15 Things That Are Considered Manly – and Why

Men always ask “Is it manly?” about all sorts of areas in their lives, even if not out loud. The information offered to them on the Internet is simply stupid, I have no other word for it. I decided to present the qualities and actions that our society perceives as very masculine. Beyond presenting this intriguing list, I will explain the logic behind why these things are considered so manly.

1. Muscularity

On the one hand, it’s obvious. On the other hand, not at all. Men in our postmodern age rely less and less on their muscles to survive, work and improve their status. Today, the public opinion of a muscular, strong man isn’t as definitely positive as it used to be.

For example, if you look at posters and advertisements from the beginning of the last century, you will notice that the general image of an attractive man was attributed to huge, muscular men. Nowadays the world of fashion is far from this idea. Men on posters and advertisements tend to be skinny and have a delicate appearance.

Okay, so why is muscularity on the list? Because public opinion only says that muscles are “meh”. Reality, it seems, works differently: Muscular men are more interesting to women, and receive more respect from other men. I’m sure you know someone who has just started working out and already people change their attitude (especially from men) when talking to him.

Put simply, it means that no matter what people say – we still operate according to an ancient mind that’s not adapted to the 21st century, and seeing muscles definitely affects it. In the brain’s terms, muscles communicate potential for successful reproduction (female), or threat of strong force (male).

I think that a shredded and muscular body will always remain attractive in the human subconscious, no matter how many cultural upheavals human society will undergo. It’s in our DNA.

2. Play the Guitar (and Sing)

Not a manly action in the macho sense of the word (unless we’re talking about an electric guitar and metal), but yes – a man who can take the guitar and play for the group definitely gets “masculine points”. The effect becomes stronger when you combine playing with singing.

It’s not the playing or the singing that are masculine, but the fact that such a man isn’t afraid to perform and be in the spotlight. That’s why only playing the guitar is a nice plus, and so is singing – but when they’re done together, an impressive complex of performance and social courage is created.

How does society perceive a man who plays and sings?

  1. Educated / artistic person.
  2. Has a high social status if he allows himself to stand out like that.
  3. Has confidence.
  4. Romantic.

The romantic part is interesting: You’re probably familiar with the mythical scene of the man strumming under the tower so his lover will come to the window? It may be a cultural (and perhaps even biological) remnant that’s still in our “courtship psyche” and continues to this day.

3. Riding a Motorcycle

Testosterone (the main male hormone) is linked, among other things, to our willingness to take risks. There’s something attractive about a man who takes risks and isn’t on the safe side at every opportunity.

Women translate risk as a guarantee that a man is capable of putting his life on the line in order to protect her and their mutual offspring. Riding a motorcycle has its perks on the one hand and very high risk on the other. Benefits of riding a motorcycle:

  1. Traffic jams aren’t a big issue.
  2. Almost unlimited parking space.
  3. Low cost compared to vehicles.
  4. Cheap maintenance compared to vehicles.
  5. Considered sexy.

Besides disadvantages such as exposure to the weather, no more than 1 passenger, etc. – the main downside is the risk of death. And it’s much, much higher than driving a car.

Risk factors are often perceived as masculine – and a motorcycle is one of the most prominent.

4. Smoking

While we’re already discussing taking risks, we can’t ignore an addiction like smoking cigarettes. In the 1950s cigarettes were an unmistakable symbol of masculinity, and smoking was recommended by most doctors.

Over the years, more and more studies have accumulated to indicate the enormous amount of health problems caused by cigarette smoking. Still, our collective consciousness hasn’t changed a lot and smoking is still considered manly behavior.

  1. Not enough time has passed since the propaganda to promote smoking cigarettes. It’s still perceived as masculine.
  2. Risk, apparently, will always be perceived as masculine.

Both in the case of the motorcycle and the smoking, our genes and brain don’t really care what’s good for us in the long run. Men with high testosterone will take risks, even if the return is low – and women will tend to be attracted to men who dare to take such risks, even if it doesn’t serve any practical purpose for these women.

5. Beard

One of the features that separate between a man, a woman and a child is the beard. The world of fashion may try to contradict what I’m about to say, but most shaved men lose points of masculinity. The only ones who manage to trick this system are men with a big, prominent jawline (think Superman), and there aren’t many of them.

A beard man is an absolute way of distinguishing a man from a boy; and in the environment of shaved dudes, a man with a beard will always look more authoritative – to women and also to other men around him.

