A man who drifts along with every situation without the will to act, change or affect situations should learn how to be a real man.
Some men get jittery over issues on ‘how to be a real man’ because they are uncomfortable and unsure where they fall in the masculinity spectrum.
In Africa, Asia, the Americas, and Europe, the issues of manliness arise every now and then and cannot be ignored.
Every man wants to know how to be a real masculine man.
There are discussions on what a complete man is and should be in society. Of course, there are men who only exist as men and do not meet their obligations as men.
Related: How To Be Manly in The Workplace
Some argue that any human who is biologically a man is masculine enough and that any categorization is an attempt to pitch men against each other and set them worrying about their deficits of traits that define a man or what I can call fragile masculinity.
Here is an article explaining fragile manliness in detail.
Whatever the arguments are, there are traits, obligations, and qualities that are expected by the man in society. If a man falls short of these traits, he’s not a real man.
This post is about helping you, the man to know your duties and conduct as a man in the family, workplace, and social circles and carry them out judiciously and earn yourself the badge of a confident man.
Let’s go there!
Definition of a Real Man
Anybody can be a man, but it takes more to be an authentic man or learn how to be a real man.
A real man is a man who is at peace with his masculinity – healthy masculinity – and meets his obligation and duties as a dependable man in the home, workplace, and social circles.
The strength of a true man comes from his innate principles, sense of balance, intelligence, and capacity to hold his own in any circumstance by applying mature interpersonal skills.
Instead of treating a woman as an object or acquisition, the real man sees her as an equal and a partner whom he can be on a team with.
Let’s now examine the qualities that make a real man. You as an aspiring confident man don’t have to acquire all of these qualities but you should possess a measure of them to measure up.
This could be the answer you are looking for on how to become a real man.
Preparing to Become a Real Man
It’s time for you to make that change. Where are you going to start? It’s good to have a clear view of what to expect, where and how you are going to concentrate, and how difficult the processes are going to be.
We often hear that nothing good comes easy. That saying was said many centuries ago when there was not much competition, let alone now that life has become so competitive that you would be sidelined along the path if you don’t keep moving.
But nothing is too difficult for the man who envisages his tasks and prepares for them ahead of time. The key is a strong desire and not being intimidated by the challenges.
To prepare you for the task ahead, you have to be aware of the following, so you are not taken unawares. This awareness is not to scare you, but to hand you a kind of map of what to expect on your journey to become the modern real man:
1. It’s Not a Walk in the Park
Starting out on how to be a real man is not a walk in the park. Recreating or rebuilding yourself is a deliberate decision and not something you stumble on along life.
In fact, it is a choice that you have to make and requires effort and denying yourself of things you would otherwise see as fun.
The extra time you put in taking lessons for self-development, avoidance of some activities, and consistent focus is not so much fun.
However, the thought of the benefits you will enjoy when you become a better man would always keep you going and on track.
2. You Must Cultivate Patience
Patience is a virtue and is exercised throughout life. Becoming a better man requires continuous patience along the way. You can’t say I would be a better man in three months’ time.
You might be able to make progress in three months’ time, but you cannot say ‘okay, I have arrived’, I am now a better man.
It’s an ongoing project that will take years to perfect, maintain and continue to be burnished. Continue to be patient and put effort bit by bit in every area of your life.
3. One Step at a Time
You should be aware that you can’t take more than you can handle. Start small, and handle one error at a time. It could be behavioural error, goal error, or lack of focus.
Taking one step at a time keeps the motivation stable and you can gauge progress. Don’t be lured by quick fixes and instant gratification.
Replace them with a quality life of steady development.
4. Failure Awaits You
On your journey to becoming the man you desire, you are going to stumble over many times.
As scary as it sounds, you will fail at one time or the other. As you know, you can’t always figure things out at first instance.
You have to do things over and over again before they become habits and entrenched in your subconscious.
When you know you will fail, you will not be alarmed by it, but go through the process of failure and come out better. Be consistent!
5. It’s a Continuous Process
There is no point in the journey you will say, I have arrived. You must continue to improve and acquire relevant knowledge to keep you ahead. It could be learning a new programme, a new platform, acquainting yourself with new technology.
You must continue to update yourself and stay recent in the fast-paced world of ours or become redundant.
33 Tips On How to Be a Real Man
There are qualities and traits that a man can be identified with. Though men have different ways of expressing their masculinity, real men are identified with positive masculinity.
The following traits and qualities are familiar with the authentic man in no particular order:
1. You should be comfortable and confident being a man
You don’t have control over being born a man. It’s by virtue of Providence that any human is born a man or a woman.
