Thinking with You
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A 'Real' Man?

I bet you and your friends have recently lamented the lack of ‘good guys’, ‘real men’ or ‘decent blokes’.  And yep, I totally get it.  We now live in a society in which men wear makeup, or live with their parents until they are 40 years old (or both).  Eek!  No one is suggesting you should be walking down the aisle to these guys – and let’s face it, they are not the marrying types anyway.

What you want is a real man.  But what IS that?  Every girl is attracted to a slightly (or hugely) different type of guy, aren’t they?  And across cultures, there are tons of differences…so is there a way to define a ‘real’ man? 

Well, yes.  And it’s summed up in this one word: responsibility.  A real man takes responsibility for himself, and then takes on the responsibility for others.  This applies to all generations and all cultures.

Let’s break it down.

Baby: totally helpless.

Child: somewhat capable but naïve and lacking in judgement, physically too small to look after self, can’t work to look after self. Needs a lot of cuddles.

Teen: somewhat capable but naïve, lacking in judgement, massive risk-taker, ego-centric, hormonal, sometimes big enough to look after self, sometimes able to work to provide for self.

Emerging man: physically able to care for self, works to provide for self, is self-controlled and stepping out in a productive direction.  No longer reliant on parents or the community to sustain him.

Real man: Cares for self physically, financially, spiritually, is self-controlled, productive, and looks to care for others as well.

This is why it’s hard to find a real man – they are busy looking after themselves, and have already committed to being responsible for more people, usually in the context of marriage and family.   They’re not hanging around the clubs or congregating on street corners!

Now let’s throw in some anomalies. Typically there are the three types of men whose masculinity has been stunted in some way, and they are passive, fearful, or arrogant.  And I’ll use the Friends characters to make it more obvious. Do these sound like the men you’ve been dating? 

Man-child (arrogant) - Ross: fully grown, provides for some level of self-preservation, but is ego-centric, whingy, a true ‘bachelor’, dependent on other women to help him (either mum, girlfriend/s, friends or pastoral types), makes dating all about him, and is still looking for that ‘father figure’ to approve him and to release him into manhood.  Ross scene

Peter Pan (passive) - Joey: fully grown, often quite attractive and hyper, sweet and fun, sponges off everyone else for everything they need (but in a cute way), always hangs out with girls (particularly younger ones), never seems to get into a romantic relationship (but may be sexually promiscuous), doesn’t seem to have gainful employment but rather is always ‘hanging out’.  He’s like a kid in the playground.  Peter Pans love church communities because they offer a high level of socialising and a low expectation of maturity.  Joey scene

Pansy (fearful) - Chandler: fully grown, usually has a regular job (but nothing exciting), never takes risks, low self-esteem, wants to date but is too scared, doesn’t believe the good life is for him, may be still attached to his mummy for security, doesn’t think you’d be interested in him, and sometimes comes across as very ‘blah’.  No one really notices much about him, as his behaviour is usually inconsequential. Chandler scene

I don’t know about you, but I’ve encountered plenty of these in the dating world.  When you date a Man-child, you become his surrogate counsellor and ego-stroker (exhausting!) and when you date a Pansy, you spend all your time reassuring him that you are interested, and urging him to take some risks with life.  And you probably have a crush on a Peter Pan, but will never know what it’s like to date him, cause he doesn’t really do relationships. 

Should you avoid these anomalies?  Will they ever change?

Well, until you see proof of change – don’t waste your time.  However, be encouraged by the fantastic movie Walter Mitty, which tells the story of a Pansy who finally digs up enough courage to take a risk, have an adventure, and reach out to the woman he loves. (Yay Walter!) Scene where Walter decides to become a real man

Walter battles through his fears to become the fourth type of man – the Hero.  Every man struggles with the three hero antitheses from time to time (arrogance, fear and passivity) but a real man does whatever it takes to break through and become a hero, whose behaviour can be defined as ‘strength in action, with character’

But it all comes down to responsibility in the end.  So with the guys you’re crushing on, dating, or hoping to date: do these words resonate when you think of them?





If not, it’s time to go where these kind of men hang out.  Stop hanging with the Peter Pans and the Pansies and the Man-Children.  Go to where the Heroes are, the men who take responsibility.  (Think about where that might be in your community or context.)  It’s not success, wealth, fame or even popularity that you should be assessing him on – but is he responsible?  He could be a CEO or a garbage-collector (he could be the CEO of the garbage company!) – but is he responsible for himself, and does he care enough to be responsible for others?  That is a real man.


Ref: 4 archetypes of a man & definition of hero taken from Being a Bloke by Peter Janetzki and Michael Knight, which can be purchased here.  

Great further viewing: Jordan Peterson on ‘Why Men are in Crisis’ video here (5 mins) – I plan to comment on this in another post.