I once dated a guy who was obsessed with the notion of masculinity. What did it look like? How did one embody it? Is it possible to exhibit the characteristics and still make a mean lemon meringue? I found a Google search in his history on the subject, and the top image results were of Brad Pitt, Chuck Norris, Drake and a lion — interpret that how you will.
Truthfully, the definition has been morphing over the years. With changing gender roles, the rising social acceptance of the metrosexual image and differing media depictions of the ideal boyfriend, husband and father, it’s no surprise that a lot of guys are having identity crises. I can tell you one thing: Masculinity no longer has anything to do with muscular calves or the ability to skillfully fix a leaky sink — though those are both a bonus.
Honestly, if you’re Googling “what it means to be a man,” there might be a few deeper issues you need to consider. But for the sake of confused men everywhere and every woman who has dated one, I’ll outline a few core characteristics.
1. Real men have a simple, classic standby cocktail or beer they can order with ease so as never to be the d-bag at the bar hemming and hawing indecisively while perusing a menu.
2. Real men also know your go-to drink by heart and make sure you never have an empty glass.
3. Real men can fix their own their mistakes. That means when they get lost, they swallow their pride and stop for directions.
4. Real men don’t dwell on their insecurities or fears, but acknowledge that they exist. Once in a while, they might even lower their guards and let you in on the things that scare them. But then, they’ll just get back to conquering them.
5. Real men think about their mothers, worry about their mothers and are grateful for their mothers.
6. Real men do not take selfies. The occasional ludicrous Snapchat, of course, being an exception.
7. Real men will never invite you back to their apartment unless it’s at least somewhat presentable.
8. Real men have at least two or three dishes they can cook well, just in case they need to impress you. Unless they have serious culinary prowess, they will probably make these meals during the first few months of dating and run out of options, so you better grow to love them.
9. Real men spend time putting themselves together, but never more than you.
10. Real men do not diet. They may attempt to eat healthier for various reasons, but this will never involve shunning entire food groups, dumping Splenda into their coffee and obsessively counting calories.
11. Real men call when it’s practical. Period.
12. Real men never tell the waiter “We’re all set,” when asked about dessert without consulting you. They look at you for the cue.
13. Real men are passionate about something — and it’s not just weed or their new Nikes.
14. Real men don’t need to make fun of other guys to boost their own self-confidence, but they can definitely make fun of themselves.
15. Real men have goals; they might seem lofty or completely absurd, but they’re working toward something, and that’s what matters.
16. Real men don’t take themselves too seriously. That’s why they can grow a ridiculous ‘stache for Movember and they can handle all of the harsh criticism from friends. They know deep down it’s for a good cause.
17. Real men will do things like carry your purse if need be or buy tampons. It may be awkward but they suck it up because they’re comfortable with their masculinity.
18. Real men don’t apologize if they don’t last long during sex, but they do make damn sure you get off.
19. Real men are not lovers or fighters — they are both, simultaneously.
20. Real men have had a dog, currently have a dog, or eventually, would like to have a dog.