12 Things Every Guy Should Master to Become a Real Man.

Via Atalwin Pilon
on Mar 10, 2011
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How to Be ‘Manly’.

Twice today I came across some funny internet content that was about ‘being manly.’

Since I don’t believe in coincidence I take this as an omen and assume the Universe is inviting me to write about masculinity. And of course I feel the need to balance the funny stuff and approach the topic dead seriously. But before I start doing that, let me give you the links that triggered this post. First one is “What manly dudes talk about” and second is “How to be a man?” from Tales of Mere Existence, an excellent channel on YouTube, in my opinion.

I do feel that it’s an interesting and challenging topic. The bottom line is very simple. To be a man we have to be a mature version of a person with a Y chromosome. And everything we don’t develop doesn’t mature. Our physical development takes care of itself more or less. We just need to keep eating, sleeping, drinking and breathing (although it helps tremendous if we do that properly). But if we don’t take care of our psychological, intellectual, emotional and spiritual development these aspects remain underdeveloped and therefore immature. You can do the quick scan right now: if you are a man and haven’t been taking care of one or more of these terrains you can be sure that the corresponding side of you is immature.

Anyway, let’s get started. I typed this list in my phone while waiting for my order of Thai food. I did it off the cuff—there is no particular order nor am I having pretenses about it being complete. On second thought and more honest: I think it’s pretty complete but I was just acting humble. This is a list of features I honestly feel a mature man must own, be or do:

1. Be fearless

Being fearless does not mean being without fear, being fearless means admitting your fears and going beyond them. A real man is not in denial of his fears, holding up a mask of invulnerability but is willing to face his fears and work on them. He has the courage to do things that frighten him when the situation calls for it. A real man knows that the path towards fearlessness is endless.

2. Be resilient

A man should be flexible and reliable at the same time. If necessary he can start all over again at any given moment. Whatever happens; his house was burnt down, his crop failed, he lost his job, his wife had a miscarriage: even if he has mourning to do he starts all over again. A real man accepts his fate but doesn’t become a victim of it.

NelsonMandela2 12 things every guy should master to become a real man

3. Live, speak and listen from the heart

A real man doesn’t hide his feelings and intentions. He is not afraid to be gentle nor afraid to be sad. He is in touch with his emotions and is able to express them. He has the courage to live his dream and the space to listen compassionately.

4. Own your anger

A real man owns his anger. His anger has transformed into masculine compassion. He can be angry, strong, decisive and courageous. His anger serves his presence and the presence of others. It is not a humiliating or destructive type of anger. The latter happens when a man is a slave of his anger, that’s the anger of the coward trying to overcompensate his feelings of inferiority. This is just as sad as a man completely disconnected from his anger. He becomes emasculated and has no power at all. Other men don’t take him seriously. Women can smell immature anger and emasculatedness from a mile away and don’t find it sexy. Mature anger, on the other hand, is a big turn on.

5. Make meaning

Try not to become a man of success, try to become a man of value. Einstein said that. I think that’s true and important. If you fill your days with doing something that pays the bills but is essentially meaningless you are wasting your precious life. Yes, even if it pays the bills so handsomely that you can spend 2 months per year on adventurous holidays and eat in fancy restaurants, you are still wasting your life.  A real man has the balls to travel outside his comfort zone to make a sincere attempt to contribute to mankind. He works for the greater good instead of for the sake of protection of his self image and clinging to the illusion of safety.

6. Own your edge

This life is a journey and we all are somewhere on our path. A real man is honest about where he is at in his development. He doesn’t pretend to be wiser or more evolved than he actually is nor does he shrink so that others won’t feel insecure around him. He knows his strengths and his weaknesses and is not ashamed of either. That there is always work to do is a given to him. He knows where he has his work to do and is willing to listen and learn from those who have done that work.

7. Be vulnerable

A coward is always trying to hide his weak spots, a real man works on them. He is willing and able to reveal himself even in the midst of pain. He is vulnerable because he wants to be vulnerable. By opening up in every moment he is continuously practicing his courage. It’s his way of defeating his own cowardice.

