A Guide to Nontoxic Masculinity: How to Be a Good Guy, Starting Today

Don’t grope people!

As of writing this, men, this sentiment seems to be the bar we have set for ourselves. As long as you can manage to keep your hands to yourself, you’re considered a decent guy. If a male celebrity can get through his career without a sex scandal, it feels nothing short of a miracle. What happened?


Guys, this was going to be my intro (and, I guess, technically it still is). But then I thought about all the men in my life. Strong men of faith. Amazing fathers and loving husbands. Veterans and farmers and teachers. Men with beards and muscles. Men who wear skinny jeans and write poetry. Laconic men and garrulous men. Men who drink only Budweiser and men who drink nothing but craft beer. Serious men and hilarious men. Great thinking men and great feeling men. All of them good men.

Despite what the media and culture say, the great majority of men already know how to be good. Being a good guy is the same as being a good human—i.e., you avoid being a jerkwad. You do what you learned in kindergarten and follow the Ten Commandments. Not perfect, but good.

Maybe I am just lucky, but most of the men I know are not rapists, gropers, or cat-callers. The problem is, there seems to be a philosophy out there gaining traction that says you cannot be manly and good at the same time.

A real man loves with everything he’s got.

This is why I don’t care to discuss how to be a good guy. But instead, how to be a good guy—how to be a good man. Or, in other words, how to be good at being a man.

BE STRONG

What does it mean to be strong? It means that you beat up nerds and stuff them in lockers every chance you get. Duh.

This, I hope, is obviously a joke. Because strength does not mean violence or rage—and it never did. A violent storm can be considered strong. So can a mild current. A storm’s impact is brief and fleeting; the slow current moves mountains and shapes the planet.

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A good man is a strong man. He is not afraid nor ashamed of his strength. And this doesn’t have to mean only physical strength (though it certainly does mean that, too); it can also mean strong beliefs, strong principles, and the strength and courage to defend these beliefs and principles.

A good man uses his strength, not to push down the weak, but to carry the weak on his shoulders—like Atlas carries the world, or like Christ carries his cross. A good man is strong.

2 WAYS TO BECOME A STRONGER MAN, STARTING TODAY:

  1. Read books written by strong men (e.g., J. R. R. Tolkien, C. S. Lewis, G. K. Chesterton, Fulton Sheen, Robert Penn Warren) or read books about strong men (Louis Zamperini, Winston Churchill, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Oskar Schindler). The Bible is another great place to start to see the best (and worst) of men. St. Paul did much of his writing from prison. That’s pretty manly.
  2. Hit up the gym. Or do push-ups each night. You don’t have to be built like The Rock to be a good man, but you should treat your body well and take your physical health seriously.

BE DISCIPLINED

If it helps, there is another word for disciplined . . . “free.”

A good guy is free—free from addiction, free from fear, free from impulsivity.

Most of the sins of men—and I will not deny that history is painted black with too many of them—come down to one simple reality: A man was not in control of himself. He lacked discipline. He was a slave to his impulses. And an impulsive man is a dangerous man.

Self-mastery is the key to being a good man. Denying yourself certain worldly pleasures is not an idea you will hear championed very often. In fact, the media and culture—the same media and culture that tell us how scummy men are—will tell you, “If it feels good, do it.” But a good man is a disciplined man.

A man’s will and his word are everything. Do whatever you can to never break either.

2 WAYS TO BECOME A MORE DISCIPLINED MAN, STARTING TODAY:

  1. Fast. Pick a day of the week and, if you’re healthy enough, don’t eat that day. Or, don’t snack between meals. Or, don’t have sweets on weekdays. The discipline you gain from fasting will spill over into all areas of your life.
  2. Take cold showers. It’s terrible—believe me—but it is one of the ultimate examples of self-denial. You are proving to yourself that you are in control, not your senses or desires.

BE KIND

Good men are kind. Good men rewind. (If you do not understand this reference, ask your dad about his Blockbuster card.)

