree of inauthenticity. Lying also signals a lack of strength.

Either you weren’t strong enough to behave in a way that didn’t require deception or you currently lack the strength to deal with the backlash from honesty.

The weaker you are, the more dishonest you have to be to survive.

This is why you can't trust weak people.

Deception and disloyalty is basically their only means of survival.

— Ed Latimore (@EdLatimore) April 10, 2021

Then there is being honest with yourself. Young boys get to play pretend and imagine they are something they aren’t. They get to live in the world of make-believe, imagination, and fantasy.

Honesty with yourself

Men don’t get to play games.

Men have to live in the real world and deal with real life.

This means they need to be brutally self-aware. We have to always know where we are strong, where we are weak, and what needs improvement in our lives. We have to accept our flaws and weaknesses and take responsibility for our position in the world.

If you’re an average man, be honest with yourself. If you don’t want to be better than you are, admit that to yourself. But also accept everything that comes with that level of honesty.

Men are afraid to be honest with others because they lack the strength to deal with the backlash, but they’re afraid to be honest with themselves because of the responsibility that comes with it.

Once you become aware of something that something is wrong in your life, it is now your duty to fix it. Many men don’t want to carry the weight of that responsibility and the hard work that will be required to fix things wrong in their life.

So they lie to themselves. If you want to be a better man, must never lie to yourself.

[This article also gives 31 tips to be a better man—>How to be a better man]

“The first principle is that you must not fool yourself, and you are the easiest person to fool.”

-Richard Feynman


Men don’t shy away from responsibility. In fact, they embrace every opportunity they get to take it on. This is because men recognize that meaning in life is tied to responsibility.

A tell-tale sign of immaturity—in men and women—is the avoidance of anything that looks like a duty.

[This article highlights the 6 signs of maturity. Definitely worth a read—>The 6 signs of mental and emotional maturity]


It’s natural to want to be as free as possible. In an ideal world, we’d not only get meaning but also success while handling as little responsibility as possible. However, the real world doesn’t work that way. A man must recognize and appreciate the relationship between responsibility and getting the most out of life.

Naturally, people think of the responsibility of caring for a family. That’s an important one, but a man must be responsible for his health and his income. This means not eating everything or spending money on anything his heart desires.

The only way to get more freedom to do more of what you want is to take on more responsibility. This may seem counterintuitive but think of it like this: everything has a cost. You can either pay the cost up front and get a discount or later and pay a tax.

You have to deal with your problems eventually.

Face them head on and you'll get an initiative discount.

Run from them and you'll pay an avoidance tax.

— Ed Latimore (@EdLatimore) April 27, 2021

The discount you get comes from the discipline you had to have to build up your position and delay gratification until you were in a strong enough position to not be affected by a night out partying or spending a few extra thousand dollars on a trip.

The tax you pay is in the form of playing catch up, still having to meet your normal demands, but dealing with the pain of managing both at the same time. You paid for your vacation on credit so now you not only have to pay it back over time with interest, you still have to manage your normal expenses.

But if you were responsible, you’d have more to be able to do more and be freer in the process.


A man must be useful. This means he needs to have a skill or ability.

The world has no use for a man who is not useful. This is not the case for women.

A woman, by virtue of existing, already has a biological use. She is here to carry life and nurse it for the short time after it arrives. A man can’t do that.

This is not to say that it’s women’s only purpose. Only to show that women come with a built-in purpose that is vital to the continuation of life. And while yes, you need men andwomen, each woman can only carry one child at a time while a man can impregnate thousands at once.

Most men aren’t even biologically necessary for life to continue. Men don’t come with a purpose. We must make ourselves necessary.

This is why men are drafted in wars and the idea was always “women and children first” when it came to dealing with evacuation from dangerous situations. Men have to make themselves useful because they come into this world useless.

It doesn’t matter what you learn how to do. All that matters is that you have skills that can be used to generate income. This is the most important measure of your skills and abilities in the modern age.

Prior to the digital age, a man’s utility was determined by his ability to survive. While those skills are still important, the scope of survivability has changed.

