We're an affiliate
We hope you love the products we recommend! Just so you know, we may collect a share of sales or other compensation from the links on this page at no additional cost to you. Thank you if you use our links, we really appreciate it!
Today’s dating culture is a challenging road to navigate for men. Hell, to be a man in general is difficult enough. As males, there are expectations we must meet in order to keep our “man cards”. There are also standards placed on us by females to be considered desirable. If we don’t fit the description, we don’t stand a chance. And if we don’t meet these standards, who’s ever going to want us? This is what we’re supposed to believe, at least.
Don’t get me wrong. There are plenty of guys in happy, healthy relationships and marriages. But maintaining these relationships often prove difficult. To manage our own day to day living is no small task. Most of us work or are in school. Many of us are in debt. Several of us have children. While all of these are common life stressors, to handle everything that comes with caring for our partner adds more pressure to our lives. Which is awesome! Being in a healthy relationship with your loved one is one of the most rewarding experiences you’ll have in life. But what if you’re in a dysfunctional relationship? What happens when the arguments increase? How do you handle trust issues? Infidelity? Money problems? All these factors can damage your relationships if you’re not equipped to handle these problems.
In this blog series, we will highlight the concepts of personal wellness, value, and self-worth. We’ll break down negative stereotypes associated with male attractiveness and desirability. We will discuss dating and relationships. We’ll focus on identifying an ideal partner, how to handle breakups, and how to build a strong foundation for current and future relationships.
My hope is that whether you’re starting a new relationship, currently in a committed relationship, or recently endured a breakup, you will be able to take something from this blog to better yourself. Because through self-improvement, we put ourselves in a better position to uplift those around us. Ladies, feel free to read along as well…
What does it mean to be a man in 2020? If you let social media tell you, you have to be at least 6’, have a 6 pack, and bench a minimum of 300lbs. Of course, you have to post your locker room selfies and workout videos so you can show off your gainz. By the way, you have to make at least $100,000 per year. You should have been with at least 20 girls by the time you graduated college. Extra perks if you have a dog. This somehow has become the benchmark for the ideal man, or the “Alpha”, as the bros call it. Women are culprits when perpetuating these labels as well. Although, females are additionally subjected to the unfair expectations of ideal attractiveness (likely much more than we are).
While these characteristics are what some may aspire to be, achieving such isn’t always realistic. For context, the average height for American men is 5 feet, 9 inches (National Center for Health Statistics), and the average income for men does not exceed $60,216 (Bureau of Labor Statistics). In the case of both sexes, if you don’t fit into one of these “desirable” categories, how might this impact your self-esteem? These unrealistic stigmas placed on both genders can increase the potential for poor self-image, faulty expectations, and poor outcomes in our romantic encounters.
Know Your Worth
So, what’s the solution? Self-identity! We as men must be aware of who we are and who we are not. Additionally, we need to be comfortable being ourselves (but don’t mistake comfort for complacence). Strive to be your best self instead of being what society says you should be. You don’t need to make $100,000 a year to be successful, but it’s a good idea to stack your paper and work on bettering your career. You don’t have to have a 6 pack to be attractive, but you probably should be working out for your own wellness. Lastly, you don’t have to be over 6’ to be considered attractive.
For perspective, Mark Wahlberg and Kevin Hart are 5’7” and 5’ 4” respectively. Yes, I know they’re celebrities… But there are shorter, less famous men in your city who are getting girls. And if she won’t go out with you because she says you’re too short or don’t make enough money, she might wind up in a terrible relationship anyways because she prioritized height and money over being a decent human.
Dating in the Age of Technology
Social media has influenced perception of what it means to be attractive or desirable. It has also shaped how we interact and communicate. In 2020, we are more likely to communicate with our friends, family, and colleagues through impersonal means (text messaging, DMs, email), rather than face to face communication. This has also transitioned into the dating realm.
Certainly, people are still capable of meeting at school, work, through a friend, at the club, and via other social events. Online dating platforms such as Match, Tinder, and Bumble have made meeting people much more accessible. While social media and dating sites have their advantages, they may promote a challenging communication barrier, as well as a superficial prioritization of characteristics when trying to find an ideal partner (You probably didn’t swipe right because of her bio).
With an increased accessibility of dating options, the stage is set for more casual dating, as opposed to dating for longevity. I’ve heard the rationale of “I’m just doin’ me.”, and “I’m not looking for anything serious”. And that’s perfectly fine. If you’re looking for casual conversation, meeting new people, or just wanting to get laid, go for it. But finding your ideal partner may prove easier said than done, if these are your priorities.
In order to have a quality relationship, it begins with you. It’s important to be in a healthy frame of mind in order to handle the challenges which come in a romantic relationship. Although you can certainly work on these areas while in the relationship, it’s a major challenge to take on another person’s unique thoughts, beliefs, experience, and worldview. It’s important to mentally prepare for taking such a responsibility. Recall the “airplane analogy”. In the event of an emergency, you must put on your oxygen mask before you help the person next to you.
