5 Lies They Told Me About Being a Man

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About Clay Andrews

Clay Andrews writes for the blog The Path to Passion, where he is on a mission to help others love themselves and the people in their lives on a deeper level. He enjoys meeting new people. You can learn more about him and say "hello" by clicking here.


  1. Sharing this with my trans group! There is so much pressure to “be a man” by following a list of set rules. Sometimes it seems that no human can actually fulfill each item on the list. Not even Chuck Norris.

  2. PursuitAce says:

    You left out real men need a significant other. That’s the most damaging one. I think society is changing in that regard. One less problem…
    And that’s the second time around here I’ve seen something about giving women emotional baggage. I learned that one on my own. Good advice to listen to. Just say no to passing on your problems.

    • Agreed. I think the same myth would apply to women too. On another website I visit, a female-oriented advice column site, time and time again the letter-writers have to be old IT’S OK TO BE SINGLE! (In fact, many of have to be reminded that being single is better than staying in a relationship with someone who is wrong for you). The pressure to pair up might not be exactly the same for both sexes, but there is still pressure to not “die alone” as it is often so melodramatically put. It’s not wrong to want a relationship, but it’s not right to put too much emphasis on one’s relationship status.

      • That is pretty sad, PursuitAce – “one less problem.”

        KKZ, I certainly agree that it’s OK to be single and it’s definitely better to be single than to be with the wrong person. But going through life alone does suck, especially as you get older. I do think that having a mate is a pretty intrinsic human desire and while there may be some individual exceptions, if I were ever to start thinking I don’t want a partner, I’d question whether I was really saying that because it’s what was in my heart or just because I was bitter from having been hurt.

        • Point taken. I should have specified that a lot of the women writing into that advice column website are pretty young, late teens to twenties, and the majority of the frequent commenters are in their twenties and thirties. I guess what it boils down to is what motivates an individual to be in a relationship – and fear of loneliness by itself is, in my opinion, not a healthy motivator for finding a mate or for staying in a bad relationship, especially for teens and young adults. Neither is the perceived stigma of being forever a spinster/bachelor (is there a male-equivalent word for spinster? None comes to mind…).

          • MorgainePendragon says:

            The whole idea that the only way to be “not alone” is to be in a pair-bonded relationship is pretty messed up, IMO.

          • Lucy Montrose says:

            There’s not really a direct stigma about being a bachelor/ette anymore… but there is a LOT of pressure to prove you have good social skills. And the pair bond is still held up as both the best method of proving your sociability and and the healthiest option for your emotions long-term. Which can only increase, not allay, people’s feelings of loneliness. Because there’s nothing like a little extra pressure to motivate you.

      • Lucy Montrose says:

        THIS. Especially when the health-care people join in the Greek chorus exhorting us to pair-bond. This constant message that if we don’t have an SO, we’re doomed to sicker, shorter lives because humans are naturally social creatures– which is unfortunately backed up by just enough empirical proof that dissenters feel they have no effective rebuttal– can only be increasing men’s anxiety about not having a partner.

        Frankly, I think it’s a nasty, manipulative tactic; exactly the kind of next step you would take if the old line about “you’re more likely to be struck by lightning than get married after 35″ wasn’t working anymore. We WILL shut up and pay attention if you imply that by making certain lifestyle choices, we’re putting our health in jeopardy.

  3. Great article! We have to poke holes in the paper cut-outs that we make for male stereotypes….an 8th grade male friend used to imagine himself as a Casanova or James Bond character that had to hit on all the girls…..scoring girls was paramount to him….later he got to write his own version of his junior high and high school conquests in his memoir (he lied about our relationship and left out a few humiliating facts!)…..His pathologic need to prove his masculinity by hitting on girls was contrasted by the violence in his parents’ marriage and their eventual divorce….He is now a creative writing instructor at a well known university and he is married to a feminist writer…and yet, he was leering at my ass at our 25th HS reunion…

    Fascinating stuff you guys write about….the duality of masculinity in today’s terms…and the conflicts in self-image…so much hypocrisy!