Now the world relies heavily on computers, the service sector, and entertainment. Being able to make a living without dishonesty or harming others is an important part of being a man.


A man realizes that other people are the most important thing in life.

Humans are social creatures so much so that solitary confinement is used as a punishment for people who are already in prison—and its use continues to be debated. Being alone is so bad that it’s reserved as a punishment for people already spending a significant portion of their lives behind bars.

Men need good friends. Unfortunately, the modern man has been shunned and shamed away from nurturing emotionally deep male friendships.

Male friendship has been reduced to a caricature of out-of-shape guys who just drink beer and watch sports. Our role models for male friendships in the media center around these stereotypes.

When you combine this with the fact that a record number of men are growing up in fatherless homes, the average man has never seen a healthy male friendship anyway.

Male friendships are also supposed to function as a type of reciprocal mentorship. Your friends will mentor you in areas you’re weak in and vice versa. You learn from one another and make each other better men.


A lie men today are being told

Today, men are told that they should vent their problems to the woman in their life. That part of having a strong romantic relationship is being able to share your problems with your significant other.

The truth is that only other men understand the struggle that is a man’s life.

Now, I don’t say this to imply that women don’t struggle in their lives—they definitely do. The biggest difference between men and women is that women nurture their female friendships much more and as a result, they have no problem discussing their problems with one another.

Men, on the other hand, don’t do this. They not only don’t share with other men, but they share with the woman in their life who needs to see them as strong.

I don’t want to give the idea that men should not communicate with their significant other because that’s important. However, any problems you are having that affect you both (health and finances are the big two), then you should consult your male friends.

When you talk to your close male friends about your issues, you invite them to do the same with you. This is important for facilitating a close relationship with your male friends.


Becoming a man means that you have to face challenges and unknowns in life.

This doesn’t mean that you have to be fearless. It only means that you have to act, despite being afraid. Fear is not a sign to stop or retreat. It’s merely a sign that you have to get ready for something and that it’s important.

Therefore, your response to fear should be excitement. In fact, when you look at the brain while experiencing fear, the response is the same as if something exciting is happening, This is important to remember whenever you feel afraid.

[Some lessons on dealing with fear I picked up dealing with fear from boxing—>7 Lessons from boxing on dealing with fear]

The world is a terrifying but wonderful place. However, the only way you get to see the wonders of the world is by confronting and moving past the terrors within it. This means you have to be courageous in facing your fears.

Also, everything that causes growth is scary. You may not think of it that way, but it at least carries the possibility of hurt and failure. That, by itself, is scary—even if you don’t register the fear.

This means that you have to be courageous. This means that you have to act despite fear.

In life, the best and the worst of things walk side by side.

Seek to avoid one, and you automatically forfeit the other.

— Ed Latimore (@EdLatimore) April 7, 2021


Real men learn how to be men from other real men.

Because a man is made, it’s impossible for him to know how to be or what to do on his own.

Men learn how to be men from their fathers, uncles, and elder men around them who set an example. Or at least, this is how it’s supposed to be. It’s no secret that today there is a shortage of men worthy to lead and set a good example, but that’s a discussion for another post.

Part of being a man is being willing to learn from other men.

Before technology came along and made everything easy, knowledge and skills were passed down from one man to another. In fact, a young man was not considered a man until he could prove that he was capable the way the men who taught him were.

One of the telltale signs of a guy who has missed a masculine influence in his life is that he lacks the ability to listen to men. I see this often in guys who were raised by a single mother.

At best, they have a resistance to listening to men. At worst, they have distrust and disrespect. This is the result of a combination of growing up never having seen masculine role models, positive masculine men. or hearing everything about being a man getting grouped into the category of “toxic masculinity”.

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A post shared by Ed Latimore (@edlatimore)

(Video) 10 Masculine Traits All Men MUST Have

Unfortunately, this problem is not just isolated to the sons of fatherless households. This means that many men today are not being taught to be men. This means they arrogantly believe they are men, so they will not learn from other men how to be better men.

This is part of the reason men are apprehensive about connecting with one another because opening up means facing something terrifying, taking responsibility, and building your relationships with other men—all things that force men out of the comfort zone of modernity and make them develop.