Kindness is not weakness. I know what you’re thinking: “Nice guys finish last” or “Girls don’t like nice guys!”

The problem here is confusing “nice” with “kind” . . . they are not the same thing. We have too many nice guys and not nearly enough good guys. Nice guys still ogle. Nice guys still “ask for nudes.” Nice guys still look at pornography. Nice guys still grope.

Niceness is a façade. It is an outward presentation—for the sake of the self. Kindness, on the other hand, comes from the heart—for the sake of the other. How can you tell the difference?

A nice man will act a certain way when he knows he is being watched and another way when he knows he isn’t.

A kind man will act the same, virtuous way whether he is being observed or not.

2 WAYS TO BECOME A KINDER MAN, STARTING TODAY:

  1. Practice patience. Understanding that everyone is dealing with their own “stuff” is one of the best things you can do. Give the benefit of the doubt and relax!
  2. Practice humility. One way to do this is to give generously and volunteer often. Another great way to do this is to not let your career or title define who you are. Let your relationships matter most in life, not the horsepower of your car or the square footage of your house—because have you ever met a humble jerk? Yeah. Me neither.

BE CHIVALROUS

There are jars to be opened and bugs to be squashed! Get your shining suit of armor out of storage; it’s time to mount up!

Chivalry has become a bit of a dirty word these days, hasn’t it? Opening the door for a woman is perceived as Bond villain levels of madness. But chivalry, at its most basic, is just the idea that it is man's duty to protect women and children—at all costs.

A loving man is kind, even to his enemies. And the loving man is chivalrous to the point of absurdity.

This ruffles feathers. But think about it. A female wolf can sure as heck take care of herself. But that doesn’t mean the alpha male won’t put his life on the line to defend her (and her pups). It’s not that the woman can’t do it herself; it’s that the man should do it for her.

It’s common sense! Men were designed to protect women and children. It is our role. It is why we are shaped the way we are, it is why we are wired the way we are, and it is why testosterone courses through our bodies.

When a man hurts a woman, when he uses his strength to take advantage of a woman, he is going against nature. He is going against manhood itself.

2 WAYS TO BE A MORE CHIVALROUS MAN, STARTING TODAY:

  1. Stop looking at porn. We are just now learning all the negative side effects of porn and what it can do to a man’s brain. But we both know that the man watching that stuff in the dark, by himself, behind a locked door . . . he is not the-best-version-of-himself.
  2. Call, don’t text. If you want to ask out a girl, pick up the phone and call her. Have the courage to get rejected. Be bold! Be chivalrous!

BE LOVING

Love is the manliest thing you can do.

You were put here to love. Love your wife, love your daughter, love your son, love your friends, love your neighbor, love your co-workers . . .

It is love, above all else, that makes a man a man.

We need more real men, not fewer. Strong men. Disciplined men. Courageous men. Honorable men. Honest men. Loving men.

A loving man has the strength to do the right thing, even when that’s the hard thing. A loving man has the discipline to deny himself the things he knows will bring him (or others) misery. A loving man is kind, even to his enemies. And the loving man is chivalrous to the point of absurdity.

A real man loves with everything he’s got.

2 WAYS TO BE A MORE LOVING MAN, STARTING TODAY:

  1. Practice romance. Write poetry or love letters. Cook your wife or girlfriend dinner. Surprise your beloved without an agenda. And if you are single, love your future wife by being the best man you can be.
  2. Die for your family. Each day. It is your duty to serve your wife and kids. Even after a 10-hour day and a 7-day week of work—this is your purpose. There is no “what’s in it for me” . . . your wife and kids come before you (and your career). Be present. Listen. Sacrifice.

We need more real men, not fewer. Strong men. Disciplined men. Kind men. Chivalrous men. Courageous men. Honorable men. Honest men. Manly men. Loving men. These are the qualities of a good man. These are the qualities of a man you’d want your daughter to marry.

Basically, what I am saying is this:

If you want to be a good man . . . BE A MAN!

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