8. Make love passionately

A real man does not hold back. When he makes love he opens up to all his rawness and all his tenderness and he gives his woman everything he has got. He does not shy away from intimacy. He can penetrate his woman so hard and deeply that she can feel that he is entering her soul. He aims for her heart. He makes her feel like a princess and a porn star simultaneously.

9. Practice a martial art

When push comes to shove every man should be able to defend his wife, children and honor. Just like we teach our children to swim to prevent them from drowning a man should know at least enough basic fighting skills so he can throw a punch in case of an emergency. A real man has spent enough time in a ring or dojo to ensure a deescalating presence. He does not panic, is not easily provoked and has some strength and skills.

Read on for 10, 11 and 12 over at Basic Goodness.


About Atalwin Pilon

Atalwin Pilon (40) is man on a mission. In January 2012, he left his home and his country to travel the world. He is on a spiritual quest, searching for what he calls the 21st century warrior: courageous men and women who are driven by compassion and integrity instead of greed and fear. He wants to know if one man can make a difference and if he can make a difference himself by offering his skills and heart to the world. He will write a book about his findings: "The Quest for the 21st Century Warrior". Feel free to contribute to his journey if his cause speaks to you. He needs your suggestions, hospitality, introductions and/ or your generosity to be be successful. You can make difference too. If you want Atalwin as your life coach you can book a Skype session now. You can follow his adventures on his website (he writes often). And you can find him on Twitter and Facebook too.


72 Responses to “12 Things Every Guy Should Master to Become a Real Man.”

  1. robin ellen lucas says:

    well said! 🙂

  2. keely says:

    i like this, especially the strength in being soulful, piece! thank you.

  3. Barbara M. Kitzis says:

    Enjoyable… Some over the edge stuff… but it made for fun reading… My man is tops … has a good deal of these qualities…made me feel like a lucky woman at the very least.

  4. #10 is the most important. If you can't make a girl laugh, she leaves.

  5. heliosprotection says:

    Nice article bro. Well written and insightful. Glad the humorous post I sent you was the spark that ignited this blaze of wisdom.

  6. Monique says:

    Haha. Well, if English is not your first language I commend you; your English is excellent. My second language (French) is pretty much an insult to native speakers. And I know (or hope, lol) that men won't take this literally, my point was just that you made me cringe, which I didn't think was your intention. Some (not all) men seem to think that harder+deeper+faster=better. Which can be a bit like, well, if a woman, in a misguided attempt to pleasure you, punched you squarely in the balls. So, the imagery was just a little strong for me. But thank you for clarifying:)

    • mankindproject1 says:

      That's just awesome … and made me cringe.

    • JinpaG says:

      Monique, you said it plainly and — well — eloquently. I also cringed at reading "so hard and deep", though with "that she can feel that he is entering her soul[,]" I also sensed that Atalwin had the best of intentions in his description of a man in passionate union with "his woman". "Not holding back" while staying connected with your lover seems a fine art, which asks of us genuine bravery and nakedness (not just the literal kind). And there seems a fine line between "not holding back" and getting lost in one's own thing … whatever — or wherever — that may be. Genuine care for another and a simple, willing presence seems essential to actually meeting in this raw, open, potent, stunning, electric space.

      Atalwin, I enjoyed reading your points, and was especially happy/relieved to make my way to #10 … not taking oneself too seriously, while still embracing all that life is, including the sharp edges of being human, sometimes known as "suffering." As a woman, it's great to see that men defining masculinity includes allowing for tenderness, for open-heartedness, and that those qualities also involve bravery and fearlessness! And, yay! for the relaxing part … the "be real" point. Thanks. — Gabrielle

  7. mankindproject1 says:

    Love this – Well done.

    I would also suggest that a real man seeks out a conscious community of men to support him in achieving the kind of mastery you're pointing to. He develops his independence and his inter-dependence by practicing the difficult art of authentic relationship.