You don’t need to be into bodybuilding, CrossFit, or a semi-pro athlete. You don’t even have to give up alcohol or only eat clean all the time. You simply have to become aware of some simple metrics and aim to keep them in check.

Body mass index (BMI) > 24: A lot of people hate BMI and claim that it’s only for certain races or that it excludes people who lift weights or that it’s plain outdated. The reality is this: as measured by BMI, the percentage of the population who is considered obese or overweight has continually risen in the last 30 years as have the correlated diseases that come with it.

I don’t recommend using BMI by itself because too much muscle will put you into the overweight zone, but that’s why you couple it with the following metric.

Body fat percentage < 16%: This metric, combined with a BMI over 24, means that you’re carrying a decent amount of muscle and a low amount of body fat. A high level of body fat is a sign of insulin resistance and is the precursor to diabetes and all of the complications that come with it. It’s hard to hit the next 3 metrics if you have a high level of body fat. At 16% body fat, you won’t have washboard abs, but you will dramatically lower your risk for a variety of metabolic disorders and chronic diseases.

Hemoglobin a1C < 5.6: If you aren’t familiar with this test, it’s a simple blood test that measures your average blood sugar levels over the past 3 months. If you’re interested in the detailed science of the A1c or HbA1c test, you can read about it here. For everyone else, all you need to know is that this number is arguably the single best metric to know how insulin-resistant you are. Insulin resistance is implicated in 5 of the top 10 killers of Americans.

Resting heart rate < 60:Resting heart rate is associated with risk of all-cause and cardiovascular mortality in the general population, independent of traditional cardiovascular risk factors. Compared with 45 beats/min, the risk of all-cause mortality increased significantly with increasing resting heart rate in a linear relation.

While there are many other metrics that are important for your health, these are the major ones to monitor. Getting these metrics in order requires you to be vigilant about your diet and lifestyle choices.

You’ll have to do healthy amounts of cardio (aerobic and anaerobic), lift weights, and watch your diet to make achieve all of these metrics, but you won’t need to be obsessive. Only vigilant, disciplined, and self-controlled.

If you don’t care enough about your physical well-being to take care of it, then the rest of the world will mow you over.


The last trait that a man must have is the most important. A man must have vision.

He must always consider how what he’s doing will affect his plans for the future. This, of course, means that he has to have plans for the future.

Men always have designs on something. This comes from being honest and knowing that he will die one day. This means that he has to plan, strategize, and maximize how to best use the time available. This requires vision.

This is one of those things that separates boys from men. Boys don’t have to worry about anything but the moment because someone is there to take care of them and their every need. Men are not only responsible for themselves, but usually for other people.

This means they can’t afford to just live for the moment. At the end of the day, they need a vision and a plan to achieve it.

To a great strategist, the future should never be a surprise.

To a great tactician, the present should never be an obstacle.

(Video) Full Masculinity Guide: Become A Man
— Ed Latimore (@EdLatimore) December 5, 2018


What are the 9 qualities of a man? ›

  • He's smart. ...
  • He makes you laugh. ...
  • He actively supports your career. ...
  • He makes as much effort with your friends and family as you do with his. ...
  • He's emotionally intelligent. ...
  • He respects your opinions and listens to what you have to say. ...
  • He's willing to put the work in. ...
  • He celebrates your achievements.
Aug 26, 2022

What are qualities of a masculine man? ›

Traits traditionally viewed as masculine in Western society include strength, courage, independence, leadership, and assertiveness.

How to be a masculine man? ›

How to Be More Masculine (Recap)
  1. Challenge yourself and expand you comfort zone.
  2. Stop relying on other people to fell good about yourself.
  3. Complete a brutally challenging “rite of passage”
  4. Regularly “bump up” against the masculine.
  5. Create something of your own that helps other people.

What are my 10 qualities? ›

List of positive qualities & characteristics
  • Warm.
  • Friendly.
  • Clean.
  • Honest.
  • Loyal.
  • Trustworthy.
  • Dependable.
  • Open-Minded.

