The Lost Art of Manliness: One Man's Quest to Find True Masculinity in Today's World

By | Last Updated: 6 February 2024

Diverse group of men discussing masculinity and personal growth.

Hey there, my fellow men! Today, let's dive into a topic that is close to our hearts: the lost art of manliness. In a world that constantly challenges the traditional notions of masculinity, it can sometimes feel like we're adrift, unsure of what it truly means to be a man.

But fear not, because in this blog post, we'll embark on a journey together, exploring how we can rediscover and redefine true masculinity in today's ever-evolving world. Be with me, read through, and let's dive in!

The changing landscape of masculinity

Before we delve into our quest, it's important to acknowledge that masculinity is not a one-size-fits-all concept.

The definition of what it means to be a man has evolved over the years, and rightly so. As society progresses, so does our understanding of gender roles and expectations.

While this can be liberating, it can also leave us feeling a bit lost. Let's see how we can navigate this changing landscape?

What is traditional masculinity?

For generations, the traditional cultural script for masculinity has centered around stoicism, domination, aggression, and sexual prowess.

The quintessential "man's man" was strong, rugged, and seemingly immune to emotion and vulnerability.

Showing weakness or expressing doubt was frowned upon. However, in recent decades, this narrowly defined concept of masculinity has begun to evolve.

As society progresses, rigid gender roles are being challenged. Qualities traditionally viewed as "feminine," such as nurturing, cooperation, and emotional sensitivity, are increasingly seen as human strengths valuable for men as well.

The women's liberation and gay rights movements of the 1960s and 70s were pivotal in spurring more expansive notions of manhood.

How has masculinity changed over time?

With more women entering the workforce and gay men gaining visibility and rights, heterosexual men have been prompted to reconsider masculinity.

This shift has accelerated in the 21st century, as social media fosters wider conversations about identity and systemic issues like misogyny, homophobia, and racism.

High-profile cases of sexual assault and the #MeToo movement have exposed the dark side of male domination.

Many men are now conscious of past patriarchal oppression and eager to adopt an enlightened, inclusive masculinity.

What is modern masculinity?

For today's man, embracing diverse interests, close relationships, and vulnerability are increasingly seen as sources of strength, not weakness.

Authentic confidence comes from within, not external validation. By reconstructing masculinity as multidimensional, modern men are gaining the freedom to live more fulfilling lives true to themselves.

How does evolving roles of men affect modern masculinity?

The evolving roles of men in modern society significantly impact the concept of masculinity. This transformation is multifaceted, encompassing changes in family dynamics, societal expectations, workplace roles, and personal identity.

  1. Family Dynamics and Caregiving Roles: Traditionally, men were primarily seen as breadwinners and less involved in household responsibilities and child-rearing. This has been changing rapidly. More men are actively participating in parenting and household chores, reshaping the perception of masculinity to include nurturing and caregiving roles. This shift challenges the traditional image of the 'strong, unemotional man' and allows for a more holistic expression of masculinity​​​​.
  2. Workplace and Economic Roles: Men's roles in the workforce are also evolving. The growing emphasis on gender equality has led to more women entering and excelling in the workforce, sometimes even out-earning their male partners. This change challenges the traditional notion of men as the sole or primary earners and requires an adjustment in the understanding of masculinity and self-worth that isn't solely tied to economic success or status​​​​.
  3. Emotional Expression and Mental Health: The evolving roles of men are also influencing how masculinity is associated with emotional expression and mental health. There's a growing acceptance that showing vulnerability and seeking help for mental health issues are not signs of weakness. This shift is crucial in redefining masculinity as inclusive of emotional intelligence and self-care, moving away from the stigma of men being stoic and emotionally inexpressive​​.
  4. Identity and Social Expectations: As roles evolve, there's a broader reevaluation of what it means to be a man. Traditional expectations, such as being the unwavering provider or the unemotional stoic, are being questioned and redefined. Men are finding new ways to express their identities that align more closely with their personal values and experiences rather than adhering strictly to traditional gender norms​​​​.
  5. Gender Relations and Power Dynamics: The evolving roles of men have implications for gender relations and power dynamics. As traditional roles are challenged, there's a push towards more egalitarian relationships, both in the domestic sphere and in broader societal contexts. This evolution can lead to more balanced and respectful interactions between genders​​.

Hey there, my fellow men! Today, let's dive into a topic that is close to our hearts: the lost art of manliness. In a world that constantly challenges the traditional notions of masculinity, it can sometimes feel like we're adrift, unsure of what it truly means to be a man.

Contemplative man reflecting on modern masculinity.