    For me – having a community of men in my life … a regular men's group, men I practice with, play with, cry with when I need to … has freed me to be and become more of who I am. I am free to bring all of me to my marriage, grounded in a secure sense of who I am as a man – undefended, vulnerable, trustworthy and strong. I wrote a piece a little while ago which is posted on the ManKind Project (the community I am a part of) website as a response to some Newsweek articles. Check it out – http://bit.ly/fo8xNs

  8. GretaCargo says:

    Funny, that's also how I define my female side too. There is something wonderful about being a warrior, a lioness, and being vulnerable too. The great joy is when there is a partnership between a man and a woman and they nurture, support and recognize all of these elements in each other so each become stronger as individuals and as a partnership.

  9. webstirrer says:

    Oh, and the ability to say: I could be, even might be, wrong–and mean it–Barbara Jordan, not a man, taught me that one.

  10. namenorg says:

    Can a real man drink herbal tea? Sometimes my boss makes fun of me for drinking herbal tea and decaf coffee — but I'm just in touch with my energetic needs. Can I be a real man and do that too?

    • Atalwin says:

      Haha! Ok, here comes the fatwa: It is ok for a real man to drink herbal tea when he does it because he enjoys the taste and/or feels it is good for his body and mind. Stand up for your choice of beverage, brother! Dunno about the decaf though.. 🙂

    • Carl says:

      Learn a martial art and defend your honor by kicking your boss's ass when he makes fun of your choice in beverages.

  11. Tamara says:

    And most of all; come from your heart. That vulnerable place takes that most courage, the most power and the most manly of men to truly come there.

  12. webstirrer says:

    It's also interesting to note the amount of time men spend defining themselves against other men regarding manliness. Interestingly there too, it is also the first line of verbal attack that men use in marking another man not in the "in" group as other. You know, like "Bitch" "Pussy" "Faggot" "Queer," etc. And lastly I will note that these gender roles, it has been noted by many sociologist and feminists, have changed to suit the needs of the powers that be and economies. Rosie the riveter being the most notable one that comes to mind. Did you know that the boy scouts was started after the movement of men out of the home from agrarian to industrial job and because men and society (Men) felt that boys were becoming too effeminate? Did you know that the founder of the Boy Scouts was gay? Just saying.

  13. […] I have found in the past few months is that there are not that many “good guys” out there. I’ve considered that maybe they’re just not good for me; they could quite […]

  14. […] every guy must do to become a real man. None of them are bad ideas for women, […]

  15. […] elephant journal I’m the new kid, the guy from overseas who wrote “12 Things Every Guy Should Master To Become a Real Man,” which was quite a cool debut actually. The post ranked #1 for Popular Right Now, #1 for […]

  16. […] them in hand-to-hand combat. With a single right hand to the jaw, I found it relatively easy to knock him unconscious in the first seconds of the second […]

  17. […] me a question like, “can you fill up the water jug?” I nod my head silently and comply like a good husband. As my yogic life partner and intertwined female soul counterpart, she was the most affected by my […]

  18. […] We who were on the front lines in the 70s when things were bad for women, we have raised good sons. Men we are proud of. Who will stand up for […]

  19. Sol says:

    man, you really had me going until you came up with… "learn a martial art"… really? REALLY? >_<

  20. strongropes says:

    …er, um, porn star? What?
    Trying to hang in there with liking your words until that creepy image. Freudian slip perhaps?

    • no I think it work…princess and porn star…sweet Innocent and a fantasy

      • lisab says:

        I'm with strongropes. And porn stars are not fantasies. They are human beings who are suffering from emotional, mental, and economic hardships who are being outright exploited and commodified as something to use. In the worst cases they are even being forcibly prostituted and trafficked so that the porn industry can continue to make millions off of the human soul. I hope my husband never thinks of me as a porn star or frankly, even a fantasy. I'm a real person with thoughts, feelings, and a beautiful soul. Fantasies don't have any of those things because they are manufactured illusions that keep people grasping in all the wrong directions.