If any human can choose his or her gender, that is left for science to clarify.
A real man is or should learn to be comfortable in his own skin. I have known people who were born men but all their traits tilt toward the feminine gender.
Traits like gait, voice, and other demeanors have gender. There are even people who are changing their genders because they are not comfortable with their default gender.
Being a real, authentic man requires that you are in agreement with yourself so you can naturally work on and patch up on being a true man.
How to be comfortable with your gender as a man
- There is nothing you can do about it, only accept your gender
- Know your duties as a man. Yes! Stereotypes exist, but we can’t deny that a man is a man for a reason.
- Learn and master manly traits – be bold, help others, be confident, don’t abuse people you are stronger than, and avoid conflicts.
- Practice manly activities
Watch this insightful video on the traits of a confident man by He Spoke Style:
2. Lead a purposeful life and be goal oriented
Every man who aspires to be better does not just exist or drift along. He lives a life of purpose and always has aspirations.
Living on purpose means doing what resonates with your values and beliefs which are directed toward fulfillment.
Your actions are calculated and lead toward meeting up an agenda. This agenda is part of a bigger purpose which is spread in bits of achievements.
Every man should have aspirations and goals. You have to have something that keeps you busy which makes up much of your future projections.
Set goals for yourself and be on track to achieving them. No need to whine about situations, you must make something out of the situation you find yourself.
How to be purposeful
- Be self-aware
- Know your values as a person
- Don’t be afraid of failing, the more you fail, the more you learn
- Trust your abilities while you improve
- Know your passion and align your strengths there
- Learn a skill or get an education in your area of passion
- Adapt to changes
- Put in the work
Happierhuman wrote comprehensively about living a purposeful life.
3. Be responsible
A real man is a man who takes responsibility for his life, actions, and decisions and does not blame others for his fate.
A responsible man is defined as making good decisions and caring for others. A dependable man who can be trusted.
Responsibility defines a man because he has a lot of people looking up to him and so can pose as a good example to them.
How to be responsible
- Own your own actions
- Don’t blame others
- Be trustworthy
- Don’t abdicate your responsibility
- Be at the forefront when others are stepping back
- Allow people under you to grow
- Protect your work and integrity
4. Be open to self-development
Continuous self-development is the way of the real man. At every given time, he is making improvements in his life.
This is to make him prepared for opportunities in the changing times. With each personal improvement comes a new opportunity for him to move to the next level in his life.
How to be open to self-development
- Know when to get a new skill
- Read more books in your area of work
- Develop a hunger for growth and be the best
- Don’t relax and feel you have arrived
- Invest in materials and lessons for growth
- Do things yourself
Skillsyouneed wrote extensively on self-development
5. Don’t fit into harmful stereotypes
Masculinity could be regarded as a stereotype, but there is nothing harmful in categorizing humans according to their gender.
However, there are negative and harmful stereotypes associated with masculinity that influence the decisions of men and also make them tend to not live to their full potential.
A confident man is not bound by what the public or society thinks, so far he’s not breaking any laws.
A true man can wear pink clothes because he is comfortable wearing them, he can perform feminine activities because it’s what he wants to do irrespective of public opinion.
However, he should be able to defend himself when the backlash is rife.
How not to fit into harmful stereotypes
- Don’t be deterred by what the public thinks
- Know how to defend yourself
- Be bold and confident
- Be consistent with your belief
6. Live with principles
The man who is a real man is governed by principles. He has defined ways and rules of doing things.
He is governed by time, priorities, and needs and lives his life according to these principles.
He does not hurt another because of greed and he keeps his words of agreement to the latter.
How to be a principled man
- Always be honest
- Show accountability
- Be compassionate
- Show courage
- Be fair in all your dealings
- Show gratitude when necessary
- Be humble
- Be loyal as it is not a sign of weakness
The Circle has more on a life of principle.
7. Eat healthily
Health is a very important issue for the man of honour and every other human for that matter.
He does not eat it because it’s edible. He eats because his body needs it and it won’t come in the way of his good health.
There are men who eat whatever is presented and do not have any consideration for their health.
It is believed that at age 40 or earlier, a man should watch what he eats as some diets would hamper many areas of his health.
Men are also encouraged to drink less alcohol as a health measure to not over-labour their livers, kidneys, and other internal organs.
It is in good taste to always look out for signals the body gives and schedule an appointment with your doctor.