In my opinion, self-care is paramount to any successful relationship. Keep in mind that self-care is a work in progress, so there’s no benchmark that determines when you’re ready for a relationship. It’s a constant requirement. And if you’re in a relationship, self-care is required to maintain your wellness. Self-care is key to managing the stress that comes with relationships. Examples of common self-care activities include:
- Exercise/physical fitness
- Mindfulness based activity (Yoga, Guided Meditation, Relaxation Training)
- Spending additional time with your close friends and family member
- Processing your relationship (or end of relationship) with a therapist
If you really want to dive DEEP into creating your own self-care plan, check out the Supportive Father’s self-care course and 30-Day challenge. These offerings will provide comprehensive self-care tips, enable you to reflect, journal, and apply what you learn to your life.
Finding a Partner
Know what you’re looking for but keep an open mind. It is extremely important to reflect on your own personal values, beliefs, aspirations, in addition to developing an idea of what you’d like in your ideal partner. If you don’t know what you want in a relationship, you may settle for the first girl that gives you a chance, and ultimately end up questioning the relationship if things don’t go well.
Reflect on the type of person with whom you envision yourself. Are you comfortable with someone who is of a different spiritual background than yours? Different culture? If you’re outgoing, would you be okay with someone who is more introverted. Would you be willing to date someone who has children? What would it be like to date someone who lives out of state? While I don’t personally believe that any of these are deal breakers, it’s important to understand the extent to which you’re willing to persevere for the sake of another person. Keep in mind that in healthy relationships, you aren’t simply dating someone. You are combining the essence of two unique humans, which is easier said than done.
Know why you’re getting into the relationship (or why you’re in your current relationship). Why is the person you’re with desirable? Is it because of her personality? Do you like that she is goal oriented? Do you have similar hobbies? Is it because she has a big ol booty? All the above are cool! In fact, physical attraction is likely one of the first things men and women identify when searching for a prospective partner.
Now, you might be thinking “Didn’t you just bash girls that claim to only date tall guys?” I’m not naïve to the reality of physical attraction. There are many characteristics that serve as variables of attractiveness. However, if you prioritize physical attraction and neglect, overlook, or disregard other key features of what it takes to have a satisfying relationship, you might find yourself in a conundrum moving forward. Additionally, if you are too rigid with your preferences, you may be excluding the chance to find someone truly worthwhile.
So, if you swiped right because of that booty, that’s okay…. We as people are attracted physiologically by physical aesthetics. Keep in mind that there is a neurotransmitter, oxytocin, which has a few different purposes. We can describe oxytocin as “The love hormone”, giving us those warm and fuzzy feelings when we’re close to someone that we deem attractive, or emotionally valuable. While this is great for budding relationships, understand that these feelings may not be as intense weeks, months, years in your relationship. So that glowing personality that was previously mentioned is going to come in handy once the honeymoon period ends…
Also, keep in mind that there are going to be girls who just aren’t that interested in you. There’s a strong chance that at one point in your life, you had an interest in someone who did not reciprocate the same feeling. It’s okay. Just because a person isn’t giving you the time of day doesn’t mean there’s something wrong with you. This is not an indictment of you. Rather, this is a decision by someone else that is out of your control. The cognition of personalizing a rejection can be a killer to one’s self esteem and lead to problems with insecurity.
Alternatively, this does not mean there is anything wrong with them either. Avoid the mentality of “She’s playing hard to get”, “She’s stuck up”, or “Screw her. I can have any girl I want”. Refer to the notion of toxic masculinity. You are not God’s gift to women. If she doesn’t have any interest in you, keep it moving.
Richard Pryor described heartbreak as a rite of passage; Something every man must go through at least once in their life in order to “graduate”. Life experiences can be a double-edged sword. They can help promote better outcomes. Alternatively, it can lead a person to adopt unhealthy ways of dealing with outcomes. With dating and relationships, this is no different.
If you have recently ended a relationship, I’m sorry to hear it. You likely require more self-care, compared to under normal circumstances. Working through the end of your relationship can be either enlightening or destructive. Remember, the idea is to learn from our experiences, whether good or bad. Breakups hurt. They can leave a person emotionally pained, confused, resentful, or in some cases traumatized.
Do not underestimate to the benefit of therapy to get you through this period. You’ll have a personal guide to help you navigate this life transition, probably in a more constructive way than you would yourself. However, there remains a stigma among men when discussing their problems (i.e. “Therapy is for p**ssies”, “Man up”). If you do not have the outlets to effectively process your emotional pain (which we all have. It’s a part of being human), chances are those emotions will be avoided, “stuffed”, neglected, or manifested in unhealthy ways. Here are negative examples of coping:
- Getting hammered with the boys every Friday night
- One-night stands
- Placing blame on yourself or your partner for the end of the relationship
Remember, negative outcomes can lead to a reinforcement of negative perceptions, emotions, and coping skills if we are not careful. Avoiding the problem and using unhealthy coping skills often perpetuate the problem, thus leading to potentially poor habits in future relationships.