How to be the manliest man in the universe (with or without a beard)

I decided to take a jab at this manliness issue. It’s an issue to me because I think there’s a misunderstanding of what manliness is for guys in this life. And no one has bothered to clarify it without coming across as, well too manly. Because the internet has raised manliness on a different pedestal altogether.

Okay so, what is manliness eh? 

It seems like the internet has concluded that it’s all about beards, beers, muscles and generally being a badass. A man of manliness has all the physical aspects of looking manly while he supposedly does badass things, most of which are really physical and focus on the…. (I’m trying to find an appropriate description now) tough + traditional side of things, like putting out a fire.

And then you can find examples of manly dudes everywhere. Some are mere celebrities. Some are “heroes” who save lives and shit.

That’s all good, but I personally thing manliness goes way deeper. Why? Because this is life. It’s always subjective. There’re so many nuances involved in the human thanks to emotions, culture, lifestyle and societal expectations, all rolled together in one.

One person’s idea of manliness is another person’s chance to smirk, point, laugh and ridicule.

Even a woman can be manly. And that’s cool.

Manliness needs sensitivity

It does.

Straight up, a real man knows how to be sensitive of the needs of others and himself. That’s all. That’s what real sensitivity is. It’s too bad the idea of sensitivity today is butchered and dismissed to be sissy-like, girly or “gay”. That’s a very one-sided opinion.

And so, a real man doesn’t ignore feelings, be it his own or others. He follows his heart more than anything, while also making sure he acknowledges how others feel.

Manliness needs to get rid of boyliness

A man is not a boy. Immaturity and childishness need to be shed. A boy becomes a man when he toughens up physically, mentally and spiritually. That being said, he does things that may upset others, because he needs to watch out for his own feelings (sensitivity again).

Also, a touch of class has to be put in the mix. He has to have mannerisms that are impressive to others as they acknowledge how secure he is acting the way he is.

Manliness needs brains

A real man isn’t stupid. He doesn’t do stupid shit. He is intelligent. But of course… intelligence alone is subjective. Questions of what, why and how he learns stuff come to mind.

Manliness needs evolution

Extending the idea of intelligence, a man is always learning and evolving. He is changing according to how he feels, wherever he is and whatever that goes around him.

We all change. Get over it.

Manliness needs realness

So, combine sensitivity, getting rid of boyliness, brains and the constant need to evolve, we have to bring it realness. We all need to be real.

A real man keeps it real. I can’t describe this idea any deeper without sounding too contradictory or confusing, so let me try to be clear with some questions:

How manly is a man if he acts all self-centered and shit as he ignores how others feel? Yet, how manly does he come across as if he’s so sensitive that he cries over little things?

How manly is a man if he has an awesome beard, when in actual fact he simply grew one because others told him to? Is it very manly if he secretly hates it so much that doesn’t like what sees in the mirror?

How manly is a man if he is classy enough to order his “manly” drink at the bar, wearing a suit and all, but gets drunk and totally shitfaced after one glass only? Yes. Such people do exist. One glass and they’re a goner.

How manly is a man when he thinks he’s only manly because he  reads Art of Manliness, when in actual fact, he’s so socially awkward he can’t even talk to anybody?

How manly is it to take care of your girlfriend, when actually you don’t love her at all?

It can go on and on.

Manliness is subjective. It has to be real. Here’s my real, yet very subjective guide then:

How to be the manliest man in the universe (with or without beard)

1) Ignore a little pain



Keyword: Little.

If it’s just a little bit, then just move the fuck on and stop whining.

Don’t ignore a huge ass amount of pain. That’s stupid. If you’re hurting inside, take some time to reflect before you move on. Talk to others even. If you’re suffering from a lot of physical pain, go see a doctor.

2) Toughen up by daring yourself to do shit you’ve never done before

In otherwise, get over your fears and do it. Feel fucked up and do it anyway.

I personally don’t think it’s very manly to only take up challenges which you already know beforehand you’d succeed, but ignore the ones that scare you a little.


 Otherwise, you’re Commodus from Gladiator.

3) Find your own challenges

That’s right. Your own.

With so many ideas of manliness out there, it’s easy to be waylaid and think that you need to do this or that just because others say so. But it’s not manly to keep caring about what others think.

Combine this with the second point above though. The worthy challenges are the ones that scare you.

4) Never ignore your own feelings

A real man is never denial of how he feels. Never.

All things being equal, yes, you need to balance it out with people around you, your challenges and ultimately toughening up, which does consist of ignoring your feelings sometimes.

Hence, an easy way for a man to be in tune with his feelings, his heart is to find passion. Find that passion, keep at it, and the rest will take care of itself. It really works.

5) Believe in something even greater than yourself

I think a real man believes in life. He believes that life is unpredictable and despite having passion and all that, he needs to know how he fits in this world.

A real man can do this easily without being too philosophical or over one’s head.