  21. Andrea says:

    Awesome article, my favorite part was seeing your photo with a peach-faced lovebird at the end. I had one for years, she still is the love of my life =)

  22. Daniel says:

    Nice till I got to 8 and 9

    lets address 8 first with many of us experiencing ED there many other ways to establish intimate sexual relations
    hopefully you speaking about the passionate energetic of lovemaking or just sex even rather than the nearly
    militaristc guided heat seaking missle those descriptons brought to me

    Now 9 honestly some men are just not cut out for the possiboility of conflict, either physicall or mentally its just not in em
    and they will never be able to project the imageyou speak of, i spent many years street brawling bouncing in bars etc
    so guess i had a type of training
    I now prefer more sedate solution I JUST TASER THEIR ASS and walk away as they twitch and piss themselves

    • Madelain Burgoyne says:

      As a woman… I love point 8. I'm sure that that point was referring to the passionate energetic-ness of love making in a non- materialistic way… LOL.
      As for point 9, i agree… not everyone is cut out for martial arts… lets hope that the woman in that case does have a neck for it… I personally love your suggestion of a taser. I have one myself. 😉

  23. Stella says:

    I guess real men aren't gay?

    • Elle says:

      I think this was meant to be a bit overarching, similarly to when we (humans) say Man when referring to mankind. He's saying a man should be able to fill these rolls for those who depend on him, his partner, his other. Not a female in particular.

  24. joe says:

    Sweet. Another list of real man stuff. With a picture of brad pitt. Written by some white dude. And now a bunch of white people can circle round and and intellectualize manliness, while slinging healthy amounts of disguised guilt aroundin an effort to feel good about themselves. I’m more manly than him.


  25. Stig Edwardson says:

    In my ongoing evolution, there is no place for violence. I think I will pass on the martial arts recommendation.

    • Lori says:

      Even as a matter of self or other defense? Seems to me the discipline of a martial art can teach you how to subdue an attacker with the least amount of force necessary. (I agree with non-violence, where "violence" is defined as the "intitiation of force". However, I still feel everyone has a right to defend themselves against a direct assault.)

  26. […] cannot describe a person,” which would be accompanied by no photograph, just a grey photo of a human male. I thought by reading your profile I was asking about […]

  27. Madelain Burgoyne says:


    Thank you, what a wonderful read… As a woman, reading this made me feel very happy to know that there are men out there considering seriously what it means to be a real man. At the same time, as I was reading through this article, I applied these points against myself, because these points are also good to check my strengths and meeknesses to asses what areas need "maturing" within myself as a woman.

    Printing a hard copy and sharing this on FB!

    p.s. I especially love point 8 LOL!


  28. evolving yogi says:

    well said brother! I'll say right now… I master none of them.

  29. honeyryder512 says:

    Love this. Unlike some women I think it takes a VERY special man to inspire, love, respect and accept both my inner madonna AND her whore sidekick. I agree with the martial arts suggestion too. Every man I have dated who practiced a martial art had also mastered the art of "mature anger" among some of the other aforementioned manly attributes.

  30. Brian Kimmel says:

    Being a man? Really? How do you know you are a man or male in the first place? What makes men so different from women? Is it action, biology? Maybe the distinctions between sexes are socially conceived. There are plenty of people that don’t fit these categories and who have stopped trying to. I would challenge men to step outside the box of being men. Being a man has nothing to do with making love deeply to women or learning martial arts. Maybe this article is about being comfortable with a heterosexist morale, proving nothing new or socially evolved at all.

    • Real Man says:

      There are certain aspects to the generalized male biology that call for action in the realm of sexual fulfillment, competition, physical and mental fitness and stimulation — similarly applicable to the spectrum of human gender.

  31. guest says:

    I would like to contest the following sentence: "To be a man we have to be a mature version of a person with a Y chromosome." please ammend:..or self-identify as a man, even without a Y chromosome.
    Men born in a female body can still be "real men"(tm)

    • guest says:

      ..also, #9 is outdated. as a women, I don't think my man needs to be able to defend me. I can do that myself.

  32. […] you need improvement in areas of “manliness”, be honest with yourself and read this article. If you expect women to look like Victoria Secret models, act perfect in all the ways you want, and […]

  33. fred says:

    I will take proficient handling of firearms over martial arts any day. Don't bring your judo to a gunfight.