What makes great men? ›

A good man will be happy with his life and the world around him and he will want to look out for others and to help them. Positive people are usually quite different from negative people and they tend to smile and to laugh more. You will know if a man has a positive attitude by how he carries himself.

What are the 5 masculinity themes? ›

Themes of masculinity such as misogyny, sex, coolness, toughness, material status, and social status depicted in images and videos posted on SNSs are ubiquitous, however, they have yet to be examined.

What are the rules of masculinity? ›

There are only 3 simple rules:
  • A real man is a fighter and a winner.
  • A real man is a provider and a protector (of women, children and others)
  • A real man retains mastery and control.
Mar 9, 2014

What are the 4 types of masculinity? ›

In a now classic piece of work on the social organization of masculinity, Robert Connell (1995: 115 et seqq.) identified four different types of masculinity: hegemonic, subordinate, complacent and marginal.

How do you develop masculine qualities? ›

The most fulfilling way be manly is to relish responsibility and challenges. Enjoy competition while still being reliable with your relationships and commitments. Express the full range of your emotions so you can feel confident in yourself and become the best man you can be.

What is perfect masculinity? ›

Healthy or positive masculinity is the idea that men can be emotionally expressive, have female friends or mentors, and express their emotions without feeling emasculated.

How do men get masculine energy? ›

To boost your masculine energy, follow the steps below:
  1. Step #1 – Take notice of your level of self-confidence. ...
  2. Step #2 – Cultivate a positive mindset. ...
  3. Step #3 – Keep a positive attitude in the face of adversity. ...
  4. Step #4 – Concentrate on what makes you happy. ...
  5. Step #5 – Take action instead of procrastinating.

How can a guy look more masculine? ›

Start by making some simple adjustments to your appearance, such as by getting a masculine haircut, shaving, and binding. Then, work on adding more masculine elements to your wardrobe. Mannerisms can also be a giveaway, so practice things like standing tall, shaking hands, and speaking in a monotone voice.

What is masculine energy in a man? ›

As reported by Living Well Counseling Services, masculine energy is about doing and being action-oriented. Masculine energy is stable and more predictable. The strengths are will, clarity, and focus. The masculine energy likes to create structures and rules, so it knows how to apply logic properly.

What are 3 strong qualities? ›

Some examples of strengths you might mention include:
  • Enthusiasm.
  • Trustworthiness.
  • Creativity.
  • Discipline.
  • Patience.
  • Respectfulness.
  • Determination.
  • Dedication.

What are the 7 qualities of life? ›

Big Ideas: All living things have certain traits in common: Cellular organization, the ability to reproduce, growth & development, energy use, homeostasis, response to their environment, and the ability to adapt.

What are your top 3 best qualities? ›

Good qualities of a person make professional life successful.
  1. Confidence. Having confidence is one of the great qualities of a person which an employee should also have. ...
  2. Excellent Communication Skills. ...
  3. Work Experience. ...
  4. Growth Mindset. ...
  5. Leadership Potential. ...
  6. Innovative Ideas. ...
  7. Teamwork. ...
  8. Reliable.
Jun 2, 2021

What qualities should a real man have? ›

  • He is a leader.
  • He lives with order and class.
  • He always looks put together.
  • He always keeps his word.
  • He works toward worthwhile goals.
  • He stays calms in the face of conflict.
  • He takes proper care of his partners.
  • He is dependable.
Oct 16, 2022

What is true masculinity? ›

A man who is truly masculine embraces responsibility and loves, honours, protects and provides for his family and loved ones. He lives with integrity, motivated by conviction, not comfort or convenience. True masculinity is not determined by how much physical strength a man has but rather the strength of his character.

What are the three pillars of masculinity? ›

The 3 P's of Manhood: A Review of Protection, Procreation, and Provision | The Art of Manliness.

What are the 5 aspects of man? ›

  • Lord of the Earth. Man is created in the image of God to rule and subdue the earth for God. ...
  • Husbandman. Man is created to cultivate the persons and things within his realm, so they fulfill their potential within God's creation. ...
  • Savior. ...
  • Sage. ...
  • Glory of God.