How to eat healthily
- Eating more vegetables, fruit, whole grains, lean meats, nuts
- Reduce your intake of foods high in saturated fat, added salt, added sugar, and alcohol
- Include ginger into your diet
- Consider foods with unsaturated fats that are good for the heart such as avocados, canola oil, olive oil, seeds, and nuts
8. Be authentic
Being authentic is one of the identifiable qualities of a real man. As an aspiring true man, you have to be yourself and be comfortable in your own skin.
You cannot appear in black to make a deal and appear colourless when it’s time to fulfill the deal.
Be consistent with how people see you and do not try to do shady deals. If you don’t meet up for an appointment or a deal, inform the other person on time and make it clear why, and fix another and don’t disappoint.
9. Be organized
Being organized is required by any human. You are not born organized; you learn it and will continue to improve. You have to cultivate habits that are healthy to be organized.
How to stay organized:
- Planning things out
- Jotting things down
- Keeping only the things you need
- Removing what should be removed
- Making schedules and deadlines
- Avoiding procrastination
- Decluttering your space as regularly as possible
10. Be polite
Genuine courtesy is the outward manifestation of the heart’s most charitable impulses. It upholds altruism, generosity, compassion, and the adage “Do unto others as you would have others do towards you.” As a result, its core value is to love your neighbour as yourself.
Unfortunately, it is believed that politeness has been constantly in decline in recent times.
People no longer care how rude they are. There seems to be a fever of preoccupation with everyone’s life that we forget to express ourselves in good manners.
In this kind of society, being polite and standing out in it is a great way to be an example.
Real men are polite no matter the impatient bandwagon society has jumped into. Be polite to your family, to your colleagues, and to in fact the least person you come in contact with.
If politeness is only a mask, as many philosophers claim, then wearing it is preferable because it will win you love and admiration.
If you take it upon yourself to please others, you will find it becoming habitual and eventually natural and part of you.
If you wear the polite mask with the sincere desire to give pleasure to others and make all the little meetings of life pass off smoothly and agreeably, it will soon cease to be a mask.
And you are going to be rewarded with the same energy and acquaintance you have never known.
11. Don’t make women the centre of your life
When I was growing up, my grandmother used to tell me to run away from women. At first, I thought women were some kind of witches that would whittle a man until nothing remained of him. She was never specific about the dangers women could pose.
It was later I understood what she meant. Women are not bad, but they can ruin a man’s life if he makes them the centre of his life.
A man should know how to have his way around women. They can give emotional injury, and make a man forget all his purposes in life only to regret it later.
My advice as a man above forty is to approach women with care and not to be carried away by love and emotions.
Have a skill and source of income so you can give value. Be financially stable before dabbling into women.
When you have value, women won’t be a problem for you. They gravitate towards value and you would be able to make your choice.
12. Keep your words
It is easy to see a man who says one thing and does another. But a man who keeps his word in recent times is rare.
Be that one man whose words can be taken to the bank. Be that man who can be vouched for and that never disappoints. The man that can stand by his words, even if the tides are against him.
13. Be unruffled in times of conflict
Life is not a walk in the park. Life is a walk in the crooked canyons where you stump against projecting obstacles here and there and you must not stop.
You will encounter conflicts you didn’t ask for, of course, you can’t ask for conflict as a real man.
But there are times conflicts stand in your way and you must not run away. You have to stand up to it without fear.
For instance, you could make a mistake in balancing an account in the office and your boss is emotionally hijacked and threatening fire.
Remain unruffled and explain to your boss confidently without fidgeting or trembling about what transpired.
Always know that an unruffled man would always earn the admiration of people even the person who brings the conflict to him.
More on keeping your cool here.
14. Be a leader
At some point, a boy becomes a leader even as little as 3 years. When you have someone under you to direct, you are a leader.
A 3-year-old can stop his infant sibling from putting a toy in his mouth. That’s leadership.
These skills are necessary to make a leader succeed and stand out without clashing with his subordinates every now and then.
A real man leader should have his finger on the pulse of every situation. He should be in control and knows when to and when not to do what.
WikiHow has more on how to be a leader.
15. Be dependable
A true man is dependable. He is stable in his good qualities and you can count on him to not disappoint in the home, workplace, and anywhere he is acquainted.
Be a dependable man by doing what you say you will do. When you say you are going to complete a task, go ahead and complete it.
Dependability is driven by discipline and a dependable man builds trust by holding himself and his team accountable
16. Cultivate honesty
In our fast-paced world today, there are many reasons to be dishonest in our dealings, especially with the rise of social media and smartphones.
A man of honour would never have a reason to lie or deceive people by giving false information.