You just have to be compassionate. Show kindness and help those in need, without expecting anything in return. Thus, you can start including all those “manly” activities like learning how to put out a fire, how to fix the roof, how to chop wood or whatever.

6) Decisiveness

Because only little bitches are wishy-washy and take forever to make a decision. A real man thinks, then makes a firm decision.

And once a decision is made, he doesn’t bother to look back. He looks forward.

7) Make sure it all works together for great social interaction

Why? Because people are superficial. We all judge. First impressions do count. Get over it.

Unless you’re a hermit living in the mountains, which I doubt you are, you’re going to encounter people in life non-stop, and you have to deal with them. This is where your mannerisms come into play. Add in class if you want to be impressive.

Yet of course, again, like finding your own challenges, only deal with the people you care for. Ignore the fuckers and drop the toxic relationships in your life. If you just met an asshole for the first time, politely take your leave rather than try to outwit him with words, or worse, your fists. It’s not very manly to lower your league for short-lived satisfaction that really doesn’t matter in the grand scheme of things.

I once knew a guy who considered himself manly. He knew what to say and how to act to both guys and girls. Then I found out he was actually an insecure loser who needed all the attention to validate himself. E.g. During World Cup season, he would read up on soccer in the news so he could fit in with his soccer-loving friends. He did not care for soccer, neither did he play the sport at all. Notice how fucking stupid he also was as he could have… oh I don’t know… watch a soccer game or just go kick the ball around instead?

There you have it.

If I’d to sum it up, manliness is all about having passion, challenging yourself in life, helping others and making sure it unfolds nicely so that you don’t appear socially awkward in front of others.

And you don’t need a beard, suit or a beer in your hand to go along with any of that. Looks aren’t that important. There’re a ton of manly dudes out there battling cancer.

What’s your idea of manliness? Let me know in the comments.

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  1. Dana - February 20, 2014 2:52 pm

    I think one very important addition is to be man enough to be a father to your child. Your own partying, whoring and thinking of only yourself while failing is a father…not a man in my opinion.

    • alden - February 20, 2014 4:05 pm

      Great point. I never thought of that. When one has a child, one definitely has to grow up.

      • laura - January 8, 2018 7:09 am

        I Want try

  2. Warren - February 20, 2014 3:23 pm

    This is a kick-ass article Alden! The topic of manliness has been über interesting for me the last 8-12 months, been studying a lot about it, and you’re really hittin nails on the head here, especially choosing your own challenges and path based on fears and passions, sharin this shit now.

    • alden - February 20, 2014 4:04 pm

      Thanks dude! Yeah manliness articles are everywhere nowadays eh?

  3. David Tay - February 21, 2014 1:14 am

    A trait of manliness is someone who dares to fail and is never shy to put his idea forward without fear of ridicule

    • alden - February 21, 2014 11:27 pm


    • alden - February 21, 2014 11:27 pm

      Only little boys are insecure over… everything.

  4. Pingback: 13 things you probably didn't know about me // | Alden Tan| Alden Tan

  5. Wan - April 10, 2014 11:42 am

    Too much of the manliness dogma nowadays is about muscle building and being macho.

    Awesome post and I like how you mention sensitivity as important for a man.

  6. John - July 2, 2014 9:41 pm

    This is a really good summary of a lot of great ideas that are going around these days. At the same time, it brings uniqueness to. A good balance.

    I would like to point out one thing though. While there is an inappropriate number of views of masculinity as based in physical and “being macho” (as Wan called it). On the other hand though, the education system that I have experienced is really pushing boys to hard the other way. Focusing to much on feelings and sensitivity without balancing it with a healthy body, and even mind. What sites like yours are doing great is helping men find a balance between those two extremes.

  7. Matt - March 30, 2016 1:46 am

    I’m not sure how old you are man, but you speak the way I thought when I was roughly 12, 13.

    The real truth of the matter is that most manly men don’t write blogs. They actually go out and act like men. And people like us who read these blogs, which is mostly nonsense and bullshit, will probably only become a man in a frat boy sense of the idea. You were closer to the idea of manliness when you spoke about putting out fires.

    I open myself up to criticism because I didn’t have the digestive power to finish this article. But you did say some good things near the end, when you spoke about challenging yourself in life. Manliness is first and foremost the ability to protect and provide for those we care about. To be a reliable man. One who shows up everyday. And on time.

    If you want to see what men are like, read books like “Fearless” By Eric Blehm, or “American Sniper”. Watch the movie Lone survivor. We’re getting away from all the iron qualities that make men men, in an attempt for a bunch of meterosexual frat boys to convince themselves their men by redefining the defintion. But the truth is, qualities of manhood are pretty well immutable, even with the increasing “pussification” of society.

    If you go work in the oil fields, or go build railroads, or are in the woods for an extended period of time, you will see what manliness is. And it hasn’t really changed.

  8. mahaanand - August 1, 2016 9:38 am

    This is an awesome article. And u described it in a different class.The sensitivity part is the masterpiece.


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