  34. […] or is it related to the untransformed aspects of ourselves? Reviewing the list of requirements (yes, you have one) for Mrs/Mr. Right in light of this will likely prove quite revealing in terms of what we think we […]

  35. […] for the penetrator must be willing to hold total presence and ride the waves of whatever arises. And it’s not physical strength that matters most, but the strength of commitment to stay 100% connected that creates the space for the penetrated to […]

  36. I think this piece is the jig to my jag, a man giving a list that I also itemized, as woman (to many men's chagrin).. .http://www.elephantjournal.com/2012/05/a-call-to-the-sacred-masculine-ten-daring-invitations-from-the-divine-feminine/

  37. […] For more blather about manhood, click here. […]

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  39. […] a man, not a boy. Get to know your sexual energy and channel it consciously versus haphazardly spilling […]

  40. purplerose says:

    Really enjoyed reading this, until i got to "make her feel like a Porn star". Really? Is that what you think most of us women want to feel like when being made love to. I can only speak on behalf of myself and my handful of good female friends when i say, sorry ,but we don`t.

  41. suz says:

    Excellent! Please post on facebook again so others can benefit!

  42. Alexis says:

    love it!

  43. Ullyses says:

    I really love this article. I almost didnt read it though because of #1-Be Fearless. I think you meant to type Be Brave, or Be Courageous. By definition, fearless means without fear. I agree that a goal of humanity it eliminate fear as it is, and let wisdom and intuition guide us, but thats not what your talking about. You are talking about trumping fear and moving past it. That is bravery or courage. You are not eliminating fear, thats a silly notion, simply not letting fear be the governing emotion is what you talking about. Sorry to play semantics, you are a writer and I am sure you want a clear message sent. 🙂

  44. lisab says:

    This article would be a gazillion times better if it was reworked to fit the title "12 Things Every Guy Should Master to Become a Whole Human Being".

  45. @JKaikanBoyd says:

    I personally think that a REAL man, if anything, would encourage his family to take Self Defence for themselves. Quite honestly, I'm not sure that being in the ring is the solution to good training. I know some pretty amazing men who never set foot in one. So in sporty of what the founder of this blog would like for us to do in response to articles, I would like to respectfully point to the fact that maybe there's some intelligence in making suggestions without assuming we all fit in a little box of REALNESS.

    Quite honestly, BEING is about being all of those things the human experience offers, and if being a coward is what you need to experience in the moment, YOU will not be less of a man to me!

  46. thatfellaandy says:

    I find "how to be a man" posts to be among the most cringe-inducing content on the internet. I wonder if the authors of such articles realize how self-absorbed and inflexible they seem? This article would be interesting, and even mildly valuable, if it were titled "12 Things I Should Master to Become the Man I Hope to Be". I understand this title doesn't have the same draw, but at least it doesn't force one persons view of masculinity down the throats of men who may or may not conform to the author's particular beliefs. My opinion- the way to be a man is to define masculinity for yourself, on your own terms, then pursue that ideal with everything you've got.

  47. Meredith says:

    thank you! I enjoyed the balance of the article.

  48. Kieran says:

    Great, however, as a straight man I can still see that there is a lop-sidedness to this article, by virtue of the fact that it implies by exclusion that gay men can’t be real men. Many gay men I know exhibit many of the listed attributes of manliness better than I do myself, albeit they’re not interested in my girlfriend… 😀

    I know I’m splitting hairs here, but it’s an important omission…

  49. You forgot to say be a gentleman.

  50. Alyssa says:

    Really? REALLY? A man should be fearless? There is no such thing as fearless, it's a human response. An adult should learn to work with their fear and use it to make a game plan, but to suggest that "real men" don't feel fear is to perpetuate a harmful and shame-inducing myth on men, that emotions and feelings are weak.

    And a man should make love to his WOMAN? Do we really, in this day and age, need to point out that not all men love women in that way?

    And a man has to practice a martial art? No, sheesh. "Real Men" do lots of things. Some of them do sports, some don't, but perpetuating this "man is strong thing to protect others" is just bollocks. Seriously, it's the mythology that harms men. This is so steeped in imbalance it's hard to take seriously. Unfortunately, many people will, and will feel no end of shame, and judgement, as a result.

    Real HUMANS let other people be who they are, without trying to control them.

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