Dear fellow Men,
We’ve maneuvered ourselves into a tricky situation. The role of women in society has evolved. Making space for that, was the right thing to do. Equality of all genders is a great vision for humanity. However, I sometimes feel like we have neglected our masculinity somewhere along the way. So much has changed for the better and so much will continue to change for the better. Yet, what it means to be a man can still be framed in the original box of an action man figure from 1966. That’s how simplistic and tiny manhood continues to be.
Being strong is our fiercest virtue. Being emotionally indifferent is our requirement for acceptance.
“Boys don’t cry.”
We’ve been told when falling off the playground’s swing.
I still remember a common inner monologue I had while hands-free shooting down the hill on my black mountain bike with orange highlights to visit my best high school buddy:
“I haven’t cried in 1.5 years. Amazing! That means I am strong, I can take a beating without losing my composure. I am on a good way. Sometimes I am still bothered by some other things not going so great in my life. I can’t wait to that day where I am able to resist those feelings as well.”
What a fool I was. Transforming myself into the human version of a brick because I feared the unanimous ridicule of the locker room council.
Oh boy, do we struggle.
And it’s all because of our fear of rejection. It’s ironic. We’ve become so good at shutting our emotions off that one could think our pain doesn’t matter anyways - a flawed impression.
We ain't pornstars.
I had to overcome a mental straddle to internalize that the amount of penis that my body was equipped with is enough. My feelings of inadequacy were so deeply rooted that I doubted whether the global statistics for penis length are correct. Delusionally, I concluded it was plausible that scientists agreed to publish lower averages so that guys would feel better about themselves. I rejected the scientific German average of 14.52 cm and imposed anecdotal (porn) standards on myself (WorldData, 2021). Here, I want to use this opportunity to greet my pole models Johnny Sins, Manuel Ferreira, and last but certainly not least Mandingo.
Of course, our bodies offer many opportunities for worry: Hair loss, too much hair, weak chin, too chubby, too thin, undefined V-taper, the list goes on.
Fueled by porn, Instagram and the selfie culture, our physical insecurities consume our confidence.
Life is a performance.
We define ourselves through our competence and the acknowledgment thereof. We profile ourselves over who can write more lines of code, who bench presses bigger barbells, or even who moves Mario faster around the Moo Moo Farm. My favorite: Who can pour poisonous liquid faster down their throat without coughing up the burger they had for dinner.
No matter what we do, it becomes a trial. The never-ending feeling of having to prove ourselves creates a whole lot of pressure.
Brrzzzz. "Ah fuck, nothing goes, again."
Welcome to the manly matrix of performance anxiety. A place that we all know too well. 30 - 40% of us are or have been struggling with premature ejaculation and about 20% of men have problems with erectile dysfunction (Carson & Gun, 2006; Selvin & Platz, 2007). Some high ass numbers if you ask me.
I personally am more of a red pill guy (in this case PE, don't worry). You can read my story and how to overcome premature ejaculation here.
Our issues are self-made. Why don’t we take it easy for once? Why don’t we keep our degrading comments towards ourselves to ourselves? Why don’t we offer our brothers an ear of compassion instead of seizing the opportunity to mouth our manliness? Because we fear that we lose our spot in the hierarchy.
I stopped bothering about my spot a while ago. You can have it. I dare you, to stop worrying about yours.
Affirmations are few and far in between.
Think back, when was the last time that someone gave you a sincere compliment? Take your time. I know, it's been a while. Now, think about how you felt when receiving this compliment.
A year ago I was invited to speak at my first podcast episode ever - together with my Co-Founder at the time. I was super nervous about the whole thing because I never liked my voice. To me, it always sounded kind of weak and too high for a man. Anyways, I signed up for it, and I am a man of my word and I went through with the recording. When the host sent us the Spotify link I felt this uneasy feeling in my stomach. I was insecure about how it turned out and I didn't even dare to open the link. The day after the release, my Co-Founder (Bastian) told me that his sister said that she thought that I had a pleasant voice to listen to - honey to my ears. On the outside acting all cool I answered with a firm “thanks”. But on the inside, I was celebrating like Bastian just awarded me with Olympic Gold. I was ecstatic, to say the least. This simple compliment had me in an elated mood for the next two weeks.
The compliments we receive, especially from other men, are mostly materialistic (Wolfson & Judd, 1983). It's much easier for us to share admiration for a lad's new watch rather than his sharp looks. While women go all the way, we are timid when it comes to kind words (ibid.). Women go all the way. Women "love the way your eyes glow.” And men? We say: "Nice car." or "I like your shirt." We play it safe. We just can't risk being perceived as non-heterosexual - too bad.
