signs of toxic masculinity

The other day I got into a heated discussion on YouTube. You see I love watching the Roommates Podcast. A podcast where two young black men discuss topics and problems our generation faces. 

As I was listening to their latest guest, the host of the YouTube channel Alpha Male strategies, I was appalled and shocked by some of his comments about love and marriage

So, I took my thoughts to the comment section. 

The next thing you know I was questioned and attacked by a mob of very opinionated men. 

While I personally thought the exchange was hilarious, I was still highly disturbed about some of their comments and mindsets. 

They called themselves “Alpha Males” but really all I saw were men that have been hurt in the past and are now funneling their fears through toxic thinking. 

And I know that some of you ladies bump into these kinds of men while you date… Which is scary. 

That’s why I decided to share with you the signs of toxic masculinity that will oftentimes disguise themselves as “Alpha Male”.

Toxic masculinity definition

A cultural concept of manliness that glorifies stoicism, strength, virility, and dominance, and that is socially maladaptive or harmful to mental health.

Now, these are some big words. So let me break it down for you a little more.

Toxic masculinity is a term often used to describe the negative aspects of exaggerated masculine traits that many cultures have widely accepted or glorified.

The reason why it is so important to unpack toxic masculinity is that this type of thinking harms both men and women, especially in a romantic relationship, because it perpetuates trauma and violence. 

A man or woman that encourages toxic masculinity will oftentimes find him/herself in relationships where the power dynamic is off and most likely unhealthy.

But why do so many people still agree with this type of thinking and can’t seem to see how it is harmful to men’s mental and physical health.

Male emotions psychology

You see men are not taught to express their feelings in the same way that women are. They don’t get to just cry and throw a fit whenever they want to, because socially they are expected “man up”. 

However, that does not mean that they do not have the same feelings as we do. 

For centuries men have been conditioned to suppress their feelings, by failing to teach young boys how to deal with emotions. 

From a very young age, men are taught not to feel, not to cry, and not to find the words to express their emotions, because it is considered a feminine trait. 

That oftentimes leads to men turning fear into anger and hurt into blame. Which is what I witnessed in my debate. 

Men that simply have fears of abandonment and rejection, that they now hide behind the mask of toxic thinking and behaviors. 

And this is what toxic masculinity looks like. 

1. Not showing pain/ expressing feelings

The most common sign of toxic masculinity is the belief that showing pain is a sign of weakness. Toxic masculinity perpetuates the idea that men need to be “tough” all the time and can’t ever show signs of distress or hurt. 

As you can imagine that is not natural. Because even the strongest man on earth feels pain. 

Not being able to or not knowing how to show pain oftentimes leads to mental health problems, such as depression, insomnia, and substance abuse. 

Every human being needs to express their feelings and emotions. Otherwise, the anxiety and distress from these feelings can lead to a sense of isolation, chronic tension in the body, and increased relationship issues. 

What can you do?

If you are in a relationship with a man that is reluctant to show pain or express his feelings, you can encourage him by creating a safe space for your man to be vulnerable. 

The biggest reason why men hide their feelings is that they assume women will be turned off by it. 

Therefore, encouraging vulnerability by opening up first and allowing him to share his feelings without shaming or mocking him, will make him see that this is a human aspect he can cherish.

2. Not asking for help

This point connects to the first sign of toxic masculinity. If a man is not willing to show any sign of weakness, he is less likely to ask for help. 

A man that has this type of thinking will be less likely to show his partner that he is needed in order to save face. But even more so, he will be less likely to accept outside help regarding the relationship from a therapist or coach

While it may sound funny whenever a guy refuses to ask for direction, it becomes more frustrating and harmful when he refuses to ask for emotional support. 

The assumption that he can take care of everything by himself adds pressure and can easily lead to distress. 

Believe it or not, men want to succeed in their romantic relationships and love their woman correctly. However, in contrast to women, they rarely read blog posts like this one or watch YouTube videos like this one.

What can you do? 

As a woman, you can create a safe space for a man to feel comfortable asking for help. Allow him to make mistakes by not judging them and instead meeting them with grace. 

Don’t point out or compare him to other men that have succeeded in a task he is challenged by, but allow him to fall forward if necessary. 

And most importantly don’t take over, even if the task at hand seems easy to you. Let him figure it out on his own and appreciate his efforts.

3. Sexual virility 

To me, this point is the most disturbing, but also the most heartbreaking one.

Unfortunately, toxic masculinity believes that a man’s masculinity is defined by his ability to dominate women sexually. 

Which often leads to sexism, the devaluation of a woman’s body, and sexual aggression.  

This does not just harm women, but also men because it prevents them from building a true connection with a woman. 

Instead of seeking intimacy and love, he will hesitate to get too close to a woman out of fear that others may see him as a “sucker for love”.

In addition, this thinking is also what leads to men resisting love and commitment in general. They assume that they are “the man” if they can sleep with a multitude of women at a certain age and not get emotionally attached

What can you do? 

Nothing. As a woman, I truly believe that it is not your responsibility to change or raise a man. 

Therefore, you should distance yourself from a man that is validating his masculinity through sex and women.

No matter how in love you may be, this man will leave you heartbroken more often than not. He has to come to the realization that he is more than his sexuality on his own or through professional help. 

4. Using violence to solve a conflict

Oh man I thought number 3 was depressing, but here comes number 4. 

Toxic masculinity places significant importance on strength, and obviously, there is nothing more conclusive than physical strength when it comes to this. 

Unfortunately, unchecked toxic masculinity can lead to aggression and violence, which he will use to solve conflicts in interpersonal relationships. 

To a man with this mindset, violence may be an indicator of power, which we know is not.

What can you do?

Run. A man that does not know how to solve a conflict other than through violence is in need of a therapist, not a girlfriend. 

For your own safety and his sanity, it is best not to try to teach him how to communicate his feelings and leave that up to a professional.

Remember, that in a relationship you take on the role of a partner, not a therapist, a mother, or punching back,

5. Assuming leadership because of gender, not talent

The last of the signs of toxic masculinity is something most women will experience at work, however, it can also happen in a relationship.

When a man or woman believes that a man should ALWAYS lead because he is the male, then this is a very traditional but outdated mindset.

What you will observe is that he ignores your input and brushes off anything have to say even when you are the expert on that matter.

That is not right.

A man that is confident in his masculinity will understand that in a healthy relationship both partners possess unique talents that improve the overall relationship.

While I am a firm believer that a man is the head of the household, I don’t believe that he runs the house by himself.

What can you do? 

If you are dating a guy that has a very traditional but outdated idea of gender roles, you need to have a very honest but respectful conversation. 

Ideally, you discuss what you expect of each other before entering the relationship altogether. Make sure that he sees you as his partner and not a subordinate.

As you can tell from the 5 signs of toxic masculinity, these behaviors are not always intentionally harmful. Instead, this is what happens when men think that it’s unmanly to cry, to hurt, or to express themselves. 

As always this post is not to bash or demonize men, but more so to educate women of the dangers of toxic masculinity. 

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