How to Be a Man

Like this. Only metaphorically.

Like this. Only metaphorically.

I’m going to turn 35 in 2014. Just a few short months from now.

My life is not what I thought it would be.

But, to borrow a phrase from a wonderful song: Tell me when it ever really is.

I have no choice but to deal in reality.

I’m trapped firmly in the middle class, with just enough money to almost keep up the appearances of moderate success, but not have the financial resources to truly live.

I’m an office drone with about five bosses. I live in the suburbs. I have a five-year-old son who is my top priority.

But I can’t be a good father to him if I can’t even like and respect myself.

And to like and respect myself, I need to live with purpose.

I need to be progressing mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually.

I need to be progressing in my career—whether it be within the ranks of the corporate world or finding the mettle to strike off on my own.

I need to be progressing in my human relationships. After a 12-year relationship with my ex-wife, I can’t get it out of my head that I want more of that.

Even if casual was my thing, I suck at attracting women like that. I’m not sure who the girl on the couch with me on a Friday night, or on my arm at a Saturday night party, or who I see first thing in the morning is supposed to be. But I’m looking forward to meeting her.

She’s looking for a man.

What does that mean? To be a man?

The Guide to Being a Man 

GSElevator—a blog operated by Goldman Sachs—published recently a guide to being a man in 2013. It’s clearly geared toward New York City Guy, not Suburban Ohio Guy.

Even though places like New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, San Francisco, etc., have the highest concentration of people, there are still more of us out here in the middle than in all of those places.

So, let’s borrow from the smart guys at Goldman Sachs. And lets toss in a little Random Ohio Guy opinion, too.

As always, your criticism and suggestions are welcome.

Things to do:

Learn how to cook.

For yourself. But mostly for her. I once read a hilarious blogger write that he once overheard a girl say: “A guy who’s hot in the kitchen is hot in the bedroom,” and he’s been honing his culinary skills ever since. I cook because I love cooking. If women like it, too? Bonus dot com.

When in doubt, always kiss the girl.

Cheating and bad breath (always carry gum or mints!) aside, of course. If you’re wondering whether you should, try. Be courageous. Worst-case scenario, she pulls away. The results are the same as you never trying at all.

Act like you’ve been there before.

No matter where you are. Exhibit class. Graciousness. Confidence.

Be spontaneous.

Don’t shirk critical responsibilities. But ALWAYS seek unexpected adventures—big or small.

Never be fatter than you were at 30.

And if you were heavy then, do something about it. Living longer is almost always better than the alternative.

Measure yourself only against your previous self.

You can’t be as tall as him. You can’t be as smart as him. You can’t be as funny as him. You can’t be in as good of shape as him. You can’t be as rich as him. What you can do is walk taller, read books, be yourself, work out, and always be growing professionally.

Buy the drinks. Buy the dinners.

I know it’s almost 2014. I don’t care. Be a gentleman.

If you are wittier than you are handsome, avoid loud bars.

If you’re going to charm her with words, it’s not going to be while drunkenly yelling into her ear.

Never take an ex back. She tried to do better and is settling with you.

Ouch.

Read more.

All great ideas are born from other great ideas masterfully mixed with your own.

Things to avoid:

Wearing ear muffs.

Do not wear ear muffs. Or mittens. Ever.

Talking about where you went to college.

No one cares. I have four words for you: Google. Scholar. Is. Free.

Having more than one girlfriend.

One’s enough. If you want a new one, let the first one go. Be a player if you must. Just be an honest one.

Driving a compact car that isn’t really fast.

Your Yaris isn’t cool. I’m sorry. Neither is your Smart car with the Rudolph nose and antlers.

That final round before closing time.

You’ve had enough. You’re wasting money, brain-power and sexual functionality.

Saying your clothes match.

They do not. They go together. Look the part.

Dating your friend’s ex.

Just don’t.

Saying no to fun because it might shave years off the end of your life (smoking aside).

It’s not stupid to sacrifice part of your 80s and 90s in exchange for guaranteed fun now. We are not promised tomorrow.

As a divorced father, the cause I’ve grown to care about more than any other is wanting to help families stay together. The ripple effects of broken homes and divorce are great.

Above all else, being a man is putting your wife and family’s needs ahead of your own.

Every day. Like a soldier. Words like duty. Like honor. Like code. Can apply to your marriage and parenting, too.

So, when you’re reading those books, take time to learn how to be the best husband and father you can be also.

Because that’s how you help change the world.

That’s how to be a man.

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38 thoughts on “How to Be a Man

  1. “Never take an ex back. She tried to do better and is settling with you.”

    Hell yes, to hell with that. An ex is an ex for a reason. Especially if they did the leaving but tried to come back.

    Like

  2. mel says:

    This SHOULD actually be titled ‘How to be a GOOD man’.

    This wasn’t for me, I’m not a man, but it got me anyway. Marriage first. That’s what I read. To be good, you have to be good, through and through.

    Even when no one is looking. Especially when no one is looking…

    Like

  3. Sofia Leo says:

    Your ‘Do’ list is spot on, especially about cooking – a man who knows his way around the kitchen is sexy as hell.