Which compliment would you rather get, one about a thing that you bought or one about you as a human, something defining? Ultimately, we all pay the price for our inability to overcome our insecurities. We all crave affirmation. Yet, we deny it ourselves.
Join the bold and tell your buddy how much your friendship means to you.
We need to talk.
The world out there is tough and unforgiving. Taking care of our mental health is more relevant than ever. Many of us suffer in silence. We are far less likely to seek therapy than women - sometimes with final consequences (Vogel et al., 2011). We are 3 - 4 times as likely to commit suicide compared to women (Lifeline, 2021). We are too afraid to get help, to open up. Even when our lives are at stake.
We repress a whole bunch of stuff. Emotions want to be felt and expressed. Talking about our feelings might feel weird at first but it surely does have many health benefits (Smyth, Pennebaker, Arigo, 2012). Being vulnerable in front of our comrades builds bonds that last a lifetime. Human connection and belongingness are the treasures of life. Prevailing over your weaker self won't get more rewarding. If you seek fulfillment, you've found it.
A simple conversation can change lives.
Ever since I can remember, I have had a shy bladder. Paruresis is a phobia that makes it difficult to urinate when others are around. I went out of my way of hiding it. I was always worried that my buddies might find out and make fun of me. It was hella stressful and I struggled with it for a long time. I used to plan my day around having regular access to safe toilets. My fear was limiting me. It was tying my comfort zone to a bathroom stall. Stuff like hiking can get freaking stressful if you have to hold it in for the whole trip. I was ashamed and I felt like I had to deal with this alone. For years I was stagnating.
Until I started telling one of my friends. He didn't make fun of me, he accepted me even with this weird quirk of mine. Nothing changed for him. We had the same friendship that we used to have. It was no big deal. I am thankful for his reaction, I am thankful for our friendship. Because of me opening up and him listening, I finally started to make real progress. For me, this conversation was life-changing.
Opening up requires courage.
Our brains are super good at convincing us that it's better to keep quiet. The bravery required to talk about your feelings with your guy friends is immense. It's the 21st Century equivalent of slaying dragons. Start with small things first. You don't have to whip out your biggest insecurity right after closing this page. For instance, talk about how you are nervous because of a difficult project or conversation at work. Slowly build that trust with your peers and establish a culture of open communication. You can also tell them that you've read this article and that you want to evolve your friendships too. You can even share this article with them so that they know what you mean. At the end of the day, you and your buddies are on the same team and within a team, you support each other. Give your friends a chance to have your back.
Male vulnerability transforms lives
I am part of what I have denounced here. I have been mocking friends and all that to protect my own rank within my community. I vouched to stop. I want to be a contributor, not an undertaker.
If you take one thing from this, then make one of your buddies a genuine compliment today. A simple “you are looking good my man.” will make his day. You can keep the “no homo” parachute in the bag. We are past that. It would just dampen the impact of your words.
Your act of kindness will be paid forward. I did it, 10 minutes ago. I told my housemate that his new coat reminds me of the matrix and that he looks amazing in it. He felt great about himself and headed out into the night with a big grin on his face. This is impact my boys.
We can change the world if we choose mutual support over dominance. You are part of the change. Your choices matter. Be a supporter, be a man.
Carson, C., & Gunn, K. (2006). Premature ejaculation: definition and prevalence. International journal of impotence research, 18(1), S5-S13.
Johnson, D. M., & Roen, D. H. (1992). Complimenting and involvement in peer reviews: Gender variation1. Language in society, 21(1), 27-57.
Lifeline. (2021). Data & Statistics - Lifeline Australia. Available at: URL [Accessed 19 October 2021].
Selvin, E., Burnett, A. L., & Platz, E. A. (2007). Prevalence and risk factors for erectile dysfunction in the US. The American journal of medicine, 120(2), 151-157.
Smyth, J. M., Pennebaker, J. W., & Arigo, D. (2012). What are the health effects of disclosure?.
Vogel, D. L., Heimerdinger-Edwards, S. R., Hammer, J. H., & Hubbard, A. (2011). “Boys don't cry”: Examination of the links between endorsement of masculine norms, self-stigma, and help-seeking attitudes for men from diverse backgrounds. Journal of counseling psychology, 58(3), 368.
Wolfson, N., & Judd, E. (1983). Sociolinguistics and Language Acquisition. Newbury House Publishers, Inc, Rowley, MA 0l969.
WorldData. (2021). Average penis size by country: worldwide comparison. Available at: URL [Accessed 15 October 2021]