What is masculinity today? What's the Modern definition of masculinity?

Masculinity today is an evolving concept, reflecting a shift from traditional stereotypes towards a more inclusive and flexible understanding. This modern perspective acknowledges that masculinity is not defined by a single set of traits or behaviors, but rather encompasses a range of qualities and expressions. Here are some key aspects of contemporary masculinity:

  1. Emotional Intelligence and Expression: Modern masculinity recognizes the importance of emotional awareness and expression. Men are encouraged to understand and articulate their feelings, breaking away from the stereotype of being stoic or unemotional. Most women seek their husbands to be have emotional openness as a trait to communicate freely, and this in fact creates meaningful conversations between the couple. 
  2. Equality and Respect: There's an increasing emphasis on treating all genders with respect and equality. The modern man supports and advocates for gender equality, understanding that masculinity is not about dominance over others.
  3. Vulnerability: Showing vulnerability is no longer seen as a weakness. Today's masculinity allows men to be open about their fears, doubts, and challenges, fostering deeper connections with others.
  4. Diverse Roles: The contemporary view of masculinity embraces men in diverse roles, whether it's as caregivers, homemakers, or professionals in traditionally female-dominated fields. This challenges the old notion of 'men’s work' and 'women’s work'.
  5. Physical and Mental Health: There is a growing awareness of the importance of physical and mental health. Men are encouraged to take care of their bodies and minds, and seeking help for mental health issues is increasingly normalized.
  6. Personal Growth and Self-Care: Modern masculinity includes a focus on personal development and self-care. This might involve pursuing hobbies, education, fitness, or mindfulness practices.
  7. Relationships and Family Life: Today's masculinity values active participation in family life and relationships. This includes being a present and involved parent, partner, or family member.
  8. Responsibility and Integrity: Personal responsibility, integrity, and ethical behavior are key tenets of modern masculinity. This includes standing up for what is right and being accountable for one's actions.
  9. Inclusivity and Openness: Modern masculinity is inclusive of different sexual orientations, gender identities, and expressions. There's an understanding that masculinity is not a one-size-fits-all concept.
  10. Strength in Different Forms: While physical strength was traditionally a hallmark of masculinity, today it's understood in broader terms - emotional, mental, and moral strength are equally valued.

But fear not, because in this blog post, we'll embark on a journey together, exploring how we can rediscover and redefine true masculinity in today's ever-evolving world. Be with me, read through, and let's dive in!

Modern man balancing professional and personal life, depicting the evolving role of men today.

Toxic Masculinity and Its Impacts

The concept of toxic masculinity refers to cultural attitudes and norms that can be harmful to men, women, and society overall.

Toxic masculinity promotes restrictive ideals about how men should behave, often emphasizing aggression, domination, invulnerability, and avoidance of any traits perceived as feminine.

Conforming to norms of toxic masculinity can have damaging effects on men's physical and mental health. Research shows that extreme adherence to masculine norms is associated with depression, increased stress, and lower self-esteem.

Toxic masculinity also contributes to men being less likely to seek mental health treatment due to stigma. Additionally, toxic masculinity impacts how men relate to others. It promotes disconnection instead of vulnerability and fuels dynamics like harassment, bullying, and violence.

Toxic masculine norms make it difficult for men to form close friendships and have emotionally intimate relationships. This social isolation can further worsen mental health issues. Dismantling expectations of toxic masculinity is crucial for improving men's wellbeing and their relationships.

It enables healthier expressions of masculinity to emerge—ones focused on self-expression, vulnerability, caring, and empathy. Ultimately, moving beyond toxic masculinity benefits people of all genders by allowing more diverse, compassionate models of masculinity to thrive.

Backlash against traditional masculinity

In recent years, longstanding ideals of masculinity have come under scrutiny. Many traditional male stereotypes - like the strong, silent type who never cries - are now seen as outdated or even harmful.

While movements like #MeToo have rightfully challenged toxic behaviors, they've also left some men feeling whiplashed. The norms they grew up with have eroded rapidly. This has sparked a backlash among certain groups of men. Some feel unfairly vilified and unsure of how to act in modern times. Rates of male depression and suicide have risen.

Many guys now question what positive masculinity looks like. With old models rejected but new ones not fully defined, it's left some men feeling adrift and frustrated. This confusion manifests in different ways.

Some long for an imaginary past when men were "really" men. Others angrily blame women and societal changes for their problems. Movements like the mythopoetic men's movement try reconnecting modern men to lost wildness and warrior energy.