The size of the beard doesn’t play such an important role. Even though fashions come and go, as long as the man has some kind of a full beard (full bristles count), he “proved” to be a man rather than a boy. Continue reading: Should I grow a beard?

6. Guns

The ability to kill makes a man practically powerful – which means his status is quite high. Paraphrasing Tony Robbins: “When a man puts a gun to your head, how important is he from 0 to 10?”. While he talked about motivation in criminals, it certainly helps us understand the connection between the power to drastically influence the life of people around you (gun) and the way people perceive you (importance, power).

Of course, this assessment doesn’t get into right / wrong. You can perceive both a soldier guarding at the country’s border and an armed bank robber as masculine – just because the power is now in their hands.

It’s reasonable to assume that in the past, a man walking around with a sword was perceived as masculine. Today, our “official” way of killing is shooting with a gun. The power to take life is the feature that was associated with manliness in every period.

7. Emotional Control

Ever wondered why the concept is “Drama Queen”? Where did her beloved husband, the Drama King, go? The answer is simple: It’s rare to see a man turning every small matter into a big deal of anger, guilt, shouting and crying.

Yes, there are some men like that – just like with many behaviors of people who should be removed from your life. There’s no absolute gender exclusivity. And still, emotional imbalance (loss of temper, anger, hysterical crying, etc.) is something we mostly see in women. A man who can’t control his feelings better isn’t masculine in the eyes of society, precisely because of this dichotomy – it’s a very feminine behavior.

Emotional restraint is exactly what wrongly labeled men as emotionless creatures. Of course there’s no need to go for the other extreme – this is a dangerous, slippery slope to psychological difficulties. You do want to express your feelings, but don’t make a mountain out of a molehill.

8. Dealing with Pests

Women adore a man who takes care of unwanted guests that enter the house: cockroaches, wasps, snakes, scorpions, pigeons, rats, spiders and all creatures whose place is not your home. If you’re not afraid / too disgusted to mess with these creatures and get them out of your territory, you’re definitely getting some masculinity points.

Why women find this masculine? It’s possible that their brain transmit a sense of neediness and security when a man “fends off dangerous animals” that attack the house and the children. Or at-least that’s how they feel.

9. Technical Sense

Independence is one of the key qualities of an alpha male. A man is expected to fix technical problems on his own. Things like plumbing, unclogging the drain, replacing a lightbulb, lubricating door hinges, starting a dead car, fixing a computer and more.

On the practical level, this isn’t a reasonable requirement from a man, especially as our systems become increasingly complicated over time. It’s nearly impossible to have sufficient technical knowledge to correct all random problems that arise around the house, and at the same time study, be a family guy, work on your career, etc. So it makes sense to simply call an expert to fix it for you, despite this “dependence” (dependence is a big word – after all, you do have money).

On the other hand, it’s always good for a man to have a good technical observation. A man is expected to have the wits and resourcefulness to examine a problem, to try and understand it and think of ways to solve it – even partly. The ability to delve deeper into a problem, understand its logic and come up with a possible solution is quite masculine.

The main idea is not necessarily to solve problems like a professional, but to examine them and try to find a solution before giving up and calling the expert.

By the way, you’ll be surprised to find out how many problems you can fix with a little curiosity and common sense. And when there’s Google today? The sky is the limit.

Aspire to be independent. This way, not only will you learn new skills – you might also save hundreds of dollars a year.

Technical sense and physical strength aren’t necessary today, yet certainly perceived as masculine.

10. Expression of Anger

If people had to associate one single feeling to men in general, it would be, first and foremost, anger. Aggression is perceived by men as dominance and masculinity (why this is nonsense: assertiveness as the winning tool of the alpha male). In this blog I support full control of your negative feelings. Usually, when you let anger control you, you’ve already lost.

Nevertheless, angry men create an aura of danger around them. Other men distance themselves from angry guys and the girls… well, it’s hard to say. Some will see a man’s anger as a hot quality and some will see it as weakness. You can understand why this isn’t clear: Anger gives motivation to act with an aggression that’s sometimes necessary, yet it also severely impairs judgment. So there’s no obvious survival / reproductive advantage to anger, and everything depends on context.

11. Being Tall

Women are simply obsessed with tall men. So obsessed that most women won’t date a man shorter than them – or even the same height as them!

Here, too, we’re talking about a feature that indicates physical strength. Tall men tend to be stronger than short men, thanks to bigger muscles on average.

