Hello, my fellow men, it's me again!

Some half a year ago I was trying to date this marvel of a girl (long story), and this one time, we were talking and she asked me "What does it mean 'to be a real man' to you?". I told her that in my opinion, a real man does the right things, keeps his word, and in general, is a proper person. While I'm not sure if the answer satisfied her, it got me wondering - whether or not I know what a real man is, I still don't know how to actually become one. Even if my above answer is correct, it's only half the thing, it seems.

Just a couple of days ago, I was walking home from dance class with our teacher and another girl. The teacher is a flirty lady, and sometimes she flirts with me. On that particular day, both she and the other girl praised me a lot for my dancing, and for me generally being a nice and cool person. But when they began to discuss their men, the girl asked her "Well if you're single, why not try George?" to what she answered "Well George is nice and all, but I'm done with boys, I want a real man."

(While I appreciate the honesty, it was really rude, first off, because I was right beside them, second, because its fucking emasculating(!), and third because she just had to stop right before me - am I really that bad? I thought I was fine, didn't they praise me? Why flirt with me at all? I always end up being too late it seems. >.>)

I'm 24 right now, and I am facing a kind of personal crisis - I don't feel like a real man (no, not just because of this particular case - this one was more of an eye-opener). Sure, I have that manly organ in my pants, but that's not enough, right? Not for the rational, moral animals that we humans are. The above listed traits are one thing. Judging by the dance teacher's exs, I'd assume financial stability and 'maturity' are another. But there's still more to it. What bothers me is that I'm not competitive (really can't be arsed, don't see the point of it), that my ambitions are only so big (guess its the difficult situation in my country), and that I'm really not ready for any responsibility because I was never really given any.

So I guess what I'm asking is - how do you actually change? Desire is one thing, but what's the direction? Are there guidelines? My dad taught me some things, my mom taught me other things, but since they're both intellectuals, they couldn't teach me the less intellectual things. When I was a teen, I used to run with those 'problem kids', but I didn't learn too much from them - guess I'm just too well brought up for some of those things. I feel really useless, I have few practical skills (plumbing, repairing electrical devices, etc.), one of my cousins even rubs it in my face (because he's a true street kid, who used to run with gangs and whatnot, because he's a blue-collar and knows his way around tools and chit).

Eh, anyway.

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Earning experience and gaining wisdom from that experience. It does you no good to learn that spending money frivolously is bad by missing car payments and then losing your car if you keep on spending frivolously afterwards. Do you see my point?

Experience does you no good if you don't gain and apply wisdom from it. All cultures see that the measure of a man includes his ability to gain and apply wisdom in whatever situation he may find himself in.
More musings; my own personal viewpoint
I strove toward manly things because of women. I didn't give a rat's ass over what guys thought of me. There was no male tribe to fit into.
All the things that can be attributed to manly behavior came from me falling in love, wanting to accommodate my mate, provide for her and then her, our, kids. I guess that's the product of millions of years of reproductive biology for ya.
Then my dad died, and I needed to fill his shoes to take care of my mom, as difficult as that was, as she left me with lasting scars from childhood, but someone had to do it.

Going to be a little blunt. Tell us more about you.

From your brief story, you are a 24 year old that has long stories about girls you never got to date. You kinda flirt at dance class, but are seen as harmless. You aren't good with your hands. You consider yourself a child of an intellectual who "is too well brought up for "things"".

Who are you? What do you do? What is your job? How often do you date? Are there any stereotypical "manly" traits about you?

Sounds like the women in the class see  you as harmless. You show up, you are good enough at dancing and good enough looking to flirt with, but you don't have anything else that they see worth while. They want a man that will ask them out. They want a man with drive. They want a man that sees things through.

It isn't being a real man, it is just being a man. Having something to offer as a counterpart to a woman. Initiations, bible quotes, etc isn't going to make you a responsible, confident man.

I wouldn't be too sure of that last sentence.

But I am sure that the meat of Portnoy's post -- let's have some substance, some content, some _there_ there -- is crucial. I have a friend who's a dating coach. He talks about being a man's man (or as above, just a man): that is, have a life, have something going on, have something beyond a need for a woman's attention and niceness. Then invite a lady to join you for some of the fun.

I wouldn't be too sure of that last sentence.

I'll admit I was trolling a little with that one, trying to push some buttons, make people question why a quote or a rite of passage will change the actions of a man.

IDK about the quotes, at least just as quotes.  But a function of a rite of passage -- some rites, anyway -- is to instill that confidence.  The best-known example being boot camp.

Still we have a lot to agree on.

The right quote, from the right person, is wisdom; and can become a creed. "Deeds, not words." "Love thy neighbor as thyself." How often on this site do we see quotes from Teddy Roosevelt, Winston Churchill, etc.? 

Yes, quotes can be useful tools in attaining manhood. 

I say quotes, not affirmations, which are empty. A good quote - a scripture, e.g., is meant to GUIDE your actions; affirmations make you feel good, whether or not you have a reason to. "Turn that frown upside down!" "I am lovable and capable!" "I am who I am and you have to accept me!" No - we dont. 

Those are some awful affirmations, to be sure.  The first I recognize from Night Court, the second is a short version of Stuart Smalley's from SNL, and IDK the last.  That is to say, they're meant as comedy and therefore they are designed to suck.  But the alternative to bad self-talk, like bad philosophy and bad attitudes, is not a lack thereof (not achievable unless you're dead) but good self-talk, etc.

Or maybe not.  The idea about affirmations is that repeating them makes them sink in.  I don't think that's true.  It sinks in or it doesn't.

Those all existed outside of sitcoms and SNL, the writers of which recognized their hilarity. I recall those three from posters in my high school guidance counselor's office.

"Awaken the giant within!" "Be, then do, and you'll have!" are two more (as in BE an expert ball player in your heart; DO what ball players do; and you'll HAVE what ball players have).

I trust scripture, and repeat those to myself, as often as I need. "Forget what is behind, and press forward unto the mark," for example, from St. Paul. He was a guy who DID that and proved its power as a strategy. That's more than an affirmation. 

Maybe your high school guidance counselor didn't have the wisest affirmations.

I would lay down a few better ones, but you already have.  You prefer not to call them affirmations.  OK.

Scriptures differ from affirmations in that they are backed by a creed, and are borne of a complex system of belief. Affirmations by contrast are pleasing panacea, with little depth or proof beyond the words themselves.

So, no, I don't dismiss scriptures as simple "affirmations," any more than I'd dismiss an empowering quote from Gandhi, or Viktor Frankl, or Teddy Roosevelt. Those are borne of a lifetime of experience and triumph. 

If you prefer to define them that way, I will not interfere, but I won't join you in it.  Something to remember if the term comes up again.

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