If facing situations where they have the option to be dishonest, they rather face the consequences while their integrity remains intact.
17. Be compassionate
Being compassionate is the desire or urge to relieve the suffering of others. Though real men are expected by some quarters of society to be tough and averse to emotions.
While being tough is a good trait of an authentic man, he identifies appropriately with people emotionally.
He expresses healthy masculinity which involves showing real feelings and alleviating people’s predicament when he can.
He can be touched by the suffering of a man under punishment and vouch for his freedom, and can even go ahead to sign a surety for his good conduct. That’s being compassionate.
18. Be empathetic
A real man is an all-round developed man who also has the ability to sense the emotions of people around him and imagine what they feel so he can use the information to treat them accordingly.
Empathy is necessary for every relationship both at home, workplace, and in the social circle.
Without empathy, a man becomes an insensitive selfish person who hardly reads the room unless prompted.
Empathy takes cues from facial expressions, body language, and moods to empathise with people.
19. Be fair in all your dealings
A masculine man should not be impartial. He treats everyone justly without favouritism or discrimination.
We are always tempted by instincts to favour and give preference to people we are familiar with, but this would make you look biased and partial which is a negative trait for the man of honour.
No matter the situation, always be fair and treat everyone equally. For example, applying reasonable punishments to all involved without discrimination is an example of fairness.
20. Prove you are a real man when necessary
A true man does not go about shouting ‘I am a real man’, ‘I am an authentic man.’ Or compete with other men to prove he is one.
His behaviour and approach to issues would let everyone who is observing know he is not the everyday man.
Trying to prove or bring attention to his achievements or acts of manliness reeks of insecurity and attention-seeking.
21. Dress like a man
A French proverb goes thus:
“It is not the cowl which makes the monk,”
But the monk is known abroad by his cowl.
A cowl is a loose piece of clothing monks wear. What this means is that it is not the dress that makes the man.
However, the real man can be known by how he dresses. A man’s refinement of mind and education should be reflected in his dressing.
True men have style both in dressing and other life choices. They are conscious of what and how they dress.
Dressing like a man suggests you dress for the occasion and in what you are comfortable in and not what is trendy or to get attention.
You might wear an average dress and look sharp in it because you are dressing to look nice and not to please.
Though this might not be a rigid rule, manliness comes with dignity and decency. One who aspires to be manly should not be seen dressing in ripped jeans on an official occasion.
How to dress like a real man
- Let the dress suit the occasion. It is in bad taste to dress like a golf player at an official gathering.
- Look smart in neat and well-fitting clothes
- Don’t dress like a boy when you are a real man. For example, wearing your face cap facing back.
- Buy nice shoes for your jeans
- Choose quality over quantity
- Wear neutral colors and alternate sometimes
- Avoid trendy clothing
- Have a simple masculine fashion style
More on dressing like a true man by Menshealth.
22. Exercise patience
Patience is a virtue that every real man should possess. Being patient means being able to be calm and not restless or fidgety when something takes too long or when someone is not conforming to what you want.
In a world like ours, we have a lot around that trigger impatience and irritability, but emotional intelligence will always be handy to keep us in control and patient.
Patience gives the real man time to choose how to respond to a situation, instead of acting instinctively.
How to be patient
- When it’s like you are being rushed, deliberately slow down and know why you have to slow down – to be collected and more in control.
- Ask yourself, ‘What’s the worst that would happen?’. Lean into the worst that would happen and be familiar with it while being optimistic. This would make you more relaxed and bolder.
- Accept your current circumstances and lean in to identify with them. Trying to rush out of the circumstance when you don’t have the wherewithal would result in self-crisis and other traits that accompany impatience like irritability and anger.
Being man enough requires and values what are honest, true, and averse to unworthiness, wrong, and personal gains.
They are noble, and kind, and do what is right and within the ambits of the law.
Men of integrity do not fear being vulnerable as they know the value of being open and honest.
They take responsibility and blame for their actions.
How to have integrity
- Be self-aware
- Be vulnerable
- Find your sense of purpose and focus on it
- Recognise low-integrity situations both on social media and in real life
- Be clear in your decisions
- Be flexible with change
- Review your own morals and ethics and make sure they are agreeable with society
- Be a role model in integrity to people under you
- Stand up for what you believe in
- Be around people who have integrity
More on integrity by The Art Of Manliness.
24. Bodily exercise
Bodily exercise is one of the proven ways to maintain health. The human body is a wonderful machine with various parts which depend on and are adapted to each other.
