10 Unseen Challenges of Traditional Masculinity

Krystal Smith

Traditional masculinity is often associated with strength, power, and dominance. However, there are many unseen challenges associated with traditional masculinity, including:

Pressure to Be Perfect

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Men are often expected to be strong, stoic, and successful. This pressure to be perfect can lead to feelings of inadequacy, anxiety, and stress. One man told of how the pressure can come from all angles when he told readers online that the biggest problem with being a man is “The absolute certainty that society doesn’t care about you unless you can offer something. There’s no net for men, you’re on your own.”

Repression of Emotions

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Men are often taught to suppress their negative emotions, such as sadness and fear. This can lead to emotional problems such as depression and anger. One man shared his thoughts on the subject online after being hurt by his mother-in-law. He told readers, “I had a situation in which I overheard my fiance’s mother once say to her in very different words that men have only two emotions. Rage and horny. Basically it sounded to me like she thought all men with emotions were just con-men lying to get sex.”

Being Accused of Serious Allegations

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While there is a much higher percentage of male sex offenders, some men feel that society considers them guilty no matter what. Lots of men talked online about how they cannot take their kids on a day out without being accused of being strange. One man said, “Being looked at as a pervert or weirdo for taking your kids to the park or store or anywhere. Any age too! Newborn all the way to teenager!”


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Men are more likely to commit violence, both against themselves and others. This can lead to serious social and legal problems. However, not all men should want to live up to the stereotypes and actively avoid violence. One man told online readers his main struggle with being a man: “Being expected to be able to step up in scary situations when you are scared yourself and don’t want to either.”

Toxic Masculinity

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Toxic masculinity is a term used to describe the negative aspects of traditional masculinity, such as misogyny, homophobia, and transphobia. Toxic masculinity can hurt men, women, and other marginalized groups. Many men hear the need to break down the toxicity, but this can be a struggle; as one man online told readers, “If you don’t open up about your feelings you’re a toxic man. If you do, you’re either being rude or being a pushover.”

Health Problems

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Men are more  likely to die from heart disease, cancer, and other preventable diseases. This may be due to several factors, including stress, unhealthy lifestyle choices, and lack of access to healthcare. Men can often feel overlooked, with one man saying, “Most of our struggles won’t be heard by women to be honest. We’re not all that keen on being open and sensitive most of the time.”

Mental Health Problems

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Men are less likely to seek help for mental health problems, even though they are just as likely to experience them as women. This is likely due to the stigma associated with mental illness and the pressure on men to be stoic and unemotional. One man told readers online, “ In recent years I’ve become more open about it but a lot of the men around me just won’t open up about it.”

Relationship Problems

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Men may have difficulty connecting with others emotionally, leading to isolation, loneliness, and relationship problems. This may be because men are often taught to suppress their emotions and to be self-sufficient. Starting relationships can also be tricky for men, as one person said online when they said, “Trying to ask out women with little to no signals to go on. Having to approach and initiate every romantic interaction without coming on too strong and not seem like a creep.”

Work-Life Balance

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Men may feel pressure to prioritize their careers over their personal lives. This can lead to stress, burnout, and problems in their relationships. Regarding the stereotype of men being the breadwinner, one man said, “Having my sense of self worth basically pinned to my ability to earn money is the worst thing about being a man.”

Challenging Gender Norms

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It is important to note that not all men conform to traditional masculinity. A growing movement of men is challenging traditional gender stereotypes and embracing a more inclusive and authentic form of masculinity. While this is a very positive movement, men often struggle to be heard and are sometimes ridiculed by their peers. One person talks of how life for modern men feels like you can’t win sometimes when he says, “you are expected at all times to be a simultaneous combination of guardian, emotional caregiver, leader, and provider, on TOP of being relatively successful and 100% independent.”


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In today’s evolving landscape of gender roles and relationships, it’s important for men to embrace a new paradigm of masculinity that prioritizes self-care, emotional awareness, and respect for all, while discarding outdated notions of ego and superiority.
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