However misguided, these reactions come from a real sense of displacement. Traditional masculinity offered a clear script for men to follow. Now that script's gone, but a new one hasn't emerged. This limbo presents an opportunity.

Men can thoughtfully examine harmful legacies around masculinity. At the same time, we can envision more inclusive, empowering ideals. By learning from the past while looking forward, today's men can forge healthier identities.

Managing emotions effectively reduces impulsive reactions and constructively channels feelings. There are many ways to build emotional intelligence. Self-reflection through journaling, meditation, and introspective activities can increase self-knowledge.

The philosophy of authentic masculinity rejects the harmful ideals of toxic masculinity while embracing positive male qualities.

Authentic masculinity philosophy

The philosophy of authentic masculinity rejects the harmful ideals of toxic masculinity while embracing positive male qualities.

It's about being emotionally aware, confident yet compassionate, and finding purpose by lifting up others. Authentic masculinity recognizes that qualities traditionally viewed as "feminine," like nurturing, empathy and vulnerability, are also strengths.

Showing emotion does not make a man "weak." Rather, it takes great courage to be open, honest and sensitive. An authentically masculine man derives self-worth from his values and contributions to society - not external validations of machismo. He is humble and self-assured enough to appreciate the full range of human experience beyond gender constraints.

The authentic masculinity mindset values authenticity over performance. It's about building meaningful relationships, finding inner fulfillment and leaving a positive legacy - not chasing status, wealth or conquests.

Developing emotional intelligence allows an authentically masculine man to understand himself and connect with others at a deeper level. He can be strong for those who need support and vulnerable when struggling himself.

Authentic men are guided by moral character and inspired to make the world a little better. They recognize that true confidence comes from within.

Embracing vulnerability

One of the keys to developing authentic masculinity is embracing vulnerability. For many men, showing vulnerability can feel uncomfortable or risky. We're conditioned from a young age to not show weakness and suppress our emotions. But repressing feelings and being emotionally closed off can have harmful impacts on mental health and relationships.

True strength comes from within, not from pretending to be invulnerable. By opening up and sharing feelings, men become more emotionally mature. Rather than avoiding difficult emotions, it's important to process them in healthy ways.

Practicing vulnerability builds self-awareness, self-confidence, empathy and deeper connections. There are many ways to embrace vulnerability. It starts with being honest with yourself about fears, insecurities or struggles. Journaling, meditation and therapy can provide safe spaces for emotional exploration.

Open up to trusted friends or mentors who will listen without judgment. Have candid conversations with partners about hopes, needs and challenges in the relationship. Showing emotions or admitting mistakes does not make someone less of a man.

The willingness to be vulnerable demonstrates inner strength, courage and confidence. It's a journey of peeling away defensive layers to reveal one's authentic self. By embracing vulnerability, modern men can redefine masculinity and evolve into their best selves.

Developing emotional intelligence

In the past, many traditional masculine ideals emphasized stoicism over emotional expression. Showing vulnerability or "feminine" emotions like sadness was seen as weakness.

However, modern research shows developing emotional intelligence leads to greater well-being and stronger relationships. Emotional intelligence involves skills like self-awareness, empathy, and managing emotions.

Self-awareness means understanding your own emotions, values, strengths, and weaknesses. It enables making decisions aligned with your true self. Empathy involves understanding others' perspectives and feelings. This fosters compassion and strengthens bonds.

Empathy grows by listening actively, suspending judgement, and seeing things from others' shoes. Anger management, stress reduction, and cognitive reframing techniques help regulate emotions.

Overall, allowing yourself to feel and express the full range of human emotions without shame leads to emotional intelligence. This enables living authentically and relating meaningfully with others.

Seeking a purpose in life bigger than oneself is a key element of growth.

Finding purpose and meaning

In today's world, it can be easy for men to feel adrift and without a sense of purpose.

Consumer culture pushes men to seek status, wealth, and superficial goals that often leave them feeling empty inside. Authentic masculinity invites men to dig deeper and discover what really motivates them at their core.

Seeking a purpose in life bigger than oneself is a key element of growth. Purpose gives direction and meaning to our days. It allows us to focus our time and energy on goals aligned with our deepest values, rather than simply chasing temporary pleasures.

Some suggestions for finding purpose and meaning: -

Reflect on your core values.

  • What principles do you hold dear?
  • What would you be willing to sacrifice for?

Use these values to guide major life decisions.

  • Identify causes aligned with your values.
  • Contributing to a cause bigger than yourself provides significance.
  • Volunteer, fundraise, advocate or otherwise support organizations doing work you believe in.

Pursue self-growth.