  4. A condensed version of this should be made into a poster, or better yet, a laminated wallet-sized card and given to boys, teens and young men. How cool would it be to take the idea of the Man Card and make it something that accurately represents what it is to be a man, instead of something that can be metaphorically revoked if you don’t follow a certain set of rules. (Incidentally, I’ve never heard of someone threatening to take away my Woman Card. I get to carry that card simply because of my biological sex. The same should hold for men.)

    I wonder where this idea of “most men” or “a lot of men” come from. Because these myths sure don’t represent most men I know, not even a lot of men I know. In fact, I’m not sure I know *any* men who actively try to follow all these rules. Some of them might hit one or two of the points – might be really into sports or cars or guns, or really concerned with getting laid, but I’m proud to say that the wonderful men I know and associate with are far removed from this falsified depiction of what men should be.

    I admit to the potential for selection bias – that I consciously or subconsciously avoid men who behave stereotypically for whatever reason. I’m not denying that these men exist, and they are men in their own right. I suppose I just want something more substantial that really shows me that “most men” or “a lot of men” actually behave this way and believe these myths. Instead, from my perspective, I see a culture that collectively believes and promotes the myths through media and pop culture, but very few actual individuals who follow them. But that’s just my experience.

  5. Really enjoyed the article, Clay. This part made me cringe, though, for a couple of reasons:

    I once tried online dating back when I was single. I remember stumbling across a profile that seemed interesting. The woman was attractive, but as I was reading her profile, I remember seeing the words:

    “About You – You must be a real man. I don’t date wimpy guys. You need to love watching sports and football because there’s nothing more manly than that.”

    First of all… what was “interesting” to you about this woman’s profile other than “she was attractive?” Second, I certainly wouldn’t use her as some kind of example of “what women like.” Lots of us adore men who couldn’t care less about sports. Not watching sports makes you a wimp? What a superficial freak! :D

  6. The Bad Man says:

    A few more lies about being a man:

    -Getting married
    -Having children
    -Dieing for others
    -Always want sex

  7. John Sctoll says:

    You also left out.

    “Must work to support your family”, iow, it isn’t ok for you to stay home and look after the house and kids.

  8. wellokaythen says:

    I think these are pretty common messages to white men and boys in the U.S. during the late 20th century. I use those specific words because a lot of our ideas about gender are based on the specifics of the historical context. These “lies” are less common or more common in other parts of history, even within the U.S. There are some aspects of masculinity that seem timeless, but the more you look at the historical details, the more varied they become.

    For example, there was a time not so long ago (1950’s, under McCarthyism) when it was actually suspicious for a man to have lots of sexual partners. (Not nearly as devastating to one’s reputation if you were female, of course, but still suspicious.) Ironically, if you were too much of a playboy and slept around too late in life without getting married, people might think you were gay. (Gay and “unmanly” were generally synonyms at the time.) It didn’t matter how many women you had slept with if you weren’t married by 30 or 35 – you must have been a sexual deviant of some kind. Having lots of female partners would not save you from suspicions that you were not a “real man.” Hugh Hefner would have been accused of being gay, as paradoxical as it may sound. He would never have been trusted to work for the government in the 1950’s, just based on his sex life alone, not counting his media career.

    Going much further back into Western culture, there have been very patriarchal, masculinity-revering societies in which men formed very close friendships and were expected to express deep emotion. In ancient Greece, men tended to see men as superior to women, so of course loving a man was better than loving a woman. Women were not expected to be intimate emotional companions or soul-mates in marriage. Hard to say by any stretch of the imagination that classical Athens and Sparta were free of gender constraints….

    What society tells men and boys varies over time, and the messages we send can change incredibly quickly from one generation to another. We are in a relatively rare historical context in which people are actually examining gender as a subject of study, as something that people define and redefine. That itself is a weird contextual factor.

  9. #3 is particularly interesting. A whole book could be written about it. Research has shown that men confide in their wife or girlfriend and women confide in their friends.

  10. Love to all the men! You are beautiful and valuable and wonderful! Thank you for being!! <3

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