Home  >  Reads for Men  >  Essentials

What Makes a Man a Man: 13 Tradition Defying Manly Characteristics

If you find yourself wondering what makes a man a man, it probably isn’t what you think. They might even defy traditional ideals.

What Makes a Man a Man

Traditionally, in our society, what makes a man a man are things like strength, power, sports, etc. Although these things are not innately masculine, they have defined masculinity for what seems like forever. Just because a man can throw a punch or chug a beer doesn’t mean he is a true man.

A true man has qualities that make him caring, compassionate, and chivalrous. This doesn’t mean he has a need to protect women, but that he respects women to make their own choices.

If you have long believed that blue is for boys and pink is for girls, you have a lot to learn about what makes a man a man.

[Read: What sets a good man apart from a lesser man]

What makes a man a man in today’s world

If you search what makes a man a man, one of the first things you will find is this quote, “a man is a man who can endure pain or hardship without showing his feelings or complaining.” That right there proves that society is still outdated, and quite frankly oblivious when it comes to what makes a man a man.

Just as the penis doesn’t make the man neither does his ability to hold back his feelings. In fact, I would argue that a man who holds back his feelings and hides his insecurities is no man at all.

What makes a man a man is being able to admit defeat, being able to apologize and take responsibility for his actions, and being vulnerable. Vulnerability shows more strength than much else.

[Read: 15 gender stereotypes we need to let go of now!]

This is just a difference of opinion. Believing that avoiding feelings and focusing on physical strength as being manly is a dangerous way to live. This is what leads to toxic masculinity. A father telling his son that boys don’t cry or never hugging his son is not something to aspire to but to question, heavily.

A father letting his son articulate his feelings and work through them to find a solution is what makes a man a man. The other way fantasizes aggression, violence, and misogyny.

These things are often triggered by a fear of being seen as feminine. The fact that many men’s worst fear is to be perceived as girly or even gay is a problem within itself. Not to mention the problem with femininity being viewed as weak, but that is a discussion for another time. [Read: The divine masculine – How to awaken the superior man within you]

If men can be taught to feels secure in their masculinity through sharing their feelings and respecting others without aggression, this old way of thinking could finally come to an end.

A man should be able to wear pink without being mocked. A man should be able to wear makeup without being labeled as gay. And a man should be able to cry, complain, be hurt without having to hold back because he will be seen as weak.

[Read: Sensitive sides: Should men embrace male femininity]

What makes a man a man

Now that I’ve argued why traditional masculinity has nothing to do with what makes a man a man, let’s talk about some examples. What things can a man do that make him a real man?

#1 Feel confident in his masculinity and sexuality. What makes a man a man is that he doesn’t need the reassurance that he is manly or “the man” or macho. A man knows who he is. He can feel good in pink, in a speedo, or wearing something traditionally feminine.

He doesn’t need to overtly show off his manly to feel confident in who he is. [Read: The 25 unmanly and manliest things a man can ever do – A woman’s point of view]

#2 Respects women. What makes a man a man is the respect he has for women, all women, not just his mother or sister. This man respects women he finds attractive and those he doesn’t. He doesn’t talk down to women, assume they need his help, or sexualize them.

#3 Let go of power. Being able to relinquish power in any setting is what makes a man a man. A man who is a man will step down and let a woman say her peace. He will release his grasp on the room to let others have a say. He does not need to be the center of attention or control others.

#4 Offer to help. A real man will always offer to help but not assume you need it. He is a gentleman. He will open your door, help you up the stairs, and pull out your chair. But, if you decline his help, he won’t be defensive or angry.

He will be there when he is needed but not pushy about having to be needed.

#5 Call out other men. This one is so overlooked yet so important. You often hear of women knowing of terrible men who treat them awfully, but you rarely hear a man talk about another man that way. Why? They don’t want to be grouped into that?

What makes a man a man is the ability to call out other men. He will put his pride or bro code aside to call out sexism, and other inappropriate behavior. [Read: 19 inspiring male feminist ideas from around the world you need to hear]

#6 Believe women. A true man will believe a woman when she says she is uncomfortable, doesn’t want a drink, has a boyfriend, was assaulted, and more. He won’t say, “not all men.” He won’t ask her what she did wrong. And he will listen and believe her.

#7 Admits when he’s wrong. Many men have trouble admitting defeat or wrongdoing. They will blame others, lie, and do whatever it takes to seem right. What makes a man a man is his ability to admit his mistakes. [Read: 14 signs of high testosterone in men and the overflow of man juice]

#8 Appreciates what others do for him. Many men do not realize their stance in society. No matter what the argument is, men are in more positions of power than women, but that’s not due to women’s lack of trying.

A true man will appreciate who got him where he is. He will appreciate women in his life and women before him. He will appreciate those in the service industry. He will appreciate and respect people of all statuses. [Read: Understanding male privilege and what it looks like in real life]

#9 Is a feminist. Many men struggle to identify as feminist because of the false connotation of man-hating and thinking women are better. Feminism is about equality. A real man knows that women and men deserve the same rights no matter what and will not be disgruntled by equality.

#10 Can laugh at himself. A man has humility. He can laugh at himself. He isn’t easily embarrassed or defensive about jokes nor takes himself too seriously. He knows when he needs to be serious but always has time for a laugh, especially at his own expense. [Read: The signs of low self-esteem in a man that reveal his dark side]

#11 Is always learning. What makes a man a man is his ability to continue learning. He listens and wants to know more and never thinks he’s the smartest person in the room. He is open to new experiences and never shuts down another opinion.

#12 Owns up to his faults. A man can admit his shortcomings. He is self-aware and willing to work on himself. He doesn’t declare himself to be perfect. [Read: What’s the key to your happiness? Surprising truths to unlock a better life]

#13 Keeps his word. What makes a man a man is his ability to keep his word. He will not make promises he has no intention of keeping. He is true to himself and always honest.

[Read: The characteristics of a good man that make him reliable and desirable]

Forgot what you once thought was manly, and realize what makes a man a man today.

Liked what you just read? Follow us on Instagram Facebook Twitter Pinterest and we promise, we’ll be your lucky charm to a beautiful love life.

Samantha Ann
My name is Samantha Ann. I am 28 years old. It was always my dream to become an advice columnist, so after years of off and online dating and eventually finding...