A real man should engage in several exercises to keep his body and soul active in healthy. Whether it be walking, running, or lifting things, a man should do it regularly.
The more muscles are exercised, the stronger they become. That’s why people like labourers and artisans are more muscular and presumably stronger than persons of sedentary occupation.
How to exercise
- Lifting weights
- Russian twist
Comprehensive post about bodily exercise by Betterme.
25. Embrace maturity to be masculine
The anecdote above is a description of masculine maturity. There are many other aspects of maturity you have to attain as a man depending on the part of the world you are in.
Though most of the alpha male signs mimic the real man’s traits, they are easily recognizable.
Culture, religion, and other factors play a part in the kinds of things you can do to be successful and fulfilled as a man without chasing an imaginary image dream.
But the mind of the mature man is universal, it doesn’t come with race.
That same approach will work for you perfectly. Instead of having sleepless nights about developing toxic alpha traits, get to work and start giving your life value.
Get resources and develop yourself, and be identified with something of value that can be given commercial value.
This is because respect and prestige which are what people admire in others must be attached to value.
Before you say jack, you are on your way to a mature, disciplined, gentleman who is to be reckoned with in society while living your natural, normal life.
26. Cultivate confidence
Developing confidence is next to being responsible. Confidence would make your boldness effective by removing fear and confronting tasks, taking on projects, establishing connections, and moving up fast on the social ladder.
Confidence comes from stepping out, participating in tasks, and knowing a lot. These things cannot be wished away and granted by a genie, nor are you going to acquire them by intimidation.
27. Be independent
Becoming an independent man is good for any man who is above 18 years of age. Not necessarily leaving your parent’s house, as could be seen in Africa.
You should be independent in your thinking, and your aspirations and not depend on people to make decisions for you.
This does not take away the fact you have to have a mentor if you like. But you have to take charge and chart your path to the future.
Whatever you do, focus! Being distracted by things that are not contributing to the big goal is not in good taste.
Mature men do not sit around, daydreaming about becoming a big man in the future or getting the most beautiful woman.
Masculine men work hard and have something to brag about which they achieve through focus and steady grinding.
29. Develop a manly posture
Always carry yourself like a masculine man with your head high, shoulders squared with the chest out. It is in excessively bad taste to slouch.
It is important to note that this is not a concrete trait of a man. But, it’s a good posture to appear masculine.
30. Be emotionally intelligent
This is the all in all of becoming a confident masculine person. It encompasses all that can shoot you up the social ladder, and with all the traits above, you have no hitch on your way to becoming a confident masculine man in society.
Being competent in these emotional skills would improve your confidence and masculinity which would exude on their own without you being showy.
“Man, know thyself.”
When you are aware of your emotions and how they inform your actions, you would be able to be in control of them.
Emotions like anger, hatred, fear, and love should not overwhelm you when they come, nor should they influence your behaviour. Instead, they should make you stronger.
31. Be vulnerable
When you let go and expect less validation from people, you become vulnerable. When you are vulnerable, that is when the true test of masculinity and confidence comes.
You have to show you can overcome those situations that make you want to be validated. Lean in on your insecurities and come out stronger.
An insecure man would dodge vulnerability and project an empty self that deflates with pressure.
32. Respect women
Treat women with respect and as females, no matter how you think they appear, or how their behaviours affect you.
They can be very funny, but that’s not what you have to dwell on. Treat them with respect regardless.
33. Be a gentleman
Being a gentleman is the highest form of masculinity. In fact, it is the most attractive trait confident masculinity can have because it is full of surprises.
Being gentle does not mean you are weak or less of a man. It shows you are confidently masculine but choose to be a gentleman because it puts everybody around you at ease and makes you approachable.
The real man is not just a man who can smooth-talk or tries to fit into society. He is a man who can be a role model, and who can be looked up to with respect and pride.
He is not the man who chases every woman that appeals to him, he has his way around women though but in the most appropriate way.
A lot of men act in ways that suggest they lack confidence, and self-control and are driven by instincts. They worry as they don’t get the admiration and love they desire.
The real man is admired naturally because he adopts the above skills by practicing and being deliberate about them.
A real man should be conscious of all his conduct at home, workplace, and in the street not just to please, but because it is his duty to be so.
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Adolescent and Adult Psychologist
Pyo Merez (PsyD) is a certified adolescent and adult psychologist who has been on the frontline of helping adolescents and adults with mental health. An expert in cognitive and developmental psychology - social relationships, cultural contexts, and individual differences. He is also a speaker and panelist on issues bordering on budding young people.