What are the five types of men? ›

The 5 Types of Men: Which One are You?
  • The Whiner: This is the man who gets up most mornings and chooses to be paralyzed by his past. ...
  • The Worrier: This is the man who is not paralyzed by his past, but he's fearful of the future because he's constantly looking ahead. ...
  • The Waiter: ...
  • The Wounded: ...
  • The Warrior:

What is a masculine personality? ›

Masculinity, which refers to traits which are stereotypically attributed to men, is typified by the image of a strong, technically competent, ambitious, self-sufficient and authoritative leader who can maintain control of his emotions (Connell, 1987; Hofstede, 2001).

What are masculine things to do? ›

45 Manly Hobbies
  • Chess. Men have been playing chess for thousands of years in order to fine tune their concentration, critical thinking, abstract reasoning, and problem solving skills. ...
  • Ballroom Dancing. ...
  • Metalworking. ...
  • Whittling. ...
  • Leatherworking. ...
  • Martial Arts. ...
  • Pool/Billiards. ...
  • Magic.
Jan 6, 2010

What are the different types of masculinity? ›

identified four different types of masculinity: hegemonic, subordinate, complacent and marginal. In the first case, hegemonic masculinity is the form embodying male domination and exercising power and authority over women (and other men), with all the consequences of oppression, violence and privileges.

What are the levels of masculinity? ›

The five stages outlined in the article are: Stage 1, Unconscious Masculinity; Stage 2, Conscious Masculinity; Stage 3, Critical Masculinities; Stage 4, Multiple Masculinities; Stage 5, Beyond Masculinities.

What are the four basic rules of masculinity? ›

There are four basic rules of manhood: no sissy stuff—there must be a relentless repudiation of femininity; be a big wheel—bring home the bacon; be a sturdy oak—be reliable in a crisis; give 'em hell—take risks and do what has to be done.

What are the four pillars of masculinity? ›

The 4 Pillars of Healthy Masculinity
  • Surrender (Yin) The second aspect of masculine empowerment may surprise you. It is the opposite of the first. ...
  • Boundary (Yang) The third aspect is boundary. ...
  • Union (Yin) The fourth and final aspect of healthy masculinity is the ability to relax your boundaries.
Jun 15, 2021

What is the 10 example of masculine? ›

100 examples of Masculine and Feminine
32 more rows

What is healthy masculinity? ›

Healthy masculinity is when men flourish first for themselves, then for their families, posterity, and communities. A man embodying healthy masculinity knows who he is. He is physically healthy and strong. He is pursuing and developing his skills and capabilities to make him more competent and able to take action.

How to make him feel more masculine? ›

How to Make Your Husband Feel Like a Man
  1. Contrast is everything. One way to make your husband feel like a man is to act like a woman. ...
  2. Recognize his physical strength. We know that not every guy is a jock or a powerlifter. ...
  3. Let him lead. ...
  4. When he looks good, tell him! ...
  5. Flirt. ...
  6. Teach your kids to admire him.

How do you activate masculinity? ›

How to awaken the divine masculine within.
  1. Use affirmations. ...
  2. Take risks with confidence. ...
  3. Start where you are. ...
  4. Work with masculine teachers, archetypes, and deities. ...
  5. Less internalization, more action. ...
  6. Heal your relationship to the masculine. ...
  7. Stand up for yourself:
Apr 9, 2021

What are the 4 stages of man? ›

The Seasons of a Man's Life: An Overview
  • Childhood and Adolescence: age 0-22.
  • Early Adulthood: age 17-45.
  • Middle Adulthood: age 40-65.
  • Late Adulthood: age 60-?
Sep 5, 2021

What is the root of masculinity? ›

The Latin root of masculinity is masculinus, "male," which comes from masculus, or "worthy of a male."

What are the principles of manhood? ›

PRINCIPLE 1: Males are born while men are forged. PRINCIPLE 2: A man is responsible for all of his choices. PRINCIPLE 3: The only constant in a man's world is change. PRINCIPLE 4: Every man is of infinite worth.


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