    I have to (mildly) disagree with a couple items on your ‘don’t’ list, though –

    “Do not wear ear muffs. Or mittens. Ever.” Unless you’re manly enough to pull it off – I met a man once who was wearing mittens over gloves. They were waxed canvas with a leather palm and he was working at a stable hauling water for the horses because the lines were all frozen. Sexy as hell. Or I’m just a sucker for a man dressed head to toe in Carhartt :-) Never wear ear muffs, however – that’s never sexy…

    “Your Yaris isn’t cool.” I like a Yaris, too. God, I’m such a geek. A Yaris tells the world you’re Eco-conscious and don’t have to drive a Penismobile to prove you’re a man. Adding a nose at this time of year says you don’t take yourself too seriously, have a sense of humor and like to laugh.

    Of course, both can be done wrong, but when done right, well :-)

    Like

  4. mewhoami says:

    Wow…not a single one. Impressive! :) (You know what I’m talking about)

    Your list is great! As a woman you’re right on target. I’d like to add three to your list if I could. 1) A good sense of humor. Do it without be crude or overbearing. 2) Be a good listener. However, with that said, if she cries throughout the whole dinner you may want to back away quietly while you still can. :) 3) Be the real ‘you’. Women love and appreciate honesty and it is OK to show some emotion. That tells us that the man has a heart and is capable of love.

    You’ll find her. Whoever she is.

    Like

    • Matt says:

      Did I avoid bad words this ENTIRE post!?!?! HOLY SH-…

      Just kidding.

      I’m sorry I use bad language! This is proof, though, that I don’t do it on purpose! I just write the word that feels right at the time. *shrug*

      Thank you for your contributions. Thank you for reading even though you consider me offensive. Thank you for being kind.

      And thank you for your vote of confidence. I hope you’re right. :)

      Like

      • mewhoami says:

        Thanks for the laugh! Trust me, if I thought you were too offensive I wouldn’t read your posts anymore. Truth is, your honesty and well thought out post topics greatly out weigh your occasional ‘bad’ language. Those are two things that I truly appreciate from your blog. You’re a good writer and your experiences have taught you well. Many of us, me included, can gain a lot from that.

        Like

  5. David says:

    Don’t take an ex back? OK, that makes some sense, but there is NO WAY I’d put that as a hard-and-fast rule. I have a small chance of violating this rule and would, if I could. Would it be wise? It depends. Still, it can’t always be wrong. Just that kind of hope (without really having to decide) helps me sometimes.

    As for gloves, I avoid them to avoid losing them. All the gloves in the world come pre-lost for me!

    Then again, I’m just an OK man, aiming to be better.

    Like

  6. “I need to be progressing mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually.

    I need to be progressing in my career—whether it be within the ranks of the corporate world or finding the mettle to strike off on my own.

    I need to be progressing in my human relationships. After a 12-year relationship with my ex-wife, I can’t get it out of my head that I want more of that.”

    Give yourself a little credit. From the little I observe you are doing quite well in the progression department. I like the awesome song. Now I’m listening to Dave Mathews which Youtube decided to match with Red and Blue.

    Like

    • Matt says:

      Lot of good lyrics writing in Red Wanting Blue’s music. Someone clicked on it! Awesome.

      Thank you for reading. And for the compliments.

      I’m trying. Not hard enough sometimes. But my heart’s pretty much always in the right place. And I’d like to think that counts for something.

      Like

    • daytightliving says:

      Hear hear! I totally agree. Being aware and wanting to change are steps most people never even get to.

      Like

  7. Where I come from, refusing to wear ear muffs and mittens does not make you a man. It just makes you frostbitten.

    Like

  8. daytightliving says:

    Being a gentleman is one thing that’s really important to me in a man. It’s trulyt art.

    As for cooking, definitely sexy, but more because it shows a desire to be helfpul and to do a little caretaking for she who is usually the caretaker of all. You don’t have to be a gourmet cook. All you have to do is maybe have 2 or 3 solid things in your rotation and you’re freaking golden! You could strike a bargain in that if you cook, she helps clean up, but you’ll get major mega bonus points if you commit to doing it all yourself, start to finish, and then you do.

    Food Network frippery not necessary. Not only ok to follow a recipe, but recommended. It’s the foresight and consideration that will please your woman, not necessarily the food.

    On the flip side, I do want to mention the importance of women telling their men what they want/need. I was not very good at this and learning how to do it is taking more effort than I’d anticipated. But it’s getting easier as the person I’m telling is responding in kind and showing that he hears me and that what I say matters to him.

    We can’t assume our men know what we want.

    In my continuing quest to not repeat the mistakes I made in my marriage, I not only raise it up when something is bothering me, but when something makes me REALLY happy. When I appreciate something, I never miss the chance to express that. Because the feeling is genuine, and everyone likes to feel appreciated.

    For example, I’m currently enjoying having the car door opened for me.

    Yes, really. In 2013.

    He did it once or twice early on, and after thinking about it and tearing up when I thought about it, I told him flat out: “You know how you open the car door for me? Well, that makes me feel very special and feminine and I need you to continue to do that.” This represented a HUGE change for me. He simply smiled and from that day onward, that is how we approach the car. Or a building, or whatever.

    I thank him for cooking breakfast for us, which he always does and which no one has ever done for me before. I thank him for washing the dishes if I’ve done the cooking. At his insistence, I sit with a cup of coffee and talk to him while he washes. I admire his strong, beautiful body and I feel love growing.

    It.Is.Lovely. Lovely to be heard and lovely that someone cares enough to consistently keep up his end of the deal.

    Like

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