In addition, height creates the illusion that the man is thinner than he really is. When obesity is a real epidemic and isn’t perceived as attractive, it’s another small advantage.

12. Dark Clothes

It’s unclear how and why, but different groups of the population have different colors associated to the clothes they “should” wear.

  • Girls – pink.
  • Boys – blue.
  • Women – most bright colors.
  • Men – most dark colors.

A man who wears light-colored clothes (except white) is perceived, at least according to contemporary fashion, as more feminine and delicate than a man who wears “heavier” colors, which are closer to gray / black. Among the colors that are considered masculine:

  • Dark blue-gray.
  • Dark brown-grey.

Too little, right? Perhaps the colors that convey masculinity are so few because we’ve become accustomed to seeing successful businessmen in suits that are 99% of the time in those colors (when was the last time you saw a CEO of a prestigious company wearing an orange suit?). Therefore, today’s social consciousness associates these colors only to business success – which is a critical element in every man’s life.

13. Gambling

Back to risk-taking. And what says “risk” more than gambling? The vast majority of women don’t get into this field (probably a smart choice), which makes it completely dominated by men. It’s not surprising, then, that a gambler is seen as quite masculine in society’s eyes.

14. Interest in Sports

There’s something unusual and somewhat strange about a man who doesn’t support any sports team, doesn’t know players’ names and doesn’t watch any game.

I think that this is the most masculine characteristic of the whole list. The picture of a man sitting in a sofa in front of a screen, drinking beer and watching a sports game is so engraved in the consciousness of the Western world. Along with shouts, curses and counseling to a coach who will never hear through the television.

If you feel bad that you have no part in this male behavior – don’t worry, I’m with you on this case.

15. Deep Voice

There’s a very clear correlation between testosterone levels and male vocal depth. You probably feel the difference in the atmosphere when you’re talking to a man who has a very deep voice: There’s a sense of threat, a challenge or even a need to obey.

At the same time, women are much more attracted to men with a deep voice. In their perspective, it communicates dominance, power, and high-status. And it turns out that, according to testosterone levels, they’re absolutely spot on. It’s hard to take a man with a higher-than-average pitch seriously (know those people who talk “from their nose”?).

By the way, an interesting fact: Women tend to speak with a higher pitch than they normally do, sometimes without paying attention to it, when they interact with a man they like. Men are certainly more attracted to women with high-pitch voices.

Manly is Not Necessarily Attractive

I hope you didn’t get the impression that the list represents features of exclusively attractive men. That wasn’t my intention at all. The goal was to present habits, qualities, and actions associated to masculinity – and to explain why in a few words.

Not everything that is considered masculine is also considered attractive. Just as there are things that most men do which women love or hate – and vice versa.

What Attracts, What Intimidates, What’s Recommended

Okay, I arranged the list in a table. It’s categorized according to what attracts women and what intimidates men. In “intimidates” I mean the things that challenge, create competition, gives you a dominant appearance. I also inserted my personal opinion on “Do you want this have this feature or habit?”. This way you’ll know what you need in your life as a man who wants to be a dominant, attractive alpha male – and what is, well… just “masculine”.

Considered Manly Attractive? Intimidating? Recommended?
Muscularity Yes Yes Yes
Play the guitar and sing Yes No Yes
Ride a motorcycle Yes No No
Smoking Yes No No
A beard Yes No Yes
Guns Yes Yes Depends
Emotional control No No Yes
Dealing with pests Yes No Yes
Technical sense No No Yes
Demonstration of anger Depends Yes No
Being tall Yes Yes Yes
Dark clothes Yes No Yes
Gambling No No No
Interest in sports No No Yes
Deep voice Yes Yes Yes


When I got the impression that men aren’t clear on what’s considered masculine, I decided to present my own list with a logical and concise explanation for each clause – why is X considered masculine, exactly? From muscles, to riding a motorcycle, to gambling and a deep voice.

Now, not everything manly is necessarily attractive to women or intimidating to other men. I wrapped things up with a table that plainly shows what’s attractive, what’s intimidating, plus a bonus from my personal opinion – what’s recommended.

I hope this article has given you a little insight into what’s “masculine”, and more importantly – that you have an understanding of why these things are perceived as masculine. By understanding what leads our society to label behaviors and traits as masculine / feminine (biological, historical, logical, etc.), it will be easy for you to make a positive change in your life and become an attractive, dominant alpha male. Good luck!

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