The Pressures of Manhood

Confidence, Vulnerability, Responsibility, Testosterone, Performance Anxiety, Providing for a Family
Curated By
Keiko McCullough

Keiko McCullough is a doctoral student at Indiana University Bloomington studying Counseling Psychology. Keiko graduated summa cum laude from the University of Akron with her Bachelor’s degree in Psychology in 2015. Her research interests, broadly, focus on the intersections of race, gender, and new media. She additionally studies men of color and masculinities, Asian American mental health, positive psychology, and feminist issues.

Men Might Be Thinking:

  • I have to be tough.
  • Sometimes, I don’t know what I’m feeling or how to express it.
  • If I’m not in charge, everything will fall apart.
  • I’m tired of always having to take charge, 
  • If I don’t feel strong; I must be weak.
  • I can’t ask for help or people will think I’m incompetent.
  • I should never feel afraid.
  • Is something wrong with me? Am I more emotional than other men?
  • I have to be the best! No one can know I sometimes doubt myself.
  • Everyone’s relying on me, so I can’t afford to mess up.
  • What if I’m not a real man?
  • No one will respect me if they see who I really am.

Words That Might Be Encouraging:

  • It sounds like you have a lot of responsibility on your shoulders. I think I’d feel overwhelmed/stressed, etc., too, in your situation
  • I know it can be hard to ask for help sometimes. It’s hard for me too. Let me offer my help instead. What can I do to lessen your load?
  • Feelings are only natural. I feel sad knowing that some people genuinely believe they have to hide the things that make them feel vulnerable.
  • I’m always here to talk with you about your life. I promise to not judge you for what you share with me (be sure to keep this promise).
  • (If they share something that makes them feel vulnerable you can say,) It’s okay to be anxious/confused/sad/scared, etc. 
  • I think a lot of men feel how you’re feeling, but they’re too ashamed to talk about it openly. 
  • Thank you for sharing these feelings with me. You are very brave. 
  • Being yourself is liberating and I think people would love who you really are. 
  • Being strong all of the time is hard. I know that I can’t be strong 24/7. 
  • I can tell this has been really affecting you. The fact that you can identify what is happening shows you have very good insight. 

Words That Might Be Discouraging:

  • Man up.
  • Why are you so sensitive?
  • If you can’t take the heat, get out of the kitchen. 
  • Don’t be gay.
  • Wow! I had no idea you’re such a girl. 
  • Everything will be fine.
  • Quit crying.
  • Stop whining and do something about it. 
  • Just get over it. 
  • It is what it is. 
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