  • Read, take classes, travel.
  • Becoming your best self unlocks potential to make an impact.
  • Grow into the man you aspire to be.

Help others.

  • Be a mentor. Be a Role Model
  • Lift people up.
  • Share wisdom and knowledge.
  • Leaving a positive legacy makes life meaningful.

Find flow.

  • Pursue work, hobbies and relationships that challenge you.
  • Losing yourself in intrinsically rewarding activities provides purpose.
  • Living authentically involves periodically re-evaluating whether your life path aligns with your values.

Check in with yourself: "Does this give my life meaning?"

If the answer is no, be brave enough to make a change. Fulfillment comes from pursing goals bigger than oneself.

Forming close friendships

In today's world, it can be challenging for men to form deep, meaningful friendships. Competition, ego, and superficial relationships often get in the way.

However, having a strong social support network is crucial for physical and mental health. As part of rediscovering authentic masculinity, it's important to cultivate close friendships based on trust, vulnerability, and mutual growth.

This means being willing to open up, share feelings, and be there for friends during difficult times. It requires moving past surface-level conversations to talk about life's big questions, joys, and struggles. True friendship helps men feel less alone.

Friends can offer a listening ear, advice when you're struggling, encouragement when pursuing big goals, and camaraderie during life's adventures. They remind us that it's okay to ask for help sometimes.

Forming a tribe of close male friends can provide perspective and inspiration for continually growing into the best version of yourself. It gives men an opportunity to mentor each other while also being open to learning from friends.

In the rediscovery of masculinity, the brotherhood and support of close friends is invaluable. Surrounding yourself with men who challenge you, believe in you, and bring out your best self offers benefits rivaling even those of romantic relationships.

Make an effort to deepen existing friendships and forge new ones. Your physical, emotional, and mental health will reap the rewards.

A Man who walks the path to redefining manhood seeks authentic masculinity, learns ancient wisdom, confronts fears, and gains strength—a tale of rediscovery.

A Man who walks the path to redefining manhood seeks authentic masculinity, learns ancient wisdom, confronts fears, and gains strength—a tale of rediscovery.

Being a Role Model

In the past, being a man often meant adopting a tough, stoic persona. Showing weakness or vulnerability was frowned upon. But this outdated approach to masculinity often prevented meaningful connections.

Today's world requires a different type of male role model. With more single-parent households and fewer positive male figures in communities, younger generations of men need someone to look up to.

As an authentic man, you have the opportunity to positively influence boys and young men. Set the example by displaying emotional strength, not just physical strength. Admit your struggles openly and how you work through setbacks.

Demonstrate that asking for help when needed is a sign of wisdom, not weakness. Listen attentively to others and offer empathy. Approach every interaction with compassion.

Share your experiences of overcoming difficulties through perseverance and courage. But don't present yourself as perfect or infallible. Be honest about your flaws. Explain how you learn and grow from mistakes.

Illustrate the benefits of constructively channeling anger versus suppressing it. Encourage boys to pursue their true passions, whether stereotypically masculine or not. Praise emotional intelligence and creativity as much as athletic prowess.

Foster self-esteem stemming from good character versus status or achievement. Every young man deserves a mentor to guide him, believed in him, and empower him to reach his potential. By embracing authentic masculinity, you can become that transformative role model.

Your influence helps build a future where manhood is defined by empathy, vulnerability, and compassion.

Continually Evolving

Just because we've reached a point of growth and awareness, doesn't mean our journey is over. We must recognize that masculinity is fluid, not fixed.

Our conceptions of what it means to be a man will likely continue to expand and change throughout our lives. We should remain open to questioning our own assumptions and biases.

None of us are perfect, and we all have room for improvement when it comes to dismantling systemic issues around masculinity and promoting more inclusive attitudes. Part of being an evolved man means making an effort to keep listening, keep learning, and keep growing.

The world is changing rapidly, and we need to change along with it. Feminism, social justice, and gender equality should be ongoing areas of education for modern men.

We can make the choice to stagnate or rest on our laurels, but real growth requires conscious and continual effort.

Our exploration of masculinity doesn't have a final destination. It's a lifelong journey of becoming the best version of ourselves while uplifting others along the way.

Santosh Acharya Closeup

Santosh Acharya is a Engineer, Technocrat turned on to Psychology Geek. He is a Proud Family Man, a Husband, a Parent to 2 adults, an obedient Son to my Parent, a Curious, Problem solver, Creator, Coffee Lover, Life-Long learner, Food Maker, Engineer, Psychologist, Marketer. His life took a sharp turn, when his mother asked him, "If you could rethink what you want to do with your life, what could it be." 

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