Are Your Masculine Ideals Holding You Back?

Are Your Masculine Ideals Holding You Back?

In mental health by Tree House Recovery

In recent years, a lot of attention has been paid to how women are portrayed in the media and how they are treated in schools and workplaces. There have been concerted efforts to broaden ideals of feminine beauty, get girls involved in science and math, and create more equitable work environments. 

These have been largely positive developments and men may also benefit from looking at the ways cultural expectations have held them back. For example, boys are often told from a young age to be tough, don’t cry, don’t talk about your feelings, and so on. We believe men are supposed to be self-reliant and solve our own problems. We grow up watching action movies that tell us a real man always knows what to do in a crisis and he definitely knows how to use his fists. While values like self-reliance and determination certainly have their place, it’s easy for men to get trapped by narrow cultural assumptions about what it means to be a man. As with any ideal, the ideal man doesn’t exist and trying to fit that mold can have many negative consequences, including the following.

Men are less likely to ask for help.

First, men are less likely than women to ask for help with a mental health issue. There are a number of reasons for this. One is that men are just less likely to recognize they have an issue. This is especially true of depression, the symptoms of which may look different for men. Second, men feel like they should be able to solve their own problems. They are often reluctant to open up to a stranger about their problems and they are often skeptical that a therapist can help. As a result, many men suffer needlessly from mental health issues that aren’t their fault. Men are also more likely to self-medicate mental health symptoms with drugs and alcohol. The silver lining is that men are slightly more likely than women to seek help for a substance use issue, which typically has more concrete manifestations.

Men are less likely to talk about their emotions.

Boys are not encouraged to talk about their emotions and men typically find emotional conversations deeply uncomfortable, especially if those conversations are with other men. As a result, they are less likely to develop awareness of their own emotions or learn how to regulate their emotions. It may take a while to learn to articulate a problem to a therapist or open up to a group. Many men think showing vulnerability means showing weakness but bottling up emotions more often leads to self-destructive behavior.

Men are less likely to connect with others.

Men are less likely to connect with others, partly because of the idea that men should be self-reliant and partly because of the sense that other men are always rivals and competitors. This is unfortunate because there is strength in connection. Social connection is key to recovering from addiction and other issues. Strong friendships reduce stress, help you solve problems, keep you from bottling up emotions, and create positive expectations


Tree House Recovery of Portland, Oregon uses cutting-edge techniques in individualized programs to help men achieve freedom from addiction. Taking a holistic, sustainable approach to the inner and outer effects of addiction ensures you or your loved one will emerge with the confidence and skills to manage your addiction independently. No one is beyond help- our Admissions Counselors are available 24/7 at (503) 850-2474